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ROMA - LOS SAENZ, TEXAS

Starr County, South Texas

National Historic District

Highway 83
12 miles W of Rio Grande City
52 miles W of McAllen
91 miles SE of Laredo
On the Rio Grande
Across from Ciudad Miguel Alemán, Tamaulipas, Mexico
Population: 9.952 (2010) 9,617 (2000)

Roma Area Hotels > Rio Grande City Hotels
Roma, Texas street scene




A Roma streetscape
Photo by John Troesser
History in a Pecan Shell

Roma and Los Saenz have incorporated joinly and so they are listed here together. Corrales de Saenz was founded in the 1760s by a ranching family named Saenz who followed José de Escandón from the Spanish colonial city of Mier. According to the Handbook of Texas, "it is possible that what came to be known as Roma-Los Saenz and Ciudad Miguel Alemán were originally part of the same city, San Pedro de Roma, Tamaulipas."

1848 was the year Roma-Los Saenz became part of the U. S. - although that fact is thought by some to be a moot point. The only obvious change was an opening of the first post office in Starr County. The flavor of the city is definately 19th Century Mexico and is certainly one of the gem cities on "Los Caminos del Rio."
Post Office in Roma, Texas


The former Roma Post Office appeared in Viva Zapata
Photo by John Troesser
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate founded a mission in the mid-1850s and it was they who suggested the name Roma. The town was also the westernmost port for the steamships that ran up and down the Rio Grande from 1850 to 1900.

Roma was designated a national historic district in the 1970s and the historical museum itself is in an 1840 building. The main plaza, was used a backdrop for the 1953 movie Viva Zapata. Many of the downtown buildings built in the 1880s (including the old 1880s post office) were designed by noted German brickmaker and architect Heinrich Portscheller.

The population in 1904 was a mere 521. During the border unrest 1910-17, refugees from Mexico occupied the historic "Pink House." The town's isolation ended in the mid 1920s when new roads were built and the railroad arrived.
Historic Pink House in Roma, Texas
The historic "Pink House" in Roma
Photo by John Troesser
Cactus in a ruin
Cactus in a Ruin in Roma
Photo by John Troesser
International Bridge, Texas suspension bridge
The International Bridge, one of the few remaining suspension bridges in Texas.
Photo by John Troesser
Roma's green bridge - one of the few remaining suspension bridges in Texas became Texas' international bridge when it was built in 1927. A recent restoration has painted and reenforced it, although it has yet to be reopened to pedestrian traffic.

In 1931 Roma's population was 1,000 - and the businesses were all clustered in the few blocks around the bridge. With the construction of Falcon Dam in 1953, the threat of periodic flooding was removed.

Since 1979 the town's infrastructure has been improved with a new water plant, water tower and new fire and police stations. The town is surrounded on three sides by 100,000 acres of irrigated river bottom.
water tower and brick wall in Roma, Texas

Roma water tower painted with "Home of the Gladiators"
Photo by John Troesser

Roma, Texas Attractions

  • Falcon State Park - 800-792-1112
    14 miles northwest via US 83, FM 2098, and Park Road 45. Admissions.
    http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/falcon/
  • The Roma National Historic Landmark District - 1848 to 1928 historic structures under restoration can be viewed from the city plaza.
  • Roma Historical Museum

    See also Lost Photos of Starr County
  • Roma, Texas
    Area Destinations:

    Rio Grande City
    Laredo
    See Starr County
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