Historic Port Isabel Lighthouse Renovations Complete

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PORT ISABEL – After being closed for about 14 months for renovations, the Port Isabel Lighthouse has reopened to the public. The official ribbon cutting is scheduled for Jan. 23 at noon.

Just a few months ago, the historic lighthouse was surrounded by scaffolding as crews worked to complete renovations and make it look new again.

Today, it stands as a beautiful icon for the city of Port Isabel.

“They shut it down Oct. 31 in 2016. So, it was shut down for about 14 months,” said Valerie Bates, spokesperson for the city.

The crowds could not wait to come back. The lighthouse is a historical site owned by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and not by the city.

“Everybody’s happy to see the traffic return to this area. But once the scaffolding came down, we could see an increase in traffic,” said Bates.

There are 16 lighthouses along the Texas coast, but this is the only one open to the public.

We went up all 75 steps, along with three short ladders, to the very top to take look for ourselves. It is a spectacular view. We also bumped into few tourists.

“It’s pretty nice. Really enjoyed it. We came over here the other day but it wasn’t open yet, so we came back over,” said Mike, who is from Iowa.

Many of them enjoyed the sight of South Padre Island and seeing the tankers and boat out on the bay and out in the Gulf.

“One of the parts of the restoration was this railing, which surrounds this catwalk, now open to the public. You can go up the lighthouse and take a view of the land from the very top. Or walk out on the catwalk here, 16-mile view in all directions,” said Bates. “On a day like today, you can see all the way to South Padre Island. You can see the Brazos-Santiago Pass, the Gulf of Mexico and back to the west, you can see the Brownsville Ship Channel. You can see the Gulf and the Coastal Waterway up to the north and Boca Chica Beach to the south.”

When we asked visitors how they liked the lighthouse, one young man said, “Pretty cool. It’s really bright. You can see everything.”

“I thought it was great. First time (here),” said a young woman.

“So happy to be open. Seven days a week, from nine to five. The last ticket sales at 4:30 p.m. You can buy tickets here at the lighthouse or the Keeper’s Cottage, a little building just east of us. It’s the Chamber of Commerce and visitor’s center or either of the two museums; the Port Isabel Historical Museum or the Treasures of the Gulf Museum,” said Bates.

The reason it took longer than expected to reopen is that every detail had to be approved by the Texas Historical Commission, but after 14 months it’s now waiting for all to visit.

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