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Matagorda County, Texas facts for kids

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Matagorda County
The Matagorda County Courthouse and Confederate Soldier Statue in Bay City
The Matagorda County Courthouse and Confederate Soldier Statue in Bay City
Map of Texas highlighting Matagorda County
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
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Country  United States
State  Texas
Founded 1836
Seat Bay City
Largest city Bay City
 • Total 1,613 sq mi (4,180 km2)
 • Land 1,100 sq mi (3,000 km2)
 • Water 512 sq mi (1,330 km2)  32%%
 • Total 36,702
 • Density 33/sq mi (13/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 27th
Matagorda County Office Building

Matagorda County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 36,702. Its county seat is Bay City, not to be confused with the larger Baytown in Harris and Chambers Counties. Matagorda County is named for the canebrakes that once grew along the coast (matagorda is a Spanish word meaning "thick bush").

Matagorda County comprises the Bay City, TX Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Houston-The Woodlands, TX combined statistical area.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,613 square miles (4,180 km2), of which 1,100 square miles (2,800 km2) is land and 512 square miles (1,330 km2) (32%) is water. The water area includes Matagorda Bay. It borders the Gulf of Mexico.

Major highways

  • Texas 35.svg State Highway 35
  • Texas 60.svg State Highway 60
  • Texas 71.svg State Highway 71
  • Texas 111.svg State Highway 111

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 2,124
1860 3,454 62.6%
1870 3,377 −2.2%
1880 3,940 16.7%
1890 3,985 1.1%
1900 6,097 53.0%
1910 13,597 123.0%
1920 16,589 22.0%
1930 17,678 6.6%
1940 20,066 13.5%
1950 21,559 7.4%
1960 25,744 19.4%
1970 27,913 8.4%
1980 37,828 35.5%
1990 36,928 −2.4%
2000 37,957 2.8%
2010 36,702 −3.3%
2019 (est.) 36,643 −0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1850–2010 2010–2014

As of the census of 2000, 37,957 people, 13,901 households, and 9,925 families were residing in the county. The population density was 34 people per square mile (13/km2). The 18,611 housing units averaged 17 per mi2 (6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 67.83% White, 12.72% African American, 0.67% Native American, 2.38% Asian, 14.02% from other races, and 2.38% from two or more races. About 31.35% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. By ancestry, 10.3% were of German, 8.2% American, 5.4% English, and 5.2% Irish according to Census 2000, and 73.9% spoke English, 24.0% Spanish, and 1.6% Vietnamese as their first language.

Of the 13,901 households, 36.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.80% were married couples living together, 12.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.60% were not families. About 25.10% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70, and the average family size was 3.25.

In the county, the age distribution was 30.00% under the age of 18, 8.90% from 18 to 24, 26.90% from 25 to 44, 21.80% from 45 to 64, and 12.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $32,174, and for a family was $40,586. Males had a median income of $37,733 versus $21,871 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,709. About 14.90% of families and 18.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.00% of those under age 18 and 13.60% of those age 65 or over.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities



Matagorda County Museum in Bay City
Matagorda County Museum in Bay City is located across from the Court House.

Rice is grown extensively in Matagorda County, as are St. Augustine and other turf grasses. In addition to a wealth of offshore oil rigs and natural gas extraction facilities all over the county, two petrochemical processing plants (Celanese and Equistar) and the South Texas Project nuclear power plant operate within the county. Matagorda County has secluded, extensive forests, wetlands, prairie, and coastal regions. The Gulf Coast floodplain has several conditions conducive to a variety of ecosystems and recreational activities evident by the highest count of migrating birds in the United States. Fishing (on- and offshore), hunting, and scuba diving are large parts of the recreation industry due to the Colorado River, the forests and Matagorda Bay. The Rio Colorado Golf Course and a birdwatching park are on the Colorado River near the State Highway 35 bridge, and a significant number of wildlife preserves are located around the county, a portion of which is land bought for that purpose by the two major petrochemical refineries and nuclear plant in the county.


School districts serving Matagorda County include:

  • Bay City Independent School District
  • Boling Independent School District (partial)
  • Matagorda Independent School District
  • Palacios Independent School District (partial)
  • Tidehaven Independent School District
  • Van Vleck Independent School District

Notable people

  • James Boyd Hawkins, a planter and rancher, the founder of Hawkins Plantation.
  • Charlie Siringo
  • Hortense Sparks Ward
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