The town was founded in 1834 at the site of Mission Nuestra Seora del Refugio, which was relocated here from Calhoun County in 1795. Today, this is the seat of Refugio County. Public parks offer picnicking, playgrounds, tennis courts and a swimming pool. Fishing and water sports are available on nearby coastal bays. Hunters seek waterfowl, deer, wild turkey and wild boar.
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