The archeological record indicates this area was favored by Native Americans living on the peninsula. Caplen was named for John Caplen who surveyed the area in 1909. Locals occupying the area were involved in ranching, fishing, and hunting. At one time, muskrats could be trapped in the marshes and sold for their hides. During
the summer months, the community’s population grew significantly. Many residents from nearby East Texas counties built resort homes there, and two hotels served guests. After the 1915 hurricane, the railroad was relocated and some homes were not rebuilt, but the full-time residents of Caplen remained.