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HomeNL-2012-11 Texana, Texas

Texana, Texas: an Underwater Ghost Town
by John Rich

Halloween arrives this month, with it's tradition of scary ghosts and goblins.  So I wondered what kind of story I could come up with about ghosts, goblins and canoeing.  That seemed like a tough idea, but read on to find out what I came up with! 

In 1832 Dr. Francis Wells, a personal friend of Stephen F. Austin, and his sister-in-law Pamelia McNutt Porter, founded a community in Texas on the banks of the Navidad River.  The community later developed into the town of Texana, and became one of the oldest American settlements in Texas. The village was originally named Santa Anna after Antonio López de Santa Anna, who at the time was a popular Mexican soldier and politician.  In 1835, however, after Santa Anna had proven himself an enemy of Texans, the residents of Santa Anna changed the name to Texana.

  Location of Texana
from Houston 
  Texana, 1858
During the Texas Revolution of 1835-36, Texana served as a port of entry and training camp for many volunteers.  In the spring of 1836 the citizens of Texana joined the Runaway Scrape, abandoning their town and fleeing for their lives from the oncoming Mexican Army led by Santa Anna.

After the Battle of San Jacinto, in which Texans defeated Santa Anna and won their independence, Texana became the county seat.  By 1880 the town had acquired regular steamboat service with as many as 20 ships docking each week, and also had mail and stage routes - business was booming.   


Palmetto Bend Dam   Lake Texana  

However, in 1883 the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway bypassed the settlement, causing a sharp decline into a ghost town. 

Almost 100 years later, in 1979, construction of the Palmetto Bend Dam was completed on the Navidad River, creating Lake Texana.  The old town of Texana now lies at the bottom of that lake which bears its name.  Texas has plenty of old ghost towns, but very few that one can glide over in a canoe.    


The author, John Rich