Matagorda is near the Colorado River mouth and East Matagorda and Matagorda bays, on State Highway 60 and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line in southern Matagorda County. The community was established after Stephen F. Austin secured permission in 1827 from the Mexican government to build a town to protect incoming settlers. Elias R. Wightman, Hosea H. League, James E. B. Austin, and partners Thomas M. Duke and William Selkirk each took a one-quarter interest in the townsite. After laying out the town in 1827, Wightman gathered approximately fifty to sixty colonists, mostly from New York, for the community. On August 1, 1829, the proprietors met and elected town officers, as their constitution had provided. They also donated lots to some individuals in return for their special services. From the beginning, cotton was important; a gin was in operation in the area as early as 1825. Matagorda was incorporated in 1830, and by 1832 it had some 1,400 residents; there were an additional 250 people living outside the town but within its jurisdiction. Beginning in the 1830s, the town, then the closest port city to New Orleans, served as an entry point for immigrants arriving both overland and by sea. A Mexican customhouse was established in 1831, and a chamber of commerce was in operation by 1840. James H. Selkirk constructed one of the first dock-and-warehouse businesses in the town, and freight moved along the Colorado River despite a raft of logs and debris that impeded river passage. The raft was successfully removed in 1929, but until then water behind it was used for irrigation, and the threat of Colorado River flooding remained.
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Matagorda by the Numbers
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|313||2020||United States Census Bureau|
|462||2019||Texas Demographic Center|
|503||2010||United States Census Bureau|