Texas Maritime Museum

Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse

Maritime History, Navigation

Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse on the water and today in Port Lavaca on SH35

The Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse in Port Lavaca, Texas

Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse, a historic beacon in Port Lavaca, Texas, now stands proudly along Highway 35, welcoming travelers from the east. The lighthouse was originally constructed in 1858 on the southern tip of Halfmoon Reef, a shoal on the eastern side of Matagorda Bay. Its unique screwpile design featured a wooden hexagonal structure supported by seven 25 foot iron piles, anchored into the shoal.

During the Civil War, the lighthouse went dark but remained intact, resuming operations in 1868. Isolated on the water, it housed a keeper and an assistant, including 2 husband/wife teams that raised their children there. One keeper, Stephen Hill, had a daughter named Sadie who was prone to sleepwalking. After Sadie had been discovered taking a nighttime stroll dangerously near the edge of the lighthouse, her parents decided that something had to be done. Their solution was to tie a string between Sadie’s big toe and her sister’s big toe each night before retiring. The string brought an end to Sadie’s nocturnal adventures, though probably at the expense of several sound nights of sleep for her sister.

The lighthouse weathered many storms and hurricanes, including the 1875 hurricane that destroyed two other screwpile lighthouses and killed their keepers. In 1942 a hurricane damaged its walkway and the Coast Guard, opting not to repair it, sold the structure to Bill Bauer and Henry Smith in 1943. They planned to use the lighhouse as quarters for night watchmen at their Point Comfort dredging business.

Eventually, in 1978, after 36 years of ownership, Bauer donated the lighthouse to the Calhoun County Historical Commission for use as a museum. It was transported across the Matagorda Causeway, restored in 1979 as an Eagle Scout project, and placed on its present piers in 1985, adorned with a porch and Texas Historical Marker. Today, the Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse stands as a testament to maritime history, adjacent to Port Lavaca’s Bauer Community Center, offering visitors a glimpse into its storied past.

This lighthouse is one of several featured in our collection of Lighthouse Art.


Information collected from lighthousefriends.com and Lighthouses of Texas

Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse Historical Photo from USCG Archives
Historical Photo of the lighthouse from the USCG Archives
The Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse today in Port Lavaca at Broadway and SH35, via adobestock

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Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse, Lighthouse, Matagorda Bay, Navigation, Port Lavaca

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Since 1989, the Texas Maritime Museum has been your portal to the treasures of Texas maritime history, preserving and sharing the seafaring stories that define our coastal heritage.

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