Facts!

Point Isabel Museums, Lighthouse, Port Isabel, Laguna Madre, Padre Island & Historical Dates Fact Sheet

  •  The flight of the 300 occurred after the shipwreck of 1554. Only two survivors reached Tampico to tell the tale. Ths shipwreck site is located 30 miles north of Port Isabel on Padre Island.
  • Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821.
  • The war of Texas Independence was won in 1836.
  • The U.S./Mexican War was fought from 1846-48. The first battle of the war was fought at Palo Alto.
  • In 1845, Texas was admitted to the Union as the 28th State. After the Civil War, Texas was readmitted to the Union in 1870.
  • The original name of Port Isabel was Fronton De Santa Isabel. It was named for the Spanish Land Grand given to Don Rafael Garcia in the early 1800s. Garcia’s two daughters named the streets in the town of Fronton De Santa Isabel in 1875.
  • From 1836 to 1927, Port Isabel was known as Point Isabel because of the natural bluff formation that jutted out into the Laguna Madre. In 1928, Point Isabel was incorporated as a town and its name was changed to Port Isabel because of the newly proposed port being planned.
  • On May 12, 1865, the Battle of Palmetto Hill (the last battle of the Civil War) was fought in the Rio Grande Valley 33 days after General Lee had surrendered.
  • Fort Polk, named for President James A. Polk by General Zachary Taylor was a supply depot for troops during the U.S. war with Mexico and housed one of the largest military hospitals in the U.S. at the time. The location of the fort was the area where the Lighthouse now stands. The fort extended about three blocks past the current shoreline into the Laguna Madre. The fort was dismantled right after the war. Some of the buildings were re-used; others were torn down to build houses around Port Isabel.
  • The Port Isabel Yacht Club and Hotel were completed in 1929.
  • The first Queen Isabella Causeway, built south of the swing bridge, was a two-lane drawbridge with a $1.00 toll. Because of its poor construction, a new causeway was built. Part of the original causeway is still used as a fishing pier on the South Padre Island side. The remaining part of the original causeway on Port Isabel’s side is closed.
  • The new Queen Isabella Causeway was completed in 1974. It is 12,510 feet long (2.369 miles) and reaches a height of 85 feet. Its construction cost was $16 million. It is the longest causeway in Texas.
  • Highway 100, a four-lane highway which runs east from 77 to Port Isabel/South Padre Island, was completed in 1974. the highway turns north on the island and is one of the few highways in the U.S. with a 90 degree turn.
  • Prior to being called Padre Island, the island was known as Isla de Santiago and Isla Blanca. In 1828, the island was inherited by Padre Jose Nicholas Balli, and in 1829, upon his death, the island was renamed Padre Island in honor of him. The town of South Padre Island was incorporated in 1975.
  • The South Padre Island Convention Centre is located on 30 acres of land. It was completed in 1992 at the cost of $75 million.
  • The Laguna Madre stretches from south of the Corpus Christi area all the way to northern Mexico. The town of South Padre Island is 170 miles south of Corpus Christi.
  • Brazos Santiago is the natural opening from the Gulf into the bay where the jetties are now located. Up to the turn-of-the-century, there was another natural opening south of Brazos Santiago named Boca Chica. This no longer exists. The island south of the jetties on Padre Island is known as Brazos Island and the beach is referred to as Boca Chica.
  • Padre Island is 110 miles long and is the longest barrier island in the U.S. The Mansfield Cut was dredged in 1968. Prior to that, a vehicle could be driven from Corpus to South Padre Island. The town of Port Mansfield is located inland from the Cut.
  • The first museum in Port Isabel was the “Lady Bea”, a restored shrimp boat. The exhibit opened in June of 1984. It was installed in Beulah Lee Park, located near the present-day library. The boat was donated by the Merchants’ Marine Bank, and the city of Port Isabel originally deeded the park property to the museum foundation for the installation and maintenance of the “Lady Bea”. After more than 10 years as a popular tourist attraction, the “Lady Bea” was closed and removed from the park in 1995. Plans are currently underway to restore another bay shrimper as part of the museum complex.
  • The Port Isabel Historical Museum was opened in May of 1997. It is housed in the historic Charles Champion building.
  • The Point Isabel Lighthouse was built in 1852, closed in 1864 due to the Civil War, re-opened again in the 1870s, and shut down in 1905. Since 1905, it has been used as a tourist attraction. In 1952, the Lighthouse was declared a Texas State Park–the 2nd smallest park in the state. The replica of the keeper’s cottage was completed in 1995. In July of 2000, the Lighthouse was opened again after being closed for 2 1/2 years for restoration by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It is the only Texas lighthouse open to the public.
  • The Museums of Port Isabel includes the Historical Museum, The Treasures Museum, the Port Isabel Lighthouse and the Keeper’s Cottage. The museums are operated by the City of Port Isabel’s Department of Historical Preservation. The Lighthouse is owned by the State of Texas.
  • On May 12, 1865, the Battle of Palmetto Hill (the last battle of the Civil War) was fought in the Rio Grande Valley 33 days after General Lee had surrendered.
  • Fort Polk, named for President James A. Polk by General Zachary Taylor was a supply depot for troops during the U.S. war with Mexico and housed one of the largest military hospitals in the U.S. at the time. The location of the fort was the area where the Lighthouse now stands. The fort extended about three blocks past the current shoreline into the Laguna Madre. The fort was dismantled right after the war. Some of the buildings were re-used; others were torn down to build houses around Port Isabel.
  • The Port Isabel Yacht Club and Hotel were completed in 1929.
  • The first Queen Isabella Causeway, built south of the swing bridge, was a two-lane drawbridge with a $1.00 toll. Because of its poor construction, a new causeway was built. Part of the original causeway is still used as a fishing pier on the South Padre Island side. The remaining part of the original causeway on Port Isabel’s side is closed.
  • The new Queen Isabella Causeway was completed in 1974. It is 12,510 feet long (2.369 miles) and reaches a height of 85 feet. Its construction cost was $16 million. It is the longest causeway in Texas.
  • Highway 100, a four-lane highway which runs east from 77 to Port Isabel/South Padre Island, was completed in 1974. the highway turns north on the island and is one of the few highways in the U.S. with a 90 degree turn.
  • Prior to being called Padre Island, the island was known as Isla de Santiago and Isla Blanca. In 1828, the island was inherited by Padre Jose Nicholas Balli, and in 1829, upon his death, the island was renamed Padre Island in honor of him. The town of South Padre Island was incorporated in 1975.
  • The South Padre Island Convention Centre is located on 30 acres of land. It was completed in 1992 at the cost of $75 million.
  • The Laguna Madre stretches from south of the Corpus Christi area all the way to northern Mexico. The town of South Padre Island is 170 miles south of Corpus Christi.
  • Brazos Santiago is the natural opening from the Gulf into the bay where the jetties are now located. Up to the turn-of-the-century, there was another natural opening south of Brazos Santiago named Boca Chica. This no longer exists. The island south of the jetties on Padre Island is known as Brazos Island and the beach is referred to as Boca Chica.
  • Padre Island is 110 miles long and is the longest barrier island in the U.S. The Mansfield Cut was dredged in 1968. Prior to that, a vehicle could be driven from Corpus to South Padre Island. The town of Port Mansfield is located inland from the Cut.
  • The first museum in Port Isabel was the “Lady Bea”, a restored shrimp boat. The exhibit opened in June of 1984. It was installed in Beulah Lee Park, located near the present-day library. The boat was donated by the Merchants’ Marine Bank, and the city of Port Isabel originally deeded the park property to the museum foundation for the installation and maintenance of the “Lady Bea”. After more than 10 years as a popular tourist attraction, the “Lady Bea” was closed and removed from the park in 1995. Plans are currently underway to restore another bay shrimper as part of the museum complex.
  • The Port Isabel Historical Museum was opened in May of 1997. It is housed in the historic Charles Champion building.
  • The Point Isabel Lighthouse was built in 1852, closed in 1864 due to the Civil War, re-opened again in the 1870s, and shut down in 1905. Since 1905, it has been used as a tourist attraction. In 1952, the Lighthouse was declared a Texas State Park–the 2nd smallest park in the state. The replica of the keeper’s cottage was completed in 1995. In July of 2000, the Lighthouse was opened again after being closed for 2 1/2 years for restoration by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It is the only Texas lighthouse open to the public.
  • The Museums of Port Isabel includes the Historical Museum, The Treasures Museum, the Port Isabel Lighthouse and the Keeper’s Cottage. The museums are operated by the City of Port Isabel’s Department of Historical Preservation. The Lighthouse is owned by the State of Texas.