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Port Aransas - History, Hurricanes, Hotels...

Finally, after all the years we've lived here in the Coastal Bend, I am now able to scratch that off my to do list...visiting a small local museum on Mustang Island [Port Aransas, Texas]. Understand that it has never been open when we've been there for a leisurely day trip or birding, or just walking the shores of the bay waters on the beach, sitting on the jetty catching the sea breeze and watching big ships come into the channel on their way to the Port of Corpus Christi. The museum's "open for business hours" never coincided with our times we were there. Open only on Friday and Saturday, and then for four hours only. Bud and I rarely go to the islands on weekends because of the amount of traffic and people with their rented golf carts meandering dangerously in and around the village's streets, impeding the flow of automobiles. I love the area. It's so pretty, so much to watch, not to mention a lighthouse just on the other side of the Ships' Channel that separates Port Aransas from Aransas Pass. The lighthouse is named Lydia Ann. And the history of the lighthouse has fascinated me. Now, tho, it's privately owned and can only be viewed by tour boat from the inlet, unless you know just where to look in between the dunes from the beach. Since my newer camera now has a more powerful zoom lens, I was able to stand on the Port Aransas side of Texas, view over the ship channel to the distance of Lydia Ann Island. I took this photo above past winter as I stood at the marina, looking over the water, and snapped this recent photo showing that it was being renovated because of the scaffolding surrounding its exterior [if you enlarge the photo]. Which brings me back to the museum. It was a quiet week, and we WERE there on Friday. So, I convinced the two us, by talking ourselves into having lunch in Port A, and making sure we were able to stop at the museum. I had read online that gas light that was used in the lighthouse from about 1890 to 1920 [before electricity] was housed at the museum. I got permission to take some photos of the interior from the docent who took us through the displays on hand. It's my understanding that the light is a permanent display, but occasionally they have an historical theme going on in most of the other rooms. This particular time it is postcards from the past. From boating, fishing, and celebrity visitors to the area, including Popeye the Sailor Man and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Also around the museum there was a timeline from the beginnings to today. Including a bit of information on the hurricane[s] that hit the area. Of most interest to me, other than the historical light and lighthouse history, the hurricane of 1919 directly hitting the coast and areas of Corpus Christi Texas, Port Aransas and Aransas Pass ---the devastation, the lives lost, and the village of Port A, where mother nature also took no pity on the structural aspect. Except for one home was left standing whole. It belonged to several families, including the Mercer family where according to historians, the house itself was a "Kit House"...shipped to the area in pieces and delivered to the Mercer family. It's now called Port Aransas Museum!!! more...

...from a previous post on the local historical landmark:
The historical marker states, as follows:
Site of
    In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 14, 1919, a hurricane made landfall in Corpus Christi after gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico for two weeks.  Crowds packed the North Beach Area for their last weekend of the summer season, most continuing to ignore the last minute evacuation warnings of police officers, firefighters and soldiers from Fort Brown.  The rapidly rising water blocked vacationers from escaping to higher ground.  As the water rose, people climbed to their rooftops and tied ropes to themselves and their children so that they might not be lost. A giant wave of water carrying oil from ruptured tanks on Harbor Island, timber from Port Aransas and cotton bales from a dock in Corpus Christi crashed down on North Beach, sweeping its victims into the black waters of Nueces Bay.  On Monday morning the sun rose on a scene of terrible destruction.  Though the official death tolls was 284, estimates place the actual number, including those lost at sea, at one thousand.  In the ensuing days, the survivors worked together to rebuild their homes, rescue the injured and bury the dead in mass graves, some containing more than fifty bodies, using farm implements as undertaking tools.  A month later the bodies were removed to Rose Hill Cemetery in Corpus Christi and other sites as requested by friends and family members.  Property damage and crop losses were estimated at twenty million dollars.  The great storm of 1919 was the worst disaster to hit Corpus Christi in the twentieth century.  The mass graves at Indian Point were about one hundred yards east of this site.

This is part one. History of a Hotel in Port Aransas and more trivia to come.


  1. Replies
    1. ...glad to know you liked this post today Denise.

  2. I love this post because I love how you highlight the history! My grandfather and great grandfather helped bury those bodies at Indian Point, and even over 70 years later when he told about it, my grandfather's voice would crack and he'd quit talking.

    Makes me so thankful for the hurricane warning systems we have now.

    1. ...oh I can understand fully why he'd become silent. I bet the pictures in his mind as he tried talking of the 'event'...would be so vivid and clear to him at any given time.

  3. Very interesting. What an awful thing that hurricane was. I love that the house the stood was a kit house.

  4. Amazing that only one house stood whole. You might have expected a 'kit house' not to be as strong. :)
    It's nice to see the lighthouse though privately owned is being renovated to still stand for generations to come.
    Nice post Anni!

  5. Yes, still surrounded by scaffolding that lighthouse is beautiful!

  6. Anonymous4/19/2013

    What a story...What can I say...we humans are really tiny in this Universe. Nature is amazing - beautiful and dangerous.

  7. This is a great post Anni, lots of history and lovely photos. I can't imagine the devastation that hurricane caused and for that little house to be the only left standing, nothing short of a miracle.

  8. Anonymous4/19/2013

    I enjoyed reading the history of that area. You manage to keep me wanting to read more.

  9. Can't wait to see the next part!!!

  10. Awesome, you finally got to visit the museum. Love the history about the house that survived the hurricane

  11. In the good old days the hurricanes used to kill hundreds of people thank goodness to satellites and weather science for giving us warning.

    When I lived in Victoria I used to love Port Aransas.

  12. Love the interesting story of the house, would love to see it one day. Sad to hear of the damages caused by the terrible hurricane.