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All About the Bolivar Lighthouse

From 19th-century tall ships to antebellum cathedrals, from a history of railroads to a turn-of-the-century mansion, Galveston is a city steeped in history. While much of the western United States is fairly young, Galveston’s history dips back over 120 years. The Point Bolivar Lighthouse reinforces Galveston’s location as a historic city. It’s also a great destination for history buffs and romantics alike.

For those seeking to visit, Point Bolivar Light, one of the most amazing lighthouses in Texas, it’s worth noting that it isn’t actually on Galveston, but is at the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula, which is connected directly to the Texas mainland. The best way to reach it from Galveston requires a pleasant ferry cruise past Seawolf Park.

The Most Historical of Texas’ Lighthouses

The current structure that we call the Point Bolivar Lighthouse is actually the second lighthouse to grace the spot. The first was built in the 1850s—but, during the Civil War, it was torn down. The iron from the original was most likely melted down to make armaments. The Union had a superior navy compared to the Confederacy, so retiring the lighthouse hurt the North much more than the South.

It was only seven years after the Civil War that the current lighthouse was built. It was immediately put into service in 1872, and not retired until 1933 when a new lighthouse took its place. The U.S. War Department took control of it two years later, and then sold it to a rancher 1947. It remains in the rancher’s family, and cows still graze nearby today. Perhaps the lighthouse’s… shining moment, if you will, was during the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, when it sheltered and saved the lives of over 100 people.

Why Go?

Well, you unfortunately can’t visit in person. The lighthouse is closed to the public, but still visible to those driving by. The stark black iron sides—150 years of erosion have peeled off all other colors—remain an icon familiar to most Galvestonians.

How You Can See the Bolivar Lighthouse

If you’d like to see the lighthouse, here’s how: from most of Galveston, getting to the Point Bolivar Lighthouse means first heading toward the northeast part of the island. Then, at 2nd Street, head north until it becomes Ferry Road. Take Ferry Road to the Galveston Island Ferry, and then take the ferry across the channel to Crystal Beach. Continue along Highway 87. Travel past Frenchtown Road, and then take the next left, which should be 7th Street. Take the first left from there to reach the lighthouse.