Digest>Archives> October 1998

Lone Star Light Refurbished

By Timothy Harrison

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The Port Isabel Lighthouse, minus its lantern ...
Photo by: Pam Cook of Janesville, Wisconsin.

Not used as an active aid to navigation since 1905, the Port Isabel Lighthouse in Port Isabel, Texas is getting a much needed restoration.

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Scaffolding was put up around the tower in ...
Photo by: Courtesy of Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce.


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This antique post card (from the Lighthouse ...

Soon, the lighthouse which has been open to the public as a tourist attraction will again be open for visitors to climb the tower and learn more about an area that is rich in history.

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Point of Interest: A replica of the Port Isabel ...


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Part of the old lantern room being removed by ...
Photo by: Courtesy of Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce.

Port Isabel gained widespread attention when General Zachary Taylor (who later became President of the United States) led an army of occupation down the coastal mainland from Corpus Christi. On nearing Port Isabel he discovered that the Mexican troops were setting fire to the buildings and sent in the Cavalry in time to prevent new fires and extinguish the ones already on fire. Two weeks later the Mexican War broke out.

Port Isabel soon became a hospital city receiving wounded from the battles Palto Alto and Resaca de la Palma. A supply depot was also established here to supply American troops.

After the war, the point continued to supply military installations on the Rio Grande and because of the heavy ship traffic, it was soon necessary to build a navigational aid. Construction of the 60 foot lighthouse began in 1851, and was completed two years later.

During the War Between the States, the lighthouse came under the control of the Confederate States, but as early as 1863, Union troops regained control until the end of the war. It was at nearby Palmetto Ranch that Union and Rebel troops fought a severe battle that took place more than a month after General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox. Historians now state that this was the last battle of the Civil War.

Port Isabel soon became a hospital city receiving wounded from the battles Palto Alto and Resaca de la Palma. A supply depot was also established here to supply American troops.

After the war, the point continued to supply military installations on the Rio Grande and because of the heavy ship traffic, it was soon necessary to build a navigational aid. Construction of the 60 foot lighthouse began in 1851, and was completed two years later.

During the War Between the States, the lighthouse came under the control of the Confederate States, but as early as 1863, Union troops regained control until the end of the war. It was at nearby Palmetto Ranch that Union and Rebel troops fought a severe battle that took place more than a month after General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox. Historians now state that this was the last battle of the Civil War.

The lighthouse was declared excess property in 1927 and sold at auction for $2760 to J. S. Ford. In 1950, the station was donated by its owners at the time, Mr. & Mrs. Lon C. Hill Jr. and the Port Isabel Realty Company to the State of Texas as an historic site. At that time, the state enlarged the lantern room giving it easier access for the public. Other restoration work took place in 1970; however, the simple wear of time and a build up of moisture in the tower made it evident that repairs were again necessary if the tower was to remain open to the public.

Restoration of the lighthouse is expected to be completed sometime next year, with the lighthouse expected to again open to the public in the summer of 1999.

This story appeared in the October 1998 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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