Rockport, named for the rock ledge beneath its shore, began development as a cattle processing and shipping port in 1865 after the Civil War and was incorporated in 1871. During the 1880s boat building and fishing industries began to develop, and in 1886 the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway was brought in by local cattle raisers, including the Fulton, Mathis and Coleman families.

Tourism and resort trade began to flourish and in 1890, and Rockport gained electric lights. Interest in constructing a deep-water harbor in Rockport started in 1884 and continued through 1921, but in the end President Harding signed a bill for a port at Corpus Christi instead. A harbor was eventually built at Rockport in 1935, and a shipyard was established in 1941 where submarine-chasing speedboats were built.

In 1919 a hurricane nearly obliterated Rockport and recovery was slow. The shrimping industry developed in the late 1920s when the boat-building trade also picked up. Today, fishing, shrimp and tourism are Rockport’s driving economic forces. Visitors can fish, swim, bird watch, and enjoy other countless attractions including Goose Island, the Fulton Mansion, the annual Rockport Art Festival, Seafair and the Rockport Art Center.