Crystal Beach, also known as Patton, stretches seven miles along State Highway 87 in the middle of Bolivar Peninsula in Galveston County. Although the site was settled in the early twentieth century, the only recorded activity was that in the community of Patton, one of several names adopted by residents of the area in its early years. A Patton Beach post office operated from 1898 to 1900. Patton was a railroad stop until the railroad ceased operation in the early 1940s. Around then the name of the community was changed to Crystal Beach.
The town was incorporated in 1971. At least four efforts to disincorporate were made in the mid-1980s, and a vote to disincorporate was successful in 1987. Afterward, supporters of incorporation and those of disincorporation alternated with successful campaigns for votes and battles in court. The community was not incorporated in 1990.
Although its 1990 population of full-time residents was recorded as 787, other estimates placed the figure as high as 1,600. Crystal Beach was thus the largest community on the peninsula in population as well as land area. Officials estimated that 80 percent of Crystal Beach property owners were "weekenders," so the summer, weekend, and holiday population was greatly expanded. In 1990 Crystal Beach had a bank, a hotel, and a supermarket, and most of the real-estate agencies on the peninsula had their headquarters there.