Port Mansfield, TX

By: Art Leatherwood

Type: General Entry

Published: May 1, 1995

Port Mansfield is a port and fishing community on the Laguna Madre opposite Port Mansfield Channel in northeastern Willacy County. It was formerly an isolated and obscure fish camp known as Red Fish Landing. The port was opened in 1950 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which wanted a harbor between Corpus Christi and Brownsville. It was named for United States Representative Joseph J. Mansfield, who introduced the Mansfield Bill authorizing the extension of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande. In 1957, when the first pass was cut through Padre Island, the little settlement had a few residences, some port buildings, a motel and store, and a few fishing cabins. The final Port Mansfield Channel was completed across Padre Island in 1962. The ensuing tidal exchange between the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre produced an abundant population of redfish, brown shrimp, and flounder, and greatly expanded the sport and commercial fish economy of Port Mansfield. In 1966 its population was reported as 525; from 1968 to 1990 it was reported as 731. Port Mansfield in the early 1990s had mail service through the community post office at Raymondville. In 1991 a major development was proposed for Padre Island directly across the Laguna Madre from Port Mansfield. In 2000 the population dropped to 415.

Lynn M. Alperin, Custodians of the Coast: History of the United States Army Engineers at Galveston (Galveston: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1977). Austin American-Statesman, October 28, 1957, April 28, 1991. Corpus Christi Caller-Times, July 8, 1951. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


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

Art Leatherwood, “Port Mansfield, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 01, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/port-mansfield-tx.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995