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Texas Tropical Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Hidalgo


Photo by Valerie D. Bates

WATER WORLD

Hidalgo, once the epicenter of the "Magic Valley", verdant stretch of Rio Grande Valley where, it was said, anything would grow—attracted land developers and farmers nationwide throughout the early 1900s. The challenge facing growers, however, was how to get the river water, often much lower in elevation to the surrounding fields, up and over the riverbanks. Enter the simple but effective Hidalgo Pumphouse, the steam-driven powerhouse capable of taking water from the river and putting it where it's needed. Soon, fields of fruits, vegetables, and cotton grew along a network of canals and earthen levees surrounding Hidalgo and all were irrigated by the plentiful waters of the Rio Grande River. The Pumphouse, driven first by steam then coal, oil, and electricity, remained employed for more than 70 years before closing down. But its retirement proved to be just as active. Today, the Pumphouse and its irrigation magic are part of the Hidalgo Pumphouse Heritage and Discovery Park. The history, science, and mechanics of the Pumphouse illustrate the remarkable wizardry behind "Magic Valley," entertaining visitors alongside a hike-and-bike trail, canoe trail, and guided trolley tours. Talk about making the best of the good you've got. Pump it up, Hidalgo!


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