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Intercoastal Canal


Courtesy of Shirley Brown


Galveston to Corpus Christi



The Great Inter-State Waterway To Be Completed in February or March

      When Patrick O’Donald with a short-handled spade dug a channel one mile long connecting Old Caney with the head of Matagorda Bay in the 50’s, he little dreamed that he was building the first link of a great intercoastal canal, to form an important part of one of the great waterways of commerce. O’Donald was working under instructions of Col. Shephard, one of the large planters along Caney who saw in such a canal his best route to market and sea port for his big crops of sugar, molasses and cotton. As he anticipated, the waters of Caney once given a start washed out a channel which served his purpose, a canal route to Matagorda, then an important port, shipping cotton, etc., to New York and European ports.

      The News editor accepted an invitation to accompany a party of Matagorda business men up the Intercoastal canal to the San Bernard river where the dredge is now at work.

      The Ben Hur, recently overhauled, was brought into requisition for the trip by her owners, Messrs. G. B. Culver and Goodwyn Sterne, and she made the trip with flying colors and as we left her anchored out in the bay, she looked as proud as the Massachusetts at anchor off Galveston. The remainder of the party were A. C. Stewart, Gus Gottschalk, Geo. T. Sargent, Frank L. Rugeley, J. B. Hawkins, and W. E. Williams.

      The launch passed out of the deep Colorado and thru the channel dredged by Matagorda enterprise to the middle of the bay (which the government has decided to reimburse the town for, take over and maintain as a part of the canal) and once in the intercoastal canal the biggest of Matagorda’s hundred boats had a smooth run of 51 miles without incident to mar the pleasure of the day. From eight to twenty miles up the bay we passed three fleets of oyster boats taking out the delicious bivalves for our patrons up the state. On every side were fine oyster beds capable of producing with proper cultivation and little cost, ten million barrels of oysters as against 350,000 barrels a year as now.

      “Yes,” said Mr. Sterne, an old residenter and close observer, “this is a fine oyster field and cultivation could make it very profitable and a source of great revenue to our town. It appears our people have not yet learned how to plant them; the time will come, however, when it will be a great industry here.”

      Five miles out on the left looms up Big Hill with its oil wells and derricks, and soon-to-be sulphur mines. On the west of the hill is the farm of Gus Gottschalk and on the east the farm-home of C. and G. W. Zipprian.

      On the right, is the peninsular, and there is the farm-ranch of the Kains where John and Andy keep bach, raise cattle and truck to the music of the sad waves and roaring billows of the gulf. Further on is the old Brown home, still surrounded with its ever-to-be-remembered salt cedars whose sheltering arms in the storm of ’75 saved all of the inmates of the Brown home while their neighbors were lost.

      On the left is Poverty Point, but rich in fine oysters. At the point where the Caney empties into the bay was pointed out to the northward the ranches of three of our townsmen, J. Morgan Smith, Gus Smith and _____ Burke.

      Passing through the O’Donald canal for a mile, then into old Caney which the Intercoastal follows another mile or so but is forced to leave because of its tortuous course, the Intercoastal then taking a straight course nearly northeast, crossing Caney twice within half a mile, but for the next 18 miles as straight as an arrow.

      Old Caney and Oyster Creek, revive impressions of long ago, their valleys more fertile than that of the Nile. There’s the old Sargent ranch, where Geo. T.’s grandfather settled near 1840, and farmed and ranched till his death in 1875, his father dying in 1909, leaving about 25,000 acres. On the western portion, at the old homestead lives the widow and on the banks of Caney, a few miles above, J. W. Rugeley, son-in-law of Mrs. Sargent, is building the town of Sargent. To the east is Geo. T.’s ranch, a fine body of several thousand acres, with long horns and short horns, with cows from the western plains and cows from the redlands of East Texas.

      There are the wings of the old swimming chute where the cattlemen swim their cattle across the canal and down the peninsular to the finest winter grazing in Texas, and where Geo. Culver lost a fine horse a few years ago―“just give up and wouldn’t try to swim.” On both sides of the Intercoastal, a mile to the gulf and as far to the north as the eye can see the range looks good; but on the south, “that,” said Mr. Sargent, “is good for a cow to three acres, and fat,” and Mr. Gottschalk, another good authority on cows approved.

      After a dozen miles more thru the treeless expanse of grazing ground, the canal enters Cedar Lake, or a chain of lakes, each appearing to range in size from 800 to 1500 acres. A few years ago an effort was made to locate these lands as public domain, but “upon a personal inspection by Land Commissioner Robison,” said Mr. Culver who accompanied the Commissioner, with the party seeking to locate the land, “the Commissioner held the ‘lakes’ to be a bay or arm of the gulf, as it is often true that the tide water from the gulf fills them.” The water is salt, and oyster reefs are visible all about; while the excavation for the canal thru the lakes (and even in the cut just made by the dredge out of the San Bernard eastward) show oyster shells two and three feet below the surface. The lake water seems to be salty enough for oysters but in depth too shallow and uncertain.

      Another crook or two in the last mile or two, the dredgers evidently following the course of a bayou connecting the lakes with the river, and the Ben Hur turned swiftly into the beautifully clear San Bernard, and just a few hundred yards down this stream our boat came to anchor opposite the mouth of the canal in which the big dredge Matagorda was at work about 300 yards inland. A trip was made to the dredge-boat by Mr. Culver and the writer, and Capt. Jacobson of the Matagorda invited to visit his old friends on the Ben Hur, which he did after supper.

      While Messrs. Sterne, Culver and Gottchalk got busy at supper, Messrs. Savage and Hawkins went floundering and Willie Williams and the writer fished in the gulf for redfish. There were flounders plenty for supper, breakfast and dinner, and next day Mr. Williams caught a shark and three fine redfish. But it was some sport to see George and Jim land a 15-in. flounder―and some more sport to tackle them on the table after they had passed thru the skillful manipulations of Chef Sterne and assistants. Mr. Stewart and the News man were neck and neck for first place in demonstration of appreciation of the chowder and hot cakes.

      Capt. Jacobson says he is now on the last ten miles which will complete the canal between Galveston and Corpus Christi, a distance of about 190 miles. He says that without accident or delay he will finish the canal to Velasco in February, but by March any way he expects to close the gap; and then go over the route perfecting it. There is an old canal from Velasco to Galveston which will be used.

      The distances are: from Matagorda to head of bay 21 miles, to the San Bernard 51, to Velasco 61, to Galveston 86, Matagorda to Port Lavaca 40, to Port O’Connor about 50, to Rock Port or Aransas about 85, and to Corpus Christi about 108 miles.

      Saturday afternoon the bow of Ben Hur was turned homeward; but as the norther was blowing briskly, anchor was cast for the night in the Caney channel at the head of the bay. But morning brought even a fiercer northwind, but the Ben Hur made the trip all right.

      It was a jolly and congenial party; and a fine trip, not only highly enjoyable as an outing, but the newness of the country, with bits of its history, made it very interesting and doubly enjoyable to the writer.                                                              

The Matagorda News
, October 18, 1912


Of Completion of Intercoastal Canal―Will Be a Great Event―Commodores Meet

      Port O’Connor, Texas, May 5.–Making all arrangements for the big water pageant that is to move through the intercoastal canal in celebration of its opening from Galveston to Corpus Christi, prescribing rules and regulations for the formation of the vessels in the line, and electing C. S. E. Holland, president of the Interstate Waterways League of Texas and Louisiana, as admiral of the fleet, the called meeting of the executive committee, having in charge all details of this parade and celebration, finished its session here today and adjourned. All members of the committee present were enthusiastic, and reported that much interest was being taken in the coming celebration all along the route of the canal and that present indications pointed to one of the biggest water pageants ever held in any country.

      The committee met pursuant to the call of C. S. E. Holland of Victoria, chairman. With the committee met many of the commodores that have been named by various towns along the canal. Among those present at the meeting were: Chairman C. S. E. Holland, Victoria; Lee Farris, Angleton; A. A. Roberts, Danbury; H. N. Henry, Danbury; Royal Givens, Corpus Christi; R. J. Hill, Palacios; L. W. Stevens, Victoria; Harry G. Black, Galveston; H. L. Ayres, Bay City; S. M. Swenson, Freeport; E. C. Hastings, Freeport, and Henry McCann, Port O’Connor.

      The following order of towns in the line was decided on: Boats from towns farthest west from Galveston, first in line from the west, followed by the boats from each town as it is reached; boats from towns farthest east from Galveston, first in line from the east, followed by the boats from each town as it is reached.

      Fleets from Corpus Christi and towns farther west will leave Corpus Christi at 9 o’clock on the morning of June 9. These boats with those from Aransas Pass, Port O’Connor and Rockport, will leave Rockport at 1:30 o’clock on June 9, proceeding up the bay. The fleet will be joined at Austwell, Tivoli, Victoria, Port Lavaca, Palacios and Seadrift by fleets from those places. The combined fleet, with the boats from Matagorda will leave the Matagorda wharf at 10 o’clock on the morning of June 10 on the run up Matagorda Bay, entire fleet reach the rendezvous at Freeport during the night of June 10.

      The boats of each fleet will be numbered, beginning with No. 1, and these numbers will designate the position of each boat in the line of boats making up the fleet from any town. Each commodore should occupy boat No. 1 of his fleet.

      All sponsors, with their chaperons and Maids, will be in Galveston not later than the early morning of June 12. Hotel Galvez will be headquarters. Each fleet will adopt decorations of its own, except that white yachting caps will be worn by every member of each boat.

Abstracted from: The Matagorda News, Friday, May 9, 1913



      Arrangements for the trip to Galveston to participate in the celebration of the opening of the intercoastal canal on June 12th and 13th are being rapidly completed, with every indication that the Palacios fleet will be among the most prominent and noticeable of any of the coast towns participating. A meeting of the boat captains was held with President Hensel of the Board of Trade last Thursday evening at which a schedule of rates was agreed upon and plan for making up the passenger lists arranged. The following boats were represented at the meeting and will constitute the Palacios fleet, together with others yet to be added including a number of private launches:

      Monarch, Capt. Wright, master

      Enterprise, Capt. Hutchins, master

      Sterling, Capt. Stapp, master

      Lucy Lee, Capt. Hobbs, master

      Alamo, Capt. Clement, master

      Dixie, Capt. Hogg, master

      Native, Capt. Glaros, master

      Claraette, Capt. Sutterfield, master

      E Z, Capt. Thomason, master

      Sea Fox, Capt. Gormez, master


      The fare agreed upon by all the boat owners was $5.00 for the round trip which is a most reasonable rate, since the trip will require at least five days time, including the two days at Galveston. The fare does not include meals, but those who desire can sleep aboard without extra charge, by furnishing their own cots or blankets.

      The Palacios fleet will leave the pavilion wharf on Tuesday, June 10th, falling in line in its place at Palacios Point where it will be joined by the fleets from the west, from Brownsville to Port O’Connor. Proceeding up the bay they will be joined by the Matagorda fleet, and thence to Freeport, proceeding on to Galveston the night of the 11th.

      The boats will adhere strictly to government regulations and will not carry any more passengers than they are entitled to under marine rules of navigation. The boats are now listed with President Hensel of the Board of Trade, and passengers will call on him, select the boat they desire to make the trip on and pay the fee of five dollars, leaving nothing more for them to do but be at the wharf on the 10th and go aboard. If the passenger lists of these boats are filled, and more desire to go, arrangements will be made for other boats if possible. It is therefore important that those expecting to go should register early to avoid being disappointed, as it is expected that the boats will all be loaded to their registered capacity. Aside from these boats there will be a number of private launches that will join the fleet, making up parties as they may choose.

      This will be an occasion and a trip such as will likely never be offered again, and it is expected that the demand of passenger room will exceed the limit of the boats. Of course going by boat is not compulsory, and there will no doubt be many who will go by train to Galveston to attend the celebration exercises on the 12th and 13th.                 

Palacios Beacon
, May 16, 1913


Though Galveston Claims the Credit and Honor of the First Shipment of Freight Thru Intercoastal Canal


      A Matagorda boatman, with a Matagorda boat, the Myrtle, conceived the idea some three weeks ago of going to Galveston and starting a freight line in advance of the completion of the canal. He followed the canal to the San Bernard, and then the gulf to the Brazos where he struck the completed canal to Galveston. This enterprising boatman was Capt. A. S. Barrow. He brought a load of flour and other freight, and, finding the trip successful, he made the second trip last week bringing a cargo of miscellaneous freights. Captain Barrow makes the time 14 hours as against several days and often a week by rail, and 25 cents a hundred pounds as against 44 as the cost. On some classes of goods the rate is cut half. He also makes a rate of 18 and 20 cents to Freeport, Bernard and Caney points.

      But the strangest feature of the enterprise is that the Galveston News and Galveston correspondent of the Houston Chronicle report the cargoes as the initial steps of a Galveston enterprise, when Galveston had nothing to do with it, except to fill the orders of Matagorda merchants, by the quickest and cheapest route offered. The first cargo was claimed by Galveston, and the News (this News) was disposed to regard the claim as a slip of the pen, but when upon the publication of the second cargo still as a Galveston enterprise, we think it time to call a halt and ask Galveston papers and correspondents to give credit where credit is due: Matagorda furnished the boat, the captain, the idea and the vim.

Galveston News

       The first boat in the new service, which is to reach the towns of Quintana, Freeport, Velasco, the Bernard river and Matagorda left Galveston Friday with its first cargo of freight, consisting of about twenty-five tons of general merchandise. This vessel was the schooner Myrtle in command of Capt. A. S. Barrow of Galveston. The present plans are to maintain weekly sailings between Galveston and the points named, but if freight can be secured additional trips will be made. The Myrtle will carry about twenty-five tons with a full cargo, and Capt. Barrow has had promise of at least this amount of tonnage weekly. He anticipates no difficulty in securing cargoes for the return trips to Galveston, bringing in produce for the farmers and others along the canal.

       It is significant to note that this boat will be the first to pass through the canal after its opening between the Brazos river and Matagorda bay. Captain Barrow expects to reach the Brazos River Matagorda Bay section of the canal about the time the last earth was removed from the cut near Freeport, where United States dredges have been at work.

The Matagorda News
, Friday, May 30, 1913


Come to the Front and Begin to Do Things―Will See To It That Matagorda

Has A Representative Fleet in the Intercoastal Parade

      Matagorda’s young men are coming to the front.

      Capt. A. S. Barrow with his schooner Myrtle brought out of Galveston the first two cargoes of freight brought thru the Intercoastal canal.

      Tony Lorino of Lorino Bros. put the first smokestack in Matagorda, and is supplying Matagorda with home-made pure ice, and the factory will be able to supply the passing boats with ice for their refrigerator compartments, for the truck-carrying trade is going to be one of big proportions.

      Two weeks ago at a Board of Trade meeting Amos Duffy and John May Williams were appointed a committee to solicit funds to rebuild the pier to the pleasure pavilion and the wharf. They raised the money, and the work is now being done under the direction of W. E. Williams.

      The young men called a meeting Monday night, and while Odd Fellows hall has seen larger assemblies, it is safe to say there has been none more enthusiastic.

      Johnnie May Williams nominated A. E. Duffy for chairman and the election was unanimous. Harold Swagerty was made secretary. The chairman stated the object of the meeting was to see that Matagorda was fairly represented in the parade. The matter was discussed and various suggestions made by Messrs. Williams, Duffy, Burkhart, Smith, and, on invitation to others, McNabb and Gilbert.

      On motion of J. M. Williams, the chair appointed a committee to raise a fund to be used for decoration of certain boats, as follows: Jacob Smith, Gober Serrill and Frank Smith.

      To secure the enlistment of W. E. McNabb’s Hubby which with Mr. Wadsworth’s Pastime would be the largest boats in the parade, the young men pledged ten passengers and secured most of them on the spot.

      On motion, the chair appointed a committee to see all the boatmen and try and enlist them for the parade, as follows: O. R. Moberly, R. Serrill and Sam Lawson, the motion being amended to add all present as helpers.

      On motion, the chair appointed Johnnie May Williams, Geo. Killbride and Douglass Serrill a committee on decorations.

      In response to a motion, the chair appointed a committee on badges, C. E. Gilbert, Harold Feather and J. M. Williams, adopting the suggestions that: the badge be red, white and blue ribbons about ten inches long with “Matagorda” printed on them, and a rosette, the badges to be sold for 25c to all those going to Galveston, the proceeds going to the decoration fund.

      After all the committees were urged to get busy, the meeting adjourned subject to the call of the chairman.

      The boats now enlisted for the trip are: the Iris, the Pastime, the Hubby, the Ann Kauffman, the Myrtle, the Eagle with Capt. W. B. M. Gove and family, the Star, the Farewell and Dixie, Arthur Gottschalk’s Alice, and very probably Robidoux’s Quall, Trahan’s Merry Widow, Capt. _____ Ramey’s Madaline, and the Red Devil, Collins Baxter, captain.

      Boatmen, remember, this is a boost for Matagorda and the boat business.

      The News will print a revised list of boats and captains and crews and passengers early Monday, following Saturday night’s meeting.

Abstracted from: The Matagorda News, Friday, June 6, 1913


      The young men of Matagorda are to be congratulated on their action this week in behalf of a representative fleet in the Intercoastal canal celebration parade. The young men worked up a meeting Monday night, and as a result the News reports today ten boats positively promised in the parade and a good prospect for four or five more.

      The value to Matagorda of fair representation in this parade can not be estimated in dollars, and the injury by failure would long be felt. Matagorda was the first Texas port. Let Matagorda people yet make her one of the best.

      Let every citizen young and old attend the meeting Saturday night and aid in final arrangements. The Matagorda fleet ought to be organized to meet the western fleet in the channel at 9 o’clock on the morning of the 10th.

      The program as per order of Admiral Holland is for Matagorda fleet to fall in here following the western fleet, and then the Bay City fleet is followed by the Sargent fleet on reaching Caney, and next the fleets of Freeport and Velasco fall into line. The fleets all cast anchor for the night at Freeport where some sort of entertainment is provided by the enterprising people of Freeport. Wednesday morning the fleets move in the order named through the Velasco canal into and through Galveston bay, resting that night near the Galveston causeway. On Thursday morning passing thro’ the causeway, the parade is reviewed by Admiral Holland and staff of which Matagorda county is the only county honored with three Vice Admirals, Geo. B. Culver of Matagorda, Judge W. S. Holman of Bay City, and _____ Reed [H. W. Dean] of Palacios.

      A splendid program has been made for two days entertainment and altogether the celebration will be the biggest event ever pulled off on water. Orange is sending two fleets of about 40 boats and Houston over 200 decorated vessels.

      Matagorda’s sponsor, Miss Lula Belle Salley, and her maid of honor, Miss Margaret Hamilton, and matron, Mrs. A. H. Wadsworth, being required to be in Galveston on Tuesday, will go by rail.                                  

Abstracted from: The Matagorda News, Friday, June 6, 1913


Barrier of Few Feet Only Remains, Awaiting Arrival of Riche

      Freeport, Texas, May 30.―The last few hundred feet of the Intercoastal Canal to be dug out west of Brazos river was completed today, except for a barrier of a few feet, which is being held pending the arrival of Colonel C. S. Riche, United States engineer in charge of the Galveston district, under whose supervision the 200-mile canal from Galveston to Corpus Christi has been constructed. Cargoes from Galveston are now lying on the Freeport ship channel ready to be the first one to leave bound west Friday morning.      

The Matagorda County Tribune
, June 6, 1913


Imposing Sight Witnessed When Seven Crafts Joined Pageant

      Matagorda, Texas, June 11.―The ship Iris, T. C. Thornhill master, with streamers and Stars and Stripes flying, and with the Matagorda string band of six pieces playing National airs, made an imposing vanguard of the parade as the Matagorda fleet heaved anchor for its voyage for Freeport. Other vessels of the fleet were the Myrtle, Star, Pastime, Red Devil, Dixie and Eagle. Vessels from other ports west of here were passing town all afternoon, and many citizens collected along the bluff to review the parade.    

The Matagorda County Tribune
, June 13, 1913


Eight Vessels Represent Matagorda In the Big Celebration at Galveston this Week

Delegation Includes Business Men and Futures.

     The Matagorda Fleet is off for Galveston.

      The young men’s meeting Saturday night to close up and arrange a program for the reception of the fleets from below and for decoration of our boats was remarkable for two things―the good interest that had been worked up and the absence of the boatmen.

      The decorations were all gotten ready and streamers painted, but on account of the long distance and prospect of rain most earnestly desired, it was concluded to keep the decorations and place them after the boats were ready to start from Galveston bay (their stop for Wednesday night).

      Reports were made that eight or more boats were sure for the parade, with a possible eleven. It was a matter of great regret that Mr. McNabb’s Hubby failed to get out of the harbor, on account of the low tide; and it is in this connection, it will be joyful news that the U. S. Government has determined to take over the channel from the river to the Intercoastal Canal and maintain it, and that Chief Engineer Richie will probably reach it in a few days to clear it out. This insures Matagorda from similar trouble in the future.

      It appearing to the Matagorda people that there had been a misprint in the program as announced by the Admiral, in that the lower fleets were ordered to leave Port O’Connor at 10 a.m. Tuesday and assemble at Freeport at night where an entertainment was arranged for the combined fleets; and when Matagorda people knew that the trip could not be made from Port O’Connor in the time designated even if they should leave on time, and that they would experience some difficulty in getting through the chain of Cedar lakes in the night, it was duly resolved that the Matagorda fleet would leave at 8:30 so as to be at Freeport for the reception which would be waiting for them that night.

      The Fleet assembled at the Pleasure pavilion wharf at 8 o’clock Tuesday morning and loaded on their provisions and stores for the trip, and at 8:30 set sail for Freeport.

      The following is the list of boats in the Matagorda fleet, with their officers and guests:

      Iris – W. G. Thornhill commodore, Tas Thornhill captain, C. S. Burkhart and the Mexican string band of five pieces.

      Pastime – W. E. Williams captain, A. H. Wadsworth, G. B. Culver, F. L. Rugeley, Judge Wm. Holland, Jas. Mayfield and Frank Holt cook.

      Ann Kauffman – H. H. Serrill captain, John Culver, C. Zipprian, Jack Ellercamp, Ed Savage, Douglass Serrill engineer.

      Eagle – Wm. B. Gove captain, Mrs. Gove, Amos Jordon of Long Mott brother of Mrs. Gove, Montreal Gove and Misses Katie and Leota Gove.

      Red Devil – Collins Baxter captain, Gober Serrill and Jacob Smith.

      Dixie – O. R. Moberly captain, Arthur Culver, Sambo Rugeley, Lamar George and Sam Lawson.

      Myrtle – A. S. Barrow captain and his mate, and Mrs. Barrow–will return with a load of freight.

      Star – Ed Duffy captain, Tom Dogy mate Chris Zippiran, Frank Smith, Mr. Mayes and friend of Houston, Herbert Gottschalk.

Bay City Delegation.

      The Ben Hur one of the best of our Matagorda boats had been chartered by the Bay City Business League, so as to have representation in the parade. Matagorda is broad in this lending, for we expect Bay City to be a large feeder to Matagorda when the commerce of the Midcoast begins to move through the canal and Matagorda of course.

      The Ben Hur left at 7:45 with about fifteen Bay Citizens aboard under the captaincy of League Secretary B. L. Ayers, and Elbert Moberley master of the boat. Among the party were R. R. Davis, Seaman Eidman, D. P. and S. S. Moore, B. E. Norvell, Rowland Rugeley, T. J. Clark, S. S. Taylor, John Crawford, G. L. Berry, L. Schwarz, A. C. Curry and A. Simon.

Coming Back.

      While Matagorda people could see a number of the boats from the west Tuesday afternoon as they would miss the channel thru the reefs and be delayed an hour or so, one of the largest into the night, they were nevertheless surprised Wednesday evening when the State boat Ann Kauffman came in with seven of the passengers of the Viola of Collegeport and Ed. Savage, Jack Ellercamp and Douglass Serrell of the Ann Kauffman’s passengers, the others having caught other boats and gone on to Freeport. The Eagle, Capt. Gove, also returned Wednesday night. Montreal says they “could have made it,” but two gallons of oil and an hour per mile against wind and current was discouraging. The Star returned yesterday with Frank Smith and Tom Dogy; and the Dixie, this morning with O. R. Moberly and Arthur Culver–all the others taking the train at Freeport.

      The returning excursionists say few boats of the several western fleets had reached Freeport when they left. About thirty-five left for Galveston Wednesday noon.

The Matagorda News
, Friday, June 13, 1913


Palacios Flotilla Sailed Tuesday Morning to Join the Intercostal Canal Fleet at Freeport

      Palacios was not as largely represented by boats in the Intercoastal canal celebration and parade at Galveston this week as had been hoped or expected, but what was lacking in numbers was made up by the enthusiasm of those who did go. A large crowd was at the pavilion wharf Tuesday morning to see the boats off. Five motor boats represented Palacios in the Galveston parade. They were the flag ship Monarch and launches Claraette, Imogene, Poco Aqua and Alamo. The Monarch sailed from the Ruthven wharf. At the pavilion wharf the Claraette and Imogene were joined by the Grace and Oma B from Collegeport, the latter having on board a company of ten Boy Scouts in regulation uniform under command of Commodore Harry Clapp.

      The Oma B was gaily decorated with flags and streamers advertising Collegeport, and the Claraette was also decked out in gala attire with streamers announcing that those on the inside were “Palacios Boosters”. The Alamo sailed Monday with the families of Mr. W. H. Clement and his brother-in-law, Mr. Morrow from Refugio, on board. The Poco Aqua was aground Tuesday morning, and did get away until about an hour after the other boats had sailed. As is usually the case there were a number of changes right at the last, and it was impossible for us to get a correct passenger list of the several boats, but each carried about its full quota. The fleet was to reach Freeport Tuesday night and anchor, and sail to Galveston Wednesday, reaching that city some time in the afternoon.

      The sponsor of the Palacios flotilla, Miss Alpha Bussell, left on the train Wednesday morning for Galveston in company with her chaperone, Mrs. H. B. Farwell. A number of Palacios folk went on the same train, among them being Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Tatum, Prof. Gray, Mr. and Mrs. Manley Sexton and Earl Grant.

Palacios Beacon
, Friday, June 13, 1913


Biggest Event Ever Pulled Off in Gulf Waters

Its Origin, Promotion and Completion Predicted in 1838 by An English Woman Visitor

      At the hour of going to press, the News has heard nothing from Galveston about the celebration, except that a telegram was received from Mr. Culver that he and his party had reached there safely. The wind from the east had caused such a low tide and stiff current in the canal that only a few of the boats could make the trip even as far as Freeport. Of those which were of light draught some made such slow progress against the unusually strong current that they either turned back before reaching Freeport, or were anchored there while their passengers took the train for Galveston. The canal is not really completed, the contractors not having time to go over it and clear out some overlooked or caved in places.

      The Galveston News of Sunday gave in several pages an interesting history of the Intercoastal Canal, mentioning the construction of the Galveston Bay Velasco canal during the war as the first of the canal. Another canal constructed by private enterprise also forming a link of the Intercoastal was built by a Maj. Shephard, a planter on Caney, connecting Caney with Matagorda bay, and that was about 1853.

      The origin of the intercoastal canal idea, as stated by Admiral C. S. E. Holland of Victoria, so far as generally known, was during the civil war, and it was just after the war, about ’70, the government made an order for a survey of the coast. But it was Claud Holland’s proposition and his persistent effort which put the idea in execution. The idea, however, is older than the civil war, nearly as old as the oldest house in Matagorda. Along in 1837-8 just after the news had reached England of the Texas victory at San Jacinto and the organization of the new republic, a party of Britishers set sail for Texas, probably the mission being both political and commercial. The party stopped at every settlement on the Texas coast, and how thorough was the investigation may be imagined from the description of the coast, its bays and inlets in a small volume on Texas written by a Mrs. Houston, of the party, the book being published in London in 1840. The book describes the coast lands and predicts great wealth to the country, and is minute in describing the chain of bays, and the great benefit to accrue to the new republic in a canal connecting the bays into a complete inland water way for small craft protected from the gulf from the Rio Grande to the great Mississippi. The fertility of the prairies and valleys are dwelt upon and the value of the inland waterway in the development of great territory of the new republic. The writer, no doubt with the aid of an engineer of the party, made estimates of distances from bay to bay, and said the land to be canaled would hardly exceed a hundred miles.

      But wherever the idea originated, it remained for C. S. E. Holland to revive it, and with his enterprising and able associates, including our own Geo. B. Culver and his support in Matagorda, gave it life, and have kept at the wheel until the canal is completed except from Galveston to Orange and money is appropriated for that link, and work will soon begin on that.

Abstracted from: The Matagorda News, Friday, June 13, 1913


      Galveston, Texas, June 12.―The completion and opening to traffic of an inland waterway 200 miles in length, this being but a section of a great project covering a distance of 700 miles and extending from the Mississippi river to the Rio Grande below Brownsville, is an event that is being fitting commemorated. A monster motor boat parade took place today in Galveston harbor in which more than five hundred motor craft of all descriptions participated, most of them having traversed the route of the completed section of the canal, from Corpus Christi to Galveston. A three days’ celebration of the event will take place at Galveston, which great port is at present the eastern terminus of the great inland waterway. In commemoration of the occasion the Galveston News issued an Intercoastal Canal edition on Sunday, June 8, in which it says:

     The completed section of the Intercoastal Canal extends from Galveston, Texas, to Corpus Christi, Texas, a distance of approximately 200 miles, skirting the coast line of the great Lone Star State and connecting with many navigable streams, rivers, bayous, creeks and canals. Thousands of acres of rich virgin prairie are drained by this canal, supplied with transportation facilities and opened to settlement. All cities and towns along the Texas coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi, as well as all cities and towns on navigable streams connecting with the Intercoastal Canal, are now given direct water communication with the great jobbing center of Galveston and are afforded an outlet to this great port for their products.

     The effect of the Intercoastal Canal will not be local; it is not a local project, but is national in its scope. This inland waterway, skirting the coasts of Louisiana and Texas, is but a link in the great national plan for a protected waterway for small craft along the entire eastern seaboard of the United States. The plans of the federal government call for an intercoastal canal from Maine to the Mexican border, and there has been considerable agitation, with more or less promise of co-operation on the part of the Latin-American countries for an extension of this waterway to connect with the Panama Canal. The completion of the Galveston-Corpus Christi section of the Intercoastal Canal is a step toward the final realization of this ideal.

     The Intercoastal Canal in Texas and Louisiana has been surveyed through its entire length and estimates made by the government engineers. The final project calls for a canal nine feet deep and one hundred feet wide extending from the Mississippi river near New Orleans to the Rio Grande near Brownsville. Estimates for such a canal amount to $10,000,000.


Abstracted from: The Matagorda County Tribune, June 13, 1913


Every Vessel Arriving at Galveston Carried a Strong Delegation Ready to Fight for the Canal

      In the United States engineering department launch Colonel, which led the first division of the canal procession into Galveston harbor, were Major S. M. Wilcox, his daughter, Miss Constance Wilcox, Captain W. L. Ellisor, Vice Admiral G. B. Culver of Matagorda, Hon. John M. Corbett of Bay City and S. M. Lesesne of Edna.

      “The boats made magnificent progress, especially considering the head wind and the high seas they encountered,” said Vice Admiral Culver, “Considering the unfortunate weather conditions attending the trip, the number of boats which refrained from ‘falling by the wayside’ was remarkably large. How do I feel about the canal? Well, sir, I am more than a little elated at its completion, and I expect that the benefits to be derived from its operation are far too many to be easily recounted offhand. It is a great achievement for the coast country of Texas.”

      “The trip on the Colonel was as enjoyable as perfect courtesy and untiring attention to the comfort of the guests could make it,” said Mr. Lesesne. “Major Wilcox and Captain Ellisor are princes when it is a question of looking out for their guests. I enjoyed the voyage in the Colonel as much as any marine journey I have ever had the pleasure of making.”


Lived on Coast Seventy-Five Years

      One of the larger boats that braved the weather and came into Galveston on Wednesday night was the Alamo of Palacios, Captain R. F. Clement. Others on board the Alamo were: W. H. Clement, chief engineer; Fred Clement, pilot; P. W. Clement, Clement Dickey, Misses Edith and Rowena Clement, R. H. Morrow and wife and T. E. Harmon and wife.

      Captain Clement with the Alamo came into Freeport with the fleet Tuesday afternoon. When it was learned Wednesday morning that Admiral Holland and the Corpus Christi fleet were stuck at the mouth of the Caney and would not be able to reach Freeport for at least another twelve hours, not wishing to delay at Freeport for the rest of the fleet, Captain Clement headed for Galveston through the canal and came in Wednesday evening before the water became roughest.

      Captain Clement on Thursday celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday along with the canal celebration. He said he would kill two birds with the same stone and have two celebrations at the same time. “I am 75 years old today and have lived all of those seventy-five years in the coast country,” he said. “I am a loyal subject of the republic of Texas. In the seventy-five years that I have lived in the coast country I have seen some wonderful development. I have seen this country grow from a wilderness to one of the garden spots of the United States.

      “The Intercoastal Canal is going to mean a great deal to the coast country. The cheap transportation afforded, old-fashioned though it may be, is sure to bring more settlers, and with more settlers will come more prosperity. I want to see the canal extended to Brownsville and completed to the Mississippi, and then deepened and widened to a depth of nine feet and a width of at least of hundred feet. When that is done the coast country of Texas and Louisiana will get the real benefits that are intended in the Intercoastal Canal.”


Collegeport Boy Scouts Here

      Although several troops of boy scouts are now en route somewhere in the canal between Galveston and Freeport, that organization is not without representation at the Intercoastal Canal celebration, troop 1, Boy Scouts of America, from Collegeport, being among those arriving in Galveston with the fleet from the west Thursday morning. The boy scouts came into Galveston on board the Oma B of Collegeport, under command of Commodore H. A. Clapp of the Collegeport fleet. Commodore Clapp is also scout master at Collegeport and brought his scouts along. The commodore is accompanied by his wife, and these two and the twelve boy scouts formed the party on board the Oma B.

      The Oma B met with an accident to her engine Thursday morning while about fifteen miles down West bay. A crank shaft on her engine broke–for a time she was left adrift in the channel. The other Collegeport boat, the Grace, under command of Captain P. N. Le Compe, picked her up and towed her into Galveston. Other passengers on board the Grace were: Miss S. R. Daniels, Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Nelson and family.

      Commodore H. A. Clapp is an ardent canal booster. He is enthusiastic over the outlook for future development of the canal. The present movement of boats as an average of its usefulness, he says, as the present movement has been made under extreme circumstances. Cheap, quick and efficient transportation is what the coast country of Texas and Louisiana needs for her fullest development, he says, and this is what the Intercoastal Canal will provide.


Velasco Well Represented

      W. M. Holland of Bay City, district attorney, was among the Velasco Intercoastal Canal boosters. “This piratical bunch from Velasco found me stranded on Mud Island and simply kidnapped me,” grinned Mr. Holland. “Knowing my old affiliations with Velasco, and knowing that my heart is always with them, they asked no questions, but took me on board and made me a full-fledged Velascoan.  The ancestor of Commodore Hudgins of Velasco is the man who first worked for the Intercoastal Canal. On the way up to Galveston we passed the old Hudgins place, overlooking the stretch of water and still inhabited by his descendants. I knew the old Texas pioneer well, and it’s to be regretted the erect figure and long white hair of the grand old man could not be seen here at the celebration of the opening of that canal for which he worked years ago.


Bay City Business League Here

      The Bay City Business League, forty strong, including President D. P. Moore and Secretary B. L. Ayers, reached Galveston Thursday. “Matagorda county will profit in many ways by the canal,” said President Moore at the Tremont, “as it will not only reduce freight rates, but will help to develop the growing country. While our section is engaged mainly in the cultivation of rice, there are other crops that can be grown, and with the new opening to market, the farmers will exert themselves in other directions. There is much cotton planted this season, and more acres are being put in the staple each year. The soil is very productive, and a bale and a third to the acre is not unusual. This canal will permit this cotton and other crops to be brought to Galveston, where the best market can be reached.”

      Among the many Matagorda county people here for the celebration are B. E. Norvell and S. O. Eidman. They are canal enthusiasts and are enjoying their visit to Galveston.


“Peerless Palacios” Represented

      “Peerless Palacios” is also represented by several boats, among them being the flagship Monarch, under command of Commodore R. J. Hill of the Palacios fleet and the Imogene, under command of Captain J. R. Elliott. Dr. Elliott is accompanied by his wife and two children. Four passengers came on board the Imogene. They are E. R. Hunt, William Elder, James C. Perry, and Walter Galliford. The Imogene is a comfortable boat and those on board report a very pleasant voyage through the Intercoastal Canal.―Galveston News.

Abstracted from: The Matagorda County Tribune, June 20, 1913


Made Greatest Showing of Any Coast Town at Galveston

      At the celebration of the opening of the intercoastal canal at Galveston last week Palacios won special distinction, and gained publicity and commendation that will be of large benefit to the city in the future, due to the enterprise of our own citizens. There is so much of the trip, the parade, the entertainment given, that a detailed report is not possible by the Beacon.

      The trip was made by the Palacios boats without accident of any kind to mar its pleasure, though some rough water and weather were encountered in Galveston Bay. The Palacios fleet all told numbered seven boats, the largest number sent by any town on the western section of the canal. Houston only outnumbered Palacios in number of vessels. Palacios was also represented by more of her citizens than any other of the towns west of Galveston. The Galveston people entertained the visitors most delightfully.

      The trip through the canal and the view of this new waterway are described as being worth a great deal to make and see. Commodore Hill of the Palacios fleet says he wouldn’t have missed the trip for a thousand dollars.

      Miss Alpha Bussell, the charming sponsor of the Palacios fleet, was among the most admired of the lady representatives of the several towns and was shown special courtesies.

      Nearly all of the fleet returned to Palacios Saturday. The Alamo was the first to come in, arriving Friday evening. Capt. Clement reports that he made the run from Galveston in fourteen hours; so we are nearer the island city in both distance and time by water than by rail.

Palacios Beacon, Friday, June 20, 1913


      The Matagorda Delegation to Intercoastal Canal celebration returned Sunday on the Pastime, Ben Hur, Iris and Myrtle. All report an enjoyable time, notwithstanding the rough weather which met them. Vice Admiral G. B. Culver says that at the barbecue in Velasco they had to grab a piece of meat and run under the lumber shed to get out of the rain. Admiral C. S. E. Holland was on one of the large boats which had been delayed by the low tide, and when, after waiting several hours beyond the time at which the fleets were to leave Velasco for Galveston, the Commodores and captains insisted that Mr. Culver as ranking Vice Admiral should take command and proceed to Mud Island where the program called for a stop Wednesday night. Mr. Culver agreed on condition that one of the fastest boats should return, find Admiral Holland and convey him to the fleet at Mud Island, and the fleet proceeded. Mr. Davis of Freeport, sent the Edwards to the relief of the Admiral, and conveyed him in an auto from Freeport to Galveston, Admiral Holland greeting the fleet of 44 boats on arrival Thursday morning under command of Rear Admiral Culver.

      “Matagorda county’s delegation,” says Mr. Culver, “was more than double that of any other county on the coast excepting Harris, or Galveston. As to the Matagorda fleet, most of them turned back on account of the high wind blowing at 25 miles an hour and the stiff current in the canal. Others turned back at Mud Island on advice of the federal boatmen that the rough bay would be dangerous. Many boats of other fleets west of here also turned back, some of them not even getting as far as Freeport.

      The Pastime, Iris and Myrtle were the only Matagorda boats which went all the way to Galveston, which not counting the Ben Hur of Matagorda of the Bay City party, was more than the average from the western towns.

      “Al McFadden of Victoria gave a dinner at the Galvez, to the men who have stayed with this movement from the first start in 1905 to the finish. It was a great dinner and a jolly celebration. I didn’t see any Galveston boats in the parade, in fact there wasn’t much of Galveston in evidence on our arrival. I expected to find the whole Galveston fleet at the Causeway to meet us, but the only boat we saw was the Panther which met us in the harbor with Secretary Haines on board.”

The Matagorda News, June 20, 1913


With Street Parade, Band Music and Military Drills

Special to the Tribune.

      Galveston, Texas, June 14.―With the exception of a grand concert to be given tomorrow afternoon by a massed band consisting of three regimental bands from the Fourth Brigade, United States Infantry, the celebration of the opening of the Intercoastal Canal waterway, Galveston to Corpus Christi, was brought to a close tonight. Friday’s festivities consisted of an invitation luncheon at the Hotel Galvez in honor of the reviewing party, maids, chaperons and sponsors and military exercises in front of the Hotel Galvez by the Fourth Brigade, United States Infantry.

      Friday night, a great street parade was held along the seawall from the Hotel Galvez to the Surf bath house, where was held a session of the Intercoastal Inland Waterway League, President and Admiral C. S. E. Holland presiding. The parade was participated in by all of the delegations from points along the canal and by a regiment of infantry from the Fourth Brigade, a detachment of sailors from the U. S. gunboat Petrol, and three troops of boy scouts of America. Following the session to the League a dance was held at the Surf bath house.

      The celebration closed tonight with a wall scaling exhibition by the Fourth Brigade under command of Col. R. L. Bullard. The Intercoastal Canal Waterway is now formally opened to traffic and represents the labor of years on the part of men who have striven to enhance coastal trade with a great saving of time and money. Motor boats will regularly clear with freight from Galveston to points along the canal, and the waterway will provide a pleasure ground for tourists and pleasure seekers.                                    


The Matagorda County Tribune, Friday, June 20, 1913


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Sep. 25, 2011
Sep. 25, 2011