National Geographic : 1939 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart FLASHLIGHT CATCHES CHARRO AND POBLANA REVELERS UNAWARES For a week Brownsville celebrates by harking back to costumes and customs of the days when Spanish settlers occupied the Rio Grande Valley and northern Mexico. In the daytime many citizens go about their business in costume. Balls, parades, and informal street dancing, carry the festivities into the night (Color Plates II, IV, VI, and XVI, and pages 78, 79). miles above the mouth of the Rio Grande (where the river's valley comes to an end), and widening to 35 or 40 miles near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico (map, page 54). The strip immediately along the coast, however, is too "young" for cultiva tion; much of it is cut up by lakes and marshes. 25,000 CARLOADS OF GRAPEFRUIT Dominating everything else in the lower Rio Grande Valley, at least on the surface, is citrus fruit. Orchards extend along the main highways for miles, almost always edged by tall, slender Washingtonia palms, or bushier, darker, ornamental date palms. And among the citrus fruits, far out in front is grapefruit. Horticulturists say the soil has just the texture and plant food the roots demand, and that the air and sunshine and other cli matic factors, plus irrigation, seem almost exactly to meet the needs of this particular type of tree (Plates I and XI and pages 76 and 77). Men were quick to learn that this is a favored grapefruit land. More than five and a quarter million grapefruit trees are growing today in the Rio Grande Delta, nearly all of them planted less than 15 years ago. This huge block of trees is concen trated in a relatively small area. Hidalgo County, Texas, has more than twice as many grapefruit trees as any other county in the United States, and Cameron County, adjoining Hidalgo, ranks third. The yearly production of Texas grape fruit, although all the trees have not reached bearing age, is tremendous. In the season from October, 1937, through April, 1938, more than 29,000 carloads of fruit were produced. Of this number, approxi mately 16,000 carloads moved as fresh fruit to outside markets; the rest, mostly in the form of juice, went into cans and barrels in Valley factories.