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Lavaca

Now known as Port Lavaca, the town's early roots were planted around 1815. This early landing was used by the Mexican government and by traders to get supplies into the interior. Only history will know when Lavaca began getting port facilities. In 1835 those who made Lavaca their home joined other Texans and fled in front of Santa Anna's advancing army.

After the defeat of Santa Anna at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836 people returned to Lavaca and started to build homes and a wharf. Ships with cargo and passenger ships began to arrive at the Port of Lavaca in the late 1830s to the 1840s and somewhere around that time the Port of Lavaca was shortened to Port Lavaca.

Some type of organization began to take shape as businesses grew in and around the port. A Captain John M. Smith  laid out the town in 1842. The map shows provisions were made for a church, cemetery, a public square, and a two block market place. The map shows the town running eight blocks along the waterfront and 10 blocks back. Ranger Cemetery was already being used before the town was laid out.

A new wharf was built around 1846 or 1847 to accommodate the arrival of troops going to fight with General Zachary Taylor's army. Although Port Lavaca hoped the U.S. Army would pick it as a permanent military depot, the distinction went to Indianola, its arch shipping rival. A new county called Calhoun  was formed out of Victoria, Jackson, and Matagorda counties in 1846.

During the early to mid 1840s the shipping business was booming. The ship line of Harris and Morgan opened offices in Port Lavaca in 1847. The ship line had a wide range of vessels - from the bay schooner type to the large steamships. In 1849, however, the city officials drastically raised the dockage fees which forced the Morgan line to build their own wharf and warehouse on Indian Point, about three miles below Indianola. The wharf reached a half mile out into the bay.

Although Port Lavaca didn't lose it's promising port business to Indianola overnight, the turning point came when many merchants, shippers, traders, and home owners began to move to
Indianola in an ever increasing pace. Then a gale struck Port Lavaca in 1851 that carried away a major portion of the wharves and blew down warehouses. Port Lavaca did not give up.  Merchants repaired the damages done by the storm and actively pursued customers.

During the civil war, Port Lavaca was shelled by Union war ships but Confederate soldiers fired back with large guns and kept the Union ships at bay. The storms of 1875 and 1886 devastated Indianola and it was abandoned after the 1886 storm. Port Lavaca was never able to recapture the shipping bonanza that was Indianola's before the Civil War. Shipping habits were changing with the use of the locomotive to move commerce across the interior.

Today Port Lavaca has a bustling port on old Cox's Landing on the east shore of Lavaca Bay. It serves the marine interests as well as the oil and chemical industries located in the county.

 

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