This Winter in Port O’Connor, Texas
It is often known as the “Best Kept Secret on the Gulf Coast” for its relaxing, laid-back atmosphere, and numerous fishing and boating venues.
The most common activity in Port O’Connor is fishing, followed by recreational boating, and coastal sightseeing. It used to be known for commercial shrimping with direct access to Matagorda Bay, and only a few miles from the open Gulf of Mexico. The area is renowned for bay, off-shore, and wade fishing. The most common target species are redfish, trout, and flounder. Sports enthusiasts also come to Port O’Connor to hunt duck, geese, and other waterfowl in the winter months.
About two and a half miles from the shore of Port O’Connor lies one of the most pristine natural habitats: Matagorda Island. Once an army air base, the barrier island is now a National Preserve and home to a wide variety of endangered migratory birds such as whooping cranes. Visitors come from all over the country to observe these rare and beautiful species.
The Port O’Connor area has a reputation among birders for having more spotted bird species than anywhere in the continental United States.
The weather in Port O’Connor is warm to hot in the summers, with winters cool to icy (on rare occasions). Spring through autumn prevailing wind blows in from the gulf, from a light breeze to high winds. In the winter months occasional cold fronts will bring strong north winds or ‘northers’ that can last several days. Humidity is rather high, and the area has been host to hurricane landings several times within the past 100 years.
Also due to its small size, all mail is sent to the general post office, which has no door-to-door delivery service. On February 9, 1996 Joyce Rhyne, Margaret Jennings, and Charloette Graham started local free newspaper, Dolphin Talk, which covers stories on local events in Port O’Connor and its surrounding areas.
Port O’Connor Elementary School serves grades PK-6 in the Calhoun County Independent School District. It is a Texas and National Blue Ribbon School, a distinguished Title I School, and is among the few public schools in Texas to receive a distinguished Great Schools Rating of 9 out of 10. In 2009-2010 this school was rated “Exemplary” by the Texas Education Agency.
Port O’Connor is served by the Calhoun County Independent School District.
Due to its small population the town only has one school, Port O’Connor Elementary School, which has the dolphin as its mascot. Port O’Connor Elementary School covers Pre-Kindergarten through grade six. Children are then bused to the nearby town of Port Lavaca to finish their seventh through twelfth grade educations. The secondary schools that serve Port O’Connor are Seadrift Middle School, Travis Middle School, and Calhoun High School.
The school is located at Fifth and Monroe Streets.
Lydia Strakos, Principal
This history of the Port O’Connor is rich and very significant to Texas and the development of the New World.
Before the area was fully colonized by Europeans, it was the domain of the Karankawa Indians. These were extremely tall and strong people, who were expert hunters, fishermen, and often feared for their well-known fighting skills.
Port O’Connor is within sight of the old Pass Cavallo, the passage into Matagorda Bay from the gulf a few miles offshore. This was once a deep water passage for ships of sail from the 15th through 19th centuries. It is also where the famous French explorer, Robert de La Salle, shipwrecked his expedition fleet in 1684, and from there continued his expedition on land.
One local treasure is the Matagorda Lighthouse which is depicted in the town’s Chamber of Commerce seal. The lighthouse is reachable by boat on Matagorda Island. It served as a working lighthouse beginning in 1873, but over the years has now served as a landmark monument to times gone by. In 1984 the lighthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. The black conical tower, which was automated in 1956, is made of cast iron and features a solar powered light. Another local treasure is the Matagorda Lighthouse which is depicted in the town’s Chamber of Commerce seal. Formerly it served as a working lighthouse beginning in 1873, but over the years has now served as a landmark monument to times gone by. In 1984 it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. The black conical tower, which was automated in 1956, is made of cast iron and features a solar powered light. During the summer season another town landmark is often used. It is the Front Beach Pier. Destroyed in 2003’s Hurricane Claudette, it was rebuilt one year later and serves as a scenic look-out point to Matagorda Bay. Another major landmark in the town is Clark’s Restaurant and Marina. At over ninety years old, the marina half of the business is one of the oldest in the state.
During the summer season another town landmark is often used. It is the Front Beach Pier. Destroyed in 2003’s Hurricane Claudette, it was rebuilt one year later and serves as a scenic look-out point to Matagorda Bay.
Aside from the school, two of the oldest buildings are the First Baptist Church on 5th Street and Jefferson, and St Joseph’s Catholic Church on Adams and Washington.
The town has also recently built a community center where local groups and individuals can meet in either a recreation atmosphere or for general meetings.
Several long standing ‘watering holes’ locals take up in were the Hurricane Junction, open under new ownership, and Madden’s Lounge.