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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rockport in Aransas County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

The Packeries of Rockport

 
 
The Packeries of Rockport Marker image. Click for full size.
By Norman Frank, March 21, 2012
1. The Packeries of Rockport Marker
Inscription. After the Civil War, Rockport became an important cattle ranching and shipping center. In 1866, James Doughty, T.H. Mathis, and John M. Mathis constructed cattle pens, with a long wharf that extended out into Aransas Bay from “Rocky Point” (the landmark from which Rockport gets its name). Cattle were shipped to New Orleans on the Morgan line. The painting below, “The Last to Load,” illustrates the first shipment from Rocky Point in 1866.

Initially, packeries were built nearby to render hides and tallow. The packeries consisted of holding pens, a main rendering barn, skinning building, and pier. Cattle were driven on foot from nearby ranches. The hides, hooves, horns, and tallow were shipped East to make fine leather, buttons, glue, candles, and soap. Carcasses were usually discarded.

In 1871, an ice plant was added to one of the packeries, which allowed preservation of the meat. Rockport’s packeries included W.A. Cushman; Doughty & Clark; West & Weiser Co.; William S. Hall; Coleman, Mathis, & Fulton; J.W. Baylor & Co.; American Beef Packery; and Butler & Co.

The local packing industry declined after 1875 as railroads pushed into Texas to allow shipment of cattle directly to giant packing plants in St. Louis and Chicago. Yet, as late as 1880, the Rockport packeries handled 93 percent
The Packeries of Rockport Marker image. Click for full size.
By Norman Frank, March 21, 2012
2. The Packeries of Rockport Marker
of the Texas-packed beef production. By 1890, most packeries had switched to butchering sea turtles, and Rockport handled almost the entire Gulf production. Most prized were the green turtles, and 85 percent of all Texas turtle nets were in Aransas Bay. By the late 1890s, the turtle population had diminished and the industry folded. Remnants of turtle capture pens can still be found along Rockport’s bay shores.
 
Erected 2011 by Visionaries in Preservation, Aransas County Historical Society, Inc., Texas Historical Foundation, Texas Tropical Trail/Texas Historical Commission, Aransas County Historical Commission, City of Rockport, and Margaret Sue Rust Foundation. (Marker Number 6.)
 
Location. 28° 1.361′ N, 97° 3.002′ W. Marker is in Rockport, Texas, in Aransas County. Marker is at the intersection of Water Street and North Street, on the right when traveling north on Water Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Rockport TX 78382, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Rockport’s Wharves and Pavilions (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Site of Aransas Hotel (about 400 feet away); The Rockport Pilot (about 500
First Eight Signs for Rockport's Pathways to History image. Click for full size.
By Norman Frank, March 21, 2012
3. First Eight Signs for Rockport's Pathways to History
feet away); Rockport’s Grand Hotels (about 500 feet away); The San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad in Rockport (about 600 feet away); Sorenson-Stair Building (about 700 feet away); Aransas County Veterans Memorial (about 700 feet away); Rockport Marine Laboratory (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Rockport.
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
#9 and Future Signage for Rockport's Pathways to History image. Click for full size.
By Norman Frank, March 21, 2012
4. #9 and Future Signage for Rockport's Pathways to History
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 21, 2012. This page has been viewed 623 times since then and 64 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 21, 2012. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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