Mission, known as the "tourist mecca of South Texas," is in southwestern Hidalgo County on U.S. Highway 83, the Missouri Pacific line, and State Highway 107. It is 3½ miles north of the Rio Grande, four miles northeast of Anzalduas County Park, five miles northeast of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Scenic Park, and twenty-three miles northwest of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. It is midway between the beaches of South Padre Island and International Falcon Reservoir. Mission lies between 100 and 143 feet above sea level in the wide agricultural delta of the Rio Grande. It is known as the home of the grapefruit. For nearly 250 years the descendants of the original Spanish settlers in this area have ranched the huge porciones-oblong blocks of land nine-thirteenths of a mile wide at the Rio Grande and extending up to sixteen miles north. The settlement of La Lomita (see LA LOMITA MISSION) began in the area with a small chapel built by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Land surrounding the chapel was deeded to Oblate fathers Pierre Yves Keralum and Pierre Fourrier Parisot. The town was first located at La Lomita chapel and was built about 1865 on the farm that later became the mission.

The city of Mission was founded in 1907, when John J. Conway and J. W. Holt purchased the 17,000-acre La Lomita Ranch from the Oblate fathers, along with 10,000 acres from John Closner and James B. Wells, and began to sell tracts to settlers arriving in the area. The Missouri Pacific line was extended from Brownsville in 1904 but stopped at Mamie, which lay 5½ miles from La Lomita by way of a terrible mud road. A new station and railroad siding, along with a gift of twenty acres of irrigated land, enticed the railroad to move its agent from the community of Sam Fordyce to a site called Mission, to which the new settlement moved also. On December 8, 1908, the post office was moved to the railroad site, where it was renamed Mission because there was already another post office called Lomita in Texas. A local school was established in 1908, and a pharmacy was built. A newspaper and a hotel were in operation at Mission by 1909, and the city incorporated in 1910. Irrigation allowed the fields to produce three crops a year, drawing farmers to the area. Beginning around 1910 citrus fruit culture was started there, and John H. Shary rebuilt the local irrigation system and sold small irrigated citrus farms. He founded the community of Sharyland and its school, helped develop the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and financed the local newspaper. In the 1930s oil was discovered nearby, contributing to the area's growth. In 1941 Shary and other businessmen bought land northwest of Mission for an air base and then sold it at cost to the United States government. From 1941 to 1946 there were always about 3,000 men in training at Moore Air Force Base. Many trainees and their families returned to Mission after World War II, when the base became Tri-Cities Airport and then the Weaver H. Baker Memorial Tuberculosis Center (see SAN ANTONIO STATE CHEST HOSPITAL). The air field was reactivated in 1953 for the Korean War, and more than 4,000 pilots were trained before the base finally closed again in 1960. In 1962 the United States Department of Agriculture developed half the base into a biological pest-control center.

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Dick D. Heller, Jr. | © 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.

Belongs to

Mission is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Mission is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Conway)
  • (La Lomita)


Latitude: 26.20179550
Longitude: -98.32330400

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2021 View more »