MARCH 17, 1939
HARLINGEN, Texas, Thursday—Yesterday the Mayor of Edinburg corrected my first impression of the town—he had come to the town 15 years ago, but it became an incorporated town some 18 years ago. Even at that, it is remarkable to see how it has grown in a short time. Soon after our arrival it began to rain, a thing which seems most desirable to everyone in the valley.
Our hosts were polite enough to say that they regretted that we would have to drive about and see the countryside in the rain, but it was quite evident that they were delighted and hoped it would continue to rain steadily for some days. On everyone's lips you heard the same phrase: "A million dollar rain" in a kind of hopeful tone and you could not help praying with them that this might be the case.
During our drive, we crossed into Mexico where we were most kindly and hospitably received by the officers in charge of what will, someday, be an army post. The quarters are being built now and are along the most modernistic lines. This is a curious contrast with some of the old buildings in the little town and with the huts which serve as dwelling places for the poor families on its outskirts and in the rural districts. However, developments seem to be coming all along the river, for roads are being built, and nothing like paved roads changes the countryside as we have long since discovered in the United States.
Then we visited the Engleman Gardens, a ranch of 11,000 acres. From a tower, we had a view of the fields and the citrus groves a really beautiful sight. I have never seen a packing plant in operation before and was much interested in seeing the fruit washed, stamped and packed.
The experiment station at Weslaco, one of the towns we drove through, has been developing various new usages for the products of the valley. Among other things, from the hulls of citrus fruits, they are making cattle food which they believe will be extremely valuable.
We drove down to Harlingen this morning, paralleling the line of the Southern Pacific Railway. The Missouri Pacific Railway was in this territory at an earlier period, but since 1927 this new line is opening up new country. During the winter and spring, they ship great quantities of vegetables and fruits from this section.
The greater part of their water comes from the Rio Grande, which seems to be a temperamental river, for it changes its course quite frequently. There are vast irrigation projects because the normal rainfall is insufficient, so the people of the valley are concerned about their water supply from the Rio Grande.
In this big country of ours we have to see things with our own eyes to realize the things which may spell ruin to the entire section and yet which mean so little in other parts of the country.