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Map of Rockport Texas

Dallas, 1888

The county seat of Aransas County, Rockport was founded after the Civil War as a port for the cattle industry and named for the rocky ledge under its shoreline. A Special Act of the Texas Legislature incorporated the city on August 13, 1870, and the city received its charter on May 29, 1871, the same year Aransas County was separated from Refugio County. In the 1880s, the boat building and fishing industries gained prominence. The arrival of the railroad to Rockport in 1886 led to a boom in tourism and established the town as a seaside resort destination, and it has been a favorite coastal getaway for Texans ever since.

The map’s title block artistically represents Rockport and the Gulf Coast region.

This promotional map, compiled and drafted by civil engineer Paul McCombs for the Aransas Pass Land Company, shows the lots the company offered for sale in Rockport. The company, formerly the Texas Homestead and Farmers Association, took out a charter in 1882 to subdivide and sell the land to interested parties. Company promoters used the map to entice tourists to the Texas coast and settle in Rockport.

[left] The map lays out the city lots, with the railroad cutting through the middle of the city. [right] The map advertises the sale of Rockport city lots.

Although the map shows the available plots for sale and the rail line from the coast through the town, the bulk of it is dedicated to the many reasons one should live in Rockport. The cartouche features cacti and palms, signifying Texas and the coast. The steamship highlights the importance of international trade, a major selling point to those looking to relocate. Descriptive text beckons businessmen, settling families, and tourists alike with the promises of easy access to trade, beaches, and fine weather. The popular nineteenth-century Baedeker travel guide described Rockport as “a favourite resort for bathing and for its fine tarpon and other fishing. It has a good harbor…. The country round Aransas Pass…is very fertile and produces large quantities of fruit.”[1]

The map promotes the various benefits of life on Texas’ Gulf Coast.

In its third special edition on Texas, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly of October 18, 1890, spotlighted the Aransas Pass area in a three-page article, calling Rockport “the seat of a commercial city of great importance.” The article tells the reader that Rockport “promises to be one of the most beautiful and attractive town sites of the Gulf Coast. Artesian wells are to be sunk, plans are being provided for excellent hotel accommodations… It will be an attractive summer and winter resort.”[2]

Mr. and Mrs. Casey McManemin adopted this map in in honor of Robert T. Herrin, III. in 2004.

  1. “The United States with an Excursion into Mexico: Handbook for Travellers [sic] with 17 Maps and 22 Plans,” ed. Karl Baedeker, (Leipsic: Karl Baedeker, Publisher, 1893), 466.
  2. “The City of Aransas Pass and its Vicinage,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Third Texas Edition, №1831, Vol LXXI, (New York, NY), October 18, 1890, 5.

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