Showing posts from February, 2022

Galveston County - Santa Fe

This week our tour through Galveston County returns to the western side of the mainland.  Santa Fe is a city that exists, not primarily due to the wishes of its own residents, but to those of the neighboring city of Hitchcock.  According to the US Census Bureau a total of 12,735 residents populate this town which sits along Highway 6 at an elevation of 30 feet above sea level.  The city has been incorporated since 1978 and now includes a total area just over 17 square miles.  The story of the town began with a railroad - the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe - that sought to connect Galveston Island with the inland part of Texas without passing through Houston.  Founded in 1873, its goal was to traverse Texas and terminate at Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory.  Work began in 1875 and by 1877 enough track had been constructed that the line extended beyond the county's edge.  Several communities began to grow along the line, including a few in western Galveston County by the names of Alta Lo

Galveston County - Bolivar Peninsula

So far all of our stops in Galveston County have been focused on the west side of the bay.  There is, however, a rich history on the east side that still deserves attention.  Bolivar Peninsula sits just across from Galveston Island, and is home to 2,769 residents according to the US Census Bureau's 2020 count.  The peninsula that varies in width from nearly 3 miles to barely 600 yards across stretches for 27 miles between the Gulf of Mexico to the south and East Bay to the north, until it reaches the mainland at Galveston County's border with neighboring Chambers County.  Several communities are strung out along Highway 87, the main road that serves Bolivar - including Port Bolivar, Crystal Beach, Caplan, Gilchrist, and High Island - and we'll visit them all as a group. The history of Bolivar Peninsula, like so many other areas along the Texas coast, begins with a number of the tribes that frequented the area long before Europeans began exploring.  In addition to the Karank

Galveston County - Tiki Island

If you were a driver heading towards Galveston Island on I-45, you would probably recognize how close you were to the water when the majority of the trees you had seen along the way eventually gave way to several miles of grassy marshland.  And if you were looking the wrong direction while approaching the bridge over West Bay, you might miss the small community that has sprung up just before you left the mainland: The Village of Tiki Island.  According to the US Census Bureau, this tiny group of homes boasts a 2020 population of 1,106 that supports a full-time police department and a volunteer fire department with a paid staff of one.  The total area of the city is officially 1.59 square miles, but 2/3 of that amount is water and only 0.48 square miles is on land.  This stop along our tour of Galveston County towns has no extended history because before 1960 it didn't even exist. That's right, at a time when the eyes of the world were focused on the emerging war in Vietnam on t

Galveston County - San Leon

A lonely, unincorporated peninsula on the way to nowhere is home to the next stop along our journey of discovery through Galveston's towns.  San Leon, a community so small that the US Census doesn't even keep data for it, has a longer history that many of the other mainland cities within the county.  An estimated 4,970 people live there, but nobody seems to have an official count.  Surrounded by Galveston Bay to the east, Trinity Bay to the north, and Dickinson Bay to the south, the town that barely reaches 10' above sea level in elevation has successfully resisted incorporating themselves or being drawn into neighboring Bacliff or Texas City for years.  Jean Lafitte, the famous pirate who frequented the waters surrounding Galveston Island, was an early European visitor to San Leon, but by that time the area was already popular with the nomadic Karankawa Indian tribes.  One of the many legends of the natives involved a group of specialized warriors who used the Red Fish Bar