Fort Polk (1)

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Fort Polk (1846-1850) - A U.S. Army post established on 24 Mar 1846 during the Mexican War by General Zachary Taylor at Port Isabel, Texas. Taylor erected a depot here to receive supplies from New Orleans. The Fort was named for then-President James K. Polk (1845–1849). Abandoned in 1850.


A Mexican village developed on this point, settled by Mexican ranchers in the 1700s. The village was abandoned prior to the U.S. Declaration of war with Mexico in 1846. U.S. forces led by General Zachary Taylor occupied the point on 24 Mar 1846. Taylor erected a depot here to receive supplies from New Orleans. The six-sided Fort, named for President Polk, consisted of 4 sides of earthen embankments and 2 sides open to the shoreline. The fort included one of the largest military hospitals in the United States.

Fort Polk was garrisoned from 1848 until 1850 by Captain Franklin E. Hunt's (Cullum 560) company of the 4th U.S. Artillery regiment. By January 1849 the buildings were being moved to different locations on the Rio Grande. On February 9, 1850, the post was abandoned but the settlement it attracted eventually developed into Port Isabel. The location was used as a transit depot for materials for Fort Brown 91) in 1852, and on February 21, 1861, at the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, it was seized by a Confederate artillery company from Galveston. Famous individuals including Ulysses S. Grant (Cullum 1187), Robert E. Lee (Cullum 542), and other notable men were stationed at this fort.

Current Status

Fort Polk Marker at the Port Isabel Lighthouse.

Remnants of the Fort were visible until the 1920s but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers straightened the channel and installed jetties in the pass, obliterating the site of both the Mexican fort at Brazos Santiago and Fort Polk. A Fort Polk Marker is located at the base of the Port Isabel Lighthouse.

Location: County Hwy. 100, about a block from the western end of the causeway
which links the town of Port Isabel with South Padre Island,
Port Isabel Lighthouse State Park, Port Isabel, Cameron County, Texas.

Maps & Images

Lat: 26.078062 Long: -97.207782

GPS Locations:


  • Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 772.
  • K. Jack Bauer, The Mexican War, 1846-1848 (New York: Macmillan, 1974).
  • Gerald S. Pierce, Texas Under Arms: The Camps, Posts, Forts, and Military Towns of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Encino, 1969).


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