Del Rio, Texas

Last updated
Del Rio, Texas
City of Del Rio
ValVerde County DelRio.svg
Location of Del Rio, Texas
Coordinates: 29°21′50″N100°54′00″W / 29.364°N 100.900°W / 29.364; -100.900 Coordinates: 29°21′50″N100°54′00″W / 29.364°N 100.900°W / 29.364; -100.900
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
StateFlag of Texas.svg  Texas
County Val Verde
  Type Council-Manager
   Mayor Bruno "Ralphy" Lozano
   City Manager Matt Wojnowski
  Total20.51 sq mi (53.12 km2)
  Land20.44 sq mi (52.94 km2)
  Water0.07 sq mi (0.18 km2)
(2019) [2]
  Density1,749.60/sq mi (675.53/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CST)
ZIP code
78840-78843, 78847
Area code 830
FIPS code 48-19792
Main Street, circa 1910-1930 Del Rio, Texas (circa 1910-1930).jpg
Main Street, circa 1910-1930
City Hall City Hall Municipal Building.jpg
City Hall
Civic Center Civic Center 1.jpg
Civic Center
Whitehead Memorial Museum Whitehead Building.jpg
Whitehead Memorial Museum
Casa De La Cultura Casa De La Cultura.jpg
Casa De La Cultura
Mural Near Casa De La Cultura Mural Near Casa De La Cultura.jpg
Mural Near Casa De La Cultura

Del Rio is a city and the county seat of Val Verde County [3] in southwestern Texas, United States. The city is 152 miles west of San Antonio. Located within six miles of its namesake the Rio Grande, Del Rio is connected to Ciudad Acuña by the Lake Amistad Dam International Crossing and Del Río – Ciudad Acuña International Bridge. As of 2010, Del Rio had a population of 35,591. [4] It is also home to Laughlin Air Force Base, the busiest pilot-training base in the United States Air Force.



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. Paula Losoya Taylor built the first hacienda in the area in 1862. [5] 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 historical artifacts from Del Rio, particularly from the 19th century, are preserved at the Whitehead Memorial Museum downtown.

In 1930, the League of United Latin American Citizens brought a law suit against the school district, as it favored white American children and discriminated against Mexican Americans. The lawsuit came to known as Del Rio ISD v. Salvatierra.

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 250,000-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. [6]

Laughlin Air Force Base

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 the base 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 and was again used as a home for flight training. Laughlin plays a large part in the Del Rio community as the area's largest employer.


Val Verde Winery Winery Building.jpg
Val Verde Winery

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 52.3 km2 (20.2 sq mi), of which 52.2 km2 (20.2 sq mi) are land and 0.1 km2 (0.039 sq mi), or 0.24%, is covered by water. [7]

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.), several different acacias, cactuses, 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 to be considered a mountain.


The climate is semiarid in moisture and subtropical in temperature. Humidity is more often high than low, with periodic morning fog due to Gulf air masses moving northwest into the area. This gives Del Rio and adjacent areas the effect of being in a coastal dryland area, 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 to the north and east of the area; some exceptions occur during some autumn (tropical weather systems) and spring (stalled fronts to the north).

During the spring season, as well occasionally during the fall season, severe thunderstorms often build on the Serranias Del Burro to the distant west of Del Rio. This is believed to occur due to the uplift of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico which is channeled along the Rio Grande River. [8] In the event of an strong mid-to-upper troposphere trough positioned over the Desert Southwest, these severe thunderstorms can migrate off the higher terrain of the mountains and across the Rio Grande into the Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio area and cause significant damage when they impact populated areas. One of these storms caused several deaths in Ciudad Acuña on May 25, 2015, when a tornado destroyed several structures in the town. Del Rio itself was largely spared, but saw a massive hailstorm the following year on February 22, 2016, causing widespread damage, especially to Laughlin AFB. In April 2020, Del Rio was impacted by another hail storm resulting in several observations of up to 4-inch diameter hail stones, and two weeks later, was blasted by damaging winds recorded at 77 mph (124 km/h). Both storms inflicted widespread damage across the city. Despite this, most of the severe storms across the region impact rural areas with little to no population and are routinely unreported.

The Dry Line is often noticed near the Del Rio area during volatile weather seasons, and can lend additional support to severe weather activity in the region.

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, once about every 7–10 years, and such wintry precipitation does not last long enough to be of consequence. The coldest temperature recorded in Del Rio is 5 °F (−15.0 °C) on December 23, 1989, and the average window for freezing temperatures is December 2 to February 20. The most snowfall in a month is 9.8 in (0.25 m) in January 1985, and that total is also the highest for any entire season.

Since records began in 1905, the wettest calendar year has been 1914 with 37.75 in (958.8 mm) and the driest 1956 with only 4.34 in (110.2 mm). The wettest single month has been August 1998 with 20.93 inches, of which a record 17.03 in (432.6 mm) fell on August 23 associated with the remnants of Tropical Storm Charley and brought widespread flooding through the city. This almost doubled the previous record daily rainfall of 8.79 inches (223.3 mm) on June 13, 1935. The most days during a month with at least 0.01 in (0.3 mm) of rainfall has been 19 in May 2015. Typically, 41 days receive at least 0.04 in (1 mm) of rainfall, 13 days with at least 0.4 in (10 mm), and five with rainfall totaling at least 1.0 in (25 mm). During the winter from November to March, long periods normally pass with negligible rainfall: between October 1917 and March 1918, only 0.19 in (4.8 mm) of rain fell in 6 months and not one single day recorded as much as 0.04 in (1 mm).

Del Rio is home to a radiosonde launching site at Del Rio International Airport, where twice-daily weather balloons are launched to take atmospheric readings - once at 1200 UTC and once at 0000 UTC. An automated weather balloon launcher, controlled remotely by the National Weather Service replaced the federally contracted employees in early 2020. An Automated Surface Weather Observing System (ASOS) is also positioned at the airport and records the official climate data for Del Rio. The National Weather Service office in New Braunfels, Texas is responsible for the forecasting and warning of weather events in the Del Rio area, but this jurisdictional boundary does not extend across the border into Mexico.

Climate data for Del Rio International Airport, Texas (1981–2010 normals, [lower-alpha 1] extremes 1905–present)
Record high °F (°C)92
Mean maximum °F (°C)80.3
Average high °F (°C)63.8
Average low °F (°C)40.6
Mean minimum °F (°C)26.2
Record low °F (°C)12
Average precipitation inches (mm)0.72
Average snowfall inches (cm)1.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)0.50.100000000000.6
Source: NOAA [9] [10]


Historical population
1880 50
1890 1,9803,860.0%
1900 2,0986.0%
1910 5,688171.1%
1920 10,58986.2%
1930 11,69310.4%
1940 13,34314.1%
1950 14,2116.5%
1960 18,61231.0%
1970 21,33014.6%
1980 30,03440.8%
1990 30,7052.2%
2000 33,86710.3%
2010 35,5915.1%
2019 (est.)35,760 [2] 0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census [11] 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

Amistad Lake 3-Aerial Amistad.jpg
Amistad Lake
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. Brown Plaza.jpg
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.
Guadalupe Church - San Felipe Guadalupe Church.jpg
Guadalupe Church - San Felipe
Paul Poag Theatre Paul Poag Theatre.jpg
Paul Poag Theatre
Multipurpose Facility Multipurpose Facility.jpg
Multipurpose Facility

Del Rio is the principal city of the Del Rio Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Val Verde County; [12] the micropolitan area had an estimated population of over 50,000 in 2007. [13] Located across from Del Rio, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, is the city of Ciudad Acuña, with a city population of 201,161.

Parks and recreation

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 archaeology 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. [14]


The city is served by the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District. About 10,450 students are enrolled and 637 teachers are employed at 14 campuses throughout the district. Del Rio is also home to Del Rio Heritage Academy High School, a public charter school. [15]

Higher education


The Del Rio News-Herald, a daily newspaper published in Del Rio, covering Val Verde County, is owned by Southern Newspapers Inc. [19] The newspaper has a daily circulation of 10,400 and a Sunday circulation of 13,500. [20] Multiple radio stations are licensed to the area in and around Del Rio, and more have been built in recent years. 2014 saw the launch of KVFE, a Christian station owned by Inspiracom that filled one of the ministry's last remaining gaps on the US–Mexico border. [21] In 2016, Texas Public Radio opened a transmitter in Del Rio. [22]


Lions Park Lions Park Waterfall 2.jpg
Lions Park
Kress Building Kress Building 1.jpg
Kress Building


Del Rio International Airport serves the city. American Eagle, operating regional jet aircraft on behalf of American Airlines, provides daily nonstop service between Del Rio (DRT) and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) also serving the Middle Rio Grande Region of Eagle Pass, Brackettville, Rocksprings, and Comstock, Texas.

Bus service to Del Rio is provided by Greyhound Bus Lines.

Amtrak provides passenger rail service to Del Rio station through its combined Sunset Limited / Texas Eagle service. Trains serve the station thrice-weekly in each direction, with direct service to Los Angeles, San Antonio, New Orleans, Chicago, and points in between.

Major Highways


Federal representation

Pecan Street Station Pecan Street Station.jpg
Pecan Street Station
Falcon Art Gallery Falcon Art Gallery.jpg
Falcon Art Gallery

The United States Border Patrol 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. [23] [24]

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

Val Verde Correctional Facility

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 county, for the U.S. Marshals Service (male/female) prisoners, and U.S. Customs & Border Protection 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 area and meets standards required by state and federal guidelines.

State agencies

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice operates the Del Rio Parole Office in Del Rio. [25]

Notable people

Del Rio in film, television, and music

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 into leading him to the other gang members. [27]

Singer-songwriter Russell Christian has a song entitled "Stuck in Del Rio", inspired by a friend who lived in Del Rio. It has been covered by other artists including Joey Hines and is considered his signature song.

The 1994 motion picture Texas, based on the James A. Michener novel Texas, [28] 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.

Del Rio features prominently (though scenes were shot elsewhere) in No Country for Old Men, the 2007 neo-Western thriller film directed, written, and edited by Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name.

Other presentations with a Del Rio setting include:

Music videos


  1. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.

Related Research Articles

Rio Grande River forming part of the US-Mexico border

The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. After passing through the length of New Mexico along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.

Val Verde County, Texas U.S. county in Texas

Val Verde County is a county located on the southern Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas. The 2010 population is 48,879. Its county seat is Del Rio. In 1936, Val Verde County received Recorded Texas Historic Landmark number 5625 to commemorate its founding.

Kinney County, Texas U.S. county in Texas

Kinney County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 3,598. Its county seat is Brackettville. The county was created in 1850 and later organized in 1874. It is named for Henry Lawrence Kinney, an early settler.

Pharr, Texas City in Texas

Pharr is a city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 70,400, and in 2019 the estimated population was 79,112. Pharr is connected by bridge to the Mexican city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas. Pharr is part of the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission and Reynosa–McAllen metropolitan areas.

San Juan, Texas City in Texas

San Juan is a city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 33,856, up from 26,229 in 2000. It is part of the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission and Reynosa–McAllen metropolitan areas.

Coahuila State of Mexico

Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Coahuila de Zaragoza, is one of the 32 states of Mexico.

Ciudad Acuña City in Coahuila, Mexico

Ciudad Acuña, also known simply as Acuña, is a city located in the Mexican state of Coahuila, at 29°19′27″N100°55′54″W and a mean height above sea level of 271 meters. It stands on the Rio Grande, which marks the U.S.-Mexico border, and offers two border crossings via Lake Amistad Dam International Crossing and Del Río-Ciudad Acuña International Bridge with the neighboring city of Del Rio in the U.S. state of Texas. It serves as the municipal seat of the surrounding municipality of Acuña. The 2017 estimated city population was 201,778, whereas the municipality's population was 214,616. The city is the fourth-largest in the state of Coahuila and the fastest-growing city in Mexico. The area is served by the Ciudad Acuña International Airport.

South Texas

South Texas is a region of the U.S. state of Texas that lies roughly south of—and including—San Antonio. The southern and western boundary is the Rio Grande, and to the east it is the Gulf of Mexico. The population of this region is about 4.96 million according to the 2017 census estimates. The southern portion of this region is often referred to as the Rio Grande Valley. The eastern portion along the Gulf of Mexico is also referred to as the Coastal Bend.

Del Rio International Airport

Del Rio International Airport is two miles northwest of Del Rio, in Val Verde County, Texas, United States. It is used for general aviation, and, being near Laughlin Air Force Base, it is often used by USAF students.

Amistad National Recreation Area

Amistad National Recreation Area is a park unit managed by National Park Service (NPS) that includes the area around the Amistad Reservoir at the confluence of the Rio Grande, the Devils River, and the Pecos River near Del Rio in Val Verde County, Texas. The reservoir was created by the Amistad Dam, completed in 1969, located on the Rio Grande at the United States-Mexico border across from the city of Ciudad Acuña in the Mexican state of Coahuila. Amistad, Spanish for "friendship," refers broadly to the close relationship and shared history between Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio.

Tropical Storm Charley (1998)

Tropical Storm Charley was the third named storm of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season. Charley was the first of two tropical storms to make landfall in Texas during that season. The storm originated with a tropical wave that moved off the West African coast on August 9. The wave moved generally west-northwestward, producing occasional bursts of convection, finally arriving in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by August 19, when animated satellite images began to indicate it had possibly developed a low pressure center. Hurricane Hunter investigations into the system the next day revealed that this was not the case. The system lingered for two days, lacking an organized low level center of circulation until early on the morning of August 21, when advisories were initiated on the tropical depression, 185 miles (298 km) east of Brownsville, Texas. The depression became a tropical storm later that day, as it moved steadily west-northwestward, strengthening, and then weakening again before making landfall the next morning around Port Aransas, Texas. The storm moved slowly inland and finally dissipated on the morning of the August 24 near the town of Del Rio, Texas.

San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District (SFDR-CISD) is a school district based in Del Rio, Texas (USA).

The Del Río-Ciudad Acuña International Bridge is an international bridge which crosses the Rio Grande connecting the United States-Mexico border cities of Del Rio, Texas and Ciudad Acuña. The bridge is also known as "Del Río International Bridge", "Puente Acuña" and "Puente Ciudad Acuña-Ciudad Del Río".

Eagle Pass, Texas City in Texas, United States

Eagle Pass is a city in and the county seat of Maverick County in the U.S. state of Texas. The population was 26,255 as of the 2010 census.

Acuña Municipality Municipality in Coahuila, Mexico

Acuña is one of the 38 municipalities of Coahuila, in north-eastern Mexico. The municipal seat lies at Ciudad Acuña, which contained over 98% of the municipality's population in 2010. The municipality covers an area of 11,487.7 km² and is located on the international border between Mexico and the USA, here formed by the Río Bravo del Norte, adjacent to the U.S. state of Texas.

Jiménez Municipality, Coahuila Municipality in Coahuila, Mexico

Jiménez is one of the 38 municipalities of Coahuila, in north-eastern Mexico. The municipal seat lies at Jiménez. The municipality covers an area of 3040.9 km² and is located on the international border between Mexico and the USA, here formed by the Río Bravo del Norte, adjacent to the U.S. state of Texas.

El Paso–Juárez Transborder agglomeration

El Paso–Juárez, also known as Juárez–El Paso, the Borderplex or Paso del Norte, is a transborder agglomeration, on the border between Mexico and the United States. The region is centered on two large cities: Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, U.S. Additionally, nearby Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S. is sometimes included as part of the region, referred to as El Paso–Juárez–Las Cruces or El Paso–Juárez–Southern New Mexico. With over 2.7 million people, this binational region is the 2nd largest conurbation on the United States–Mexico border. The El Paso–Juárez region is the largest bilingual, binational work force in the Western Hemisphere.

Reynosa–McAllen Transborder agglomeration

Reynosa–McAllen, also known as McAllen–Reynosa, or simply as Borderplex, is one of the six international conurbations along the Mexico–U.S border. The city of Reynosa is situated on the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, on the southern bank of the Rio Grande, while the city of McAllen is located in the American state of Texas, directly north across the bank of the Rio Grande. This area has a population of roughly 1,500,000, making it the largest and most populous in the state of Tamaulipas, and third most populous on the US–Mexico border.

Paula Losoya Taylor was one of the founders of San Felipe Del Rio in Texas. Her hacienda in Del Rio became a major employer in the region, and an important gathering spot for worship, discussion, and more. Taylor donated land to create a Catholic cemetery, a fort, and schools in Del Rio.


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