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Originally called Shoal Point, the town's growth began in 1891 when financiers from Minnesota bought a site for real estate, rail and port development. Today, it is a pleasant residential area and a major industrial and port facilities site. Industries include a tin smelter, oil refineries, metal fabrication and chemical plants. The port ships grain, cotton, sulfur, petroleum and chemical products. It also is the location of the College of the Mainland.
Recreational opportunities include boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking, municipal golf course and all-weather municipal shooting range.