When Harry and Linda Kaye Perez went looking for lighthouses, they noted the history at Sabine Pass. LaVernia News has the full version of their “Everyday Journeys.” Some area highlights from their travels are below:
During the mid 1800s and into the early 1900s, the heyday of constructing magnificent lighthouses to protect sailing vessels, the Texas coast was not overlooked. A total of seven lighthouses were built between Port Isabel and Port Arthur, Texas. They were tall, majestic, and intriguing, with their rotating beacons piercing the night sky to the sailors’ delight.
Of the seven lighthouses built along the Texas coastline, only five still are standing. We visited the Point Bolivar Lighthouse, then got a view of the Sabine Pass Lighthouse, and finally saw the remains of the Sabine Bank Lighthouse at the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur.
The Sabine Pass Light-house was a little harder to find. The lighthouse actually sits on the Louisiana side of the Sabine River, across from Sabine Pass. The light has been removed, and only the shell remains. The best view we could find was from the Sabine Pass Battleground, a public park near the Coast Guard Station on Dick Dowling Road.
Completed in 1856 at a cost of $30,000, it was first illuminated in 1857. Traffic increased sharply after the Spindletop oil discovery near Beaumont in 1901, marking the birth of the modern petroleum industry in Texas. By 1921, the importance of this lighthouse was diminished and, in 1952, the light was extinguished for the last time. Over the years, there has been fear of the lighthouse collapsing, but it still stands rock solid.
Sabine Bank is a shoal (sandbar) that lies 20 feet below the water surface in the Gulf of Mexico, 16 miles south of the entrance of Sabine River. A lighthouse was needed to warn deep-drafted vessels sailing into Port Arthur. It was built on land and assembled in place. The lighthouse was completed in 1906.
The lighthouse keepers had to live in the lighthouse; the area was remote, in open water, and storms were a threat. Staffing was a continual problem, and after only 17 years, the light was automated. Therefore, there was no longer a need for a lighthouse keeper.
In 2001, the lighthouse was demolished; the top section was refurbished and moved to Lions Park in Sabine Pass. The lens now resides in the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur.
Lighthouses evoke thoughts of adventure and long-ago times at sea. They give us a sense of romance and they are certainly a delight to look at. The vanishing lighthouses of the Texas Coast, intriguing icons that they are, continue to inspire us today.
Harry and Linda Kaye Perez are freelance writers from just down the road from Floresville. Together they share a passion for traveling and writing, and discovering the very best in all corners of the world. Email them at Harry-Linda411@att.net.
Find out more
•Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site, 6100 Dick Dowling Road, Port Arthur, TX 77640; 512-463-7948; www.visitspb.com
•Museum of the Gulf Coast, 700 Procter St., Port Arthur, TX 77640; 409-982-7000; admission $2 – $4; www.museumofthegulfcoast.org