The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) or the Lower Rio Grande Valley, informally called The Valley, is an area located in the southernmost tip of South Texas. It lies along the northern bank of the Rio Grande, which separates Mexico from the United States.

The Rio Grande Valley is not a valley, but a delta or floodplain containing many oxbow lakes or resacas formed from pinched-off meanders in earlier courses of the Rio Grande. Early 20th-century land developers, attempting to capitalize on unclaimed land, utilized the name "Magic Valley" to attract settlers and appeal to investors. The Rio Grande Valley is also called "El Valle", the Spanish translation of "the valley", by those who live there.[2] The residents of the Rio Grande Valley occasionally refer to the area as "El Magico Valle del Rio Grande" ("The Magical Valley of the Rio Grande"), and also simply by the initials "RGV."

The region is made up of four counties: Starr County, Hidalgo County, Willacy County, and Cameron County. As of January 1, 2008, the Texas State Data Center estimated the population of the Rio Grande Valley at 1,138,872.[3] According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008, 86 percent of Cameron County, 90 percent of Hidalgo County, 97 percent of Starr County, and 86 percent of Willacy County are Hispanic.[4]

The largest city is Brownsville (Cameron County), followed by McAllen (Hidalgo County). Other major cities include Harlingen, Mission, Edinburg, and Pharr.[5]


The Valley encompasses several landmarks that attract tourists, and is primarily known for South Padre Island. Popular destinations include Port Isabel Lighthouse, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. The Valley is a popular waypoint for tourists seeking to visit Mexico. Popular destinations across the border include: Matamoros, Nuevo Progreso, Río Bravo, and Reynosa, all located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The Valley also attracts large numbers of wealthy tourists from the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Distrito Federal, and Tamaulipas.

People of historical interest[]

A list of notable people who were born, lived, or died in the Rio Grande Valley includes:

  • David V. Aguilar (Chief Border Patrol Agent, United States Border Patrol, Rio Grande Valley Station, Texas)
  • Gloria E. Anzaldúa (Writer/Poet, Hargill, Texas)
  • Cathy Baker (T.V. performer, Edinburg, Texas)
  • Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. (U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Mission, Texas)
  • James Carlos Blake (Novelist, Brownsville)
  • Harlon Block (Iwo Jima flag raiser, died on Iwo Jima, Weslaco, Texas)
  • Thomas Haden Church (Actor, Harlingen, Texas)
  • Kika de la Garza (U.S. Representative, Mission, Texas)
  • Freddy Fender (Musician/Actor lyricist, San Benito, Texas)
  • Mike Fossum (Astronaut, McAllen, Texas)
  • Reynaldo Guerra Garza (Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Brownsville, Texas)
  • Robert Garza (Department of Public Safety, first Hispanic in the Texas Rangers)
  • Roberto Garza (Professional Football Player Chicago Bears, Rio Hondo, Texas)
  • Tony Garza (U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Brownsville, Texas)
  • Alfredo C. Gonzalez (Medal of Honor Recipient, U.S. Marine Veteran, Edinburg, Texas)
  • Matt Gonzalez (2008 Vice Presidential candidate; former president of the San Francisco, California, Board of Superviors; born, McAllen, Texas)
  • Lucious Jackson (Retierd Pro basketball player, Played at UTPA, San Marcos, Texas)
  • Catherine Hardwicke (Film director, writer, producer, McAllen, TX)
  • Kris Kristofferson (Musician, actor, song writer, Brownsville, Texas)
  • Tom Landry (American football coach, Mission, Texas)
  • Bobby Lackey (College Football Player Weslaco, TX)
  • Jose M. Lopez (Medal of Honor Recipient, Mission, TX)
  • Rachel McLish (Ms. Olympia, actor, Harlingen, Texas)
  • Danny Moreno (Musician/Ghost Writer For Juan Gabriel, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, Good Morning America, 2 World Records, Selena Quintanilla's Boyfriend Before Her Marriage, Donna, Texas)
  • Bobby Morrow (Olympic gold medalist, San Benito, Texas)
  • Major Samuel Ringgold (Father of modern artillery, served at what is now Fort Ringgold, Rio Grande City, Texas)
  • Valente Rodriguez (Actor, Edcouch, Texas)
  • Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, USA, Ret. (Ground forces commander in Iraq, Rio Grande City, Texas)
  • Julian Schnabel (Filmmaker, Brownsville, TX)
  • Merced Solis aka Tito Santana (Wrestler, Mission, Texas)
  • Nick Stahl (Actor, Harlingen, Texas)
  • Rigo Tovar (Musician/actor/composer, Matamoros, Tamps)
  • Filemon Bartolome Vela (Federal judge, Harlingen, Texas)
  • Juan Pedro Walker Surveyor, cartographer for Spain and early U.S., mapped much of Rio Grande Valley for Louisiana Purchase
  • William S. Burroughs American writer, his time as a farmer in the valley (Pharr, TX) is chronicled, briefly, in his books Junky and Queer
  • Justice Raul A. Gonzalez First Hispanic to be elected to Texas Supreme Court, (Weslaco, TX)

Places of historical interest[]

The First Lift Station in Mission, Texas once provided water for irrigating the crops of the early Rio Grande Valley.

  • First Lift Station
  • Los Ebanos Ferry Last hand operated ferry on the Rio Grande River
  • La Lomita Historic District
  • Fort Brown
  • Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site
  • Resaca de la Palma
  • Rancho de Carricitos[6]
  • USMC War Memorial original plaster working model, located on the campus of the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen.
  • Museum of South Texas History Originally the County Court House and Jail, built in the late 19th century
  • Battle of Palmito Ranch, location of the last battle of The Civil War

The Brownsville Raid, the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, the construction of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle,[7] and the Pharr police riots[8] all took place in The Rio Grande Valley.


The Valley is reliant on agribusiness and tourism. Cotton, sorghum, maize, and sugarcane are its leading crops, and the region is the center of citrus production and the most important area of vegetable production in the State of Texas. Over the last several decades, the emergence of maquiladoras (factories or fabrication plants) has caused a surge of industrial development along the border, while international bridges have allowed Mexican nationals to shop, sell and do business in the border cities along the Rio Grande River. The geographic inclusion of South Padre Island also drives tourism, particularly during the Spring Break season, during which South Padre Island becomes reminiscent of New Orleans during Mardi Gras. There is a substantial health-care industry with major hospitals and many clinics and private practices in Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen.

Texas is the third largest producer of citrus fruit in United States, the majority of which is grown in the Rio Grande Valley. Grapefruit make up over 70% of the Valley citrus crop, which also includes orange, watermelon, tangerine, tangelo and Meyer lemon production each Winter.[9]

There are six professional sports teams that play in the Rio Grande Valley: the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings (baseball), the Edinburg Roadrunners (baseball), the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (ice hockey), the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (basketball), the Rio Grande Valley Bravos (soccer), and the Rio Grande Valley Magic (indoor football).


Colleges and Universities in the Rio Grande Valley include:

  • University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College
  • University of Texas–Pan American
  • Texas State Technical College
  • South Texas College
  • University of Texas Health Science Center - Regional Academic Health Center[10]



  • The Monitor - owned by Freedom Communications
  • The Brownsville Herald - owned by Freedom Communications
  • El Nuevo Heraldo - owned by Freedom Communications for Brownsville, Texas
  • El Extra - owned by Freedom Communications
  • Valley Morning Star - owned by Freedom Communications
  • The Island Breeze - owned by Freedom Communications


  • XHRIO-TV FOX 2 News, Fox Affiliate with My Network TV programming
  • KGBT-TV/DT Action 4 News, CBS Affiliate
  • KRGV-TV/DT Newschannel 5, ABC Affiliate
  • KVEO-TV/DT News Center 23, NBC Affiliate
  • KLUJ-TV/DT 44, TBN Affiliate
  • KTLM-TV/DT 40, Telemundo Affiliate
  • KNVO TV/DT 48, Univision Affiliate
  • KMBH TV/DT 60, PBS Affiliate
  • KSFE-LP 67, CW Affiliate


  • KBFM Wild 104 (Hip Hop/Top 40)
  • KBTQ 96.1 Recuerdo (Spanish Oldies)Univision
  • KCAS 91.5 FM (Christian, Teaching/Preaching/Music)
  • KESO Digital 92.7 (Internacional, Spanish Top 40)
  • KFRQ Q94.5 The Rock Station (Classic/Modern/Hard Rock)
  • KGBT 1530 La Tremenda (Univision)
  • KGBT-FM 98.5 FM (Regional Mexican) Univision
  • KHKZ Hot Kiss 106.3 (Hot Adult Contemporary)
  • KIRT 1580 AM Radio Imagen (Variety, Spanish contemporary)
  • KIWW (Spanish)
  • KJAV 104.9 Jack FM
  • KKPS Que Pasa 99.5 (Tejano)
  • KMBH-FM/KHID 88.9/88.1 NPR (Classical/Public Radio)
  • KNVO-FM Super Estrella (Super Star) 101.1
  • KQXX 105.5 The X (Classic Rock)
  • KTEX 100.3 (Country)
  • KURV 710 AM Heritage Talk Radio (part of the BMP family of stations)
  • KVLY 107.9 Mix FM (Hot Adult Contemporary)
  • KVMV 96.9 FM (Christian, Contemporary Music) World Radio Network
  • XHRYA 90.9 Mas Music (Spanish/English Mix)


External links[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Rio Grande Valley. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.