The Matagorda Island Lighthouse has stood as a silent sentinel over Pass Cavallo for the last 150 years.
It was first constructed in 1852.The structure was 92 feet tall and was constructed entirely of cast iron with no masonry support. It was originally painted with horizontal red, white and black stripes.
The selection of the entrance to Matagorda Bay for the lighthouse was determined by its proximity to two important 19th century port cities -- Port Lavaca and Indianola. However, Indianola was devastated by hurricanes in 1875 and 1876 and left Port Lavaca as the most prominenet port along the central Texas Gulf Coast. During the Civil War, the Island was the scene of military action which had considerable impact on the lighthouse. Confederate soldiers attempted to demolish the lighthouse. They broke several of the cast iron plates and buried the lens in sand to prevent it from falling into Union hands.
In 1873, the lighthouse was repaired and moved to its present position to avoid encroachment by the Gulf of Mexico. The lens was removed about six years ago and is now on display at the museum in Port Lavaca. A cemetery adjacent to the lighthouse is the resting place for lighthouse keepers and their families.