RGV Visitors Guide

Page 44 Rio Grande Valley Visitors Guide 2023-2024 St., Brownsville, Texas, 78520. The hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Camille Playhouse In the heart of the Mitte Cultural District at Dean Porter Park, the Camille Lightner Playhouse has brought entertaining and inspiring live stage performances to Brownsville and the surrounding community for 60 years! Call (956) 542-8900 for upcoming events, times, and admissions, or visit the website at www.camilleplayhouse.net. Brownsville Museum of Fine Art Opened in 2006, Brownsville’s art museum is no ordinary experience. Located in the Mitte Cultural District of Brownsville, across the street from the Gladys Porter Zoo, is the stateof-the-art, 17,000 square foot museum. Founded in 1935, the museum owns a permanent collection of more than 500 works and growing from renowned artists including Mark Chagall, Whistler, N.C. Wyeth, Augustus John, and Alexander Calder. The hours are Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Sundays. Group rates and tours are available, minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 people. Admission fees are $5 for adults, $2.50 for children 6 to 12, veterans, seniors, and students with ID, and free for children under 6. For more information, call (956) 542-0941 or visit www.BMFA.US. Fort Brown/UTRGV As the primary U.S. military establishment at the mouth of the Rio Grande, Fort Brown became a major prize for both sides during the Civil War. The fort was built by General Zachary Taylor in 1846, making it the first major U.S. military post built along the Rio Grande. In February 1861, Union General David Twiggs—a southern sympathizer—agreed to surrender all military sites in Texas to the Confederacy. During most of the Civil War, Confederate troops at Fort Brown served as guardians of the prosperous cotton trade to Matamoros. In November 1863, however, General Napoleon Dana and 7,000 Union troops seized control of Brownsville. However, the Union army’s presence there was brief as Union priorities shifted and troops were dispatched to other fronts. Confederate forces under Colonel John S. “Rip” Ford steadily pushed back the remaining Union troops. In July 1864, the Union once again abandoned the post, leaving Fort Brown in southern hands for the duration of the conflict. After May 1865, Fort Brown was re-occupied by the U.S. Army, including U.S. Colored Troops, and became the Rio Grande district headquarters, resuming its role as a guardian of the border. Fort Brown declined in importance as Mexico stabilized following its revolutionary period (1910-1917) and local law enforcement agencies replaced the military in policing the border. In September 1944 it was formally decommissioned when the 124th Cavalry was sent to Burma during World War II. While most of Fort Brown is gone, some of the old barracks have been converted into classrooms for the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. A frame home where General “Black Jack” Pershing, Charles Lindberg, Abner Doubleday (creator of baseball), and Col. Robert E. Lee stayed at one time or another has been preserved. An old commissary that had a jail in the basement remains on the campus along with a bachelor’s officer’s quarters, the post chapel, the morgue, and an old hospital. During winter months, walking tours of the campus are sponsored by the Brownsville Heritage Complex. Check their website, www. brownsvillehistory.org, for upcoming tours. Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park Palo Alto National Historical Park interprets the site of the first major battle of the US - Mexican War. On May 8, 1846, General Zachary Taylor and his 2,300 men army engaged 3,200 Mexican troops under the command of General Mariano Arista in a fierce cannon battle on the coastal prairie. Today, the park preserves the battlefield and provides a visitor center, museum exhibits, video presentation, and interpretive trails that explain how the battle played out and the importance of the battle and the war that followed. In addition to its importance as a historical site, Palo Alto Battlefield is a significant natural area. The site is home to a variety of plant and animal life unique to the Rio Grande delta. Birding is also popular on the field, and visitors often come to view curlew, roseate spoonbills, and numerous species of raptors. Park gates are open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. For information about the Visitor Center hours, call (956) 541-2785 ext. 333. The park is located just nine miles from downtown Brownsville, at 7200 Paredes Line Rd., (FM 1847, just north of the intersection of FM 511). For more about the park or upcoming events, visit the website www.nps.gov/paal.