boats in Port Lavaca|
in a Seashell
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.
Linnvillain 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 1846.
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
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 was re-established.
Lavaca, now known as Port Lavaca, was shipping seafood and the railroad ran weekend
excursions to the coast. Port Lavaca welcomed the seafood hungry tourists.
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 pier.
Lavaca Landmarks / Attractions
Port Lavaca Half Moon Reef
In Bay Front Park, west end of causeway on Hwy 35
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 Point
Comfort (7 mi. NE). It was relocated here in 1979.
Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railroad
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 Lavaca beaches.
former county jail was demolished after this photo was taken|
See Texas Jails
Lavaca bay view|
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/%7Etxpstcrd/
Lavaca Chronicles Exterminator
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 Subject:
US Army Air Force Observer
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, 2006
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