kids encyclopedia robot

Del Rio, Texas facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Del Rio, Texas
City of Del Rio
Location of Del Rio, Texas
Location of Del Rio, Texas
Country  United States
State  Texas
County Val Verde
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 20.51 sq mi (53.12 km2)
 • Land 20.44 sq mi (52.94 km2)
 • Water 0.07 sq mi (0.18 km2)
 • Total 35,591
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,749.60/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

Del Rio is a city and the county seat of Val Verde County in southwestern Texas, United States. The city is 152 miles west of San Antonio. As of 2022, Del Rio had a population of 52,804.


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. 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 history items from Del Rio, particularly from the 19th century, are preserved at the Whitehead Memorial Museum downtown.

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 500,000-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.

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 it 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. It was again used as a home for flight training. In the mid-1950s, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) noted Laughlin's remoteness that allowed for secret operations, and opened its strategic reconnaissance program there with the RB-57, a bomber modified for high-altitude reconnaissance. SAC soon transitioned to the high-altitude U-2 Dragonlady and based all of them in Laughlin AFB. In 1962, Laughlin-based U-2s took the first photographs of land-based medium-range ballistic missile sites being constructed in Cuba. The presence of these missiles precipitated what became known as "the Cuban Missile Crisis." The U-2s were relocated to Davis–Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona, in July 1963, and Laughlin's mission transitioned to the Undergraduate Pilot Training mission in the T-37 and T-38 aircraft. Laughlin AFB currently provides training in the T-1A Jayhawk, the T-6A Texan II, and the T-38 aircraft.

Laughlin plays a large part in the Del Rio community as the area's largest employer. The Border Patrol is the city's second-largest employer (with two large stations along with the sector headquarters). At one time, Del Rio was in the running to become the home of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for agents of the U.S. Border Patrol and Federal Air Marshal Service, but lost to the current site in Artesia, New Mexico. The proposed site was located on property belonging to Laughlin AFB. Since the base has unused land, the Air Force is able to lease it to other federal law enforcement agencies for such projects. This benefits Laughlin AFB and the city of Del Rio both financially and economically. Del Rio was one of five cities in the United States selected for an FBI regional headquarters' office; the building is adjacent to the six-story Roswell Hotel in downtown Del Rio.


Del Rio is located at 29°22′15″N 100°53′45″W / 29.37083°N 100.89583°W / 29.37083; -100.89583 (29.370716, −100.895839).

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

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, cacti, 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 are high or large enough to be considered mountains.

Cactus in Del Rio, TX Picture 1794
Cactus grows in the semiarid climate of Del Rio.


The climate is semiarid in moisture and subtropical in temperature. Humidity is more often high than low, with periodic morning fog due to Gulf of Mexico air masses moving northwest into the area. This gives Del Rio and adjacent areas the effect of being in a coastal dryland area, even 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).

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, about every seven to ten years, and such wintry precipitation does not last long enough to be of consequence. The coldest temperature recorded in Del Rio is 10 °F (−12.2 °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 inches (0.25 m)* in January 1985, and that total is also the highest for any entire season.

Since record began in 1905 the wettest calendar year has been 1914 with 37.75 inches (958.8 mm) and the driest 1956 with only 4.34 inches (110.2 mm). The wettest single month has been August 1998 with 20.93 inches (531.6 mm), of which a record 17.03 inches (432.6 mm) fell on August 23. 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 inches or 0.3 millimetres of rainfall has been nineteen in May 2015. On average there are during each year 41 days receiving at least 0.04 inches or 1 millimetre of rainfall, thirteen days with at least 0.4 inches or 10 millimetres, and five with rainfall totalling at least 1.0 inch or 25 millimetres. During the winter months from November to March it is normal for long periods to pass with negligible rainfall: between October 1917 and March 1918 only 0.19 inches or 4.8 millimetres of rain fell in six months and not one single day recorded as much as 0.04 inches or 1 millimetre.

Climate data for Del Rio International Airport, Texas (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1905–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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
trace 0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 4.4 5.1 5.4 5.2 6.7 5.7 4.2 4.0 5.3 5.8 4.4 4.9 61.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.5 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.6
Source: NOAA


As of the census 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 American, 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

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

Micropolitan area

Lake Amistad north of Del Rio, TX DSCN0915
U.S. Route 277 crosses Lake Amistad north of Del Rio.
Brown Plaza, Del Rio, TX DSCN0881
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.
Del Rio Chamber of Commerce building DSCN1432
Del Rio Chamber of Commerce is located by the Civic Center.
A glimpse of downtown Del Rio, TX DSCN1425
A glimpse of downtown Del Rio
First United Methodist Church, Del Rio, TX DSCN1418
First United Methodist Church at 100 Spring St. in Del Rio; pastor John Fluth (2016)
Victory Baptist Church, Del Rio, TX DSCN0875
Victory Baptist An Independent Baptist congregation, with an obvious grammar mistake in the message

Del Rio is the principal city of the Del Rio Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Val Verde County; the micropolitan area had an estimated population of over 50,000 in 2007. Located across from Del Rio, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, is the city of Ciudad Acuña with a city population of 181,426.

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 archeology 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.

The United League Baseball is looking into placing an expansion franchise in Del Rio for the 2014 season. Home games will be played at Del Rio Bank and Trust Ram Stadium (formerly Roosevelt Park); the stadium is going through a renovation and seating expansion project. A future minor-league baseball stadium is being proposed to be built at the Val Verde Fairground Complex.

Del Rio in film and television

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 to lead him to the other gang members.

The 1994 motion picture Texas, based on the James A. Michener novel Texas, was partly filmed in Del Rio. 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 (even 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:

  • 1951 Arrowhead – Charlton Heston
  • 1955 The Last Command – Ernest Borgnine
  • 1958 Five Bold Women – Irish McCalla
  • 1960 John Wayne's The Alamo
  • 1960 The Spirit of the Alamo (TV) – NBC
  • 1960 The Roy Rogers Show (TV)
  • 1961 John Ford's – Two Rode Together – Jimmy Stewart
  • 1966 Top Hand (TV)
  • 1967 Aye, That Pancho Villa (TV)
  • 1967 Bandolero – Dean Martin
  • 1968 Children's West (Lon Chaney, Jr.) (TV)
  • 1973 A Death in Tombstone
  • 1974 The Sugarland Express – Goldie Hawn
  • 1974 The Texas Ballad (KLRN-TV)
  • 1978 Adventures of Jody Shanan
  • 1983 Call to Glory – Craig T. Nelson, Elisabeth Shue (TV)
  • 1986 Houston: The Legend of Texas (TV) – Sam Elliott
  • 1986 The Alamo – Thirteen Days To Glory (TV) – Alec Baldwin
  • 1986 No Safe Haven – Wings Hauser
  • 1987 Alamo: Price of Freedom – Caser Biggs
  • 1988 Lonesome Dove (TV) – Robert Duvall
  • 1989 Gunsmoke – The Last Apache (TV) – James Arness
  • 1991 JCV Japanese Quiz Show (TV)
  • 1991 American Movie Classics (TV) – Bob Dorian
  • 1992 Rio Diablo (TV) – Travis Tritt
  • 1992 Travis Smith (direct to video)
  • 1993 Bad Girls – Madeleine Stowe
  • 1993 Like Water for Chocolate
  • 1993 El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez
  • 1994 8 Seconds – Luke Perry
  • 1994 Gambler V: Playing for Keeps (TV) – Kenny Rogers
  • 1994 James A. Michener's Texas (TV) – John Schneider as Davy Crockett
  • 1995 Good Old Boys (TV) – Sam Shepard
  • 1995 Streets of Laredo (TV) – James Garner
  • 1995 A&E History Channel's The Alamo (TV)
  • 1995 Discovery Channel's – The Battes of the Alamo (TV)
  • 1995 PBS – Ken Burns The West (TV)
  • 1995 A&E Biography – Davy Crockett: American Frontier Legend (TV)
  • 1995 The Learning Channel's – Famous Battles – Alamo Segment (TV)
  • 1995 Discovery Channel's – Buffalo Soldiers (TV)
  • 1995 Desperado, Robert Rodriguez, Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek
  • 1996 From Dusk till Dawn is a 1996 action/horror film directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino. The movie stars George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, and Cheech Marin.
  • 1996 Once Upon a Time In China and America – Sammo Hung
  • 1996 Lone Star – by director John Sayles
  • 1999 Alamo... The New Defenders (direct to video)
  • 1999 The Bullfighter – Domenica Scorsese
  • 1999 The History Channel's – Haunted San Antonio (TV)
  • 2000 Jericho Mark Valley – Leon Coffee – Buck Taylor
  • 2001 The History Channel's History vs Hollywood (TV)
  • 2002 Westown Sturghill Productions
  • 2004 Bandido, Carlos Gallardo, Scott Duncan
  • 2006 Blue Eyes – Walker Cable Productions
  • 2006 Mexican Gold – Walker Cable Productions
  • 2007 The Man Who Came Back – Walker Cable Productions – Eric Braden – Billy Zane
  • 2007 Friend of The Devil (TV Pilot)
  • 2007 No Country for Old Men
  • 2009 Not Forgotten

Music videos

  • 1969 Willie Canseco – Fredrick
  • 1995 Brooks & Dunn – You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone
  • 1995 Tim McGraw- Refried Dreams
  • 1996 Gary Hobbs – Corazon de la Ardiente
  • 1996 La Tropa F – The Sheriff
  • 1996 Los Palominos
  • 1999 Shade of Red – Revolution


Rincon del Diablo – the section where Barron St. meets Magnolia Street.

Barrio Chihuahua: In the southern part of the city, this neighborhood, named after the Chihuahua Soccer Field, is located between West Gibbs to the north, Texas State Spur 29 to the west, Garfield Ave., West Garfield to the southeast, and S. Ave F to the far east.

Buena Vista is located near Buena Vista Park. Lake Amistad and North Del Rio are located past the Buena Vista area.

Cienegas Terraces: Outside the city limits, it is home to the "Duck Pond" and various ranches, on the west side of the city.

Eastside: Named by locals after the school on the corner of Bedell & 7th Street, the neighborhood is also home to Star Park. Surrounded by Veterans Boulevard to the west and E. Gibbs to the south, the neighborhood is home to the Val Verde Regional Medical Center.

San Felipe: The original neighborhood in Del Rio, the city originally got its name from it as in "San Felipe del rio", south of Barrio Chihuahua and the Northside. Anywhere south of Chihuahua but not past San Felipe Creek is known as The Winery, due to its close proximity to Val Verde Winery, the oldest privately owned winery still operating in the United States.

Westside: Home to Del Rio International Airport, the neighborhood is surrounded to the north by W. 15th, 18th, and 17th Streets, to the east by Veterans Blvd., and to the south by W. Gibbs bordering Chihuahua.

Comalia: A neighborhood isolated by the Woodlawn cemetery and a bridge that leads to the U.S.-Mexico border crossing, it can be found by traveling down W. 2nd Street.


Del Rio, Tx Product Exports (2020)
Del Rio products treemap, 2020

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.

City Hall Municipal Building
City Hall

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 and 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.


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, and Premier High School, two charter schools.

Higher education

Two four year universities have campuses in Del Rio: Sul Ross State University and Park University.

Southwest Texas Junior College, a two-year community college, has a campus in Del Rio.

Del Rio, Texas (circa 1910-1930)
Main Street, circa 1910-1930



Del Rio International Airport (FlyDRT) serves the city and surrounding area. American Airlines operates flights twice daily between Del Rio and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Transportation services to the citizens of Del Rio is provided by the City of Del Río Transportation Department.

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

  • U.S. Route 90 connects with Alpine, Marfa, and El Paso to the west, Uvalde and San Antonio to the east.
  • U.S. Route 277 connects with San Angelo to the north and Crystal City and Laredo (by U.S. Route 83) to the southeast.
  • U.S. Route 377 crosses sparsely populated West Texas through several small towns before eventually reaching Fort Worth.
  • Texas State Highway Loop 79 in Val Verde County and Del Rio, known as a Super Two Loop, opened for traffic in mid-May 2012. It connects with U.S. Route 90, U.S. Route 277, and U.S. Route 377; Loop 79 is part of the Ports to Plain Corridor Infrastructure and the future Interstate 27 that extends from Laredo to Denver, Colorado.
  • US 90
  • US 277
  • US 377
  • SH 297
  • SH 239
  • SH 79

Notable people

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Del Río (Texas) para niños

kids search engine
Del Rio, Texas Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.