Matagorda County

Matagorda County, Texas

Matagorda County, Texas

Matagorda County encompasses Bay City, Texas and Matagorday Bay and borders the Gulf of México. Photograph credit: Photograph taken by María Esther Hammack, 2017. 

Matagorda County is in the Coastal Prairie region of Texas, bounded on the north by Wharton County, on the east by Brazoria County and the Gulf of Mexico, on the west by Calhoun and Jackson counties, and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico and Tres Palacios, Matagorda, and East Matagorda bays. The center of the county lies at 28°54' north latitude and 95°59' west longitude; Bay City, the county's seat of government and largest city, is four miles north of the center of the county at the convergence of State highways 35 and 60, fifty air miles southwest of Houston. The name Matagorda, Spanish for "thick brush," was derived from the canebrakes that formerly lined the shore. Crossed by the once highly flood-prone Colorado River, which bisects it from north to south, the county extends across 1,612 square miles of mostly open prairie. With the exception of a slight undulation in the north, most of the county is level, with elevations ranging from sea level to seventy feet. Part of Matagorda Peninsula, a narrow barrier island formed less than 5,000 years ago, runs northeast and southwest for sixty-five miles from the mouth of Caney Creek in the eastern part of the county to Pass Cavallo on the west. The peninsula protects Matagorda Bay and is cut in half by the Colorado River channel twenty-four miles from the pass. Major watercourses in the county include Caney, Peach, Peyton's, Turtle, Cash's, and Big and Little Boggy creeks, the Trespalacios and Colorado rivers, Live Oak and Linville bayous, and Little Robbins Slough. Along the rivers the soils are brownish to reddish, cracking and clayey to loamy, and along the coast soils are sandy. In the rest of the county light-colored, shallow loam covers clayey subsoils; some areas, particularly in the coastal marshes, have gray to black, cracking, clayey soils. Temperatures in the county vary from an average low of 44° F in January to an average high of 92° F in July. The growing season averages 295 days per year. Live oak, post oak, pin oak, pecan, ash cottonwood, elm, red cedar, and mulberry grow in the county's forests; mesquite and prickly pear have invaded the Bay Prairie in patches where the land has been overgrazed. The area harbors a variety of wildlife, including bobcats, coyotes, otters, white-tailed deer, and numerous smaller mammals, as well as oysters, shrimp, fish, snakes, and waterfowl. A number of protected wildlife habitats, including Big Boggy National Wildlife Refuge, the Mad Island Wildlife Management Area, the Runnels Family Mad Island Marsh, and the Nature Conservance, are located in the county. The Colorado Barge Canal, completed in 1959, extends fifteen miles along the Colorado River from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to a turning basin below Bay City and links the county to deep water at Freeport and Galveston. In the early 20th century, the county was served by the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads.

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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County Map of Texas

Matagorda County

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  • Matagorda County

Currently Exists

Yes

Place type

Matagorda County is classified as a County

Altitude Range

0 ft – 70 ft

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Trespalacios Town
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Matagorda County by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Matagorda County
Pop. Year Source
36,643 2019 United States Census Bureau

Civilian Labor Counts

Matagorda County
People Year Source
16,628 2019 Texas Workforce Commission

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Per Capita Income (USD) Year Source
$40,596 2019 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

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Property Values

Matagorda County
USD ($) Year Source
7,512,749,439 2019 State Property Tax Board

Retail Sales

Matagorda County
USD ($) Year Source
379,541,405 2019 State Comptroller of Public Accounts

Wages

Matagorda County
USD ($) Year Source
159,271,963 2019 Texas Workforce Commission

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Unemployment Percentage Year Source
11.5 2019 Texas Workforce Commission

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Rainfall (inches) Year Source
48.9 2019 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Min. (January Average, °F) Max. (July Average, °F) Year Source
45.4 91.5 2019 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Land Area

Matagorda County
Area (square miles) Year Source
1,100.3 2019 United States Census Bureau

Total Area

Matagorda County
Area (square miles) Year Source
1,612.5 2019 United States Census Bureau