BROWNSVILLE, Texas — It is a beautiful combination of intrigue and the ravage of the forces of nature.
In September 1874 there was storm brewing in the Bay of Campeche in the Yucatan Peninsula and that storm was headed towards the mouth of the river.
In the Brownsville-South Padre Island area, a schooner was coming in from the North East to make safe harbor through the Brazos Santiago into the area of what was called Point Isabel at the time.
The captain was racing against time because he saw on the horizons the makings of the storm. He wanted to get through that pass with enough time in order to anchor up and prepare for the storm that was to hit him and his crew.
However, the captain’s luck ran out. As he was coming into the pass there at Brazos Santiago the water was going out but to be drawn by the storm.
He had gaged that he had enough of a draft underneath his schooner in order to make it into safe harbor but he was wrong. It cost him because he settled up on a sandbar that was at the mouth of the pass.
The lighthouse keeper, John Lightborn, was watching all of this unfold from the top of the lighthouse in Point Isabel.
As the schooner entered into the pass, the storm hit it at the same time and Mr. Lightborn saw the ominous forces of the storm envelop the schooner.
In 1927 there was an ambitious plan by Point Isabel and people of the Delta area in order to make a port going off through the pass and settling by Point Isabel.
A dredge was called into the scheme of things. The dredge abscond was dredging out the depth of that channel and all of a sudden it hit something.
They sent a team of divers to search the bottom and found evidence of a shipwreck.
Through the debris they saw bottles of wine and brought them to the surface. However, there was a problem. It was 1927 and the U.S. was in prohibition.
A government job, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and wine did not mix!
The project’s captain said they would have to demolish what is down there to clear a path. It was directly in the path of the channel.
The depth charges were planted and the wires were strung, the dredge evacuated from the scene and then the plunger was pushed.
A great geyser came up out of the water and the people on the shore all of a sudden saw the water turn to wine.
Then shortly thereafter, corks, wine corks and bits of crates and wood from the wreck and all of that washed upon the shore and so the crowd scurried in order to collect some souvenirs.
The captain, as they were surveying the sea bottom, came across a great anchor. They brought it up to the surface and decided to give it to the area.
He gave it to the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce. It was placed in the chamber’s park that was placed on Levee street next to the river in Brownsville and it remained there for many years.