Del Rio

Del Rio, Texas

Del Rio, Texas

View of the Val Verde Winery in Del Rio, Texas. Photograph by JherreraCODR.

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 irrigation 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. From the mid-nineteenth century to the present the military has played a leading role in the fortunes of Del Rio. As soon as the Mexican War was over, military expeditions into the area began with patrols and the establishment of frontier military camps at Del Rio and Camp Hudson, to the west on the Devils River. Most military activities were controlled from Fort Clark, thirty miles east, near the site of present Brackettville. In the twentieth century the government continued to use the isolated Del Rio area for different types of military training. As World War II started, the army opened a base near Del Rio, Laughlin Field, for pilot training. Later the name was changed to Laughlin Air Force Base. Ranching and agriculture have always been an integral part of the economic scene of Del Rio. During the late nineteenth century sheep and goat raisers found the scrub terrain to be an ideal place for their livestock. For many years Del Rio served as a focal point for the wool and mohair industry. 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.

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Robert C. Overfelt | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Adoption Status:
This place has been adopted and will not be available until February 14, 2025
Adopted by:
Eileen Martínez Morales de Limas
Dedication Message:
With Honor to My Family "The Ramos /Martinez Family it is a pleasure to adopt Del Rio. My grandmother, Maria Concepción Ramos, Daughter of Felipe Ramos. My Great Grandfather loved "His Hometown" very much. To date his legacy continues. I would like to Thank all the residents that show great pride and care to Del Rio.

Belongs to

Del Rio is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Del Rio is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (San Felipe del Rio)


Latitude: 29.37645360
Longitude: -100.89463000

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2021 View more »


Place Type Population (Year/Source) Currently Exists
College or University Yes
College or University Yes

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