The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972 Page: 434
Notes and Documents
Corpus Christi: A Quarter Century
of Development, 1900-1925
DAN E. KILGORE*
CORPUS CHRISTI IN 1900 WAS AN UNUSUAL COMBINATION OF COW-
town and coastal village. From the time Henry L. Kinney first
established his trading post on the western shore of Corpus Christi
Bay in 1839, a deep-water port had been the town's unattained goal.
There was no natural pass to the Gulf of sufficient depth to allow
ocean-going vessels to enter the bay, and numerous attempts to dredge
a channel to tidewater had been only partially successful. In 1845,
when General Zachary Taylor encamped at Corpus Christi before
the Mexican War, he supplied his army by "lighters"-shallow-draft
vessels capable of navigating the narrow, winding channels into the
bay. At the turn of the century, fifty-five years later, cargoes destined
for Corpus Christi still arrived by lighters. Deep water was coming
but it was a quarter century away.1
In 1900 the town was recovering from the effects of one ambitious
attempt to speed its progress. Elihu H. Ropes, a promoter, had prom-
ised in 1890 to build a great deep-water seaport that would make
Corpus Christi a combined "Chicago of the Southwest" and "Long
Branch of the South." The New York speculator's extensive land-
development schemes collapsed in the national depression of the
early 1890's, and when he finally departed to replenish his "un-
limited capital," he left a broken-down dredge, unpaid creditors, and
blasted hopes. The only tangible evidence of his grand dream was
the unfinished 126-room Alta Vista Hotel at the edge of the bay.
His Corpus Christi and South American Railway Company survived
only as a short span of railroad embankment which gave the name
*Mr. Kilgore, a member of the Association Executive Council, is a longtime student
of the history of Corpus Christi.
1American Guide Series, Corpus Christi: A History and Guide (Corpus Christi, 1942),
Here’s what’s next.
Show all pages in this issue.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972, periodical, 1972; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101201/m1/446/ocr/: accessed July 30, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.