Thursday, September 19, 2019

History of  Los Fresnos

 
 
Employees of Los Fresnos' old cannery circa 1946 
 
 
 

A PEOPLE & THEIR HISTORY

Lon C. Hill 
Founder of Los Fresnos
 
 
The area which is now home to present day Los Fresnos is not unknown to history. In fact, this area along the Rio Grande River and the Gulf of Mexico played a significant role in both the US-Mexican War and the American Civil War. The plain of Palo Alto (tall timber) just five miles south of town was the site of the opening battle of the war between the U.S. and Mexico in 1846. Years later, Palmito Ranch located just South East of the town was the site of the last battle of the Civil War, after most Confederate armies had already surrendered in 1865. The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service and several states and national historical markers commemorate the locations of these historic sites today. With this area having served primarily as ranch land for centuries, a small ranch called Los Fresnos (ash tree) is said to have occupied a site near where Los Fresnos exists today as early as 1770. After the U.S.-Mexican War, the four tiny communities of Los Cuates, Charco Hondo, Tres Norias, and Agua Negra were merged to form much of the town of Los Fresnos as it stands today. The promise of railroad development in the early 1900s brought trainloads of land speculators into South Texas. In 1907 Lon C. Hill, Jr. bought 14,232 acres and parceled them into lots. This eventually evolved into the layout of the original townsite of "modern" Los Fresnos which was finally developed in 1915.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Students from Los Fresnos
First School Circa 1920
 
Settlers, mostly farmers, were lured into the area from midwestern states. This new influx of people led to a diversification of land use in what had been almost exclusively ranch land. A post office was granted in 1919, although it closed its doors a mere three years later. With the actual arrival of the railroad in 1927, the post office was reopened in 1929 when the community had nearly 400 residents. From 1939 to 1944 the population remained at 475, growing to 1,113 in a post-war boom. Throughout this time Los Fresnos was primarily a farming community, gradually increasing its population to 1,500 by the mid-1960s. The population steadily increased over the following decades to the present day to number about 6,000 within the actual city limits and to over 16,000 encompassing all the adjacent communities. With new real estate developments utilizing much of the surrounding farmland, the crop of the future for this area is housing. Given this history and Los Fresnos' proximity to the United States border with Mexico, it should not be a surprise to learn that Los Fresnos is a magnificent mixture of people and cultures. Today, Los Fresnos' population is roughly 84%Hispanic, 14% white non-Hispanic, and 2% of a variety of other backgrounds that add their unique influence on the community. Los Fresnos, part cow town, part farm community, very Texan, always a vibrant All-American city!
 
 
 

 

 

A COMMUNITY WITH OPPORTUNITY

As the Los Fresnos community grows so too does its need for additional retail and services. With an area Population of over 16,000, a growth rate of nearly 20% since 2000, and the development of large residential subdivisions along the city's periphery, Los Fresnos is poised to more than double its current population in the next ten years. Combine that growth with an increase in traffic, which numbers over 600,000 annually, from Expressway 77 to the Gulf Coast and what you have, at this moment in time, is a potent combination of affordability and opportunity for entrepreneurs with an eye toward the future and an interest in taking advantage of an emerging market. Unwilling to leave the City's economic future to mere chance, Chamber and City officials are working diligently together to coordinate future economic Development through proactive and progressive programs to assist businesses in locating and expanding in the area. Possessing a pro-business attitude that is a reflection of the “can do” spirit of the community, Chamber, City, and economic development officials are eager to discuss how to make Los Fresnos the site of your next retail outlet, restaurant, professional office or medical clinic. So perhaps the new English translation for Los Fresnos is “we mean business!”

 
 
 
 

 

EDUCATION COMES FIRST

 
Through many years of classroom success, the Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District (LFCISD) has developed a reputation for academic achievement second to none in the Rio Grande Valley. Given Los Fresnos, ideal centralized location in Cameron County, the school district's service area extends into neighboring communities such as Brownsville, Rancho Viejo, Olmito, and Indian Lake. In fact, homes in the surrounding area that are zoned for the LFCISD are in very high demand and the district is always listed as a great selling point in all real estate publications.
 
 
 
 
 
LFCISD consists of one high school (a second is slated to open in 2011), four middle schools, and eight elementary schools and serves a student population of nearly ten thousand. For the 2009-2010 school year, the Texas Department of Education presented LFCISD with a performance rating of “Recognized.” Complimenting this outstanding performance rating are excellent facilities, many of which have been built in just the last few years, good student to teacher ratios, dual enrollment programs with local universities, tremendous student counseling support services, fine arts programs, and of course a first-class athletic department centered around a championship-caliber football program. This commitment to excellence is deeply embedded in the culture at LFCISD extending from the school board to the superintendent, from the teachers to the students, and most importantly from the community at large.
 
 
 
 

QUALITY OF LIFE

 

Why do people make the Los Fresnos area their home? Is it the excellence of the school district? Yes, in part. Is it because it is a safe place to raise a family? You bet that's another piece of the puzzle. Is it the selection and affordability of local housing? Sure, that's another reason. Is it a quiet and convenient centralized location between busy metropolitan areas and crowded tourist destinations?

 
 
 
 
 
That sure does sound good and begins to shed light on an old Los Fresnos saying; “Work where you have to, but Live where you want!” On the whole, however, most people choose to call the Los Fresnos area their home because it reminds them of the community they grew up in, where people say hello when they bump into you at the corner grocery store, where kids can ride their bikes out in the street, where the
 
 
 
 
 
Fourth of July is a heartfelt community celebration, where the whole town shows up for the Christmas Parade, where homecoming kings and queens are local celebrities, and where little league baseball games are a very big deal!
 
 
 
 
 
Additionally, Los Fresnos is also perfectly situated between two PGA quality golf courses in Rancho Viejo Golf Club and SPI Golf Club, and just minutes away from two of the premier healthcare facilities in South Texas in Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville and Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. So whether you'd like to chip out of the rough, or hate the chip in your knee, we've got what it takes to take care of you.
 
 
 
 
 
If this sounds like a place you would like to call home and raise your family, well then we'll leave the light on for you!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A REAL SENSE OF COMMUNITY

 
If the love and pride in a community could be measured by the passion on display by all in attendance at a Friday night high school football game, the Los Fresnos area community would measure off the charts! Indeed, the love of “Falcon football” runs deep, very deep, but to say that the gridiron holds the sole source of pride for the local community would be a disservice, and it would be selling the area short … way short.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Elvis, the Rodeo and sports are part of the rich Los Fresnos community fabric. 
As you will read, a very real sense of community and local pride exists due to success in a variety of areas and a palpable optimism about the future. A “community of opportunity” is more than just the City's slogan, it is a mindset that exudes confidence! This “can do” attitude is a reflection of the City's old fashioned small town values which are based on the quality of life issues such as family, education, and security.
 
 
 
 
 

City leaders are determined to work together to make Los Fresnos, not the biggest, but the best community it can be to raise a family, work, start a new business, and to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings that are uniquely our own. The future is bright for Los Fresnos for reasons that will make themselves evident in the following pages, revealing to you the beautiful features of a “gem” of a community!

 
 
 
 
 
The Los Fresnos PRCA Rodeo is respected throughout the region 
 
 
 

THINGS TO KEEP YOU BUSY

There is a local saying in Los Fresnos, “when you stop at an intersection in town be sure to look both ways because a parade might be coming!” Yes, we love parades, we got one for the annual Los Fresnos Rodeo, the Fourth of July, Homecoming, and Christmas. And if anyone can think of any other reasons to throw a parade, let us know, we are looking for excuses!
In addition to our parades, Los Fresnos has an amazingly active calendar of events which include the Los Fresno Music Festival, the Los Fresnos Rodeo, the Independence Day Picnic, the Elvis Festival, the Halloween Festival, and the Christmas in the Park celebration. Filling these events with great food, music, and family fun, Chamber and City officials’ work hard all year to produce these community events, believing that they contribute to a sense of community and provide lasting memories for the local children that will foster a strong sense of community for future generations.
 
 
 
 
 
Whatever your reason for visiting or driving through town, “Little Graceland” is a must-see for all our visitors. Created by Simon Vega, “Little Graceland” is a tribute to Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock-n- Roll” and to the friendship that these two men shared while stationed together with the U.S. Army in Germany. Personal photos and memorabilia of Elvis fill the second floor of Mr. Vega's actual home, a true labor of love for both the man and his music.
 
 
 
 
 
Bobz World provides its guests with a voyage through time and space featuring alien beings, dinosaurs, marine animals, and mummies from the ancient world. 
For the more adventurous, “Bobz World,” just East of Los Fresnos, can offer an adrenaline rushing, heart pounding experience like no other attraction in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Filled with the latest robotic technology, Bobz World provides its guests with a voyage through time and space featuring alien beings, dinosaurs, marine animals, and mummies from the ancient world. So if a one-of-a-kind experience is what you are looking for, then look no further than Bobz World!
 
 
 
 
 
“Little Graceland” is a must-see for all our visitors. 
If parades, picnics, and festivals are not your cup of tea, there is plenty more to do for locals and visitors alike. For outdoor enthusiasts, Los Fresnos is surrounded by some of the best birding areas in the United States. Up to 510 species can be found in just the lower Rio Grande Valley alone. And South Texas boasts 300 of the 500 butterfly species in all of North America! So grab your binoculars and cameras and have a field day. For those of you that would rather introduce some wildlife to your barbeque grill, Los Fresnos can be your jumping off point to some of the best hunting during designated seasons on private leases for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, javelinas, and quail. This is the only region in the United States where white wing doves can be taken. And just miles from the Gulf Coast, this area is an angler's paradise where surf, pier, and jetty fishing is available and where redfish, speckled and sand trout, sheepshead, flounder, just to name a few, are the typical catches of the day. And for all of our out of town guests, Los Fresnos has several choices when it comes to lodging. For a straight forward clean and comfortable room you can't beat the Los Fresnos Inn & Suites located right off of Hwy. 100 or the La Quinta Inn & Suites located right off of Expressway 77. For the more adventurous, the Inn at Chachalaca Bend offers luxury bed & breakfast amenities surrounded by forty acres of some of the best natural habitat in our area. And let's not forget Mexico! One of the great pleasures of living in or visiting the Los Fresnos area is the opportunity to visit our border neighbor, Matamoros, Mexico. With its colorful markets, charming restaurants, and historic architecture, no visit to the area would be complete without a run for the border!