Landmarks & History
Over Texas by
No listing of the key locations in the early days of flight – particularly
the development of military air power – would be complete without a reference
to the southern Texas city of Brownsville. It was from there that America’s first
combat mission was flown, way back in 1915... more
second most historical city in Texas|
by some to be the second most historical city in Texas, we called the company
in whose brochure we read this "factoid". We asked which city they considered
to be first, and were told we'd have to ask the owner, but he was out of town.
We asked the person we had if they would like to guess. Hesitantly, they replied:
"The Alamo?" Well, we sometimes forget the question too, and since the answer
wasn't in the form of a question, we had to disqualify our contestant. Second
is not a bad place to be, especially if it takes a war, natural disaster, or horrible
architecture to make you first.
in a Pecan Shell|
Build a fort, start a war.
Brownsville was named for a Lt.
Brown who was killed when the Fort bearing his name was under construction and
attack in 1846. Zachary Taylor's building of this fort in disputed territory started
the Mexican War. It's possible, but unlikely that they announced the fort would
be named after the first soldier killed. How's that for an incentive program?
Many of the original buildings still exist, since the Fort was only deactivated
in 1945. These buildings can be seen on what is now the campus of University of
Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost Jr. College.
The Campus includes
a nice view of a resaca - which is the local name for ox-bow lakes caused by the
meandering Rio Grande.
off Highway 77 before you get to the border, this is an essential stop. Exit F.M.
Follow the signs for parking and you'll also see the Brownsville
Chamber of Commerce. This is a good place to start your tour.
up a map and information. Maps of The Brownsville Heritage Trail are available
here, as well as Matamoros Information and other local points of interest.
Two of the pamphlets to be sure to get are
The Cameron County Historical
Marker Trail Guide and the Hidalgo County Historical Marker Travel
Guide. Ours were picked up this month but both bear the date 1998. That's
the good thing about history, unless something is unearthed (or exhumed) not much
Photo courtesy Ken
Rudine, February 2007
Elizabeth St. runs the length of downtown, ending at
the Old City Cemetery. For birders, both ends (Ft. Brown and the Cemetery) abound
with flocks of green parrots, early morning
and dusk. Don't Email us if you don't see thousands of parrots, we mean you are
likely to see groups of 4 - 12. It's still more than you have at home. Historic
Do not miss the Historic Brownsville Museum
at 641 E. Madison. One of four Southern Pacific Stations built in
the Valley in the late 1920's, the Spanish Colonial Revival Buildings all feature
a stained-glass image of the Southern Pacific Logo.
Stillman House Museum
Another must see is the Stillman House Museum at 1305 E. Washington. Brownsville
> Book Your Hotel Here & Save
A note not in your guidebook:
Mexican War, a group of recently arrived immigrants from Ireland who enlisted
in the Army as their own Company, deserted their posts and crossed the river at
Brownsville, joining the Mexican Forces. Those who were captured were hanged en
masse at the exact moment the American Flag was raised at Chapultepec Castle in
Brownsville and the Mexican Port of Bagdad played a very important role in
the Civil War. Cotton was shipped from these ports to English ships offshore,
waiting to exchange much needed supplies for the cotton. As you will learn, the
final battle of the Civil War was fought (won by the Confederacy) 12 miles east
at Palmito Hill a month after the final whistle blew.
of fortunes were made, and Brownsville attracted European immigrants when
things settled down. This fact is attested to by the names in the Brownsville
Cemetery. The river currents are not strong enough to conquer love, and marriages
between the two countries produced populations that were (by some estimates) 80%
mixed. The Peso was coin of the realm until the railroad arrived in 1910.
Postcard courtesy rootsweb.com/%7Etxpstcrd/ |
Brownsville-Metamoros Ferry by Maggie Van Ostrand|
was an efficient means of transportation between the U.S. and Mexico for 110 years,
but in 1929, it took its last trip across the Rio Grande...
Visitor Information Center :
Convention & Visitors Bureau
Chamber of Commerce
Hotels > Book
by Dorothy Hamm|
would come to learn that his life was far more interesting than any song he could
ever write. Perhaps that's why he had to write them. His story is well known,
born in Brownsville, Texas..."
Mendoza' and the Battle of the Bulge
by Murray Montgomery|
December 1944 found Lopez in a bloody conflict known
as the Battle of the Bulge. For his actions on Dec. 17, 1944, near Krinkelt, Belgium,
Lopez received the highest military decoration for valor in combat – the Medal
At Brownsville Sgt. Jose Mendoza Lopez's statue stands in Veterans
of parrots in flight|
Photo courtesy Ken
Rudine, February 2007
South Texas You
should visit the Site of The Battle of Palo Alto. Where U. S. troops won
the battle by using the soil and vegetation of this area as an aid. The marsh
like condition of the soil and the sharp pointed grass was a natural enemy of
advancing troops. Superior technology of the artillery firepower played a big
part of the outcome of the Battle of Palo Alto. Being able to make artillery shells
explode in mid air was a a big advancement for the time. Check with the National
Park Service they have a detailed description in both the English and the Spanish
point of view. - Gary Gregory, May 26, 2000
are many stories in The RGV from King Ranch to San Juan Mission battle of Palmento
Hill many battles of civil war era, last battle of civil war fought here 3 mos
after the war was over. Many historic resources like an abandoned railroad built
by Zachery Taylot and his troops. Now lies in ruin marking a bygone era in our
history. This land now belongs to the Laguna Atcosta wildlife area US Fish and
wildlife Service. Rio Hondo even had a semi-pro Baseball team in the early 1920's.
Or the Baila Family descendants of the Padre that Padre Island's namesake. How
the fast talking gringos stole the land from their uneducated family members who
could not speak English. Or even more recent Senator Benson and his Family History.
The National Parks Service In Brownsville has many stories and historic articles
about the war of 1812. To name just a few that comes to mind. - Gary Gregory,
May 13, 2000
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic
photos, please contact
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