DEL RIO, TEXAS. Del Rio, the county seat of Val Verde County, is on U.S. Highway 90 and the Southern Pacific Railroad near the confluence of the Rio Grande and San Felipe Creek, 154 miles west of San Antonio in the southern part of the county.
The Spanish established a small presidial complex near the site of present Ciudad Acuña, the Mexican sister city of Del Rio, and some Spaniards settled on what became the United States side of the Rio Grande. The developments that led to the growth of Del Rio, however, took place after the Civil War. In the arid vastness of Southwest Texas, water was the key to survival; in the vicinity of Del Rio the San Felipe Springs provided millions of gallons.
A number of developers acquired several thousand acres adjacent to San Felipe Creek and developed plans to sell small tracts of rich farmland to prospective buyers. These investors formed the San Felipe Agricultural, Manufacturing, and Irrigation Company in 1868. The organization soon constructed a network of irrigationqv canals, completed in 1871. Soon they began to sell small tracts of land to newly arriving settlers, who then established truck farms. Residents in the area referred to the slowly developing townsite as San Felipe del Rio. Local lore says that the name came from early Spanish explorers who offered a Mass at the site on St. Philip's Day, 1635. In 1883, after the first post office was opened, the United States Postal Department requested that the name be shortened to Del Rio to avoid confusion with San Felipe de Austin. In 1885 Val Verde County was organized and Del Rio became the county seat.
Early development was dependent on the railroad, the military, ranching and agriculture, government-related employment, and retail business. Other major economic activities were focused on tourism and ties with Mexico.
The development of the railroad in the 1880s served as an impetus
to development of sheep and goat ranching. During that decade
the Southern Pacific, which built a line from west to east, and
the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio, building west, linked
up forty miles west of Del Rio. In 1990 the railroad still operated
and served as a major employer in Del Rio. The town was incorporated
on November 15, 1911.
Text from the Handbook of Texas Online
Last Revised: 09/30/2005 - Contact the Texas Interlocking Towers Page.