Rio History: The Reservation

By STEVE HATHCOCK

Special to the Parade

Bill Howard wrote to ask about about a postcard he found.

The photo shows the U.S. Naval radio tower and station which was situated on a 22 acre plot near where the swing bridge connecting Long Island Village to Port Isabel is located today.

In response to increased tensions in the Lower Rio Grande valley caused by the revolution in Mexico and incidents of bandit raids along the U.S. and Mexican border, Fort Brown was reactivated and made headquarters for the Brownsville Military District under Gen. James Parker. Within a few short months, over 50,000 National Guardsmen arrived from around the country. Their camps soon dotted the countryside from McAllen to Point Isabel. The experience gained here served the American soldiers well during the upcoming world war.

In its time, the radio station at the Point, was the most powerful in the world, serving as a relay station transmitting messages from the North to the Panama Canal Zone and from the east to the west coast. It’s tour of duty was short though, with the advance of radio technology, the equipment used in the relay stations became obsolete. In 1924, the electronics were moved to Fort Brown and the use of the reservation was abandoned. The buildings were rented out until 1936 when the facility was put on a reserve basis. Eventually the land was sold to private individuals.

Undoubtedly there are those alive today who still know the area as the “Reservation.” I’m not sure when the tower was removed.

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