Gulf Coast
2010 Census - 482
2000 Census - 763
Surfside Beach, Texas
Surfside Beach Texas History:
Surfside Beach is located on the former townsite on Old Velasco on the southern end of Follett Island. In 1821, Stephen F. Austin’s first group of Texas colonists landed on the east side of the Brazos River across from the town of Quintana. This east side location was platted as the town of Velasco in 1831, and later would become Surfside. More than 25,000 colonists entered Texas through the Velasco port from the beginning of Austin’s first colony in 1821 to after Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836. Also in 1821 Mexico established a fort with a customs office at Velasco. The establishment of the Velasco port rivaled the port at Quintana and caused Quintana’s early decline. On June 26, 1832, the Battle of Velasco, the first battle of the Texas war for independence, was fought here. Texas forces were stopped by Mexican troops as they attempted to move cannon up the Brazos River to reinforce fellow colonists in Anahuac. That night 112 Texans attacked the Mexican fort at Velasco. The Mexicans surrendered nine hours later. What was unknown at the time of this battle was the fact that the Anahuac dispute had already been peacefully settled. After the victory of San Jacinto, Velasco was made the temporary capital of the Republic of Texas. General Santa Anna was brought here to sign what became known as the Treaties of Velasco. These treaties ended the war between Texas and Mexico and granted Texas its independence on May 14, 1836. After the Texas Revolution, Velasco and Quintana served as summer resorts for wealthy plantation families. Velasco was wiped out in the 1875 hurricane and reestablished further inland on the east side of the Brazos River near present day Freeport. The New Velasco was annexed into Freeport in 1957. Prior to the 1930s, the large amount of silt from the Brazos River (silt turns to sand) was causing the Surfside beach to widen. This accumulation of sand was clogging the Port of Freeport and the new Intracoastal Canal. The U.S. Army Corps of engineers corrected this problem by damning the river before it reached Surfside Beach and rerouting the Brazos River so it dumped its beach restoring silt six miles down the coast. The problems at Freeport, New Velasco, and the Intracoastal Canal were corrected, but Surfside Beach has been starved for sand ever since. The new Surfside Beach community began to develop after it became a part of the Brazosport industrial community in the 1940s. Surfside was incorporated in 1975 under the name Surfside but was renamed Surfside Beach in 1988. In 1990 the population was 611 and it reported no businesses. The approximately 10 mile long Bluewater Highway (CR 257) stretches between the toll bridge at San Luis Pass Bridge to the Surfside Beach SH 332 Bridge. Surfside Beach is located on the east side of the old mouth of the Brazos River at the end of SH 332, northeast of, and directly across the Brazos River Harbor from Quintana, 6 miles southeast of Freeport, 6 miles southwest of Oyster Creek, and 40 miles southwest of Galveston, Texas.
Brazosport Area of Cities, 50 Miles South of Houston:
Clute, Freeport, Jones Creek, Lake Jackson, Oyster Creek, Quintana, Richwood, and Surfside Beach make up this area of cities. They are located at the mouth of the Brazos and San Bernard Rivers, and together have approximately 44 miles of sandy beaches. Industries include chemical manufacturing, petro-chemical processing, a variety of other manufacturing industries, deep water port activities, sports and commercial fishing, and tourism. These towns are very close together, so whether you are planning to visit or move to one of these towns, it is important to read and research each one of them. Limiting yourself to the activities, and cultural or outdoor offerings of one of these towns, would be similar to isolating yourself in the neighborhood you live in. The major beaches in the area are Bryan, Quintana, and Surfside Beaches. Two other nearby towns are Angleton and Sweeny. (979) 285-2501.
Historic Acadia, Sinking Site of the Blockade Runner, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“The side-wheel steamer Acadia, owned by Canadians, set out on her maiden voyage in December, 1864 for Nassau, Havana, and Vera Cruz. Loaded with food, hardware, and clothing, she braved the Federal blockade to bring the goods to Texans. On February 6, 1865, she encountered heavy fog, and grounded 300 yards off present day Surfside Beach. The crew safely made it to shore; when the fog lifted, the federal forces shelled her, but could not board her as the Confederates defended her from the shore. The Acadia then became a coastal landmark.” The Texas Historical Marker is located on FM 332, one block south of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Historic Velasco, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“Here was fought a battle--the first collision in arms between Texas colonists and the Mexican Military--a conflict preliminary to the Texas War for Independence. On June 26, 1832, when Texans under John Austin and Henry Smith came down river with cannon for use against Mexican forces at Anahuac, they ran against the resistance of Lt. Col. Domingo de Ugartechea. As commander of Mexican forces at Velasco, Ugartechea refused passage through the mouth of the Brazos River to the vessel bearing the cannon to Anahuac. Some 112 Texans attacked the fort at midnight, and after 9 hours under the fire of Texas rifles and cannon, the Mexican garrison was forced to surrender. The Battle of Velasco, brought on by a customs quarrel at Anahuac, was unknowingly fought after the dispute at Anahuac had been peaceably settled. After the victory at San Jacinto 4 years later, President David G. Burnet moved the capital of the Republic of Texas temporarily to Velasco. Here the Treaty of Velasco, ending hostilities between Texas and Mexico, was signed on May 14, 1836.” The Old Velasco and the Velasco markers are located along SH 332 approximately 50 yards from the end of the road and the beginning of the beach. There is also a stone monument dedicated to the various jetties that have been built and lost near this site.
Historic Old Velasco, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“Old Velasco, the historic and key Texas port of entry, and one of the busiest ports during the Civil War, was located near Surfside. The port was fortified by troops and gun batteries at the mouth of the Brazos River to protect landing facilities for blockade runners, to protect the rich farmlands, and to prevent Federal Invasion. The South exchanged cotton for European guns, ammunition, milled goods and medicines. Federal vessels set up a blockade, and constantly fired on the blockade runners, shore defenses, and patrol boats. The Federal vessels had to go to New Orleans for drinking water, food, and fuel, because the Texas Marines on rafts or dredge boats, and the Texas Cavalry and Infantry units kept them off the shores.” The Texas Historical Marker is located on FM 332, 1 block south of the Intracoastal Waterway. The Old Velasco and the Velasco markers are located along SH 332 approximately 50 yards from the end of the road and the beginning of the beach. There is also a stone monument dedicated to the various jetties that have been built and lost near this site.
Historic Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Texas Historical Marker Text:
This complex of barge canals and natural channels—most valuable waterway in America—stretches 1,116 miles from Brownsville, Texas, to St. Mark’s, Florida. It is longer, carries more tonnage than the Suez and Panama Canals. It is a vital link in economy of Texas and has been one of the main causes of rapid development of the Gulf Coast area. The canal system was begun in 1854 when a short canal was built from Galveston Bay to the mouth of the Brazos River as aid to Texas trade; it was 50 feet wide, 3.5 feet deep, and dug by hand labor and mule teams. Later projects widened and lengthened the canal along the coast. The most important period in growth of the waterway system was the result of determined efforts by two Texas businessmen, Clarence S. E. Holland, and Roy Miller. In 1905-1907, these men organized the initial financial support, arranged construction, and won congressional backing for canal improvements. By 1966, annual total tonnage of the waterway exceeded 78,500,000 tons. (1967). The marker is located on FM 332, 1 block south of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Fort Velasco Reconstruction, Excellent History and Photos by
An artist’s rendition of how Fort Velasco might have looked during the Spanish and Mexican eras is on display at the Surfside City Hall. The reconstruction of the fort is being done in three phases as close as possible to the original site of Fort Velasco. The first two phases were completed prior hurricane Ike. The third phase includes the reconstruction of the fort on the site and included plans to permit visitors to camp out in the reconstructed fort.
Fort Velasco Museum in City Hall:
Articles discovered at the Old Velasco Fort site are on display. There is also a diorama of the old fort. This small museum is located on the second floor of the Surfside City Hall, which is located in the old Coast Guard station house. Open Mon-Fri, 7am-5:30pm. (979) 233-1531. 1304 Monument Drive, Surfside.
Annual Dunes Day, Jan:
For over 30 years people from the Brazoria and Houston areas have been bringing their old Christmas trees to Surfside Beach and using them to help build sand dunes to protect the island. The trees are placed along the beach parallel to shore and tied down to catch the blowing sand to build dunes; these dunes protect the island during tropical events. In 2008 almost 10,000 Christmas Trees were used to build these dunes. The event is usually held the last Saturday of January. As many as 200 volunteers help stake and tie down the trees. Lunch is provided. Volunteers typically meet at Stahlman Park (2300 Blue Water Highway or CR 257) and Quintana Park at 9am on the day of the event. (979) 233-1531.
Annual Surfside Beach Marathon & Half Marathon, Early Feb:
This is the only Texas Marathon held entirely on the beach. This largely undeveloped beach is extremely flat with hard packed, smooth sand. The race is held on the Surfside public beach from Surfside to San Luis Pass and back again. Stahlman Park at 2300 Blue Water Highway. A post-race BBQ party is held at the park. 2300 Blue Water Highway (CR 257). More Info
Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration, March:
The parade route includes parts of the beach; free beads and candy are thrown from the floats. The parade keeps growing with over 200 entries in 2008, and over 20,000 visitors. Other activities include costume contests, a social, fund raisers, and a reenactment of the Battle of Fort Velasco. The event is typically held during Spring Break on the weekend before of St. Patrick’s Day. (979) 233-1531.
Annual Migration Celebration, San Bernard NWR, April:
The celebration begins with a Friday night fundraising dinner held at River Place in the Freeport Municipal Park at 421 Brazosport Boulevard; fees apply. Other event activities include speakers, presentations, workshops, exhibits, an auction, a photo contest, a duck stamp art contest, dinners, birding tours, bird banding demonstrations, kayak, van, and buggy tours, a refuge fireside exhibit, a birds of prey show, crabbing for kids, a San Bernard Oak interpretative walking tour, food vendors and a bake sale, a Children’s discovery program, and other activities. (979) 964-3639. Maps and Directions to Events
Annual Lions Club Barbeque, One Day Labor Day Weekend:
This event features sausage on a stick, barbeque sandwiches, chips and drinks. The stand is located at the entrance to Surfside Beach. Open 11am-3pm. All proceeds benefit the Village Playground Project. (979) 709-9979.
Annual Brazoria County Fair, Livestock Show & Rodeo, October:
Activities include live entertainment, a carnival, a BBQ cook-off, a livestock show and rodeo, auctions, a parade, pageants, contests, a pet parade, tricycle races, a youth horseshow, commercial exhibits, live music, a science fair and more. (979) 849-6416. This event is held at the Brazoria County Fair Grounds. 901 S. Downing Street, Angleton, Texas.
Annual Fall Festival, Oct:
Activities include a garage sale (please donate items), hotdogs, drinks, and kid friendly games. All proceeds benefit the Village Playground Project. This event begins at 10am at Stahlman Park at 2211 Bluewater Highway. (979) 709-9979.
Jetty Shack:
This is the original Surfside Beach dive. It is one of the oldest establishments on the island, and a favorite haunt of the locals. It is famous for its jumbo Angus burgers, ice cold beer, and friendly atmosphere. Open 10am-12am weekdays; Sat, 10am-1am, and Sunday, Noon-12am. 412 Parkview Road, Surfside Beach. Reviews
Hammerhead Bar:
They serve hamburgers and other menu items. They have a full service bar and offer live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Open daily, 11am-2am. (979) 233-1122. 10 Surf Drive, Surfside. Reviews