The Museum is proud to feature several exhibits that illustrate the unique history of the Palacios area:
Do you know about the excavation of La Salle's ship La Belle in Matagorda Bay in the mid 90's? It is arguably the most important shipwreck in the Western world, for three reasons:
(1) it was La Salle, a famous explorer,
(2) it is very old, sinking in 1686, and
(3) it sank in such murk and mire that things that are not normally preserved were, like rope and wood and leather, and even brain matter.
Palacios was the headquarters for the excavation. Our Navigation District lent the Texas Historical Commission a building on the water here (since torn down) that housed the crew. The town's ladies fed them, and all the artifacts came through here. All the volunteer coordination was done by a local lady. People came from all around the world to help sift the sand.
La Petite Belle
La Petite Belle is a half scale seaworthy reproduction of Rene-Robert Cavelier’s ship LaBelle. The vessel is 30 feet long, 8 feet wide and displaces about 15,000 lbs. It is currently located about a quarter-mile southwest of the museum, at a protected mooring site at the Matagorda County Navigation District #1 South Bay Marina.
La Petite Belle is part of the LaSalle Odyssey. The stated mission for the ship is to build a tourist attraction for Palacios, serve as an ambassador for Palacios, establish the Palacios claim on this historic event, compliment the La Salle exhibit at the museum, La Salle Odyssey Destination (Texas Historical Commission), icon for historic education on LaSalle and his expedition, project an image of sailing vessels of the time, and develop a 17th Century Sailing School for crew. (Photo by Bill Millet, texasbeforethealamo.com.)
Camp Hulen began as a Texas National Guard Camp in the mid 20's and became an Army base during WWII in the 40's. There were 14,000 troops here. You could hardly walk on the sidewalks it was so crowded. There were 3 movie theaters and bus service. Rita Hayworth and the likes of Artie Shaw came to entertain the troops. The call for military family housing was so great that people actually rented hallways and chicken coops.
Palacios has some of the best fishing anywhere and is well known as the Shrimp Capital of Texas. This is an exhibit detailing the history of fishing in the area, from its early beginnings all the way to modern times.
The flat and fertile plains of the Gulf Coast are also a major agricultural region. The Museum features a collection of farm implements and ranch tools that tell the story of the area's first farmers and ranchers.
Hurricane Carla struck on September 11th, 1961 along the whole Texas coast, destroying about a third of the buildings in Palacios. It was the first time television cameras were allowed in the weather bureau offices and the first time the public saw radar. It was Dan Rather's debut.
The Museum also features artifacts and replicas of items related to the Karankawa Indians who were the native inhabitants of this area.
This is a 100 year plus timeline in celebration of the Palacios Centennial in 2009. It's divided into decades and tells what was happening in the Palacios during the decade and what was happening in the rest of the world.
There are two videos which can be viewed upon request. A long one of La Belle and a shorter one on Hurricane Carla. There is also a slide show of historic Palacios, produced by the Matagorda County Historical Commission. Just ask the volunteer on duty!