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On the Rio Grande
Across the border from Matamoros, Mexico
Cameron County Seat, Texas Gulf Coast
/ South Texas

Hwy 77 and Hwy 281
25 miles S of Harlingen on Hwy 77
159 miles S of Corpus Christi
272 miles S of San Antonio
347 miles from Houston
516 miles from Dallas
Population: 180,420 (2010) 139,722 (2000) 107,027 (1990)

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Brownsville, Texas Landmarks & History

Cameron County Courthouse
Historic Brownsville Museum
Brownsville City Cemetery
Cameron County Jail
Stillman House Museum
Pan-Am & Brownsville
Vintage Images

Combat Over Texas by Dan Heaton
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

History in a Pecan Shell
Build a fort, start a war.

Fort Brown

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.

Brownsville Tour

Located off Highway 77 before you get to the border, this is an essential stop. Exit F.M. 809.

Follow the signs for parking and you'll also see the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce. This is a good place to start your tour.

Pick 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 changes.
Brownsville Texas Green Parrot
Green Parrot
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, February 2007
  • Old City Cemetery
    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 Brownsville Museum
    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 Hotels > Book Hotel Here
  • A note not in your guidebook:

    During the 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 Mexico City.

    The Civil War

    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.

    Lots 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.

    Brownsvill Ferry Landing 1910 Texas
    Postcard courtesy rootsweb.com/%7Etxpstcrd/
    The Brownsville-Metamoros Ferry by Maggie Van Ostrand

    The ferry 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...
    International Bridge, Brownsville  to  Matamoros
    The International Bridge connecting Brownsville with Matamoros
    Postcard courtesy texasoldphotos.com
    More Brownsville Vintage Postcards | See Texas Bridges

    Nearby Destinations
  • Boca Chica State Park
  • Hwy 77 North 26 miles to Harlingen.
  • State Hwy 48 East 24 miles to South Padre Island.
  • Matamoros, Mexico - You can also walk to Matamoros, Mexico for 35 cents. Mexico lets you in for free, but has a small exit fee.

    Nearby small towns
  • South Texas Towns
  • Gulf Coast Towns

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  • US Post Office Brownsville Texas
    Post Office
    Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, February 2007
    See Texas Post Offices
    Majestic Theater, Brownsville Texas
    Majestic Theatre
    Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, February 2007
    See Texas Theatres
     Brownsville Texas old stone building
    Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, February 2007

  • Kris Kristofferson by Dorothy Hamm
    "We 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..."
  • Kid 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 of Honor.
    At Brownsville Sgt. Jose Mendoza Lopez's statue stands in Veterans Park.

  • Cartoons:
    Brownsville "race riot" by Roger T. Moore

    Brownsville Texas flock of Green Parrots in flight
    Flock of parrots in flight
    Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, February 2007
    Brownsville Tourist Information
  • Brownsville Visitor Information Center :
    956-546-3721, 1-800-626-2639.
  • Brownsville Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Brownsville Chamber of Commerce

    Brownsville Hotels > Book Hotel Here

  • The second most historical city in Texas
    Said 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.

    Brownsville, Texas Forum
    Subject: 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

  • There 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

  • Brownsville, Texas Area Destinations:
    See Cameron County | Texas Gulf Coast | South Texas
    Edinburg | Halingen | McAllen |
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