South Texas

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South Texas continues from San Antonio into a spacious expanse of blue sky and long stretches of ranch land. Dotted with clusters of cacti and clumps of mesquite, South Texas ends at its dual borders of Mexico and the Gulf. Besides scenic vistas of raw beauty, visitors will see missions, ghost towns, and historic sites.  

For those looking for a more metropolitan experience, there is the bustling urban center of Brownsville. Visitors will encounter both the ambiance of a quaint seaside port and the rich cultural offerings of a border town. The city’s turbulent history also makes for interesting study.  Visitors to the area can revisit the past by touring the Palo Alto Battlefield and the Resaca de la Palma Battlefield from the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the Palmito Ranch Battlefield, which is considered the site of the last battle of the American Civil War (1861-1865).  

South Texas, especially the eight counties of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, is a major center for agricultural production in the state. The region is a producer of corn, feed grains, cotton, sugarcane, vegetables, and fruits like watermelons, oranges, and cantaloupes. Though naturally arid, the advent of large-scale irrigation and railroad line expansion in the early 20th century propelled rapid development of South Texas farmland and population growth in the region as a whole.

One of South Texas’ most beloved crops, the grapefruit was introduced to the area in 1893 and first planted commercially during the 1910s. The development of sweeter, red-fleshed varieties in the late 1920s made the fruit a widely popular addition to breakfast plates across the United States and Canada. The Texas Red grapefruit was designated the state fruit by the 73rd Texas State Legislature in 1993.

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Items in this Exhibit

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Brownsville, Texas, undated. Stugard collection, 1963/185-734.

An old mission near Mission, Texas, undated. Stugard collection, 1963/185-827.

A souvenir of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas to New York, undated. Stugard collection, 1963/185-858.

New farm houses in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, undated. William Deming Hornaday photograph collection, 1975/70-4614.

Advertisement reprinted from Fortune, October 1941. Broadsides collection, #380.

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Texas Farming and Citriculture, October 1937. Texas Planning Board, 017-26.

Mission Fruit and Vegetable Company, 1948.  L. L. Cook Company collection, 1968/89-1343.

Typical Grapefruit Orchard, 1949.  L. L. Cook Company collection, 1968/89-1198.

Orange Tree near Beaumont, Texas, circa 1910. Don Kelly Southeast Texas Postcard collection, 1991/183-0580.

Grapefruit Marketing Contact Sheet, circa 1970. Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection, 2001/078-3.

Texas ships grapefruit to 43 of 48 states, February 2, 1938. Texas Planning Board records, 017-27.

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Page last modified: May 20, 2016