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Texas Independence Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Bay City: Matagorda County Museum


La Belle cannon

A NEOCLASSICAL POST OFFICE AND A FRENCH SHIPWRECK

The Matagorda County Museum may house plenty of important artifacts exploring the county’s heritage but the building itself may be one of its most prized historical possessions. Built in 1912 as Bay City’s first post office, the structure provided postal service to the area for over seventy years. This Neoclassical edifice also provided a place for town meetings, served as the local site for the Selective Service Board during World War II, and provided a fallout shelter as well as a hurricane shelter. The Matagorda County Museum Association purchased the building in 1990, modifying and renovating it to fit the museum’s needs. Today, Museum exhibitions include early Texas exploration and regional ranching and farming heritage along with a section just for children. The Museum’s signature collection, however, is its display of artifacts from the shipwreck La Belle, a vessel of 17-century French explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. La Belle, a French barque longue, ended up at the bottom of Matagorda Bay in 1686 during a squall. It lay in the shallow bay for over three hundred years until Texas Historical Commission archeologists discovered the site and set about retrieving the wreck along with over a million artifacts. The ship’s hull, three bronze cannons, thousands of glass beads, pottery, and even the skeleton of a crew member were recovered. The entire collection of artifacts comprise the La Salle Odyssey, a series of permanent exhibits in seven museums across Texas (including the Matagorda County Museum) that together tell the extraordinary story of La Salle’s expedition and the Texas Historical Commission’s remarkable archeological endeavors.

Watch the following videos to learn more about the Texas Historical Commission's excavation of the French ship La Belle and its artifacts. These videos were produced for inclusion in the La Salle Odysessy tour found in our Texas Time Travel mobile app. Find out more about the tour on the La Salle Odysessy theme page: http://texastimetravel.com/node/28706


Location

  • 2100 Ave. F
  • Bay City, Texas
  • 77414

Contact

Hours & Fees

  • Wednesday - Saturday, 1 - 5 p.m.

  • Adults: $4, Seniors (50+): $3, Children age 3 and older: $2 


Map