The city was originally founded as Evergreen in 1898 along the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, when John Henry Kipp and James H. Bradford subdivided their lots to establish a township. The area was also called Shell Siding after the oyster shell middens lining the bay, in some places twenty to thirty feet deep. Indian burial grounds were later found in these shell middens. Kipp petitioned for a post office, but was denied as there was already an Evergreen, Texas (now incorporated into Cleveland, Texas). Residents were polled and Kemah, the Karankawa word for "wind in face", "face wind", or "facing the wind", was chosen. Kemah was granted a post office in 1907.
Commercial fishing has long been a significant area industry and a part of the community's identity as demonstrated by the annual Blessing of the Fleet event that continues today. Agriculture was also important to the community's early prosperity.
From the 1920s to the 1950s Kemah became a significant tourist destination resulting from investment by the Maceo crime syndicate which ran Galveston during this time. The syndicate created a lavish casino district along the boardwalk featuring venues such as the Chili Bowl and the Kemah Den. During the 1950s the State Attorney General and the Texas Rangers finally shut down the Galveston vice empire. Kemah's casinos were closed and its tourism base declined drastically.
During the 1950s a major commercial shrimp fishing fleet was established in the town as the Clear Creek Channel was opened. Though Hurricane Carla severely damaged the city in 1961, the city rebuilt and the fishing business revived. During the 1970s, in part as a result of the establishment of the Johnson Space Center on Clear Lake, tourism began to re-emerge as pleasure boats began to fill the lake.
Kemah has significantly revived as a tourist and recreation destination, especially since the new Kemah Boardwalk, owned by Landry's Restaurants, Inc., was developed in the late 1990s.
On the morning of September 13, 2008 a Category 2 hurricane called Ike made landfall in Galveston County, causing substantial damage to infrastructure and houses in the whole area.
Kemah is located at 29°32'22 N 95°1'9 W (29.539469, -95.019032 and is part of the Clear Lake Area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.82 square miles, of which, 1.79 square miles of it is land and 0.03 square miles of it (1.65%) is water.
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Visit these sites for more information on Kemah:
Kemah Official Site