Keith Guthrie

REEF ROAD. The Reef Road consisted of a series of beds of oyster shells that divided Corpus Christi Bay and Nueces Bay and afforded a means for Indians and early settlers to cross from San Patricio County to Nueces County at low tide, at which time the average depth of the water over the reefs was eighteen to twenty-four inches. At least one deep channel, Hall's Bayou, forced the horses to swim a short distance. The big drawback in crossing on the reef lay in the fact that the trail was crooked and had to be marked or well-known to the wagon drivers. In 1865, after whites discovered the road, the Nueces County Commissioners Court ordered that posts be placed along the reef to mark the road and to warn ships of its existence. Pranksters were known to remove the posts from time to time, leaving travelers stranded in the bay when the tide came in. Horses that spooked and got off the reef easily became mired in the soft bottom and drowned. The road was said to have been discovered in the early days after Indians had raided a settlement in Nueces County. One common but unsubstantiated story says that Captain Crouch (or Crouse) and a squad of the Texas Rangers chased a band of Indians onto North Beach just as darkness fell. Knowing that the Indians were surrounded by water, the rangers elected to camp at Hall's Bayou and wait until morning to capture them. In the morning all the rangers found was footsteps leading into the water. Thus the reef road was discovered. Roughly fifty miles was saved by crossing over the reef road rather than going around Nueces Bay and crossing at either Hearn's or Miller's ferry. Even after the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway spanned the bay in 1887, people continued to use the reef road for wagon, buggy, and horseback crossing in order to have a way to bring goods purchased in Corpus Christi back home. The first causeway was opened in December 1915. The storm of 1916 destroyed the new causeway. It was rebuilt only to be washed away by the hurricane of 1919. It was reopened in September 1921. A freak storm in 1933 put the causeway out again for a short time. The old wooden causeway was replaced with a concrete structure in the mid-1950s. A double concrete causeway spanned the reef road crossing in 1988. By then work was under way to widen both sides of the causeway. Hall's Bayou was eventually dredged to become the port of Corpus Christi.


John B. Dunn, Perilous Trails of Texas (Dallas: Southwest, 1932). Keith Guthrie, History of San Patricio County (Austin: Nortex, 1986).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Keith Guthrie, "REEF ROAD," accessed September 18, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on May 9, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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