The Historic Lighthouses
of the Texas Coast
Stoic, dependable, historic - the lighthouses of the Texas Gulf coast, like their counterparts in other parts of the world, are more than just reminders of man's great struggle with the sea. They are pillars of hopes past; guideposts for mariners lost in troubled waters; the last and the first site each sailor would see before yielding to the wrath or mercy of prevailing winds and the temporal whims of Mother Nature and Father Sea.
With varied shapes and sizes, their brilliant lamps kept watch upon the seas, the one great hope of mariners who were long upon the open water, guiding man and ship safely through channels and waterways to the safety of shore.
Below you will find three selected Texas lighthouses to discover and explore. Happy voyaging!
Half Moon Reef Lighthouse, Port Lavaca, Texas
With great coastal charm, Half Moon Reef Lighthouse now sits in downtown Port Lavaca, Texas, next to the local Civic Center.
Originally built in 1858, the lighthouse was constructed on the shoals known as Halfmoon Reef, which separates Matagorda and Palacios Bays, and later disassembled and moved to its current location.
The lighthouse is of a hexagonal screwpile lighthouse, constructed of wood painted white, with green trim. In 1935, the light was downgraded to an eight day lantern and the keepers moved ashore. Discontinued in 1942, and sold, it was moved ashore to its present location.
Port Bolivar Lighthouse, Galveston, Texas
The original Port Bolivar Lighthouse, which was identical to the original Matagorda Island Lighthouse, was first established in 1852. During the Civil War, it was completely dismantled and all its parts removed.
The current tower was constructed and was lighted in November of 1872. It is constructed of cast iron with brick lining. Although in its early days the lighthouse had red and white bands, it is now solid black in color. The tower has a height of 116 feet.
Point Bolivar light was deactivated in 1933 and is now privately owned. The lighthouse is located on and is easily visible from Highway 124, just across the ferry from Galveston, Texas.
Port Isabel Lighthouse, the Tip of Texas
Perhaps one of the most beautiful lighthouses on the U.S. Gulf resides in the town square of Port Isabel, Texas just across the bridge from South Padre Island, Texas. The installation of 15 old-style lamps in 21 inch metallic reflectors was first completed on March 20, 1853, providing a needed beacon to guide sea traffic to ports located near the mouth of the Rio Grande river.
In 1857, a third order Fresnel lens was installed in the lighthouse, providing additional light power to reach beyond Texas' barrier island (padre Island). With a tower height of 57 feet and situated on a knoll that is 25 feet above sea level, it had a focal plane that was 82 feet above sea level and was visible for sixteen (16) miles at sea.
Various attempts were made to destroy the lighthouse during the Civil War. Repairs were made in the winter of 1865 however, and a new third order lens was lighted in February, 1866.
The station was deactivated in 1905 and sold in 1928. Extensive renovations were made in 1951-52 and the lighthouse became a state historic site. The lighthouse again underwent renovations in 1999-2000 and was reopened to visitors in late July, 2000.
Be sure to adventure on to South Padre Island during your visit to the Port Isabel Lighthouse.