Rio Grande City, Texas

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Rio Grande City is a city in and the county seat of Starr County, Texas, United States.[3] The population was 11,923 at the 2000 census. The city is 32 miles west of McAllen. It is the hometown of former Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez. The city also holds the March record high for the United States at 108 degrees Fahrenheit. The city is connected to Camargo, Tamaulipas via the Rio Grande City-Camargo International Bridge.

Contents

History

The area around Rio Grande City was first populated in 1846, when it served as a transfer point for supplies and soldiers supporting General Zachary Taylor’s invasion of Mexico. It was a logical point for a trade, as it was the highest point up the Rio Grande (known as the Rio Bravo in Mexico) for reliable steamboat traffic, and intercepted a number of overland routes to Saltillo, Monterrey, and Northern Mexico. During the early stages of the Mexican-American war, one of the soldiers stationed here, Henry Clay Davis, married Hilaria de la Garza Falcon, a resident of Camargo and heiress to the land on which Rio Grande City now sits. At the end of the war, Davis set to organize this area into a formal city, breaking up the land into plots. At first, the area was referred to as “Rancho Davis” but the name was changed to “Rio Grande City” to encourage investors and settlers. From its founding, in 1848, until the Texas Mexican Railroad opened up in 1883, Rio Grande City was one of the most significant hubs of trade between Texas and Mexico, and was one of the major contemporary contributors to the American romanticized concept of the “wild West.”

Famous early residents include: Joshua H. Bean, brother of Judge Roy Bean and the first mayor of San Diego, CA; Orlando C. Phelps, one of the few surviving members of the Mier Expedition; Edwin Rainwater, hero of the Texas Revolution; Edward R. Hord, an influential early South Texas statesman; and John L. Haynes, a native Virginian politician and writer who was an outspoken anti-secessionist and strong proponent of Mexican-American rights.

Many buildings in the Rio Grande City historic district are notable and have historical value. Perhaps the most notable structure is La Borde House, an early 20th century, two-story brick building that now doubles as a hotel and a restaurant (Che's). Lyndon Baines Johnson's wife, Lady Bird Johnson, stayed at La Borde House once on a visit to see the area's spring wildflowers.

In spite of Rio Grande City's rich architectural heritage, many buildings in the old downtown district are abandoned, dilapidated, or crumbling. While there are a good number of small shops and businesses operating in the district, most new development and commerce takes place in new shopping centers outside of the old downtown neighborhood.

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