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Supporting Port Aransas History with Farley Boats

todayJune 21, 2020 32

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By Andrea Mau
Web content contributor

Four collaged photos of Farley boats around Port Aransas.
Photos of Farley boats around Port Aransas. Image by Andrea Mau.

If you’ve ever been to Port Aransas, Texas, you’ve probably seen a Farley boat without knowing it. Decorating the streets of Port Aransas, Farley boats are best known as boat-shaped concrete features, painted and adorned with flowers.

However, what you probably didn’t know is the history behind these neighborhood ornaments. Farley boats are a unique part of Port Aransas’ history, dating back to 1915.

Three photos are collaged together. The photo in the upper left corner is inside the Port Aransas’ museum and has a replica of the Farley boat used during President FDR’s tarpon fishing trip. The photo below is also in the museum and has a large photograph of FDR with his tarpon catch on the wall along with other museum displays.
Photos inside and outside of the Port Aransas’ museum and community center. Image by Andrea Mau.

In 1915, Fred Farley and his son, Jim Farley, sought to construct a vessel specifically for tarpon fishing which was a major attraction in Port Aransas. The Farley tarpon boat was constructed to have a wide, V-shaped front which doubles in purpose.

It firstly carries the engine, and secondly fights better against the Gulf’s choppy waters. Before the Farleys’ take on a motorized tarpon boat, fishers had to use rowboats for fishing tarpons.

Because of space and labor issues involved with the rowboats, Farley’s boats were incredibly innovative for the time.

There is a collage of three photos outside of businesses in Port Aransas. Each has a Farley boat and the photo in the top right has the Farley boat painted with a fishbone by Dinah Bowman.
These are photos outside of businesses in Port Aransas. The photo in the top right is the Farley boat painted by Dinah Bowman. Image by Andrea Mau.

Farley boats today are used as a community symbol, much like our own San Marcos mermaids. The Farley boats not only present a way for businesses to promote their products in a creative way but also celebrate their city’s history.

 Farley boats can also be found in driveways, brightening up beach homes with inventive paint and flower jobs. Even a relatively famous artist who frequents Port Aransas, Dinah Bowman, has joined in the community spirit with her fishbone boat pictured above.

Four collaged photos of Farley boats around Port Aransas.
Photos of Farley boats around Port Aransas. Image by Andrea Mau via Canva.

Now that you know about Farley boats, the next time you’re in Port Aransas you won’t be able to miss them. Support local businesses by taking photos with these common Farley boats and purchase some products.

This will not only spread awareness of Port Aransas’ businesses but in turn support the community as a whole, which is still in recovery from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. 

Photos from the Farley’s Boat Works in Port Aransas and their Farley boat.
Photos from the Farley’s Boat Works in Port Aransas

Also, support Port Aransas’ free museum and community center which provides more information on their city’s interesting history. The museum is where I gathered my information for this article.

The current exhibition covers the Tarpon Era and includes sections such as President FDR’s visit to Port Aransas in 1937. You can check out their website here.

Photo of a tarpon motor boat located in a garage at Farley’s Boat Works.
Photo of a tarpon motor boat located at Farley’s Boat Works. Image by Andrea Mau via Canva.

After visiting the museum, you can check out Farley’s Boat Works where the Farley family originally constructed their boats. Currently, the museum maintains many different vessels, including two tarpon boats with the help of volunteers.

Pictured above is one of those tarpon vessels. Farley’s Boat Works offers tours and information about their historical collections as well. The best way to keep track of their events and progress is on Facebook.

Featured image by Andrea Mau via Canva.

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