Settling the Rio Grande Valley
The Rio Grande Valley consists of the southern most part of Texas, along the Texas/Mexico border. The population growth in this area was very slow until the 1900's, when it began to skyrocket. From 1920 to 1930, the population in the Valley more than doubled. One of the main factors for this population increase was the railroad construction. The St. Louis, Brownsville, and Mexico railroads all were completed in 1904. This furthered the expansion of the already popular method of irrigation farming in this area. The railroad system allowed for commercial production of different fruits and vegetables. Irrigation farming became extremely popular in this area and citrus orchards began popping up in this area. The farmers even discovered a tree that would thrive in the Valley climate.
Irrigation farming became so successful that an amendment was added to the Texas constitution encouraging irrigation and drainage districts. Though it was becoming very popular, irrigation farming was far more expensive than the dry farming done in West Texas. It was almost impossible for small farmers to compete with the corporate farms and wealthy land owners. The large, corporate farms required extensive staff and therefore increased the population. The railroads continued to encourage population growth into the 20's and 30's by running excursion trains. These trains transported people, free of charge, from North Texas cities into South Texas. The passengers would often times buy land in South Texas and a single excursion could generate up to one million dollars in land sales. The economy continued to thrive and population continued to grow.
Since most of the Valley consisted of large, corporate farms; the farmers relied on low paid laborers and the farms had their own cotton gins, stores, and employee housing. This created a wide gap between the wealthy and the poor, this gap was wider and more apparent than in other areas of...
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