Texas Independence Trail Region

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


Intracoastal waterway in Matagorda


The coastal community of Matagorda can trace its roots to 1827 when Elias R. Wightman, charged by Stephen F. Austin (and with permission from the ruling Mexican government), brought fifty immigrants from his native New York along with an additional ten immigrants picked up in New Orleans to colonize the territory. Wightman named the new community “Matagorda”, a Spanish term that refers to the dense scrub, or native vegetation, that once covered the coastal region. This lively community has survived over one hundred and seventy-five years, garnering historical markers and listings on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors to Matagorda will also find history among the dead as well as the living. The Matagorda Cemetery is final resting place of Samuel Rhoads Fisher, Secretary of the Navy for the Republic of Texas and one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Matagorda and Matagorda County are also considered some of the best birding spots in the nation. Nearby Big Boggy National Wildlife Refuge and the offshore Mad Island Marsh Preserve (where visitors may examine some of the vegetation that gave Matagorda its name) are favorite hotspots for sighting dozens of migratory and resident bird species. Matagorda’s location near the mouth of the Colorado River and its proximity to Matagorda Bay also make it an ideal starting point for anglers who wish to ply both the river and bay for gamefish.