Fulton is on State Highway 35 and Aransas Bay just north of Rockport in central Aransas County. It was founded in 1866 and named for George Ware Fulton, Sr., who built a large house nearby in 1874–76 (see FULTON MANSION STATE HISTORIC SITE). The Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company ranched in the area and promoted efforts toward a deepwater pass and railroads in order to market beef. Several meat-packing plants were built in the area in the late 1860s during the peak years of the cattle boom, but most closed by the mid-1870s because of competition from Chicago. In 1885 Fulton had a population of 175, a beef-canning plant, a bone fertilizer factory, a post office, a school, and several churches. Daily stages ran to Rockport and St. Mary's of Aransas. In 1888 citizens voted to change the the town's name to Aransas City in honor of the earlier community that had existed on the nearby Live Oak Peninsula in the 1830s and 1840s and George Fulton's early business activities there. In 1890 the town's population was 200 and industries included a turtle-canning plant and deep-sea fishing. The name was changed back to Fulton by 1900, when the population had fallen to twenty-five and the post office had been discontinued. Evidence of a prehistoric settlement, thought to be Karankawan, was found nearby in 1930. Tourism began to play an increasing role in the town's economy after 1920, and by 1947 Fulton had five stores and a population of 200. The community continued to grow steadily between the 1950s and the early 1980s. It incorporated during the 1970s, and by 1980 it had a population of 1,141 and forty-one businesses. The population declined to 763 residents in 1990, then recovered to 1,553 in 2000. Tourism and fishing remained the mainstays of the economy.
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