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Trip Planner USA  /  Texas  /  Texas Gulf Coast  /  Rockport


Beaches · State Parks · Aquariums
Rockport is a city in Aransas County, Texas, United States. The population was 8,766 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat.Rockport is adjacent to the town of Fulton, and many refer to the combined communities as "Rockport-Fulton"; however, Rockport and Fulton are legally separate municipalities.HistoryRockport's FoundingFollowing the Civil War, successful tobacco merchant Thomas Henry Mathis sought to expand over-sea trading routes into Texas, so in 1867, he and cousin J.M. Mathis founded a wharf at the site of what would later become the town of Rockport. The wharf benefited from the cousins' additional investment improving vessel access between the Gulf of Mexico and mainland Texas. In response, a nascent cattle-slaughtering and packing operation at the wharf expanded rapidly, allowing Rockport to be officially incorporated as a town in 1870; its name arising from the rock ledge that runs along the shore. Thomas Mathis would become Rockport's first mayor after being appointed by the governor. A year later in 1871, the town achieved "city" status after continued growth.Early Years' Boom & BustAs Rockport was founded, the Mathis cousins teamed up with the local ranching families of George Ware Fulton and Thomas Matthew Coleman to raise and slaughter cattle for shipment out of the city's wharf. The partnership proved highly successful, and by 1873, their venture led to a boom for the city. However, this livestock-fueled growth ended abruptly in 1886 after Rockport's major sea shipping-line withdrew service from the port. The ensuing lack of ocean transport ultimately forced the closure of the cattle-processing operation that had been the lifeblood of the city's economy up to that point. Meanwhile, the Mathises abandoned the partnership, leaving Fulton and Coleman to keep their business and the city alive by purchasing the railways into Rockport and its surrounding areas. Their investment allowed the two to begin developing the region through other ventures, and Rockport's economy soon came to be dominated by shipbuilding and tourism toward the end of the 19th century. At the same time, rampant land speculation in the area led to a period of rapid unsustainable growth resulting in an eventual economic slump.
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