Port O'Connor (also known as P.O.C.) is an Unincorporated community inCalhoun County, Texas, United States, near the Gulf coastline betweenGalveston and Corpus Christi. The ZIP Code Tabulation Area including Port O'Connor had a population of 1,253 at the 2010 census. It is part of theVictoria, Texas Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The primary industry of Port O'Connor is sportfishing and tourism, with shrimping very close behind. The area is renowned for bay, off-shore and wade fishing, with redfish, trout, and flounder among the most common catches. Sports enthusiasts also come to Port O'Connor to hunt duck, geese and alligator.
A short boat ride across Matagorda Bay from Port O'Connor lies one of the most pristine natural habitats: Matagorda Island. Once an army air base, the island is now a National Preserve and home to a wide variety of endangered migratory birds. Visitors come from all over the country to observe these rare and beautiful species.
The weather in Port O'Connor is warm to hot in the summers, with winters cool to icy. Humidity is rather high, and the area has been host to hurricane landings several times within the past 100 years.
Also due to its small size, all mail is sent to the general post office, which has no door-to-door delivery service. On February 9, 1996 the town started its own newspaper, Dolphin Talk, which covers stories on local events in Port O'Connor and its surrounding areas.
Port O'Connor was laid out in the late 19th century as a fishing settlement called Alligator Head. As it grew in popularity with both permanent residents and tourists, the community took on more municipal like characteristics, earning the formal designation finally in 1912 as the town site of Port O'Connor. It was named after its main land owner at the time who was Thomas M. O'Connor who owned 70,000 acres (280 km²). Aside from local cattle herding and fishing, the town was also a producer of figs and citrus fruit.
Its initial population growth spanned the ten years from 1909 to 1919. Excursion trains used to run on weekends to Port O'Connor and an estimated 10,000 tourists came every summer.
Four times in the history of Port O'Connor it has been struck by hurricanes. The 1919 Florida Keys Hurricane brought the "good old days" to a halt, destroying the town. It rebuilt slowly but the 1942 and 1945 hurricanes so close in time were hard to overcome. In 1961 Port O'Connor was in the midst of another growth boom due to the increase of military personnel on nearby Matagorda Island Air Force Base (History of Matagorda Island). That same year Hurricane Carla destroyed the town again; but times reflect its will to survive, fueled by tourism, commercial fisheries and the petrochemical industry.
Aside from the school, Port O'Connor has a handful of landmark buildings that mark the town's community. Church worship is a strong part of the community, with two of the oldest buildings being the First Baptist Church on 5th Street and Jefferson, andSaint Joseph's Catholic Church on Adams and Washington. The town has also recently built a community center where local groups and individuals can meet in either a recreation atmosphere or for general meetings. Several watering holes locals take up in are the Hurricane Junction, open under new ownership, Bob's Bar, The Cantina and Madden's Lounge. Another local treasure is the Matagorda Island Lighthouse which is depicted in the town's Chamber of Commerce seal. Formerly it served as a working lighthouse beginning in 1873, but over the years has now served as a landmark monument to times gone by. In 1984 it was listed in theNational Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. The black conical tower, which was automated in 1956, is made of cast iron and features a solar powered light. During the summer season another town landmark is often used. It is the Front Beach Pier. Destroyed in 2003's Hurricane Claudette, it was rebuilt one year later and serves as a scenic look-out point to Matagorda Bay. Another major landmark in the town is Clark's Marina. At over ninety-five years old, the seafood part of the business is one of the oldest in the state. It was founded by Homer P. Clark in Galveston, Texas, in 1917, and moved to Port O'Connor in 1930. The restaurant closed in recent years, leaving the marina to serve the area and carry on the Clark legacy of service.