European settlement of Texas started in Victoria County, where the French explorer La Salle established Fort St. Louis in 1685. The archeological remains of the fort and of La Salle's vessel La Belle in nearby Matagorda Bay were discovered in the 1990s.
This sparked development of the La Salle Odyssey Project, a cooperative venture whereby seven Texas Gulf Coast museums interpret different aspects of the area's French exploration. In Victoria, seat of Victoria County, the newly opened Museum of the Coastal Bend presents and interprets the artifacts found at Fort St. Louis.
Over the centuries, the county has developed a rich and diverse heritage, with influxes of French, Spanish, and Anglo settlers, and German, Alsatian, and Italian immigrants. Now with a population of 84,000, Victoria County retains many historic resources, with more than 60 properties recognized by Texas Historical Markers.
Established in 1824, Victoria contains more than 100 properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and a draft historic preservation ordinance has been developed. To promote heritage tourism, Victoria County is a member of the non-profit Texas Settlement Region coalition and participates in the initiatives of the Texas Historical Commission's Texas Independence Trail Region.
Designated a Preserve America Community in May 2004.
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