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Fond Family Memories ~ Port Isabel Lighthouse and South Padre Island Pictures

Updated on March 6, 2016

Port Isabel Lighthouse

Port Isabel Lighthouse
Port Isabel Lighthouse | Source

Question and answer


The following question was posed by Gail Sobotkin, HubPage writer known as happyboomernurse..."What's your favorite lighthouse and why is it your favorite?"


This question brought back a flood of memories for me.


While I have seen other lighthouses...even much prettier ones on various vacation trips, the Port Isabel Lighthouse has to be put at the top of the list as to being a favorite because of the proximity to South Padre Island and the fun my family and friends had there, especially in my teen-aged years.


It was actually on my mother's and my last trip down to McAllen from Houston, Texas to visit my brother and sister-in-law that I actually stopped to photograph the Port Isabel Lighthouse. At the time I was actively carving and then hand printing limited editions of my linocuts, and I thought that it would be a good subject which it has proven to be.




Linocut of the Port Isabel Lighthouse

Original limited edition linocut that I created of the Port Isabel Lighthouse
Original limited edition linocut that I created of the Port Isabel Lighthouse | Source

South Padre Island Beach View (from the perspective of the private homes on the beach)

My brother was driving us to Padre Island from his home in McAllen just to have lunch on the barrier island and to show us all of the new buildings that had been constructed.

It had been many years since I had been to Padre Island and I could hardly believe my eyes!

The days of playing down there when I was a kid and when there were only a few motels and some cabanas that could be rented for the day with dressing rooms, toilets and showers, were long gone.

Also gone were the open spaces and sand dunes which were the predominant features of South Padre Island back in the early and mid-1960s.

Now most of South Padre Island...at least the southern end across from Port Isabel ...is filled to the brim with lodgings, both public and private. If staying at a motel, hotel or condo, naturally one has beach access from that site. Because of all of the private homes now built along the Gulf shore, one has to drive to designated parking spots where one can have access to the beach between the private lodgings.

Naturally the beach belongs to the public, but access is much more restricted. One would have to continue driving north to get to less populated areas on Padre Island now, compared to the days of yesteryear...and my memories. I liked it much better when it was in its more natural state...but obviously Real Estate development has changed the face of how it now appears.

Padre Island sand dunes and Gulf of Mexico

Source

My family including dog, Sheba, on South Padre Island in the 1960s

My family including dog, Sheba, on South Padre Island in the 1960s
My family including dog, Sheba, on South Padre Island in the 1960s | Source

South Padre Island

My family along with my maternal grandparents had moved from Wisconsin to South Texas in 1960.

Driving to South Padre Island from McAllen was a real treat back in those days. The salty waters and wave action of the Gulf of Mexico was so different from scenery we had known. Often my grandparents would go with our family for a day of fun and frolic climbing the sand dunes and playing in the water.

My parents could bring their German Shepherd along and Sheba would run freely along the beach.

We lost many of our family photos due to a flood in my parent's home many years ago caused by the aftermath of Hurricane Beulah. Only a few homes on our street got flooded because of a blockage in the storm drainage. We had about 3 feet of water in our home!

So excuse these old photos. They were recently made from negatives that I found and are no longer crisp and clear as I might like...but they still give one an idea of what the cabanas looked like as well as what it was like on Padre Island back in those days when we were first enjoying it.

Cabanas and Sand Dunes on South Padre Island - 1960s Old Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My brother Jim and Sheba, the dog at the cabana rented for the dayMy grandpaMy parents and German Shephard, ShebaMy grandmother and JimMy dad, mother and brother John in the water.My grandpa, mother and we 3 kids on a Padre Island sand dune.My mother and Sheba in the sand dunes My mother and Sheba at the cabana My parents with Sheba on top of a sand dune with Gulf of Mexico in background My brothers playing in the Padre Island sand dunes with Gulf waters in background.
My brother Jim and Sheba, the dog at the cabana rented for the day
My brother Jim and Sheba, the dog at the cabana rented for the day | Source
My grandpa
My grandpa | Source
My parents and German Shephard, Sheba
My parents and German Shephard, Sheba | Source
My grandmother and Jim
My grandmother and Jim | Source
My dad, mother and brother John in the water.
My dad, mother and brother John in the water. | Source
My grandpa, mother and we 3 kids on a Padre Island sand dune.
My grandpa, mother and we 3 kids on a Padre Island sand dune. | Source
My mother and Sheba in the sand dunes
My mother and Sheba in the sand dunes | Source
My mother and Sheba at the cabana
My mother and Sheba at the cabana | Source
My parents with Sheba on top of a sand dune with Gulf of Mexico in background
My parents with Sheba on top of a sand dune with Gulf of Mexico in background | Source
My brothers playing in the Padre Island sand dunes with Gulf waters in background.
My brothers playing in the Padre Island sand dunes with Gulf waters in background. | Source

1960s fun at South Padre Island with my high school girlfriends

Click thumbnail to view full-size
1960s fun at South Padre Island with my high school girlfriends
1960s fun at South Padre Island with my high school girlfriends
1960s fun at South Padre Island with my high school girlfriends | Source
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Fond memories

Not only did my family enjoy the salty breezes of the Gulf of Mexico off of Padre Island, but so did my girlfriends. I vividly remember one time when a bunch of us in our senior year of high school rented some motel rooms and spent a few days down there.

We were a good group of girls that regularly had slumber parties at one another's homes, attended football games together and had a grand time discussing boys. Few of us had experienced much in the way of dating back then.

So...while we ogled the boys on the beach, we built sandcastles, played in the surf, shared meals, laughed, sang and generally had a great time. 

South Padre Island beach view of Gulf of Mexico

South Padre Island beach view of Gulf of Mexico
South Padre Island beach view of Gulf of Mexico | Source

Port Isabel lighthouse

Port Isabel lighthouse
Port Isabel lighthouse | Source

Port Isabel Lighthouse


So what do these fond memories have to do with the Port Isabel Lighthouse?

Basically, at 72 feet in height, it stood as a landmark beacon of nearing the Queen Isabella Causeway which takes one from land, over the water to Padre Island. So we knew that our days of playing on the Island were about to commence. It would also greet us upon our return.

Of course that lighthouse has more of a history than just being a notable landmark feature in Port Isabel.

It was one of 16 lighthouses all along the Texas coastline at one time. None of them are still operational and the Port Isabel Lighthouse is the only one open to the public. The lighthouse and the land on which it is located comprises the smallest state park in all of Texas standing as it does on slightly less than a acre of land.

A visitor's center where the Chamber of Commerce is now located was constructed next to it and replicates the lighthouse keeper's lodgings. This is all on a grassy knoll surrounded by streets and the entire area was once known as Fort Polk back in 1846 when General Zachary Taylor and his army troops were fighting with Mexico. A small battle during the Civil War was also fought at this location.

The lighthouse was constructed in 1852 and shined its light helping to safely guide ships until 1905 when it went dark.

Restoration of the building was last completed in the year 2000 and for a small fee one can climb the stairs and see the surrounding sites from this elevated bird's eye view. No admission is charged for active military men and women.

Port Isabel Lighthouse

Texas sites

Links are inserted into this hub for those wishing to know more specifics about the Port Isabel Lighthouse and/or South Padre Island, for that matter. The family in which I grew up and shared these fond memories have now all passed on to the next life, but that lighthouse remains firmly grounded where it has stood for over a century and a half. When considering Texas sites to visit, the ones mentioned in this hub are definitely worth a visit. Hope that answers your question, Gail!

Relaxing Piano Music : Lighthouses - Faros del mundo

Location where Port Isabel Lighthouse is located.

A markerPort Isabel Lighthouse -
421 E Queen Isabella Blvd, Port Isabel, TX 78578, USA
get directions

Gulf of Mexico waves off of South Padre Island

Gulf of Mexico waves off of South Padre Island
Gulf of Mexico waves off of South Padre Island | Source

© 2012 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image
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      Peggy Woods 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving also! Have fun and be safe. Thanks for the share on this Port Isabel and Padre Island hub looking back to the 1960s.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 21 months ago from North Texas

      One of your most repinned articles on my 'Travel' board. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving with your friends. Daughter and I will be visiting with friends this year too. Sharing this again. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Thanks for the compliment on my linocuts and the share. This part of the Gulf Coast will probably not be very busy with vacationers this week due to the impending storm on the horizon. Just what we need.....more rain! Hope it is not as bad as they are predicting it might be.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      This could be a great destination for someone's vacation. The photo of the lighthouse is pinned and repined dozens of times every week. I hope you get some views out of all that. I always enjoy seeing your linocuts, too. They seem like a lot of work, but they are so beautiful and creative they are worth it I'm sure. To me they are anyway since you are doing the work and they have turned out so exceptional. :)

      Sharing this again as it may remind someone this is on their bucket list.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Times have really changed regarding the landscape of South Padre Island since I was a teenager. It is really built up now with hotels, condos, etc. The endless sand dunes and sparsely populated areas are just a fond memory. It is still a major tourist attraction. Thanks for your comment and pin and remarks about my artwork.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      This is such an amazing hub so full of information for anyone who might like to visit South Padre Island. Interesting to see how it was then compared to now, too. Great photos.

      Your travel articles dominate my "Travel" board and your hubs that I have pinned, especially the one about San Antonio and the Alamo, are continually re-pinned. No one comes to see anything of mine. :( While that is true, I'm just teasing. I'm glad your so successful on my Pinterest boards. Honestly. Hope you're seeing more traffic as a result.

      Been here before, but came back to pin that great lighthouse photo on my Travel board. Noted also, the linocut of the lighthouse. I'm always impressed with your work on that. Your hub on linocuts is very popular too. ;)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Sheila,

      So glad that reading this hub brought back happy memories of your first visit to the Gulf coast with your best friend and her family. Sounds like you had a great time. I was also a teenager when my family moved down to Texas and I got to see it for the first time. It has certainly changed from those early days when there were only a few hotels on the island and lots of sand dunes and those cabanas that could be rented in which one could change and also shower to wash off the salt and sand. Fun times! Thanks for your comment, votes and the share.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I visited the Corpus Christi area when I was a young teenager. I went on vacation with my best friend and her family. We went to so many wonderful places, I am not sure if we visited Port Isabel or not, but I remember them talking about it. I would love to go back and re-visit this area. Great hub with lots of wonderful pictures and information. You brought back memories of my first visit to the Gulf of Mexico. Great hub, wonderful information and beautiful pictures! Up, interesting and sharing! :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      South Padre Island has become very built up with hotels, condos, beach homes, etc. as might be expected since the 1960's. There are still some uninhabited areas if one likes more solitude. It is an amazing barrier island off the Texas coast. Thanks for your comment, votes and the share.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      I've heard so much about Padre Island and never been there. Lots of good information here for people wanting to visit down there. Sounds like you had a lot of fun in your senior year (high school) too! Great photos as always. Great video of the beach.

      Voted up, BAUI, and will share!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jim Rocco,

      What fun that must have been for you and your brother to sleep up in the Port Isabel Lighthouse when your grandfather was the caretaker. Too bad that the hurricane (was it Beulah?) destroyed the store. We would have been living in McAllen at the same time as your grandparents. Thanks for commenting and adding a bit of extra information to this article. Appreciate it!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello nicolasmith504,

      So glad that you enjoyed this hub about the Port Isabel Lighthouse and South Padre Island. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

    • profile image

      Jim Rocco 5 years ago

      In the late 50's early 60's, there was a small store at the base of the lighthouse in Port Isabel called the Mexi-mart. The store was owned by my Grandparents, and my Grandfather was the caretaker of the light house. My brother and I use to sleep overnight in the top of the lighthouse for fun. The store was lost in the huricane, and was never rebuilt. My Grandparents then moved to McAllen, where they lived for a long time.

    • profile image

      nicolasmith504 5 years ago

      Nice post i really like it

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Judi,

      The development on South Padre Island has changed the appearance greatly since I was a younster first experiencing it. It is still a destination for numerous visitors to that part of Texas who wish to experience a beach type of vacation on the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      judio 5 years ago

      In all my years in TX, I've never been to Padre.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Stacie L,

      So nice to know that you enjoyed this hub about the Port Isabel Lighthouse and my memories of fun times on Padre Island. Thanks for your comment.

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 5 years ago

      I love lighthouses and that looks so inviting!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi KoffeeKlatch Gals,

      Glad to know that you enjoyed this hub about Padre Island and my memories. Thanks for your comment.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Beautiful picture, I love the family ones. Thanks for the tour of a beautiful place.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Simone,

      Texas has quite a long coastline as a matter of fact. Thanks for your visit and comment.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      What a beautiful place! Jeez... I really do need to visit Texas. I've rarely thought of it as a "coastal" place per se, but it obviously is!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Prasetio,

      These photos are vintage...most of them anyway. I'm glad to have them even if the quality of them is not the greatest. Nice to know that you enjoyed learning a bit about the Port Isabel Lighthouse and Padre Island. Appreciate your comment and votes.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I love the way you present this information. Port Isabel Lighthouse is the beautiful one surrounded by wonderful island. I really enjoy all vintage pictures here. You have beautiful memories of this island. I am so happy to know this from you. Good job, Peggy. Vote up and press all buttons. Take care!

      Blessing,

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Cheryl,

      We did have some good times on Padre Island when I was a youngster and always passed the iconic Port Isabel Lighthouse both coming and going. Thanks for your comment.

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 5 years ago from Houston, TX

      You have a great library of fond memories of visiting Port Isabel Lighthouse and South Padre Island. This beautiful historical landmark is a very popular place and its light has been an aid to people lost at sea. Great memorable photos, videos and information of this wonderful historical site.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Gail,

      I was delighted to find one of your questions which I could answer. Nice to know that you liked my response and thanks so much for the votes and sharing of this hub.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello johnr54,

      South Padre Island and Port Isabel with its lighthouse offer different scenery from north central Texas. When you get a chance to go that direction, hope you enjoy it. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Darlene,

      Sounds like you had a great vacation on South Padre Island. You have your own memories! Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello viking305,

      Yes, these memories of South Padre Island and the Port Isabel Lighthouse go way back. Glad to know that you enjoyed this. Thanks for your comment.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      "The family in which I grew up and shared these fond memories have now all passed on to the next life, but that lighthouse remains firmly grounded where it has stood for over a century and a half. Hope that answers your question, Gail!"

      Oh Peggy, I was hoping you'd write an answer to my question so I was delighted to see this hub, but reading it was bittersweet knowing that your family have all passed on.

      So glad that you were able to get these photos developed when so many others were destroyed in the flood. I'm sure it must make the photos you do have all the more prescious to you.

      Having traveled so many places, I can see why San Padre Island and its lighthouse is your favorite as it holds so many happy memories for you. Glad you were able to visit it again with your brother years later.

      Thanks so much for writing such a great hub in answer to my question. I love how you wove so much information about the lighthouse in between the touching memories of the times you spent there with family and friends.

      Voted up across the board including funny and will be sharing on facebook and with followers.

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 5 years ago from Texas

      Peggy, I have lived in North Central Texas for 30 years and have yet to make it to Padre Island, but when I do, I will visit this beautiful landmark. Thanks for sharing your memories and enlightening us at the same time.

    • profile image

      Darlene 5 years ago

      Loved the photos. They brought back happy memories of when we took our children to South Padre Island in 1972.

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 5 years ago from Ireland

      I loved reading about your summers at South Padre Island and the Lighthouse. Happy childhood memories are a treasure to remember and pass on. The photos of the beautiful white sand on the beach and the sand dunes is awesome

      Thanks for SHARING. Up and Awesome!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Don,

      If you do go to Michigan and take photos of some of the lighthouses, that would make another good hub...or two or three for you. Glad to hear that you liked this one regarding the Port Isabel Lighthouse. Thanks for the votes and share.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy. It's been quite awhile since we have been to any light house. Your hub makes me want to get up to Lake Michigan and search them out.Up,Interesting,beautiful votes. will share with followers.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Stephanie,

      Ah...my traveling friend! That is right. I remember reading your hub about South Padre Island. Will try and find it again and link it to this hub. Thanks for your comment.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      You did a wonderful job of incorporating interesting anecdotes about your family into this informative and beautiful hub about the Port Isabel lighthouse. I loved South Padre Island when we visited, and can see why it holds a special place in your heart as you have so many fond memories of the area.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi alocsin,

      I had just turned 13 when my parents moved to McAllen from Wisconsin. I'm the one standing behind my brother Jim and my mother, father and brother John are on the right in the photo on the sand dune with Sheba. We were all out of the toddler stage. Ha! Thanks for your comment and votes.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I like how you work in personal anecdotes and pictures into this travelogue. So, which one are you in the Sheba picture? I don't see any toddlers around ;)

      Voting this Up and Interesting.