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The Halfmoon Reef lighthouse, built in 1858, once signaled safe passage to mariners sailing into Matagorda Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. It weathered a century of storms until 1942 when a hurricane collapsed the walkway around the perimeter, leaving the structure sagging above the waterline. Locals salvaged the remains and eventually donated the Half Moon to the Calhoun County Historical Commission. Restored and transported to its present site next to the Port Lavaca community center, the Half Moon now serves as a small museum and welcoming beacon for visitors.


  • Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse as it stands today near the Bauer Community Center in Port Lavaca, Texas.

The lighthouse was made possible Congressional funds that supported the creation of aids to navigation. In 1854, Congress approved a request for a new lighthouse for the eastern side of Matagorda Bay. Construction began in 1858 and the design plans called for a wooden hexagonal design supported by seven, twenty-five-foot iron piles. The lighthouse utilized a Fresnel lens, and after mariners occasionally confused this light with the nearby Matagorda Island Lighthouse, the lighthouse keeper added a ruby red glass chimney to give the light coming from Halfmoon Reef Light reddish quality.

The light was out of commission during the Civil War as the only mariners operating in the area were attempting to evade a federal blockade. The lighthouse returned to regular operation in 1868. The lighthouse survived major storms until 1942, when damage from a hurricane prompted the Coast Guard to sell the lighthouse rather than repair its foundation. The purchaser donated the wooden structure to the Calhoun County Historical Commision 1978 after using it for his business for many years. Eagle Scouts worked to restore the structure and the lighthouse is now operated by the local historial society and is next to the visitors center and a Texas historical marker that relates the history of the lighthouse. 

Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse. Lighthouse Friends. Accessed December 27, 2017. http://lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=155.