Calhoun County Museum

Independence Trail Region
301 South Ann Street Port Lavaca, TX 77979 (361) 553-4689


Step into 19th century Indianola, where tens of thousands of German immigrants arrived in Texas, at the Calhoun County Museum. The museum’s exhibits include an eight-foot diorama of 19th century Indianola and the Fresnel lens from the 1852 Matagorda Lighthouse. Fifteen miles down Ocean Drive – passing several state historical markers – is Indianola, no longer a grand shipping and immigration port, but a small fishing village.

Shipwrecks and sunken treasure comprise the dreams of myths and legends and the Texas Gulf coast has seen its share of both. Port Lavaca’s Calhoun County Museum is a great place to explore a bit of this Gulf coast history with exhibitions on LaSalle’s fated expedition to the New World (plenty of gold and shipwrecks), and the nearby town of Indianola, lost to a hurricane in 1886. The museum houses another relic of the area’s history – the remarkable Fresnel lens once used in the lighthouse on nearby Matagorda Island. The lens is a massive, four-sided array of prisms arranged in concentric circles around four convex lenses called “bulls-eyes”. The lens began serving the lantern room of the Matagorda Island lighthouse in 1873 and was actually the third lens to be installed in the lighthouse, remaining in service until 1977. You can participate in an up-close examination of this magical work of glass alongside other exhibits of local lore in the museum’s interpretive displays.

Calhoun County Museum

301 South Ann Street Port Lavaca, TX 77979