On a rainy, cold, and windy day, my family needed to find something to do inside. Luckily, we found the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg.

The museum features very interesting and unique exhibits on the history of the Rio Grande Valley as well as the rest of South Texas and Northern Mexico. You’ll take a trip through time from the days of the dinosaurs in South Texas to life in Rio Grande Valley today. And its a very informative trip!

Introduction to the Museum of South Texas History

lobby to the museum of south texas history

The museum opened in 1970 as the Hidalgo Country Historical Museum in what was the 1910 Hidalgo Country Jail. Considered the largest historical museum in the region, it’s a real treat.

What makes this museum so interesting is its unique collection of historically significant objects and archival material pertaining to the heritage of the borderlands of South Texas and northeastern Mexico. The interpretation of this collection “is presented in state-of-the-art exhibitions that offer an educational, enlightening, and enchanting experience to visitors of all ages.”

Walking into the Grand Lobby, which represents Spanish Colonial Revival, impressed us. We saw a beautiful chandelier and huge archway, Spanish ornamental tile, and the metal star railings capped with beautiful polished wood. From the lobby, which is also home to a gift shop, you ascend the stairs to the second floor to start your tour through history.

The Rio Grande Legacy Tour

Once up the stairs, we started the Rio Grande Legacy tour. Immediately, a prehistoric dinosaur greeted us at the top of the stairs.

I can’t imagine running into one of those monsters on a stroll through the desert!

As you walk through life-like displays (such as Indians on the Plains), unique artifacts, relics, and displays, you’ll progress from the days of the dinosaurs to the Coahuiltecan Indians. The Spanish exploration follows. The colonization of South Texas and the Mexican and US Civil War exhibits come next. After all of that, the steamboats bringing people and commerce, cattle, and farming caught our attention.

Each exhibit features large displays, replicas, display cases, film, and sounds for the era. It is truly amazing.

a life-sized dinosaur
Indians on the Plains
Museum of South Texas History

The River Crossroads Tour

Back downstairs is the River Crossroads section of the history of the area. It starts with a replica train station to present how the railroad helped transform the region. Then came irrigated agriculture, towns and people, world wars, and the booming post-war years. Like the upstairs gallery, you’ll encounter life-like displays, vintage films, unique relics, and interesting and informative plaques loaded with facts and history.

start of the River Crossroads display
vintage ford
a River Crossroads display

Jail and Will Looney Legacy Park

Across a courtyard sits the 1910 Jail, which was closed for renovation during our visit. Its galleries have changing exhibitions.

From the Jail you can visit Will Looney Legacy Park, which has sculptures, a windmill and tank, a rustic log fence, sundial, a winding path with native animal tracks, and more.

Gift shop at Museum of South Texas History

Before you leave, check out the gift shop. It’s loaded with books on regional, Texas, and Mexican history and culture. It also includes an eclectic collection of folk art, home accessories, jewelry, and other unique gift and souvenir items capturing the spirit of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico.

I highly recommend this very well done, unique, and informative walk through the history of South Texas.

Mike Sharp
Author: Mike Sharp

I have a passion for travel and outdoor activities, and now I'm enjoying retired life. I will continue my traveling, golfing, boating, and enjoying life all across the great state of Texas.

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