Hidalgo County Courthouse
County Seat: Edinburg
County Population: 700,634
The Hidalgo County Courthouse was built in 1954 in a Modern style of stone and marble. The present county capitol is the final of three courthouses, the first of which still stands. In 1886, a Neoclassical brick courthouse was erected in Hidalgo, the initial county seat; this courthouse remains standing today.
The county was created in 1852 from Cameron and Starr counties. In 1908, an election was held to move county government from Hidalgo to Chapin, and county records were carted by ox to their new home. The name of the county seat was later changed to Edinburg by enemies of Judge D.B. Chapin. A $70,000, Spanish-style courthouse was used until 1954, when the present $1.5 million county capitol was designed by R. Newell Walters.
The county is named for Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a leader of the independence movement in Mexico. The name of the county seat honors John Young, of Edinburg, Scotland, who founded the community of Edinburg.
Hidalgo County, located on the Texas-Mexico border in Deep South Texas, is a birder- and butterfly-watcher’s paradise with lush greenscapes such as the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and the National Butterfly Park. Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park includes 600 acres set aside to preserve the native flora and fauna of the lower Rio Grande Valley. On the banks of the Rio Grande, this park offers picnicking, bird-watching and nature study along with a Hawk Preservation Tower.
Visitors also enjoy traveling Old Military Highway – created by Gen. Zachary Taylor in Texas’ fight against Mexico for independence – and visiting with historians at the Museum of South Texas History. Those on a quest for the quirky can visit the World’s Largest Killer Bee in Hidalgo.
The Mercedes Livestock Show draws an average attendance of 160,000 every March. Each winter, Mission’s Citrus Fiesta honors the rich agricultural traditions of Hidalgo County and showcases youth with the anointment of King Citrus and Queen Citrianna.
Numerous ranch tracts lure out-of-town businessmen and bring out the local sportsmen, who hunt for white-wing dove, deer and other exotic imports. Downtown McAllen attracts the creative class with its big-city-style nightlife and art district.
From Hidalgo County’s rural beginnings as land grant settlements along the Rio Grande, it is now quickly becoming the next urban metropolis of Texas, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 that’s been largely responsible for the county’s surge in population.
Hidalgo County is home to six international bridges. Its economy is anchored by the health care, retail, tourism and trade industries. Area economists are predicting unprecedented job growth surpassing the state average in the next four years. As a result, discussions are underway to launch large infrastructure projects such as a loop around Hidalgo County. In addition, the county is looking toward the rehabilitation of more than 150 miles of river and internal levees.
(Texas Almanac 2008-2009)