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Rollover Pass

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rollover Pass (also called Rollover Fish Pass) is a man-made strait that cuts through private property on the Bolivar Peninsula and links the Gulf of Mexico with Rollover Bay and East Bay on the upper Texascoast in eastern Galveston County (29°30′N 94°30′W). Located on property owned by the Gulf Coast Rod, Reel and Gun Club and managed by the Gilchrist Community Association, the Pass was opened in 1955 by the Texas Game and Fish Commission when they were granted an easement by the property owners. The intent was to increase bay water salinity, promote growth of submerged vegetation, and help marine fish to and from spawning and feeding areas in the bay.[1]

The Pass is about 1600 feet long and 200 feet wide. Large cement walls frame the Gulf side (southeast of Texas Highway 87) and steel bulkheads contain the sides of the Rollover Bay side northwest of the highway.

Rollover Pass earned its name from the practice of smugglers who, from the days of Spanish rule through prohibition, avoided the Galveston customs station by rolling barrels of import or export merchandise (i.e., whiskey and rum) over the narrowest part of the peninsula.[2] A Texas Historical Marker was erected in 1963 but was damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008. However, a portion of the marker is still visible and several lines of text refer to that action.

Rollover Pass is a popular location for fishing and birding.[3] Visitors come from all over the U.S. to camp, fish, and enjoy family recreation activities. Parking and camping are available on all four quadrants and handicapped or elderly persons are able to fish while sitting in their vehicle.

A unique feature of Rollover Pass is the constantly changing water flow which brings a great variety of marine life through the area. Incoming tides bring in salt water and organisms within, while outgoing tides not only bring them out again but also contain brackish or fresh water species.

Marine life seen at Rollover Pass includes blacktip sharks, red drum, black drum, speckled sea trout, flounder, sheephead, ladyfish or skipjacks, gafftop sail catfish, hardhead catfish, ribbonfish, needlefish, tripletail, Spanish mackerel, jack crevale, tarpon, mullet, mud minnows, shad or menhaden, dogfish, green turtles, brown shrimp, white shrimp, sea otters, blue crabs, stone crabs, and fiddler crabs.

Also seen are alligators and gar, especially during heavy rains which cause freshwater runoff from rivers and bayous which drain into the Galveston Bay complex. Alligators travel from the back bayous and ponds into the salt water so that any parasites on their hide can be cleaned off.

Rollover Pass (and Rollover Bay) is a significant winter destination for many migrant bird species coming down from the northern states. It is named as a destination point by several birding organizations and in the Texas Park and Wildlife Department Bolivar Loop map.[4]

On the morning of September 13, 2008 Hurricane Ike came ashore near Galveston, Texas. The storm surge associated with Hurricane Ike devastated the adjoining coastal communities of Gilchrist (northeast from Rollover Pass) and Caplen (southwest from Rollover Pass) along with most of the Bolivar Peninsula.

As of 2014, homes and businesses have been rebuilt in the area, new residents are settling in, and visitors once again are able to travel through that section of Highway 87. The Rollover Pass bridge has two lanes open instead of the original three. But Texas Historical Marker Number 7166 has yet to be replaced at the Pass.


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