What was the SAAP?
By Kam Wagert
Uriah Lott in San Antonio chartered the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad, known by most folks as “The SAAP”, on August 28, 1884. It was created to connect San Antonio with Aransas Bay, a distance of 135 miles. The name was derived from the first line out of San Antonio with the intention of reaching the Aransas Pass, the waterway, not the town.
The first town reached by the SAAP was Floresville in 1886. Construction of the main line in 1887 turned south at Gregory to go to Corpus Christi. A branch was built in 1888 from Gregory to Rockport. Rockport actually changed its name to “Aransas Pass” in 1888 as the town was trying to develop a deep-water channel through the pass.
Four trains a day arrived at the Rockport depot. The town’s population jumped from 600 to 2,500 in two years. The tourists came in, and the fish went out on the trains. The tourists were met at the depot by elegant horse-drawn buggies, and whisked away to the beautiful hotels that had sprung up to welcome them.
We had the Aransas, the Shell, the Conglon, and the Bayside Inn. The Rockport Chamber of Commerce published a booklet touting Rockport as the “beautiful unrivalled Gulf port of Texas, the coming city of 200,000 people!”
By the 1940s, passenger rail service to Rockport ended. Freight service continued until 1985. The Rockport depot still stands at 105 S. Magnolia. It has an historical marker, erected in 1994. One can learn more about the SAAP and other Texas railroads by attending a symposium at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 6 at the Aquarium Education Center.