The Bolivar Lighthouse is on State Highway 87 near the west end of Bolivar Peninsula in the easternmost part of Galveston County. In 1852 the United States Coast Survey map advised using "Sanderson's House" on the Gulf side of Point Bolivar and a nearby lightboat to navigate the entrance to Galveston Bay, though in that year the federal government built a lighthouse on the point to prevent shipwrecks. An 1855 survey lined up the lighthouse with Fort Point at the tip of Galveston Island for the purposes of navigation. Confederates destroyed the original lighthouse to avoid assisting the enemy during the Civil War.
A new lighthouse was built by the federal government in 1872. The 52,000-candlepower beacon guided ships through the undredged ship channel from the Gulf of Mexico into the port of Galveston. The tall brick lighthouse, which extends 117 feet above sea level, was sheathed in cast-iron plates riveted together, anchored to a nine-foot concrete foundation, and originally painted with black and white stripes. It withstood the storms of 1900 and 1915, provided shelter for residents, and saved many lives. In 1917 soldiers at Fort San Jacinto accidentally shelled the lighthouse during target practice in a dense fog, shaking up the lighthouse keeper and his family. Bolivar Lighthouse was retired in 1933, when the South Jetty Light replaced it. Plans to convert the tower and grounds into a public park failed, and in 1947 the government sold the lighthouse as surplus property to the E. W. Boyt interests, which closed it to the public. The lighthouse appeared on television in the 1970 drama "My Sweet Charlie," and in 1977 the Texas Historical Commission registered it as a historic landmark. The lighthouse journal is housed at the Rosenberg Library in Galveston.