Inside the pumphouse, you can wander all around the huge machinery. The boilers, which were originally wood-fired with mesquite, then converted to oil, then natural gas, then diesel, are still in place. On display are both Worthington and Ingersoll-rand engines. The brick in the fire walls of the boilers was used to pave the walkway behind the smokestack. Interpretive signs explain what the machinery was used for, how the water was pumped out of the river, and the water-hardening system. the good thing is that it’s explained so easily you don’t have to be an engineer to understand it. In the reat is an air-cinditioned area with displays about the irrigation system, how the system works, and how it changed the landscape of the valley.
The pumphouse is part of the World Birding Center, and the acreage surrounding the pumphouse is open for exploration. The grounds immediately adjacent have been intensively landscaped to attract birds and butterflies. You can even stand on a brick map of Old Hidalgo. Before entering the pumphouse, you’ll notice huge gates. These gates once controlled the flow of water into the irrigation system.
There is a 5-mile (round trip) asphalt bike trail behind the pumphouse on the levee; you can go east to the wetlands, or west underneath the border crossing. Going west, the end of the trail isn’t marked, and the trail turns into a Border Patrol road. You might want to head back when you get under the bridge.
Going east past the wetlands, the trail ends at a subdivision. A 2.25-mile (round trip) hiking trail parallels the bike trail to the wetlands, but travels under the cover of a forest canopy.
The pumphouse once sat on the Rio Grande, A flood in 1933 changed the course of the river, a half-mile away from the pumphouse. A channel was dug from the pupmhouse to the river, to bring river water to the huge intake pipes of the pumphouse, Since the pumphouse has been decommissioned, this creates a pleasant lake. There is a coverd picnic area and canoe launch on the channel. You could easily spend a few hours here, both inside and out.
Price of Admission: Adults: $3, Senior: $2 and Students: $1
Phone: (956) 843.8686
Hours: Mon – Fri 10:00 am – 5:00 pm