Del Rio, Texas

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City of Del Rio
Location of Del Rio, Texas
Location of Del Rio, Texas
CountryUnited StatesUnited States
CountyVal Verde
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorRobert Garza
 • City ManagerHarold Bean (Interim)
 • Total52.3 km2 (20.2 sq mi)
 • Land52.2 km2 (20.2 sq mi)
 • Water0.1 km2 (0.04 sq mi)
Population (2012)
 • Total35,543
 • Density680/km2 (1,800/sq mi)
Time zoneCST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST)CST (UTC-5)
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City of Del Rio
Location of Del Rio, Texas
Location of Del Rio, Texas
CountryUnited StatesUnited States
CountyVal Verde
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorRobert Garza
 • City ManagerHarold Bean (Interim)
 • Total52.3 km2 (20.2 sq mi)
 • Land52.2 km2 (20.2 sq mi)
 • Water0.1 km2 (0.04 sq mi)
Population (2012)
 • Total35,543
 • Density680/km2 (1,800/sq mi)
Time zoneCST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST)CST (UTC-5)
Del Rio City Hall at 109 W. Broadway St.
Del Rio Civic Center at 1915 Veterans Blvd.
Glimpse of the Whitehead Memorial Museum in Del Rio
The 1890 House at 609 Griner St. in Del Rio is a bed and breakfast inn operated by Laura Galvan.
Veterans Memorial outside the Del Rio Civic Center

Del Rio is a city in and the county seat of Val Verde County, Texas .[1] As of 2012, the city had a population of 35,543.[2] Del Rio is connected with Ciudad Acuña via the Lake Amistad Dam International Crossing and Del Río – Ciudad Acuña International Bridge. Del Rio is also home to Laughlin Air Force Base.


The Spanish established a small settlement south of the Rio Grande in present-day Mexico, and some Spaniards settled on what became the United States side of the Rio Grande as early as the 18th century. U.S. development on the north shore of the Rio Grande did not begin until after the American Civil War.

The San Felipe Springs, about 8 mi (13 km) east of the Rio Grande on the U.S. side of the border, produces 90×10^6 US gal (340,000 m3) of water a day. Developers acquired several thousand acres of land adjacent to the springs, and to San Felipe Creek formed by the springs, from the State of Texas in exchange for building a canal system to irrigate the area. The developers sold tracts of land surrounding the canals to recover their investment and show a profit. The initial investors (William C. Adams, John P. Grove, Donald Jackson, John Perry, Joseph Ney, Randolph Pafford, A. O. Strickland, and James H Taylor) formed the San Felipe Agricultural, Manufacturing, and Irrigation Company in 1868. The organization completed construction of a network of irrigation canals in 1871. Residents referred to the slowly developing town as San Felipe Del Rio because local lore said the name came from early Spanish explorers who offered a Mass at the site on St. Philip's Day, 1635.

In 1883, local residents requested a post office be established. The United States Postal Department shortened "San Felipe del Rio" 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. The City of Del Rio was incorporated on November 15, 1911.

The San Felipe community was started by the Arteaga family. Arteaga Street and Arteaga Park are named after them.

Many history items from Del Rio, particularly from the 19th century, are preserved at the Whitehead Memorial Museum downtown.

Del Rio is known as the American address of legendary Mexican radio stations XERA and XERF just over the U.S.-Mexico border in Ciudad Acuña; their 500,000-watt signals could be heard at night as far away as Canada. Legendary deejay Wolfman Jack operated XERF in the 1960s, using a Del Rio address to sell various products advertised on the station.[3]

Laughlin Air Force Base[edit]

In 1942, the Army Air Corps opened Laughlin Field 9 mi (14 km) east of Del Rio as a training base for the Martin B-26, but it was deactivated in 1945. As the Cold War pressures built, along with new border control issues, Laughlin Field was rebuilt and renamed Laughlin Air Force Base. It was again used as a home for flight training. In the mid-1950s, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) noted Laughlin's remoteness that allowed for secret operations, and opened its strategic reconnaissance program there with the RB-57, a bomber modified for high-altitude reconnaissance. SAC soon transitioned to the high-altitude U-2 Dragonlady and based all of them in Laughlin AFB. In 1962, Laughlin-based U-2s took the first photographs of land-based medium-range ballistic missile sites being constructed in Cuba. This photo intelligence started the Cuban Missile Crisis. The U-2s were relocated to Davis–Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona, in July 1963, and Laughlin's mission transitioned to the Undergraduate Pilot Training mission in the T-37 and T-38 aircraft. Laughlin AFB also provides training in the T-1A Jayhawk and the T-6A Texan II.

Laughlin plays a large part in the Del Rio community as the area's largest employer. The Border Patrol is the city's second-largest employer (with two large stations along with the sector headquarters). At one time, Del Rio was in the running to become the home of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for agents of the U.S. Border Patrol and Federal Air Marshal Service, but lost to the current site in Artesia, New Mexico. The proposed site was located on property belonging to Laughlin AFB. Since the base has unused land, the Air Force is able to lease it to other federal law enforcement agencies for such projects. This benefits Laughlin AFB and the city of Del Rio both financially and economically. Del Rio was one of five cities in the United States selected for an FBI regional headquarters office; the building is adjacent to the six-story Roswell Hotel in downtown Del Rio.


Del Rio is located at 29°22′15″N 100°53′45″W / 29.37083°N 100.89583°W / 29.37083; -100.89583 (29.370716, −100.895839).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.2 square miles (52.3 km2), of which 52.2 km2 (20.2 sq mi) is land and 0.1 km2 (0.039 sq mi), or 0.24%, is covered by water.[5]

Del Rio lies on the northwestern edges of the Tamaulipan mezquital, also called the South Texas brush country. It is also near the southwestern corner of the Edwards Plateau, which is the western fringe of the famous, oak savanna-covered Texas Hill Country; that area is dotted with numerous small springs; one of these is the San Felipe Springs, which provides a constant flow of water to San Felipe Creek. The creek supplied fresh water for drinking and irrigation to early settlers of Del Rio, and the springs are still the town's water supply.

The Del Rio region, west to about the Pecos River, has a mix of desert shrub and steppe vegetation, depending on soil type, with the gray-leafed cenizo (Leucophyllum spp.), Acacia, and Grama grasses dominant members of local flora. The terrain is mostly level, but some areas are dissected with substantial canyons and drainages, though none of the upland areas is high or large enough in area to be considered mountains.

Cactus grows in the semiarid climate of Del Rio.


The climate is semiarid in moisture and subtropical in temperature. Humidity is more often high than low, with periodic morning fog due to Gulf of Mexico air masses moving northwest into the area. This gives Del Rio and adjacent areas the effect of being in a coastal dryland area, even though the Gulf of Mexico is over 300 mi (480 km) away. Such humid periods alternate with periods of hot and dry desert air masses in the spring and fall, or cold and dry Great Plains air masses during winter. Moisture rarely lasts long enough for weather systems to react with it to create much precipitation, as happens more frequently not far to the north and east of the area; some exceptions occur during some autumn (tropical weather systems) and spring (stalled fronts to the north).

Summers are long, hot, and frequently humid; winters vary between sunny, warm, cloudy, and cool weather, depending on the wind direction and jet stream location. Snow or freezing rain is rare, about every seven to 10 years, and such wintry precipitation does not last long enough to be of consequence.

Monthly normal and record high and low temperatures
Rec High °F90991011061091121081091101069690112
Norm High °F62.8687682.788.793.796.29690.681.770.963.580.9
Norm Low °F39.744.151.658.566.772.174.374.169.460.549.241.258.5
Rec Low °F15142133455564644828221010
Precip (in)0.570.960.961.712.312.342.022.162.0620.960.7518.8


Historical population
Est. 201235,543−0.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census[7] of 2000, 33,867 people, 10,778 households, and 8,514 families resided in the city. The population density was 2,194.0 people per square mile (846.9/km²). The 11,895 housing units averaged a density of 770.6 per square mile (297.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.05% White, 7.21% African American, 0.70% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 17.79% from other races, and 2.68% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 81.04% of the population.

Of the 10,778 households, 42.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.3% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.0% were not families. About 18.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.09 and the average family size was 3.56.

In the city, the population was distributed as 31.7% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,387, and for a family was $30,788. Males had a median income of $27,255 versus $17,460 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,199. About 22.9% of families and 27.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.8% of those under age 18 and 26.4% of those age 65 or over.

Micropolitan area[edit]

U.S. Route 277 crosses Lake Amistad north of Del Rio.
Brown Plaza in Del Rio is named for its donor, George Washington Brown (1836-1918), both a county and district clerk originally from North Carolina. The plaza was restored in 1969.
Del Rio Chamber of Commerce is located by the Civic Center.
A glimpse of downtown Del Rio
First United Methodist Church at 100 Spring St. in Del Rio; pastor Timothy C. Brewer (2014)
Victory Baptist Church at 201 Spring St. in Del Rio is an Independent Baptist congregation; pastor Tim Devenney (2014)

Del Rio is the principal city of the Del Rio Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Val Verde County;[8] the micropolitan area had an estimated population of over 50,000 in 2007.[9] Located across from Del Rio, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, is the city of Ciudad Acuña with a city population of 144,669.

Parks and recreation[edit]

Lake Amistad provides year-round, water-based recreation opportunities, including boating, fishing, swimming, scuba diving and water-skiing, as well as other recreational opportunities for picnicking, camping, and hunting. The area is rich in archeology and rock art, and contains a wide variety of plant and animal life. Del Rio is home to the George Paul Memorial Bullriding, which is the oldest stand-alone bull riding event in the world.[10]

Del Rio will be home to a professional minor league baseball team in 2013. The Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs, based in Houston, is an independent professional baseball league in the southwestern United States that began play in May 2010 with six teams. The Pecos League will play a 72-game regular season with two rounds of playoffs using National League Rules. The league will add four expansion teams for 2013, the Del Rio Bravos (TX), Lubbock Hubbards (TX), Artesia Drillers (NM), and Durango Brewskis (CO). They will join current teams, Alpine Cowboys (TX), Santa Fe Fuego (NM), Las Cruces Vaqueros (NM), Roswell Invaders (NM), Trinidad Triggers (CO), White Sand Pupfish (Alamagordo,NM), Ruidoso Osos (NM), and Pueblo West (CO). All home games will be played at Del Rio Bank and Trust Ram Stadium (formerly Roosevelt Park); the stadium is going through a renovation and seating expansion project. A future minor-league baseball stadium is being proposed to be built at the Val Verde Fairground Complex.



The city is served by the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District. There are around 10,450 students and 637 teachers at 14 campuses. Del Rio is now home to Premier High School of Del Rio, a public charter school.[11]

Higher education[edit]


The Del Rio News-Herald is a daily newspaper published in Del Rio, covering Val Verde County. It is owned by Southern Newspapers Inc.[15]

The newspaper has a daily circulation of 10,400 and a Sunday circulation of 13,500 newspapers.[16]

Amtrak sign
Del Rio Amtrak station



Del Rio International Airport serves the city. United Express operating regional jet aircraft on behalf of United Airlines had provided daily nonstop service between Del Rio (DRT) and Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH); however, the airline ceased serving the DRT-IAH route in April 2013. The airport currently has no scheduled passenger air service. The nearest airport with scheduled air service is the San Antonio International Airport.

There is no intrastate or interstate bus service to Del Rio.

Amtrak provides passenger rail service at the Del Rio station on the Sunset Limited route which proceeds eastbound to San Antonio, continuing on to New Orleans, and westbound to El Paso and Los Angeles.

Major highways[edit]


Federal representation[edit]

U.S. Post Office on Broadway Street in Del Rio
Across from the downtown Post Office is the federal court building.

The United States Border Patrol Del Rio sector headquarters is located at 2401 Dodson Ave.

The United States Postal Service operates two post office facilities in the Del Rio area: the Downtown Post Office (Broadway Street) and Northside Post Office (Bedell Avenue); the Laughlin Post Office (Laughlin AFB) closed because of budget cuts.[17][18]

A federal court building operates across from the downtown post office.

Val Verde Correctional Facility[edit]

The Geo Group, a private correctional facility corporation based in Boca Raton, Florida, manages the Val Verde Correctional Facility in Del Rio. It has a contract to house offenders for the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) (male/female) prisoners, and U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) detainees. The facility opened in 2001 with 688 beds. In 2007, the facility was expanded to its current capacity of 1,400 beds. It is one of the major employers in the Del Rio areaa and is in accordance with standards required by the State of Texas and federal guidelines.

State agencies[edit]

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice operates the Del Rio Parole Office in Del Rio.[19]

Notable people[edit]

Del Rio in film and television[edit]

In the episode "The Young Gun" (February 7, 1958) of the CBS western television series Trackdown, starring Robert Culp as the Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, the Ranger travels to Del Rio to investigate a bank robbery and goes undercover to gain inside information to solve the case. He tricks one of the robbers to lead him to the other gang members.[21]

The 1994 motion picture Texas, based on the James A. Michener novel Texas,[22] was partly filmed in Del Rio.[citation needed] The movie, which took place in the beginning of the 19th century as many Anglo Americans were settling in the Mexican province of Texas, featured Randy Travis and Anthony Michael Hall.

Other presentations with a Del Rio setting include:

Music videos[edit]


Rincon del Diablo - the section where Barron St. meets Magnolia Street.

Barrio Chihuahua: In the southern part of the city, this neighborhood, named after the Chihuahua Soccer Field, is located between West Gibbs to the north, Texas State Spur 29 to the west, Garfield Ave., West Garfield to the southeast, and S. Ave F to the far east.

Buena Vista is located near Buena Vista Park. Lake Amistad and North Del Rio are located past the Buena Vista area.

Cienegas Terraces: Outside the city limits, it is home to the "Duck Pond" and various ranches, on the west side of the city.

Eastside: Named by locals after the school on the corner of Bedell & 7th Street, the neighborhood is also home to Star Park. Surrounded by Veterans Boulevard to the west and E. Gibbs to the south, the neighborhood is home to the Val Verde Regional Medical Center.

San Felipe: The original neighborhood in Del Rio, the city originally got its name from it as in "San Felipe del rio", south of Barrio Chihuahua and the Northside. Anywhere south of Chihuahua but not past San Felipe Creek is known as The Winery, due to its close proximity to Val Verde Winery, the oldest privately owned winery still operating in the United States.

Westside: Home to Del Rio International Airport, the neighborhood is surrounded to the north by W. 15th, 18th, and 17th Streets, to the east by Veterans Blvd., and to the south by W. Gibbs bordering Chihuahua.

Comalia: A neighborhood isolated by the Woodlawn cemetery and a bridge that leads to the U.S.-Mexico border crossing, it can be found by traveling down W. 2nd Street.


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Del Rio city, Texas". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ Have Mercy, by Wolfman Jack; Warner Books, 1995.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Del Rio city, Texas". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  6. ^ Template:Cite web url =
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-11-20. Accessed 2008-12-10.
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006 (CBSA-EST2006-01)" (CSV). 2006 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2007-04-05. Archived from the original on 2007-09-14. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  10. ^ George Paul Memorial Bullriding. Retrieved: May 13, 2011.
  11. ^ Education – Del Rio Chamber of Commerce
  12. ^ Del Rio campus – Southwest Texas Junior College
  13. ^ Rio Grande College – Sul Ross State University
  14. ^ Park University, Laughlin Campus Center
  15. ^ "Del Rio News-Herald". Del Rio News-Herald. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Southern Newspapers". Southern Newspapers. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Post Office Location – PECAN." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 21, 2010.
  18. ^ "Post Office Location – DEL RIO." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 21, 2010.
  19. ^ "Parole Division Region IV." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 21, 2010.
  20. ^ New Orleans VooDoo: #52 Tyrell McCrea, FB/LB. Retrieved on May 13, 2011.
  21. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), p. 106
  22. ^ Texas. – IMDb.

External links[edit]