Port Aransas is a small town on northern tip of Mustang Island. The Island is an 18 mile long barrier island located north of Padre Island, which is the longest barrier island in the world. Running parallel to the mainland, barrier islands protect the coast from the full force of powerful storm waves and weather systems. Our surrounding waters include the Corpus Christi Bay, The Gulf of Mexico, the Lydia Ann Ship Channel and the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. Scattered about are several small islands that contribute to Port A's reputation for great fishing, shelling, birding and nature adventures.
Many experts believe that the islands along the Texas coast began as submerged sand bars about 4,500 years ago. The first island was called Wild Horse Island, then the name changed to Mustang Island because of the "Mestenos" or wild horses, brought to the island by Spaniards in the 1800's.
The first known human residents of the island were the Karankawas Indians, and Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca was probably the first European to meet them in 1528.
Jean Lafitte and his band of buccaneers spent quite of bit of time on neighboring islands as well as Mustang Island in the 1820's. Legend has it that, somewhere on the island, exists a Spanish dagger with with a silver spike driven through the hilt. According to legend, this marks the spot where Lafitte buried a chest of gold and jewels. Maybe you will be lucky enough to find it.
Early on, the area's natural pass to the Gulf--first called Aranzazu and later known as Aransas Pass--attracted increasing amounts of maritime traffic and map makers. In 1833, a map was created that noted the location of "Sand Point," which would later become known as Port Aransas. During the 1846-48 Mexican War, a small fort was built on Mustang Island to guard the entrance to Aransas Bay, and it in use until after the Civil War.
In the 1850's regular steamship service ran between Mustang Island and New Orleans. The first deep draught steamship went through the Pass in 1859. The port of call for the lines, Mercer Docks, was destroyed during the 1875 Storm. Service to New Orleans was never restored.
During the 1890s, with a population of 250, Port Aransas was known as Ropesville. In 1899, the name was changed to "Tarpon, Texas" because of the large numbers of the fish being caught in the local waters. Citizens began calling their town Port Aransas about 1910. In 1919 the town was all but destroyed by a powerful hurricane.
At the turn of the century, the village had a thriving sea turtle export trade, with some catches weighing up to 500 pounds. The turtles were shipped live, on their backs, to market. In addition to the turtles, some estimate that there are 600+ species of saltwater fish inhabiting the local waters.
For additional history and an overview of Port Aransas and Mustang Island, please visit the museum in the City Hall located at W. Avenue A and Cutoff Rd. and the University of Texas Marine Science Institute Visitors ' Center located on Cotter at the beach.
Please visit the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce website for more information.
About Port Aransas