Brazos Santiago, TX

By: Art Leatherwood

Type: General Entry

Published: November 1, 1994

The port of Brazos Santiago was located on Brazos Island in what is now Cameron County. According to a United States Coast Survey map in 1867 it was across Brazos Santiago Pass from the south end of Padre Island (at 26°02' N, 97°09' W). Before 1848 the port was wharves on the lagoon side of Brazos Island. Goods destined for ports up the Rio Grande had to be offloaded at Brazos Santiago because the bars at the mouth of the Rio Grande were too shallow for ships capable of plying the Gulf. Trade for Matamoros and interior Mexico was landed at the harbor on Brazos Island and then transported to Matamoros by oxcart. During the Mexican War Gen. Zachary Taylor established a supply depot on Brazos Island, which handled all American and north Mexico supplies, and several thousand American troops debarked from the port. After 1848 Richard King developed shallow-draft steamboats that could negotiate the shallow bars at the mouth of the Rio Grande. His boats could then offload in the lee of Brazos Island, go around to the Gulf side, and cross the bars and travel up the Rio Grande to their destination. By 1867 the north end of Brazos Island was a well-developed military port with three wharves on Brazos Santiago Pass, a railroad south to Boca Chica and on to Whites Ranch on the Rio Grande, four barracks, a hospital with four outbuildings, two gun emplacements, numerous warehouse buildings, and a lighthouse. After the Civil War the troops left Brazos Island, and the small town of Brazos faded away; most of the buildings were destroyed by the storm of 1867.

Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Texas Collection, July 1943, January 1945. Writers' Roundtable, Padre Island (San Antonio: Naylor, 1950).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Art Leatherwood, “Brazos Santiago, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994

Brazos Santiago
Currently Exists
Place Type
Town Fields
  • Has post office: No
  • Is Incorporated: No
Belongs to
  • Cameron County
Associated Names

Port Isabel

  • Latitude: 26.03063480°
  • Longitude: -97.15747120°