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Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum

Hildalgo, Texas

In the early days of the 20th century the Rio Grande Valley was booming and growing. A coop of farmer built a pumphouse to pump Rio Grande River water into the local irrigation system.

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The pumphouse was built right on the river with two pump intake pipes dipped right in the river. The pumps were an engineering marvel of its day. The two pumps were driving by a steam engine powered with steam produced by a gas fired boiler.

The irrigation pumps were only used a few times a year depending on the needs of the fields and the crops that were in season. To get the pumps up and running took the crew about four days to get the boilers fired up and steam that was sufficient to drive the steam engines and pumps.

Then there was big storm and the Rio Grande river changed course and left the pump inlets high and dry. Then they dug a canal to the pump inlet that you can see today.

Eventually technology bypassed the old Hidalgo Pumphouse. It was replaced at a nearby location with large elective driven pumps because the crops still need water and we all depend on the farmers of the Rio Grande Valley.

Today the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum is a great museum of industrial technology of the past. It is also part of the World Birding Center and a great place to take photos of the well-kept grounds and the birds.

Also, for men who have made there living maintaining and operating mechanical equipment its and exciting place.

My personal favorite aspects of the museum I enjoyed the most is a large model railroad layout put in by local railroad modelers. If you are lucky enough to see it in operation its special. If you don't get to see it in operation, you will appreciate the skill and hours it took to put it together, also they sell a video of the train layout in action in the museum gift shop. I bought one.

Amphitheater outside of the pump house grounds
Amphitheater outside of the pump house grounds
Inside the pump house
Inside the pump house
Pump inlet from the canel to the suction of the pumps
Pump inlet from the canel to the suction of the pumps

Update: 10 April 2020