The Historic Queen Isabel Inn

In 1873 the Rio Grande Railroad began operating between Point Isabel and Brownsville and served as a vital commercial transportation link for South Texas. By 1900 the Railroad sought to increase revenues by encouraging recreation passenger service from Brownsville to the poor fishing village on the coast.

In order to provide these tourists with a comfortable place to stay, Caesar Kleberg, a businessman associated with the Railroad inspired by Teddy Roosevelt’s conservation movement, built the hotel which opened in 1906 as the Point Isabel Tarpon & Fishing Club. The hotel was built next to the Railroad Depot, on the site where a village plaza had evolved.

As the Point’s first and only hotel for over 20 years, the hotel was the location for many significant events in the town’s history. The hotel has also been associated with many of the persons who played a significant role in the town’s development and history.

The hotel served as a focal point for President-Elect Warren G. Harding’s vacation in November, 1920. The hotel was also the birthplace and headquarters for the Rio Grande Valley Fishing Rodeo. The Rodeo, started in 1934 by the hotel’s manager, Dr. J.A. Hockaday, would later become the Texas International Fishing Tournament (TIFT).

The dining room was prominent until the late 1960’s and served as the founding site for the town’s Rotary Club in 1936. As the only suitable site in the area, the dining room, lobby, and grounds served as a setting for most local school proms, wedding receptions, luncheons, and similar social gatherings.

Several hurricanes in 1933 and 1967 changed some of the hotel’s exterior features. The closing of the railroad and modern conveniences such as running water, sewer service and electricity caused changes in the hotel’s floor plans. Storms, modernization and ownership changes caused name changes of the inn over the past century.

Although jets and automobiles have replaced the railroad, the Queen remains as Cameron County’s oldest business and hotel. The hotel which started the tourist industry in the Port Isabel – South Padre Island area, is a proud monument to the area’s history.

The photos featured on these pages are samples of what you will find on the walls of our rooms and common areas.

History in Photographs

Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions.