The Tarpon Inn was built in 1886 as housing for the workers building the Mansfield Jetty (which later became the South jetty). It was named after the popular sport fish which was so common in the area.
After construction on the jetty was complete, the building was converted to a hotel, and it's been one ever since. The Inn suffered major damage from a fire in 1900 and a hurricane in 1919. In 1926, the main building was completely rebuilt to what you see today.
It became a tradition that anyone staying at the hotel who caught a Tarpon would sign one of the scales, and it would be put up in the lobby. Today there are more than 7000 Tarpon scales on the wall, including one signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (although he did not actually stay at the Tarpon Inn).
In 1979, the Tarpon Inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Texas historical landmark.