Colorado-based land developers A.M. York, J.H. York, I.R. Holmes, and Tom Lee formed the La Porte Land and Town Company in 1890. They purchased over 1,000 acres of land in this area and began laying out town lots in the fall of 1891. Edward York later joined his two brothers and the other investors to organize the La Porte Investment Company.
Advertising to prospective settlers in New York State and the Midwest, the developers began selling lots by January 1892. Soon a hotel, general mercantile store, and U.S. Post Office opened in the new town. The La Porte, Houston, and Northern Railroad, chartered in 1892, completed a line to Sylvan Beach Resort in 1899. Along with agriculture, the beach became the town's main economic mainstay.
The original investment company became insolvent by 1895, but a new company purchased the land in 1898 and continued development efforts. Disastrous effects of the 1900 storm, as well as another storm and a fire in 1915, the discovery of the Goose Creek oil field in 1916, and the industrialization of the area following World War II, resulted in an increased population and a shift away from the agricultural character of the town.