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Gilchrist, Texas is an unincorporated residential community and beachfront resort along State Highway 87, located seventeen miles east of Bolivar Point in the Bolivar Peninsula census-designated place, in Galveston County, Texas, United States.
As of 1990 and 2000, Gilchrist's core population was about 750, but would see more residents due to seasonal visitors. When the settlement was decimated by Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008, about 1,000 permanent residents had lived there, but were under evacuation orders. Several businesses in the community had operated to furnish necessities for permanent residents as well as tourists.
Located in Galveston County, this community was named for Gibb Gilchrist (1887-1972) who relocated and rebuilt the rail line from High Island to Port Bolivar following the 1915 hurricane destruction. This settlement before this event was called Rollover.
In 1950, a post office was opened at Gilchrist. A notable feature of the community is the Rollover Pass (or Rollover Fish Pass), which divides Bolivar Peninsula as well as Gilchrist and carries water between East Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is regarded among sportsmen as a very popular fishing location in Texas with some the largest fish in the state. Rollover Pass was a natural pass that had been closed until 1955, when it was opened by the Texas Game and Fish Commission as part of its efforts to preserve and improve fish and wildlife resources.
Hurricane Carla caused damage to Gilchrist. As of 1990 and 2000, Gilchrist's core population was about 750, but would see more residents due to seasonal visitors. On April 23, 1991 the community, and other areas of Galveston County, received an enhanced 9-1-1 system which routes calls to proper dispatchers and allows dispatchers to automatically view the address of the caller.
On September 13, 2008, Gilchrist was devastated by Hurricane Ike, which completely destroyed all but a few homes. About 1,000 permanent residents had lived there. The coastline along Gilchrist, once a straight line, became jagged and desolate, permanently altered by Ike's turbulent storm tide.
NOAA aerial photography reveals complete destruction of Gilchrist. The roll-over pass bridge was reduced to one lane. Of the 1,000 buildings in Gilchrist, 99.5% of them were knocked off of their foundations. Of the buildings off of the foundations, the storm demolished some and washed others onto swamplands behind Gilchrist. Of all of the houses in one section of Gilchrist, one remained standing. Several houses in another section remained. Pam Adams, a homeowner whose house survived Ike, stated that many of Gilchrist's homes were built before the latest building codes were enacted.
By 2011 Galveston County bought out 434 houses in Gilchrist since the homes were too close to the shore, post-Ike. The land will have limited uses.
The Gilchrist Volunteer Fire Department originally served Gilchrist prior to Hurricane Ike. After the Hurricane struck, the Gilchrist Volunteer Fire Department disbanded, and donated all their equipment to other departments many miles away. This upset many residents of the Gilchrist Community and others on the Bolivar Peninsula. Gilchrist is now served by members of the Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire- Rescue - EMS Department.
The United States Postal Service once operated the Gilchrist Post Office, which opened on September 16, 1950. The building was destroyed by Hurricane Ike and the post office, in name, was officially discontinued on July 31, 2010.
Gilchrist residents are zoned to schools in the High Island Independent School District.
The purpose of the GCA is to provide civic duties at Rollover Pass on the Bolivar Peninsula in the state of Texas and other civic and community projects to improve and enhance the quality of life for the residents and visitors of Bolivar Peninsula.