Hidalgo History

Small City, BIG Ammenities

The City of Hidalgo is located on lands settled by Spanish -colonizer Jose de Escandon in 1749, as an adjunct to the new settlement of Reynosa, both part of colonial Spain until 1821. The desert settlement was mainly involved with cattle grazing for some 150 years.

In 1848, with the area now part of Texas and the United States, Scottish-born merchant John Young founded a town site on Spanish land grants as a trading post and ferry landing opposite Reynosa, now in the Republic of Mexico. Originally named Edinburg, the town’s name was changed to Hidalgo in 1876 in honor of the Mexican patriot, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, for whom Hidalgo County is also named. The county was formed in 1852 and Hidalgo remained its only town until 1905, serving as county seat from 1852 until 1908.

From 1848 until early in the 20th Century, the frontier community grew as a trade center, ferry crossing and steamboat landing. By passed in favor of modern-day McAllen by a railroad project in 1906, Hidalgo retained its importance as a frontier crossing point, but did not experience the growth of the railroad cities. The rails did arrive in 1913 and the first bridge over the Rio Grande at Hidalgo was built in 1926, connecting it with Reynosa.

In 1910, an irrigation pumphouse was established on the banks of the Rio Grande in Hidalgo. Water from the river was pumped into a canal system, at a rate of 400,000 gallons per minute at its height, to irrigate thousands of acres of chaparral, which were then cleared and sold for the growing of sugar cane, cotton, citrus and vegetables in the semi-arid land. When the pumps were electrified and moved downstream in 1983, the original pumphouse with its historical steam engines and pumps was closed, but has been preserved as a museum, recognized recently with a national preservation award.

Hidalgo contains notable examples of border-style brick architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially the former county courthouse a jail and the former Catholic Church, the Odell, Rodriguez store and Vela building and the old Hidalgo School and Teacherage. Several of these structures enjoy National Register status.

As the fourth largest United States Port of Entry, Hidalgo is often the first taste of American culture for millions of visitors form as near as Mexico and as far away as the Pacific Rim. It’s a city historically intimate with the exigencies of relations between Mexico, the United States and the International community.

In October of 1990, newspaper headlines announced to America, with no lack of sensationalism, that the Africanized Honey Bee, also known as the “Killer Bee,” had now invaded the United States and had made its first appearance in the remote South Texas town of Hidalgo.

For a town promoting itself as a friendly destination offering convenient access to Mexico and a paradise to bird-watchers, this infamy was surely a death-knell!

But, within months, the citizens of Hidalgo had commissioned, sculpted and proudly displayed a ten-foot tall, 2000 pound, full-color statue of the feared "Killer Bee!"

To date, this “Killer Bee” statue has been visited, photographed and written about by no less than 100,000 locals, tourists, journalists and passer-by. Hidalgo took a lemon and made honey-flavored lemonade!