RAILROADS, ROCK AND REFINEMENT
This railroad-turned-petrochemical seaport boom town has played a major role in Texas history from the Civil War to present day as a leader in the refining industry. Surrounded by beaches, this Gulf Coast City is also a perfect place for birding, fishing, and outdoor recreation.
Area history from the Paleo-Indians, to Spanish explorers, to modern times unfolds at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. The museum’s Music Hall of Fame features more than 60 performers with regional roots, such as the late Port Arthur native and rock’ n’ roll icon Janis Joplin -- and a replica of her Porsche painted in psychedelic colors. The Robert Rauschenberg Gallery includes 21 works in various media created and donated by the late renowned artist, a Port Arthur native.
Among Port Arthur’s historic properties, Pompeiian Villa stands out as the oldest landmark in the city and a link to the dreams of the town’s founders. Commissioned in 1900 as a winter home for the barbed-wire “king” Isaac Ellwood, the residence included 10 rooms designed around a courtyard, a layout that harkens back to ancient Pompeii. This restored property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open for guided tours.
Fifteen miles south of town, Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site commemorates Port Arthur’s role in the Civil War. On a lighter note, each February Port Arthur celebrates its diverse heritage with the family-oriented Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas.