Shipbuilding was a natural industry for Rockport. The earliest recorded ship built here was the Connie, constructed in 1880 by Bludworth & Company. The Bludworth family specialized in building pleasure craft and scows.
In 1917, World War I prompted construction of a large shipyard at the south end of Water Street by Fred and C.A. Heldenfels. With over 900 employees, the Heldenfels company built four 281-foot wooden cargo vessels for use in the war effort, but these were not completed until after the war had ended. On July 31, 1919, the first ship, the Baychester, was launched, followed by the Zuniga on September 9. The Jasper and the Manchester were completed as barges in 1920.
In the early 1950s, Jackson Seafood built its own fleet of six wood-hull shrimp boats. In the early 1960, Jackson Marine Services, Inc., leased the Rice shipyard site to make boat repairs.
In 1935, T. Noah Smith founded Rockport Yacht and Supply Company (RYSCO) to repair commercial and recreational vessels. Bu 1940, the firm was building its own design of wooden-steel hulls. Due to the rising cost of diesel fuel and foreign competition, RYSCO closed in 1986.
In 1941, Rob Roy Rice opened a shipyard to build U.S. Navy vessels. In four years, Rice built twenty-four 110-foot wooden-hull submarine chasers and four 65-foot rescue boats. The rice shipyard closed in 1945, after the end of the war.
This marker erected in 2011 through support from these entities:
Visionaries in Preservation, Aransas County Historical Society, Inc., Texas Historical Foundation, Texas Tropical Trail/Texas Historical Commission, Aransas County Historical Commission, City of Rockport, and Margaret Sue Rust Foundation. (This is Marker Number 2 of the Rockport Pathways to History series.)