Families come for time spent together, a safe place where one can learn and teach without effort and play at any age. The adventurous explore by various means, and the historians connect with the explorers of long ago and the legacies they left upon those shores. The coastline of Texas, which spans some 600 miles, offers limitless opportunities to satisfy one’s unique coastal experience including a rich and fascinating history, and if you’re lucky, you too will come away with a broader, richer vision. The coastline of Calhoun County, Texas delivers a unique coastal experience not to be missed!
If you happen to have a love of history Indianola Beach and Historic Site is a great place to visit. Walk the ground, gain perspective and imagine another time. René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, explored North America and began a nearby settlement in 1685. The port of Indianola, on Matagorda Bay in Calhoun County, was founded in August 1846 as Indian Point by Sam Addison White and William M. Cook. In 1844 a stretch of beach near the point had been selected by Carl, Prince of Solms Braunfels, commissioner general of the Adelsverein, as the landing place for German immigrants bound for western Texas under the sponsorship of the society. One immigrant, Johann Schwartz, built the first house in the area in 1845 and Indian Point became firmly established as a deep-water port during the Mexican War.
For thirty years its army depot supplied frontier forts in western Texas. Anglo-American landowners in the area had the site surveyed in 1846 and began selling lots. The post office was opened in September 1847, and stagecoach service to the interior began in January 1848. The town grew rapidly, expanding three miles down the beach to Powderhorn Bayou, following its selection by Charles Morgan as the Matagorda Bay terminus for his New York-based steamship line.
Supplies for frontier forts landed here and even camels were landed there by the Army as an experiment for their use in desert areas of the U.S. (There is another interesting story about camels coming to Indianola. It’s a story told by a local Calhoun Country resident regarding a descendant of the Mendez family who ran away from home in Madrid Spain back in the day and learned how to handle camels in Morocco. He was hired by a local woman, known as the Widow Watson, to bring camels to Indianola but upon his arrival she refused to accept or pay for the camels. Another great history story is the one of Mrs. Angelina Belle Eberly, heroine of the Archives War in Austin. If you have been to Austin you may have seen her statute downtown. She’s the woman firing the cannon! After the Archives War she moved to Indian Point in 1848 and operated hotels there until her death in 1860. She was buried in the local cemetery but after the second hurricane her grave fell into the ocean and to our knowledge has never been seen again.)
February 1849 saw the name of the growing town changed to Indianola. The town had become a major seaport and the largest point of immigration into the United States and was the county seat of Calhoun County from 1852 to 1886. Indianola was a growing concern as a frontier seaport town with all the trappings of a large community–schools, churches, theaters and more, a position it held until the catastrophic hurricane of September 16, 1875 which devastated the low-lying city. The town and rebuilding lagged and in August 1886, another hurricane struck the area and completed the devastation. It was a total destruction and the end of the town of Indianola as it was then. Today, the community of Indianola stands as a lively and inspiring testament to the past. Able to withstand almost anything that nature sends her.
Contemplating the history of Indianola usually gives us an appetite! A combination of the beautiful beaches, the water, the salt air, whatever it might be but there is only one place to satisfy that hunger and that would be the Indianola Marina and Fishing Pier. The marina features a store, diner, bait shop, boat ramp and more. A favorite is to order one of their great burgers and sit in the back where you can drop in a line and fish while you dine or just hang out enjoying the cool breezes and just chill. Leaving the marina and headed homebound you roll out of Indianola and stop to take one last look at the huge statue of LaSalle. Glance toward the shore and be still – you just might feel as he did as he drew closer to the coastline on which you are now standing. Say goodbye to Indianola the Texas Queen of ghost towns. You won’t find any ghosts, but you will delight in the spirit of considering time and linking with the past.
Right next door to Indianola is the quaint seaside community at Magnolia Beach. This is an undiscovered rarity in coastal areas and such a community exists at Magnolia Beach. If imagining a coastal scene brings to mind peace, relaxation, bird watching, boating, fishing, and enjoying a pristine beach then Indianola and Magnolia Beach is for you!
The open beach area is a beautifully unadorned expanse of glorious sand and water—no tables here unless you bring your own. Vehicles are allowed to drive and park on the beach and near the water. It is simply gorgeous! This area is meant for those who prefer a lawn chair and a bit of sunscreen—maybe a book. Facilities are very near, but in this area, the coastline itself plays the starring role! Indianola and Magnolia Beach will take your breath away!
The final destination on this coastal trek was Port Lavaca, the seat of Calhoun County. The coastline here has its own charm. Port Lavaca is located on Lavaca bay, so the shoreline curves a bit and juts out a bit here and there. Driving is allowed on the beach, and there are covered tables and barbeque pits set back from the water. In the children’s area, there is a brightly colored water playground. As in every place we visited, the fishing, birding, boating, and coastal delights are plentiful here.
This trip along the beaches of Indianola, Magnolia Beach and Port Lavaca was so worth the time. It will give you a better understanding of what “the beach” means and will enhance your expectations immeasurably. Discover for yourself the places, people, history, and quaint individual communities along a short stretch of what may be your own backyard—places to which you will return, depending on what sort of beach experience you happen to be in the mood for!
Come to the Indianola Magnolia Beach Market Days and find your own coastal experience.
Indianola Magnolia Beach Market Days is held on the first Saturday-Sunday of every month at the Indianola Beach Park at Millers Point, 1600 N. Ocean Drive Port Lavaca, Texas. Market opens at 9am and closes at 4pm both days.