During the 19th and early 20th centuries, blinking lights were all up and down the Texas coast from the Rio Grande to the Sabine River. Texas boasted a greater array of lighthouse types than any other state (and still does), including brick masonry, cast-iron, screw-pile, and caisson styles. Although some Texas light towers succumbed to storms, shifting sands, or modernization, eight still stand along the Texas coast, sturdy remnants of the past.
Focal height and coordinates are taken from the 1907 United States Coast Guard Light List, while location and dates of activation, automation, and deactivation are taken from the United States Coast Guard Historical information site for lighthouses.
Lighthouses of Texas (Images of America)
Not long after winning their independence from Mexico in 1836, Texans began clamoring for lighthouses. Hundreds of miles of barrier islands, shifting sandbars, and shallow bays made the Texas coast treacherous at a time when few overland routes provided access to the new republic. Beginning in 1852, twenty-eight lighthouses were built along the Texas coastline, on land and over water. Lighthouse service was often a family affair, with husbands, wives, and children working together as keepers and assistants. For nearly 70 years, construction continued as coastal erosion, hurricanes, and wars regularly damaged or destroyed those lighthouses already built. These “sentinels of the sea” lessened but did not eliminate the chance of shipwreck, so lifesaving stations, manned by able seamen with unsinkable surfboats, were established as well. As Texas’s lighthouses were gradually automated throughout the 20th century, many were sold to private owners or abandoned. Today, several have been restored, and two―at Aransas Pass and Port Isabel―still function as aids to navigation.