A year ago today I moved from Beaumont, Texas to the southernmost tip of the Lone Star state in a region called the Lower Rio Grande Valley. About a couple weeks into the new move, my friend asked me to tag-along with him when he went location scouting to some of the nearby small towns. He was trying to get a film produced in the area, and found a local retired teacher to give him a tour. Since I had my Nikon, my friend asked if I would take photos of the locations on the tour.
I remember I had to wake up super early, which made me really grumpy. Plus, it was cloudy and humid outside. But I love small towns, so I was excited to see what the day had in store for us. The teacher giving us the tour knew the history of each town we visited, and since he grew up in the area, he knew most of the local families that had lived there for generations.
We met up with the teacher, climbed into his pick up truck, and set off on a maze of small towns in the Rio Grande Valley. We mainly focused on the towns of Delmita, McCook, and San Isidro, but saw a lot of cool places in between. Many of these towns were so tiny that you’d miss them if you blinked. Some felt like ghost towns. Others were a mixture of historic and modern. But all the towns contained beautiful, old, abandoned buildings. Here are my favorite photos from our tour 📸
There are tons of churches in South Texas ⛪️ The region is essentially an extension of Mexico, so there’s definitely a Catholic tone down here. But I love the really old churches!
Near Delmita we came across an abandoned old timey store called El Ranchito. Right next to it was an abandoned house. In town we stopped at an abandoned gas station with a barn behind it. The lot next to it is now empty, but it’s where the old movie theater used to be.
The Red & White Food Store is fully functioning and we stopped there for snacks. Aside from regular gas station fare, they had homemade breakfast tacos, and the back of the store has a huge hardware section. This is one of those if you blink you miss it kinda towns. And the surrounding countryside is full of wind turbines!
San Isidro, Texas
If it wasn’t for the cross, I wouldn’t have known this was a church! Although it’s very old, I believe it is still used by locals for special services and events. The inside is very clean and tidy; just a simple white room with religious relics at the front to signify the altar.
Just a couple of minutes down from the church is an old stone well. We climbed on top of it to see how far down it went. The picture doesn’t do it justice because it was really deep! Now people just throw garbage and other unwanted items down there. I try to imagine what it must have looked like fifty or a hundred years ago.
Our last stop of the tour was the outskirts of San Isidro, to the old movie theater, now abandoned. We went inside and I braved a very decrepit staircase so I could look at the theater from the projection room, which was basically just a loft. It’s such a beautiful building and a shame to see it sit there in ruins. Hopefully someone will buy it and fix it up to it’s former glory.
And that was our tour of small town South Texas. I didn’t capture everything on camera, but I live close enough that I can go back and visit anytime I want! The Rio Grande Valley has a history that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years, and it’s nice to appreciate many of it’s overlooked historic towns with families that have been there for several generations.