Port Aransas is not only an island beach paradise, but also a history buff’s island paradise. Many of the island’s structures have been around since the 1800s and have served many purposes throughout the area’s development. While you’re soaking in all Port Aransas history, make sure to spend some time soaking in the sun and surf at the beach, and experiencing the many activities the island has to offer.
Aransas Pass, C.S.A.
While much of Port A’s history can be seen in the form of beautiful and historic structures, just getting here is a historic mark. You’ll want to get a picture at the official Aransas Pass historic marker. The marker details facts that the pass is a natural inlet to Aransas Bay separating San Jose and Mustang Islands. It details other historical facts about the area, including its various uses during the Civil War.
Chapel on the Dunes
The historic 1930s church was built by Aline Carter, a former Texas poet laureate. Inside, take in the alter and tile work are based on drawings designed by Carter herself. The church no longer holds regular religious services, but locals and visitors can tour the church building and grounds during tours organized by the Port Aransas Museum. The property is one of the best places to visit in Port Aransas and the perfect place to host special events, including weddings.
Farley’s Historic Boat Shop
Farley Boat Works remains the premier boat builder in Port Aransas, specializing in tarpon fishing boats. The first tarpon fishing boats built by bothers Barney and Fred Farley established Farley and Son Boat Works in 1914, and the first boat was launched off the shores of Port A in 1915. The business eventually included Fred’s three sons and expanded to include speed boats, cabin boats, and corporate vessels. The “living exhibit” – the company continues to build boats there – can be visited at 716 W. Avenue C on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 9 a.m.-noon. It is closed Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.
Lydia Ann Lighthouse
Built in 1857, after the area’s trade through Aransas Pass began booming, the Lydia Ann Lighthouse is also called the Aransas Pass Light Station and is not accessible by road. History buffs wanting a glimpse of the historic structure need to take a cruise past it in your own vessel or get a view of it from nearby Roberts Point Park.
Mexican War Fort
In 1845, General Zachary Taylor placed artillery on Mustang Island, recorded as Mustang Island Fort at the time, to prevent enemy forces from coming through Aransas Pass to attempt to neutralize the San Jose Island supply depot. The fort was again utilized throughout the Civil War as war supplies continued to be transported via Aransas Pass.
Port Aransas Museum
You’ll likely make the museum one of the first stops on your history of Port Aransas Texas tour. You’ll learn what shaped the town into what it has become today through a number of temporary and permanent exhibits. The 1900s “kit house” that hosts the museum is located at 400 N. Alister. It is open for tours given by local volunteers Thursday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Admission is free, and donations are appreciated.
The Tarpon Inn
Constructed of surplus lumber from Civil War barracks in 1886, the inn was originally used to house workers creating Mansfield Jetty. After completion of the jetty, the building became a hotel. A major hurricane and tidal wave in 1919 caused the structure to be rebuilt with reinforcements against future damage. Since then, it has been used as a headquarters for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and several military units, as well as shelter area residents during disasters. In 1979, the inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and also became a Texas Historic Landmark. The inn has a restaurant, 24 active guest rooms, and space for special events.
WWII Coastal Defenses at Aransas Pass
Another picture-worthy historic marker on the island marks the World War II Coastal Defenses. The U.S. entered the war in 1941 after the December attack on Pearl Harbor, and the war department created the Southern Defense Command (SDC) was created as part of the war department’s national defense system, spanning the southern U.S. coastline from North Carolina to Brownsville, TX – including the Port Aransas area. The Port Aransas base hosted a temporary field artillery battery for the 2nd Infantry Division, featuring 105 MM Howitzers.
Journey Through Port Aransas History
While you plot your course to all the fabulous historical areas of the island, make sure to book a stay in a vacation rental with Sandcastle Resort Condominiums. We offer efficiency units all the way up to three-bedroom units for you and all your favorite history buffs to explore the island’s roots together. In fact, the site of the property could also be considered historic, too. Stretch out in an open living space after a long day of historic fun or create a delicious home-cooked meal in the fully equipped kitchen. Snuggle up in comfortable beds in private bedrooms to get a good night’s sleep before another day of fun history exploration.
Contact us today to start planning your trip through history and Port Aransas!