Rio History: A Brief Tale of a Shipwreck

Special to the PRESS

Hello Steve,

I am a transplanted Texan (Santa Fe) for 15 years and really miss the lifestyle of South Texas. I have been intrigued for several years with the shipwrecks of Padre. I saw one on a map listed as Nicaragua. It appeared to be located about 50 or so miles south of Corpus. I know you won’t give all your secrets up, but I am 1,000 miles away and would love to hear all about the facts. I am guessing that it is very difficult to reach the specific areas from north or south. Please share as much as comfortable. Thank You!

Cindy Geelan

Hi Cindy

Yes, I have heard of the Nicaragua. It was a freighter bound for Mexico during that country’s decade-long revolution (1910-1920). Rumors at the time suggested the ship was filled with munitions to be delivered to the rebels in Mexico. It was believed saboteurs deliberately ran the vessel aground about 50-55 miles south of Corpus Christi, which would put it on the southern edge of the Devil’s Elbow of Padre Island and just a few miles north of the present day Mansfield Cut. It was also believed that agents of Kaiser Wilhelm were somehow involved. The Germans were thought to be stirring up trouble to keep the United States busy in its own backyard, (plans were already afoot for an eventual war in Europe).

In fact, a couple years later, troops were called to Texas to protect American citizens from bandit raids along the border. German agents were involved with arming Pancho Villa. The training along the border would prove invaluable to the Americans when they finally entered the “war to end all wars,” otherwise known as World War I.

Black Jack Pershing and many of the men who followed him would later become heroes in both world wars. My grandfather was a member of the Wisconsin National Guard, which served along the Rio Grande before shipping out to France when our country entered the war.

The boilers of the old ship are mentioned in many of the early histories of the Island. Though I have not actually seen the boilers myself they can still be seen of the shore of North Padre Island.

I hope I have answered your question. Here is a link to the Port Isabel South Padre Press where you will find lots of good historical and current news of the Laguna Madre area

Best regards,
Steve Hathcock

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