Rockport, Texas

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Rockport, Texas
The Texas Riviera
"Come Sea the Beauty and Charm of Rockport!"
Location of Rockport, Texas
Aransas Rockport.svg
Coordinates: 28°2′55″N97°2′28″W / 28.04861°N 97.04111°W / 28.04861; -97.04111 Coordinates: 28°2′55″N97°2′28″W / 28.04861°N 97.04111°W / 28.04861; -97.04111
Country United States
State Texas
County Aransas
IncorporatedAugust 18, 1870 [1]
  MayorCharles J. "C.J." Wax
  Total18.5 sq mi (48 km2)
  Land14.0 sq mi (36 km2)
  Water4.5 sq mi (12 km2)
7 ft (2 m)
  Density470/sq mi (180/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
  Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 361 Exchanges: 727,729.790
FIPS code 48-62804 [2]
GNIS feature ID1345420 [3]

Rockport is a city in Aransas County, Texas, United States. The population was 8,766 at the 2010 census. [4] It is the county seat. [5]

Aransas County, Texas County in the United States

Aransas County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 23,158. Its county seat is Rockport. The county was formed in 1871 from Refugio County and organized the following year. It was named for the Rio Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu, a Spanish outpost in early Texas.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Taiwan and the United States. County towns have a similar function in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and historically in Jamaica.


Rockport is adjacent to the town of Fulton, and many refer to the combined communities as "Rockport-Fulton"; however, Rockport and Fulton are legally separate municipalities.

Fulton, Texas Town in Texas, United States

Fulton is a town in Aransas County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, this South Texas coastal fishing community had a population of 1,358. The town is named for George Ware Fulton, a land developer in the area.


Rockport's Founding

Following the Civil War, a number of people considered developing the Live Oak Peninsula. Joseph F. Smith, who had founded the nearby town of St. Mary's in 1850, joined with Thomas H. Mathis and his cousin J.M. Mathis, who were agents of the Morgan Steamship line, and built a wharf at the site of what would later become the town of Rockport, in 1867. The same year, George W. Fulton and his wife, Texas heiress and Joseph Smith's cousin, Harriet Smith Fulton moved to her extensive land holdings on the peninsula. Fulton also took an interest in the development of Rockport, as well as creating the town of Fulton farther up the coastline. In response, a nascent cattle-slaughtering and packing operation at the wharf expanded rapidly, allowing Rockport to be officially incorporated as a town in 1870; its name arising from the rock ledge that runs along the shore. Thomas Mathis became Rockport's first mayor after being appointed by the governor. [6] A year later in 1871, the town achieved "city" status after continued growth. [7]

Early Years' Boom & Bust

In 1871, the Mathis cousins teamed up with local ranching families of George W. Fulton and Thomas M. Coleman to raise and slaughter cattle for shipment out of the city's wharf on their steamship line. The partnership proved highly successful, and continued to draw people and businesses to the city. The national Panic of 1873 took its share of the town's prosperity and caused a slump for the next few years. The meat packing market was slow to recover, and the Mathis cousins abandoned the ranching partnership in 1879. Fulton and Coleman then reform their ranching partnership, an organization that continued into the 1930s. For many years Fulton, and others petitioned for the railroad to extend their lines to Rockport, to provide a second source of transportation and break the Morgan Line's monopoly on the Coastal Bend ports. After offering free rights of way across the Coleman-Fulton ranch, and hundreds of acres in town lots, finally, in 1888 the railroad arrived. The Morgan Steamship company now had competition, and as the local cattle ranchers began shipping live cattle by train, The Morgan Line withdrew from serving the Coastal Bend. Another brief growth spurt began and soon ended, here and across Texas, due to some bad winters and the development of the cattle industry in the mid-west. The railroad, however, brought tourists, and the city's economy grew with several large hotels catering to that industry. Rockport's economy soon came to be dominated by shipbuilding and tourism toward the end of the 19th century. At the same time, the railroad offered speedy transportation for crops, and a land boom caused by farming followed until brought to a halt with the national Panic of 1893. [7]

20th Century

Rockport's economy continued struggling into the early 20th century and took another hit in 1919 when a major hurricane decimated the region. A slow recovery ensued stalling additional development. The city's fortunes however began to improve in 1925 following the establishment of a lucrative shrimping industry which grew further during the 1930s and benefited from the construction of a harbor in 1935. Shrimping activity decreased during World War II but recovered thereafter, boosting the town along with an important boat-building industry that developed in this period as well. By the century's end, shrimping continued to be an important part of the Rockport economy alongside fishing and tourism. [7]


On August 25, 2017 Hurricane Harvey made landfall near the city as a Category 4 storm on the Saffir–Simpson scale. The storm caused significant damage. [8]

Hurricane Harvey Category 4 Atlantic hurricane in 2017

Hurricane Harvey of 2017 is tied with 2005's Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, inflicting $125 billion in damage, primarily from catastrophic rainfall-triggered flooding in the Houston metropolitan area and Southeast Texas. It was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005, ending a record 12-year span in which no hurricanes made landfall at the intensity of a major hurricane throughout the country. In a four-day period, many areas received more than 40 inches (1,000 mm) of rain as the system slowly meandered over eastern Texas and adjacent waters, causing unprecedented flooding. With peak accumulations of 60.58 in (1,539 mm), in Nederland, Texas, Harvey was the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the United States. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, which displaced more than 30,000 people and prompted more than 17,000 rescues.

The Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS), formerly the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale (SSHS), classifies hurricanes – Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the intensities of tropical depressions and tropical storms – into five categories distinguished by the intensities of their sustained winds.


Rockport is located at 28°2′55″N97°2′28″W / 28.04861°N 97.04111°W / 28.04861; -97.04111 (28.048645, -97.041185), on the Live Oak Peninsula, which divides the western shore of Aransas Bay, an arm of the Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern shore of Copano Bay. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.5 square miles (47.9 km2), of which 13.9 square miles (36.1 km2) is land and 4.6 square miles (11.8 km2), or 28.84%, is water. [9]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild-to-cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Rockport has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps. [10]


Historical population
1890 1,069
1900 1,1537.9%
1910 1,38219.9%
1920 1,54511.8%
1930 1,140−26.2%
1940 1,72951.7%
1950 2,26631.1%
1960 2,98931.9%
1970 3,87929.8%
1980 3,686−5.0%
1990 4,75328.9%
2000 7,38555.4%
2010 8,76618.7%
Est. 201610,645 [11] 21.4%
U.S. Decennial Census [12]

2000 Census data

As of the census [2] of 2000, there were 7,385 people, 3,157 households and 2,127 families residing in the city. The population density was 786.4 people per square mile (303.7/km²). There were 4,533 housing units at an average density of 482.7 per square mile (186.4/km²). The ethnic makeup of the city was 88.68% White, 1.31% African American, 0.50% Native American, 3.64% Asian, 3.40% from other races/ethnicities, and 2.46% from two or more ethnicities. Hispanic or Latino of any Latin American country made up 19.50% of the population.

There were 3,157 households out of which 24.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.2% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.6% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.74.

In the city, the population was 21.4% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 26.7% from 45 to 64, and 24.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.0 males. The median income for a household in the city was $32,741, and the median income for a family was $40,880. Males had a median income of $36,195 versus $22,697 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,135. About 16.4% of families and 20.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.3% of those under age 18 and 6.1% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

The Hoopes-Smith House in Rockport is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hoopes smith house 2006.jpg
The Hoopes-Smith House in Rockport is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Area attractions

Rockport is a popular tourist destination for its access to various forms of marine recreation and attractions such as boating, fishing (bay, offshore, wade, beach, and pier), duck hunting, waterskiing, swimming, birdwatching, and seafood. The city's largest public beach, Rockport Beach Park, [13] offers an array of community facilities including a playground and two beach pavilions.

The city hosts several fairs and expositions each year including the Oyster Fest, Seafair, and a Wine Festival. The Rockport Art Festival, held annually since 1970, is a major event with art exhibitions, auctions, and vendors congregating in the city around the Fourth of July holiday. A more recent addition to the city's list of popular annual attractions is the Rockport Film Festival which has screened and judged entries since its founding in 2007. [14] [15] [16]

Rockport is also home to an aquarium and multiple historic sites such as the Fulton Mansion and the city's heritage district. The community also hosts the Texas Maritime Museum, [17] as well as numerous art galleries, restaurants, and shops. Area visitor accommodations are provided by a wide range of lodgings, from small bed and breakfasts to major hotels and RV facilities.

Parks and Recreation

The Big Tree

Large windswept live oaks are a dominating feature of the area, and the state's oldest live oak, the "Big Tree", resides on nearby Lamar Peninsula.

Rockport Beach Park [13]

Rockport Beach Park is a large public beach fronting Aransas Bay. It features two pavilions, a saltwater pool, boat-launching ramps, and various other amenities.

Boating and Marinas

There are a number of marinas, boat-launching ramps, marine service businesses, and ship chandlers in the area (catering to both recreational and commercial vessels of either the sail or power variety). Several marinas are operated by the Aransas County Navigation District. [18] The Key Allegro Marina, with its home-lined canals and party atmosphere, is a popular destination among visitors.

The Big Blue Crab

The Big Blue Crab is a local park and attraction located on the banks of the Little Bay next to the historic Sea View Motel. It features an elevated blue crab sculpture that is the world's largest. Originally constructed in the 1950s, the crab fell apart in the 1970s, but the city rebuilt the attraction in 2012 to even larger proportions. The crab suffered major damage five years later in Hurricane Harvey. [19]


The area around and in Rockport is noted as a prime birdwatching center, located on a major North American migratory bird route, the Central Flyway.

Whooping cranes

Whooping cranes winter in the large Aransas National Wildlife Refuge located nearby. Local organizations such as the Aransas Bird and Nature Club have helped preserve unique birdwatching reserves like the Connie Hagar sanctuary and Aransas Woods that are easily accessible. Located along the migration route of several species of hummingbirds, the city hosts an annual "Hummer and Birding Expo" which includes tours of local residences where hundreds of ruby-throated hummingbirds can be viewed at feeders.


Public schools

All of Rockport is served by the Aransas County Independent School District, and the city is home to the Rockport-Fulton High School Pirates. Sacred Heart School, a private school, also serves the community. [20]


The Aransas County Public Library is located at 701 E. Mimosa Street in Rockport.

Notable people

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Aransas Bay

Aransas Bay is a bay on the Texas gulf coast, approximately 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Corpus Christi, and 173 miles (278 km) south of San Antonio. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by San José Island. Aransas Pass is the most direct navigable outlet into the Gulf of Mexico from the bay. The cities of Aransas Pass and Port Aransas are located at the southern end, and Rockport is found on the central western shore. The bay is oriented laterally northeast-southwest, and is extended by Redfish Bay to the southwest, Copano Bay to the west, Saint Charles Bay to the north, and Mesquite Bay to the northeast. Aransas Bay is part of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Area code 361

North American area code 361 is a state of Texas telephone area code for numbers in the Corpus Christi area. It was created prior to February 13, 1999, in a split from area code 512.

Aransas County Independent School District is an independent county-wide school district based in Rockport, Texas, United States. The district serves a 486-square-mile (1,260 km2) area that covers most of Aransas County, including the city of Rockport, the town of Fulton, and the unincorporated communities of Holiday Beach and Lamar.

Corpus Christi metropolitan area

The Corpus Christi Metropolitan Statistical Area is a metropolitan area in South Texas that covers three counties—Aransas, Nueces, and San Patricio. As of the 2000 census, the MSA had a population of 413,280.

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Copano Bay

Copano Bay is a northwestern extension of Aransas Bay, west of Rockport, Texas in Refugio and Aransas counties. It is supplied with seawater from the Gulf of Mexico via Aransas Bay, and fed freshwater from the Aransas River, Mission River and Copano Creek. As an estuary, the bay is home to a diverse ecosystem consisting of various birds including the endangered whooping crane, and numerous finfish including the redfish as well as shellfish such as oysters. It is classified as a nursery for shrimp, which prohibits production from the bay. Copano Bay is also a historic location for human usage and settlement that dates back to the 18th century, beginning with the historic port of El Copano and the 19th century settlements of St. Mary's of Aransas and Copano. The present-day towns of Bayside, Copano Village and Holiday Beach were all founded in the 20th century. Oil and natural gas are pumped from below the bay's surface, and contribute to the livelihood of the local economies. Recently, areas around the bay were affected by Hurricane Harvey which crossed over the bay as a Category 3 hurricane.

Rockport-Fulton High School

Rockport-Fulton High School is a public high school in Rockport, Texas, United States, located on the Texas Gulf Coast. It is the only high school in the Aransas County Independent School District and classified as a 4A school by the UIL. In 2013, the school was rated "Met Standard" by the Texas Education Agency. Parts of the school collapsed in August 2017 due to Hurricane Harvey.

St. Mary's of Aransas is a ghost town near the present community of Bayside in Refugio County, Texas, United States. It served as a settlement and major port until the emergence of Rockport in the late 19th century.


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  3. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Rockport city, Texas". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  5. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
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  11. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  12. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  13. 1 2 "Rockport Texas Beach". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  17. "Texas Maritime Museum". Texas Maritime Museum. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  18. "Aransas County Navigation District". Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  19. "The Big Blue Crab". Roadside America. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  20. "Sacred Heart School". Sacred Heart School. Retrieved 26 August 2017.