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The Tarpon Club of Texas

The Tarpon Club of Texas

The Tarpon Club of Texas

In 1899, the Tarpon Club of Texas was the most expensive, and exclusive club the world had ever seen.
E.H.R. “Ned” Green located the club on St. Joseph Island adjacent to Aransas Pass. Its membership was
dubbed the “First Four Hundred Sportsmen of America,” a privileged group with “more politicians and
businessmen that in any other similar organization in the United States” and whose “wealth combined
reaches into the hundred-millions.”

Tarpon Club members killed so many ducks that sharks congregated in the shallows near Harbor
Island to gorge on downed birds before they could be retrieved. In their pursuit of the tarpon – the silver
king – club members smashed records and set standards in the nascent sport of big game fishing. It was
America’s gilded sporting era.

When Ned Green opened the Tarpon Club in 1899 it was the most expensive, expansive, and exclusive
club in the world. Green selected the location for his club on the sand flats of St. Joseph Island, a barrier
island at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, adjacent to the Aransas Pass, in the Coastal Bend of Texas. It
was one of the nation’s last remaining strongholds for huge numbers of wintering waterfowl, and the
remainder of the year it was rivaled by only Florida as the country’s most prolific tarpon and big-game
fishing destination.

The two-story clubhouse that rose from the sand was constructed of cypress and pine, and
encompassed over 12,000 square feet, its exterior colors a contrast of gleaming white against bold
green window trimmings and a red-shingled roof. The first floor housed private offices, billiard rooms,
kitchen, dining rooms, and a dance hall, with a large open veranda. On the second floor were 18
sleeping rooms, servant quarters, and a parlor “fitted up with an especial view of making ladies
comfortable.” Copper screens covered each door and window. An electrical plant that powered 126
“incandescent lamps” provided a “bewildering and beautiful” spectacle that could be seen for miles.

Between 1898 and 1902, press from around the world covered everything Tarpon Club. In 1903 they
stopped. A year later the legendary club closed its doors.