After the Civil War, a number of meat packing plants were established along the Texas coast in places like Indianola and Fulton.
There was money to be made by putting longhorn cattle in cans and and sending them north on steamers.
But pretty soon, railheads got closer, Indians weren't as much of a danger, and it became cheaper to drive the critters under their own power, than put them cans and send them on a cruise.
By the 1880's Texas canners needed something else to can, and all they had to do was turn around and look off their docks.
Sea turtles were plenteous in Texas bays, especially the green sea turtle.
The green is not like the red-eared slider you see in ponds. Think bigger. And not like Kemp's-Ridley that's always making the news, either. Much bigger.
Mr. Green grows to five feet long and can weigh 400 pounds.
He gets his name not from his exterior coloration, but his interior. The layer of fat between the shell and meat is a light, yellowish green like a key lime.
Turtle meat, and soup were delicacies and could command premium prices. What the Texas canners lost in volume, they would make up in margin.
Pretty soon, turtlers where prowling the bays in sloops and catboats, anchoring twine nets in the channels. These nets let the turtles surface and breath, but they couldn't escape.
Once sold to the canners, the big reptiles were kept in pens made of planks driven into the bay bottom in about six feet of water. There they munched on sea grass and awaited the end.
That end was in two and six pound cans.
The public literally ate it up and business boomed. But while most booms end when demand dries up, the bust for the Texas turtle industry came from the the other direction.
The turtle harvest peaked in 1892 and then declined rapidly. By 1900 the industry, like the abundance of sea turtles in Texas waters, was a thing of the past.