a Pecan Shell
Originally, San Juan was part of two Spanish grants dating from
1767. The heirs retained the lands until the 1850s, ranching and
In 1909 the town was formed by one John Closner, who was supposedly
the namesake of the community. A school was built in 1918 and became
part of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo
ISD when it formed in early 1919.
A waterworks was installed in 1922 and by the middle of that decade
the estimated population was just over 1,200.
The demand for cement irrigation pipe in the Rio Grande Valley was
high and San Juan decided to fulfill the need. After WWII
the town was said to have had the largest plant for that purpose
in the entire state.
The community became known as the start of the “Bougainvillea Trail”
– an inspired project that failed to generate a statewide interest.
The population in 1945 was over 2,200 and by 1960 it had doubled
In the mid
50s the Virgen de San Juan del Valle Shrine was constructed here.
The population went over 5,000 in the early 1970s. In late 1970,
a deranged pilot rented a plane and crashed it into the shrine,
the engine coming to within inches of the statue of the Virgin.
The pilot had radioed a warning, preventing a greater loss of life.
The shrine was re-dedicated in 1980 after raising nearly 1.5 million
dollars for the restoration.
The 1992 population of 10,815 more than doubled to 26,229 for the