Matagorda Island Lighthouse
Restoration Project

The relighting of the Matagorda Island Lighthouse, its restoration and continued maintenance will have multiple benefits to the local community and the citizens of Texas. First and foremost will be the protection of a unique historical resource. The lighthouse will provide visitors a focal point to its importance as a historical navigational aid - an aid that made possible the maritime transportation to Matagorda Bay and its ports. The ports were instrumental in the exporting and importing of goods needed for the development of central Texas. It also allowed the immigration of settlers to the area. Publicity regarding the restored lighthouse will draw attention to the area's historical and natural resources. This will increase visitation and provide economic benefits for Calhoun County.

The significance of the lighthouse is validated by its inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and recognition by the Texas Historical Commission.


The lighthouse project plan began with the event "Relight the Lighthouse" which was held at midnight on December 31, 1999 to bring in the next millenium and light the way for a new future on Matagorda Island. On the site, a replica of the keepers' quarters will be constructed and serve as a visitor's and information center. A nature / historical / bicycle trail will be constructed. It will connect the boat landing at the state park to the lighthouse, Civil War trenches, wetland areas and to the beach.

Phase I of the project will be the installation of a new beacon and the restoration of the lighthouse. Repairs include replacement of the concrete lip around the base of the tower, replacement of broken windows, repair of the lantern room windows, walkway and catwalks. Replacement or repair of doors and seals will also be completed. The project will include the repair of deteriorated cast iron plates and the sandblasting and painting of the interior and exterior surfaces. A fence will be constructed around the cemetery containing the remains of former lighthouse keepers and their families.

Phase II of the restoration will include construction of the keepers' quarters and trails.

Restoration Plans
    Lighthouse Restoration
  • Relighting of the lighthouse on December 31, 1999
  • Restoration of the lighthouse
  • Installing the official Texas Historical Marker
  • Build replica of the keeper's quarters to be used as a visitors' information center
    Construction of Nature / Bicycle / Hiking Trails
  • These trails will guide visitors to the lighthouse, Civil War trenches, estuaries and the beach. They will also serve the purpose of keeping visitors from walking on delicate vegetation and being pricked by cactus or bitten by snakes.
  • The trails will have interpretive signage. These would include photographs, maps and description of the Island's plants, wildlife and history.
    Construction of a new Visitor's Center
  • Construction of a visitor's center adjacent to the state docking facility. The building will provide a shaded area with water and bathroom facilities. The open area will serve as a conference room for educational seminars. The view will be spectacular.
  • Photo mosaics will be built and include aerial photography, maps, wildlife photographs and illustrations of historical sites. These will be placed at both the Island and Port O'Connor visitor's centers.
    Restoration of the Civil War Trenches
  • Survey of the trenches
  • Possible restoration of a portion of the trenches
  • Installation of interpretive signage and photographs at the site telling the story of the Union occupation
    Restoration of Fort Esperanza
  • Restoration of the remains of the fort and possible rebuilding of a portion of the fort with interpretive displays to give visitors a feel of life on the Island during the Civil War. Civil War artifacts will be put on display in Texas museums.
    World War II Bombing Targets
  • Construction of observation towers at the targets with displays telling the story of the targets, planes and personnel on the base
    Excavation of Sunken Ships
  • To assist in the identification and excavation of historical ships wrecked at Pass Cavallo and Matagorda Bay
    Army Hole Restoration
  • Dredging of the Army Hold and repair of adjacent shoreline

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Last Updated May 22, 2001
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