Galveston Island State Park
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (November 2007)|
|Galveston Island State Park|
|Region||Galveston County, Texas|
|Location||Galveston, Texas, Jamaica Beach, Texas|
|For public||Public state park|
|Easiest access||Pay up front.|
Galveston Island State Park, in Galveston County, is in the City of Galveston, Texas on the west end of Galveston Island. It is a 2,013.1-acre (814.7 ha) site that was acquired in 1969 from private owners under the State Parks Bond Program and was opened in 1975. On September 14, 2008, the park was closed due to damage from Hurricane Ike. In July 2009 the park was opened once again for camping and outdoor recreation.
As reported in 1985 in the Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl/1985_35655/settlement-in-suit-over-isle-state-park-nears-lawy.html), the tale of the land begins in 1950. Maco Stewart Jr., whose father founded Stewart Title Company, owned more than 2,000 acres on the island. In his will, he severed the mineral rights from the surface land rights and gave half of the surface and mineral rights to his wife, Virginia Stewart, and divided the other half between his sons from a former marriage, Wells and Maco III. In giving them the surface rights, the senior Maco specified that, upon the death of his wife and sons, his "Galveston Island home" should be given to the state of Texas "to be used and maintained as a fish, game and oyster preserve and for any other public purpose." The will further stated that his heirs "shall not have any right or authority to convey, mortgage, encumber or in any manner dispose of the `surface' estate."
By the late 1960s, Stewart's heirs wanted the park to be built. The heirs received payment for 1,950 acres in 1969. A small part of the property that included the former Stewart Mansion was separated from the land that became the park.
Galveston Island is believed to be approximately 5000 years old and has had an interesting history during the past 500 years. It is generally believed Cabeza de Vaca and his crew were shipwrecked here in 1520 and eventually made their way from the island to colonies in Mexico. The LaFitte brothers, fleeing the prosecution of pirates in the United States, established a government here in 1817, with visions of creating a "Manhattan on the Gulf." Commerce did thrive here, but major storms in 1867, 1871, 1875, and 1886 greatly slowed progress. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 devastated the island, killing 5000 to 10,000 people, and prompted the construction of the seawall which protects the northern half of the island.
Dunes Renewal Project
September 10, 1998, Tropical Storm Frances destroyed the sand dunes at Galveston Island State Park. The dunes serve as the only protection that the park has for its facilities. A project was implemented to rebuild the dunes through the use of Christmas trees.
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