Texas Lighthouses

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.

Name Image Location Year first lit Year deactivated Focal Height
Aransas Pass Light Port Aransas 1857 Active
(Inactive: 1952-1988)
Unknown
Brazoz River Light N/A Brazoria County 1896 1967
(Demolished)
Unknown
Brazos Santiago Light N/A South Padre Island 1854 (First)
1943 (Last)
1974 Unknown
Clopper's Bar Light N/A Morgan's Point 1854 1880
(Demolished)
035 35 ft (11 m)
Corpus Christi Light N/A Corpus Christi 1859 1878
(Demolished)
072 72 ft (22 m)
Double Bayou Light N/A Oak Island 1900 1915
(Destroyed)
Unknown
East Shoal Light N/A Galveston 1872 1875
(Destroyed)
Unknown
Fort Point Light N/A Galveston 1882 1909
(Dismantled in 1953)
048 48 ft (15 m)
Galveston Jetty Light
(North)
N/A Galveston 1897 Unknown
(Removed)
042 42 ft (13 m)
Galveston Jetty Light
(South)
N/A Galveston 1883 (First)
1918 (Last)
1980
(Destroyed in 2000)
042 42 ft (13 m)
Halfmoon Reef Light Port Lavaca 1858 1942
(Moved to shore)
Unknown
Halfmoon Shoal Light N/A Texas City 1854 (First)
1902 (Last)
1930s
(Demolished)
035 35 ft (11 m)
Matagorda Island Light Port Lavaca 1852 (First)
1873 (Current)
Active
(Inactive: 1995-1999)
091 91 ft (28 m)
Point Bolivar Light Point Bolivar 1852 (First)
1872 (Current)
1933 116 116 ft (35 m)
Point Isabel Light Port Isabel 1853 Active
(Inactive: 1905-1955)
Unknown
Redfish Bar Light N/A Galveston 1854 1936
(Destroyed)
Unknown
Redfish Bar Cut Light N/A Galveston 1900 1936
(Destroyed)
039 39 ft (12 m)
Sabine Bank Light Port Arthur 1906 2001
(Replaced with
skeleton tower)
Unknown
Trinity River Light N/A Trinity Bay 1900 1915
(Destroyed)
016 16 ft (4.9 m)


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.