statue of Popeye in front of Crystal City City Hall
TE photo, November 2001
in a Spinach Can
The counties of this region (other than the border counties) have
similar histories. Most towns were born with the arrival of the railroad
or when irrigation technology took advantage of the numerous wells
Carl F. Groos and E. J. Buckingham, were developers who opened the
town in the early 1900s. They bought a 10,000-acre ranch in 1905,
platted the townsite of Crystal City and sold off land in smaller
parcels for farms.
In 1908 Crystal City was granted a post office and the Crystal
City and Uvalde Railway provided the first rail service.
In 1910 with a healthy population of 350 – the town incorporated.
An election held in 1928 made Crystal City the county seat.
The arrival of the railroad meant a market for produce and especially
winter vegetables for northern markets. Onions were the first crop
introduced, but spinach replaced the onion crop and now Crystal City
is “Spinach Capital of the World”
The first annual spinach festival took place in 1936 and the Spinach
Festival maintains an office in downtown Crystal City. The Spinach
Festival was resumed in 1982 after being suspended during World
A statue of Popeye was erected with the blessing of the sailorman’s
creator in 1937. It ranks high in the pantheon of less-than-serious
statues in Texas. Today the pipe-smoking sailor stands in front of
city hall – sharing the same banishment of other tobacco users.
County Courthouse >
| Remains of the
U.S. Family Internment Camp. "This camp was used for the internment
German American, Italian American, and Japanese American families
during World War
II. The camp consisted of 649 buildings on 100 acres." -
TE photo, 2005
Family Internment Camp,
When the U.S.
entered the war in 1941, an immediate fear was the possibility of
enemy agents in the country and the Western Hemisphere. As one response,
thousands of Japanese-Americans were moved away from the West Coast.
Lesser-known was an internment camp system operated by the Immigration
and Naturalization Service. The government built these camps to hold
Japanese, German and Italian nationals arrested in the U.S. and Hawaii,
and in Peru and other Latin American countries until they could be
exchanged for American detainees. Three of these camps were in Texas
at Kenedy, Seagoville and Crystal City.
World War II
The Crystal City camp, converted from an existing migratory labor
camp, was the largest internment facility in the U.S. and the only
one built exclusively for families. The original 240-acre
camp later expanded to 290 acres, with
agricultural areas and support facilities. The primary living area
was a 100-acre compound enclosed by a 10-foot barbed wire fence, complete
with guard towers and spotlights. Like a small town, the compound
had 700 buildings and included family housing, schools, a hospital,
shops, warehouses, markets and recreation areas. Although intended
for Japanese, the Crystal City camp also held Germans and a few Italians.
The population averaged 2800 throughout the war. It reached a peak
of almost 3400 in December 1944, two-thirds of whom were Japanese.
At the end of the war, the government paroled internees throughout
the U.S. or sent them to their home countries. The Crystal City camp
was the only one still in operation by June
30,1947. It officially closed February 27, 1948, and the property
transferred to the city and school district.
Texas in World War
TE Webmaster's Note:
Above numbers in red indicates corrections
by Mr. Werner Ulrich - past internee, and manage/administrator of
facebook’s U.S. Family Internment Camp, Crystal City, Texas
(See also Alien
Camp by Mike Cox)
mural in Crystal City
TE photo 2001
of the murals in Crystal City
TE photo 2001
TE photo 2001
The Del Monte Corporation is the county’s largest employee and has
been since it opened a canning plant in 1945 when it was operating
as the California Packing Corporation.
In the 1940s – an astounding 97% of Crystal City’s citizens were migrant
workers who followed the crops.
Del Monte’s operations and several expansions have helped increase
the town’s size. In 1950 the population that once left town to follow
the crops rose to over 7,000 and then to over 9,000 in 1960.
City Revolts” of the 1960s
In the 1960s the
Hispanic majority asserted their dominant voting power to win key
city and school offices. The exaggerated "Crystal City Revolts"- which
were peaceful – helped form the Raza Unida party in 1970. The party
dominated the town politically until the late 70s when it dissolved
into splinter groups.
The theatre in downtown Crystal City
TE photo 2001
The theatre at night
TE photo 2001
City Texas Forum
Hood of San Antonio defends the Spinach Capital of the World
- November 15, 2006
Crystal City Texas
Dear TE, A local Little Rock newspaper has an article about Alma,
Arkansas putting up it's second Popeye statue. And they claim Alma
is "The Spinach Capital of the World." Now you and I know that isn't
so. May I use some of your Web-site material in rebutting their
article? If this is not permitted, I may write them, using my personal
knowledge, having been born at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas,
September 12, 1922. My wife was born in Crystal City, in 1923, and
participated in two Spinach Festivals. - Ted Hood Sr., Little Rock,
Arkansas, November 07, 2006
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact