Until 1948, the little-used highway from Raymondville to a point on Laguna Madre, called Redfish Bay, was traveled only by occasional fishermen going to deserted beaches. No community marked the road's end at the water's edge. The people of Willacy County, employing their own financing, built wharves, docks and a turning basin to create a port. They laid out the town site and called it Port Mansfield. The ship channel was completed in 1962, slicing across shallow Laguna Madre through Padre Island into the Gulf of Mexico.
Launching ramps, marine supplies, docking facilities, and both wet and dry storage are available. Fishing is available by boat or from piers in Laguna Madre with deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Charter boats are available.
Port Mansfield's surrounding salt flats and small spoil islands support an amazing variety of resident and migratory birds. The nearby Laguna Madre area is well-known among birders.
The town also is home to U.S. Weather Bureau and U.S. Coast Guard stations.
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