in Port Lavaca
TE photo, 2001
in a Seashell
The town was founded after "The
Great Comanche Raid" of 1840 when Comanche Indians swept down
from the Hill Country and destroyed the tiny coastal town of Linnville.
Only a marker remains today to mark the former town.
Thomas McConnell bought land from a De Leon's colonist and called
the place Lavaca. The town succeeded in a short time, eclipsing
the commerce that Linnville had
seen before the raid.
Lavaca became county seat with the formation of Calhoun County in
In November of 1847 a stage line was inaugurated connecting the
town to Victoria but
by 1852 Indianola,
with it's deepwater port became the Calhoun county seat.
By 1860 Lavaca's population was half of Indianola.
During the Civil War the city was bombarded by Union ships in late
1862, but did not surrender. In late 1863 it was occupied by Union
troops. In 1864 an election gave county seat status back to Lavaca,
but after the war it was returned to Indianola.
The hurricane of 1875 so damaged the railroad that Indianola,
became the only area port with a railroad connection. By 1884 Lavaca's
population was down to only 70 people.
But after Indianola
was obliterated in the 1886 Hurricane, Lavaca's star began another
ascent. Lavaca became the county seat again and railroad service
Lavaca, now known as Port Lavaca, was shipping seafood and the railroad
ran weekend excursions to the coast. Port Lavaca welcomed the seafood
In 1920 a seawall was completed and in 1928 Port Lavaca shipped
more shrimp than any other port in the U.S.
State Highway 35 was the only paved highway in the county in 1940
when the population was just over 2,000. Hurricane Carla damaged
the causeway in 1961, forcing it to be converted into a fishing
Landmarks / Attractions
Lavaca Half Moon Reef Lighthouse
In Bay Front Park, west end of causeway on Hwy 35
Photo courtesy Barclay
Moon Reef Lighthouse
Constructed in 1858, this three-story hexagonal lighthouse was originally
located in Matagorda Bay, at the southern tip of Half Moon reef.
The beacon served as an aid to ships trading in Port Lavaca and
the nearby town of Indianola
(14 mi. SE). During the Civil War the light was disabled by Confederate
troops in an attempt to disrupt federal efforts to capture southern
blockade runners. The lighthouse was restored to full operation
in 1868 and remained in service until 1943 when it was moved to
(7 mi. NE). It was relocated here in 1979.
and Mexican Gulf Railroad
Chartered in 1850, the San Antonio & Mexican Gulf Railroad was one
of the first railroads in Texas. San Antonio investors hoped it
would open trade from the Gulf. As the line was built westward from
Port Lavaca, wagons loaded with goods met the train on the open
prairie. In 1836 Confederates destroyed the track to keep it out
of Union hands. In the 1870s the line was associated with Charles
Morgan's steamship company. Southern Pacific bought the railroad
in 1884. Until the 1930s weekend excursions were offered to Port
|The former county
jail was demolished after this photo was taken
TE photo, 2001
See Texas Jails
TE photo, 2001
|Port Lavaca bay
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/%7Etxpstcrd/
by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
German immigrant J.C. Melcher of Fayette County and Port Lavaca
and the Melcher family hardware store.
Lavaca Texas Forum
US Army Air Force Observer
During World War
II my mother was a volunteer air plane watcher. She worked out
of a tower overlooking Lavaca Bay. Most everyone I mention this
to think I am crazy. I was about eight years old then and I remember
the tower and the chart on the wall. If a plane flew over you had
to find it on the chart and call it in. She was given a pin for
service that is a small set of wings that has US Army Air Force
Observer around the edge and in the center is AWS. Have you [or
any of your readers] ever heard of this volunteer service or know
where I can find out about it? - Doris Hinds, February 25,
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered
and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their town
history and vintage/historic photos, please contact