South Texas Plains
Old Hidalgo Pump House World Birding Center
Old Hidalgo Pump House World Birding Center Information:  
The World Birding Center Pumphouse is so spectacular as to be worth the trip by itself. It houses the only remaining steam powered irrigation pump out of the 16 once in existence. The self-guided tour of the Pumphouse and Museum permits visitors to wander around the huge machinery which was capable of pumping water to places as far away as Edinburg. Interpretive displays explain the process. Mesquite wood fired boilers originally powered the 20 foot irrigation pumps which withdrew up to 250,000 gallons of water per minute from the Rio Grande River, and deposited the water into a network of gravity flow irrigation ditches to irrigate the arid ground. This process made year round farming possible in Hidalgo County, and in the lower Rio Grande Valley. The huge gates at the entrance of the Pumphouse once controlled the flow of water into the irrigation system. This pump house was restored and opened to the public in 1999, and is now a unit of the World Birding Center. WBC land consists of the Pumphouse track. New butterfly and hummingbird gardens were constructed around the Pumphouse. The 600 acres south of the center are owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This acreage along the Rio Grande River is being replanted with Texas ebony, anacua, huisache and other native plants that attract Valley birds and butterflies, and is accessible from the walkway along the Pumphouse. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has built new trails. A five mile asphalt bike trail is located on top of the levee. Going east leads to the wetlands. A hiking trail parallels the bike trail. Both trails are 2.25 miles round trip. Going west takes you beneath the border crossing; head back at this point. The border wall will probably block access. Bike rentals are included with Pumphouse admission fee. A 2.25 mile trail parallels the east end of the bike trail. This trail is ruddy from use by border patrol vehicles. Visitors may tour the grounds and Pumphouse on their own. Tours are available by appointment. The hours and the small admission fee apply only to the historic Pumphouse. This WBC is managed by the City of Hidalgo, Texas. (956) 843-8686. 902 South Second Street, Hidalgo, Texas 78557.World Birding Centers Parks Brochure 
Rio Grande River:
The Rio Grande rises 12,000 feet above sea level in the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado as a clear, spring and snow-fed mountain stream. The river cuts through the middle of New Mexico to the sites of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez at the junction of Chihuahua, Mexico and Texas. At that point, because of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which terminated the Mexican War, the Rio Grande became the international boundary between the United States and Mexico. It forms the western or southern borders of El Paso, Hudspeth, Presidio, Brewster (where the river's sweeping curve gives Big Bend National Park its name), Terrell, Val Verde, Kinney, Maverick, Webb, Zapata, Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron Counties. The river empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The river has many large and small tributaries including the Pecos and Devils Rivers which enter the Rio Grande at the Amistad Reservoir northwest of Del Rio, Texas. At El Paso the Rio Grande caused friction in the 1870s, when the river bit deep into the banks of Mexico and gradually transferred land to the United States. The famous Chamizal Dispute was not settled until 1963, when 437 acres was ceded from downtown El Paso to Mexico. The agreement economically strengthened both cities. The international border at the two cities is now lined with concrete so that the river will never again shift its channel. In Mexico the river is known as the Rio Bravo del Norte, or Rio Bravo.  Fish Stocking History