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SHANGHAI, TEXAS. Shanghai was a mile from Wharton on the west side of the Colorado River in central Wharton County. It was established on a rail spur from the Southern Pacific Railroad, formerly the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway, in 1899. Abel H. "Shanghai" Pierceqv decided to farm his land on the west bank of the Colorado River and built a convict settlement. Pierce contracted in 1897 with the state of Texas for convicts to cut off the timber and burn the canebrake. The spur was built to bring in supplies and men and later as a shipping route for the gin that was built. After the fashion set for naming stops along the rail line between Richmond and Victoria, Pierce named this one after himself, by giving it his colorful nickname. The spur was retired in September 1940. All that remains is the quarters that housed the convicts, now used as a barn by the Pierce Ranch. The windows are still barred.


Chris Emmett, Shanghai Pierce: A Fair Likeness (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953; rpt. 1974). Annie Lee Williams, A History of Wharton County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1964).

Merle R. Hudgins


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

Merle R. Hudgins, "SHANGHAI, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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