Palacios, Texas

Palacios, Texas

Palacios, originally known as Trespalacios, is a small city located on the Gulf Coast in Matagorda County, Texas. Photograph by Matamaniac.

Palacios is on State Highway 35 halfway between Houston and Corpus Christi in the southwestern corner of Matagorda County. The town is also on Tres Palacios Bay (after which it is named), an inlet of Matagorda Bay off the Gulf of Mexico. The name of the bay is Spanish for "Three Palaces." An apocryphal story has it that sailors from a Spanish ship that wrecked in Matagorda Bay thought they saw palaces on the shoreline. As they neared the shore, however, the palaces disappeared. It is thought that the bay and the Tres Palacios River were actually named for José Félix Trespalacios. In 1901 the future site of Palacios was part of the bull pasture offered for sale by the estate of Abel H. (Shanghai) Pierce. The Texas Rice Development Company purchased the land and subdivided it into 160-acre tracts. The mile-square tract on Tres Palacios Bay at Hamilton Point was sold by the Palacios City Townsite Company, a subsidiary of the development company. The town of Trespalacios was surveyed into lots in 1902. Since there was already a nearby post office named Tres Palacios the new town changed its name to Palacios. The development company paid a bonus to the Southern Pacific to extend its line to Palacios.

In 1903 a post office was opened, the first church was organized, the train began excursions for settlers, and the townsite company built Hotel Palacios. In 1904 a pavilion was constructed on a T-head pier over the water at the south end of town, next to the hotel. The pavilion had bathhouses and was used for swimming, dancing, fishing, picnicking, skating, dominoes, and other entertainment. Fish and oyster businesses opened, and fishing remained a significant local enterprise into the 1990s. Promotional material for Palacios and the area touted the climate as favorable for raising peaches, figs, oranges, and other fruits, as well as for truck farming. In the town's early years cotton was an important crop, and by 1910 rice was being farmed locally. The townsite company gave thirteen acres on Hamilton Point to the Baptists on the condition that the Baptist Young People's Union Encampment would be held at Palacios. The first encampment was held there in 1906. In 1907 the Palacios public library was organized by five women; it was officially established in 1910 and in 1967 moved to the site it still occupied in the 1980s. In 1989 it had more than 42,000 volumes. By 1915 the town had a population of 2,000, more than 100 businesses, a weekly newspaper (the Beacon), and Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches. In 1926 a training camp, called Camp Palacios, was begun at the town for the Texas National Guard. In 1930 the camp was renamed Camp Hulen after John A. Hulen, commander of the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division. By the mid-1930s Palacios had two schools and a population of 2,288. The town reported 2,799 residents and ninety-three businesses in 1955.

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Mary L. Griffin | © TSHA

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

Belongs to

Palacios is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Palacios is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Tres Palacios)


Latitude: 28.73103650
Longitude: -96.25113000

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2021 View more »