In the 1840s, German colonists landed here, led by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels (see NEW BRAUNFELS). In the 1850s, an army depot here supplied all Texas frontier forts. Two shiploads of Arabian camels landed here, beginning that imaginative experiment of Jefferson Davis to test the use of camels in the Southwest. Warehouses stored ice that had been winter-cut on the Great Lakes.
The bustling, prosperous town survived shelling, capture and recapture during the Civil War, yellow fever epidemics and a storm thought severe in 1866. In 1875, a hurricane wreaked havoc, killing 300 residents and destroying three-fourths of the city. Residents rebuilt the community, but another storm devastated the city 11 years later. The county seat was then moved to Port Lavaca.
Today, the tide laps at a few stones of the courthouse foundation. Inches above the smooth sand, outlines of a few shattered concrete cisterns remain. Some fishermen have built homes here, and the state has erected a historical marker: a solitary rose granite statue of Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. The French explorer was the first to leave a boot print on the sands of Indianola more than 300 years ago.
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