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Hurricanes of the Past: Indianola 1875 & 1886

Posted: 8:45 PM, May 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-08 21:45:03-04

The Coastal Bend is no stranger to hurricanes, but throughout history a few storms have set themselves apart from the others. More than a century ago, two hurricanes left a mark on the Texas coast that have likely forever changed the history of Corpus Christi.

The town of Indianola, Texas was founded in 1846 and sat right next to Port Lavaca on the Mid-Texas coastline. George Anne Cormier, Calhoun County Museum Director says that “Indianola had between five and six thousand people at its peak.” That would have made the town larger than Galveston and Corpus Christi at the time.

Cormier further says that with the capability to ship items to all of Texas and the West, the town had big plans as a major Texas port city.

In 1875 however, Mother Nature forever changed the fate of this town.

A category 3 hurricane slowly plowed ashore, heavily damaging if not destroying most of the town. In total, the storm killed close to 300 people.

While the destruction ran many residents away, some remained with hopes of giving new life to the town’s prosperous dreams. But that didn’t last long–disaster struck again. Another major hurricane unleashed its fury.

Cormier says, “The residents kept trying to rebuild. But by the time of the second hurricane in 1886, there was only about 1700 people left.”

She says that a fire broke out after the second storm burning all that remained. After that, the town was abandoned.

All that remains today are a few ruins and—legend has it—potentially a few paranormal beings.

One has to wonder—if these two hurricanes had not ever occurred, and a successful port like Indianola was just an hour up the coast, would Corpus Christi be anything close to what it is today?

Because of weather’s mark on the Texas coast, we’ll never know.

Corpus Christi still has plenty of other reasons to be successful, but it certainly would have had a battle on it’s hands when it came to becoming a dominant port city.