The 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.
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!
Students from Los Fresnos
First School Circa 1920
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.
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.