Texas Gulf Coast
State Highway 35 on Tres Palacios Bay
31 miles NE of Port Lavaca
Midway between Houston
Population: 5,153 (2000) 4,418 (1990)
Palacios on Highway 35
in a Pecan Shell
The name: Trespalacios is Spanish for Three Palaces. The
town was named after the bay and the bay was named after a mirage
supposedly seen by shipwrecked Spanish sailors. They imagined seeing
three palaces on shore which disappeared as they approached. It's
a much more colorful story than simply admitting that it was simply
named after Jose Felix Trespalacios. Somewhere along the way (around
1902) two palaces were lost and the town is now simply Palacios.
Bill and Clare Bradfield, authors of Texas Towns from A
to Z Pronunciation Guide, (Three Forks Press 1996) remind us that
Palacios is pronounced Puh-LASH-uhs and not the proper Spanish Pa-las-ee-ohs).
Cattle baron Shanghai
Pierce had originally owned the land where Palacios is today.
If he hadn't sold it - you can bet his statue (now in a cemetery near
Blessing) would be in the most obvious spot in Palacios. Pierce was
a modest man who ordered his statue carved before he died so he'd
have time to admire it.
In 1901 the land was bought from Pierce by The Texas Rice Development
Company. They in turn sold the townsite to their own subsidiary -
The Palacios City Townsite Company. This is when the change from Trespalacios
to Palacios was made (1902).
1903 brought a hotel, the railroad and a post office. The next year
a pavilion was built and the oyster and seafood industry started.
Book Your Hotel Here & Save
granite from Marble Falls forms a jetty
Hill Building c. 1910 is now a Museum. TE photo
breeze-shaped tree on the Bay.
the original - but a pavilion on the Bay. TE photo
boats in drydock
has recently acquired a caboose with an appropriate bay window.
This has to be purely coincidental since the city couldn't possibly
predict which type would be available at the caboose auction. TE
by Mike Cox (From "Texas Tales" column)
Palacios has had a post office since 1903, but people had been trying
to build a city on the upper end of Matagorda Bay long before then.
Had the first effort been successful, it would have changed the map
of Texas – at least some of the words on that map. In 1836, Capt.
Thomas Bridges, a shipmate from Boston, acquired title to 800 acres
on Oliver Point, not far from present Palacios.
Bridges had a substantial town site surveyed and soon traveled to
New York City to sell lots. He envisioned his town in the new Republic
of Texas as a major port, even thought his land lay 17 miles from
the open Gulf of Mexico. Such an important future metropolis, he reasoned,
needed an equally important name.
The new town, soon to be a prosperous city, would honor the man considered
the Father of Texas, Stephen Fuller Austin.
Unfortunately, the first Austin, Texas fell far short of greatness.
Today, few people even know Texas had another Austin before the Colorado
River village of Waterloo acquired the name in 1839 when a presidential
commission located the capital there.
Meanwhile, back in Matagorda County ... more