Fort Travis Seashore Park

Fort Travis Seashore Park
Old Fort Travis is on the western end of Bolivar Peninsula close to the ferry landing. Some of the old concrete bunkers still remain. In 1961 during Hurricane Carla, many of the local residents stayed there to ride out the storm, along with their cattle and other animals. Such great stories of that experience have been told! There is excellent fishing along the rocky shore and picnic areas are available with benches and cooking facilities. Wide grassy areas are invitations to relax and watch the ships in the Bolivar Roads on the way to or from Houston, and after a lovely day, enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Fort Travis Park pictures
Fort Travis Military Structures
Fort Travis Map

For Information and Reservations, contact Galveston County Parks Department

History of Fort Travis Seashore Park

The Bolivar Peninsula has a long history of fortifications. Many of them were built on the site of the present Fort Travis Seashore Park. In 1816, Frances Xavier Mina, while on an expedition for Spain, constructed an earthen levee to protect himself and his men from the Karankawa Indians.

In 1818, Dr. James Long, his wife, Jane (a beautiful former debutante from Natchez, Mississippi) and 300 troops came to Texas to free Texas from Spain. Dr Long established his base of operations at Port Bolivar in 1820. He wished to secure the services of Jean Lafitte who occupied Galveston Island. Lafitte would not help. He had given verbal allegiance to Spain, Mexico, and the United States, but carefully remained aloof from entanglements that might curtail his privateering enterprises. Finally, without aid from any source, Dr. Long and his men set out to capture Presidio La Bahia.

Long left Jane, their daughter, and a maid at the rude fort with a few men to protect them. The winter of 1821 was bitterly cold: the "protection" left. Jane Long fired a cannon every morning to let Galveston know the fort was still defended. But who was the enemy? Was it the Spaniards, Mexicans, Lafitte's pirates or the Karankawa Indians?

The Karankawas had a bad reputation that survives to this day. They were a tall, nomadic people who refused to be tamed. They kept mosquitos (and the rest of society) at a distance by smearing their bodies with alligator grease and fish oil. The stories of the Karankawas being cannibals are not entirely accurate. They did, at times, consume human flesh during special ceremonies, but not as a regular practice.

During the time she was defending the fort. Jane, age 20, was expecting the birth of her third child, In December, during a raging storm, the food ran out, the slave girl became delirious from an illness and Jane delivered her own child. The baby was named Mary and was the first baby of English descent to be born in Texas.

Because of her heroism, Jane Long is often called "The Mother of Texas". Jane refused to leave until the following July when she received word that her husband had been killed. She later ran a rooming house in Richmond. During the Civil War the fortification on Bolivar Point was Fort Green -- for the Confederate soldiers.

In 1898, along with federal development of the Port of Galveston, construction on the present Fort Travis was begun. The fort was completed in 1899. The fort was heavily damaged during the 1900 storm. Repairs included the present 15 foot sea wall around the fort. During World War I Fort Travis garrisoned troops defending the Port of Galveston and its approaches.

In 1942, the fort was enlarged and 2,500 troops were stationed there. Several sizes of guns were installed, from anti-aircraft up to 16 inch long range rifles. When the war ended, Fort Travis was declared surplus property, dismantled, and in 1949 sold to private interests. The 60 acre park was acquired through a Moody Foundation grant in 1976 and is operated by the Galveston County Beach and Parks Department.

Today, the park includes the seawall, broad grassy areas, oleanders, winding roads, well equipped play grounds, picnic tables and bar-b-que grills.

Fort Travis Historical Marker
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