city, seat (1886) of Calhoun county, on Lavaca Bay of the Gulf of Mexico, southern Texas, U.S., some 70 miles (115 km) northeast of Corpus Christi. The site was settled by Spaniards in 1815. Some refugees from a Comanche raid (1840) on nearby Linnville sought sanctuary there and helped develop the settlement. By 1841 it was known as Port Lavaca. (La vaca, meaning "cow" in Spanish, is thought to refer to the bison that once lived in the area.) Because of hurricanes and Gulf storms, a seawall was built in 1920 to protect the city. For many years Port Lavaca was primarily a processing and marketing centre for seafood. Beginning in the 1960s aluminum and chemical plants were built across the bay at Point Comfort (with which it is linked by causeway); the completion of a deepwater ship channel through Matagorda Peninsula and Bay permits oceangoing vessels from the Gulf of Mexico to enter the harbour of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort. Tourism (fishing and duck hunting) and local oil and gas wells are also economically important. Port Lavaca hosts an annual fishing festival in September. Matagorda Island State Park is located in Port O'Connor, southeast of Port Lavaca. Pop. (1990) 10,886; (2000) 12,035.
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