As temperatures fall, a humanitarian crisis in El Paso deepens as there is a scramble to find shelter for thousands of migrants. Now Texas National Guard troops have been called in to maintain order at the scene. We’ll have the latest on a tenuous situation along the border. Plus, what to do with all the water used in fracking. Recycle it, maybe? We’ll hear why the idea is catching on now. And we’ve got one-on-one interview with a broadway star who’s got south Texas roots. These stories and more today on the Texas Standard:
At the hearings on the January 6th insurrection, the spotlight turns to the some potentially key figures from Texas. We’ll have the latest. Other stories we’re tracking: an 85 billion dollar ten year transportation plan for Texas. What it includes and what it leaves out as the state tries to deal with a growing population. And with that growing population, a boom in new home construction. But why so many delays in finishing projects? Plus water levels low on many Texas rivers and questions about whether businesses catering to river recreation will sink or swim. And the Mexican activists fielding calls from Texans seeking abortions. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:
A new abortion law takes effect in Texas. Not only does it effectively prohibit abortions after five or six weeks, it deputizes private citizens to enforce it. We’ll hear about the implications. Also a look at some of the less well known provisions taking effect as Texas law today ranging from homelessness to the Star Spangled Banner. Plus Boca Chica we have a problem… friction between SpaceX and the folks who live near the south Texas launch site. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:
One hundred years ago, Col. Sam Robertson stood on the same Boca Chica Beach in South Texas that Elon Musk owns today and dreamed a different dream. Instead of Musk’s spaceport, Robertson dreamed of seaports and an oceanside highway.
Robertson owned 800 acres at Boca Chica, about 20 miles northeast of Brownsville and it was likely some of the same thousand acres now managed by Musk’s companies. Back then, Robertson built the railroad that connected the Rio Grande Valley to the wider world. He had founded the town of San Benito, serving as sheriff and helping to run the Ku Klux Klan out of the region.
He had repurposed the old channels known as resacas to irrigate the lower valley. In 1926, he gathered RGV leaders in Brownsville’s El Jardin Hotel to make his pitch for an oceanside highway that would run from Boca Chica all the way up Padre Island to Corpus Christi. It would become, in his words, “the most beautiful 150 miles of highway in the world.”
Robertson laid out his vision before the Rio Grande Valley Commercial Club. “I have traveled somewhat extensively in this world,” he said, “and have never seen any scenery wilder or more beautiful than this stretch of beach.”
Robertson was not only an entrepreneur; he was a decorated soldier and noted engineer. In 1915, he served as a scout for General Jack Pershing in the pursuit of Pancho Villa in Mexico. During World War I, he served in Europe as a commander of the 22nd Engineers, building railroads and bridges for Allied troops in France. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for bravery under fire.
The business leaders of the Valley trusted his vision because they believed his claims. He wasn’t pitching a blacktop road.
“The beach is as smooth as a billiard table,” Robertson said. “No road can be constructed by man as good for autoing as the beach, and the Gulf of Mexico maintains it.” All you would need is maintenance crews to move driftwood out of the way, he said, telling those assembled that he had explored the beach from Corpus Christi to the mouth of the Rio Grande River and that a highway was quite possible and would bring in enormous numbers of tourists. Just “throw across” some bay bridges at either end, he suggested, and you’d be open for business.
Such a development would be good for the Rio Grande Valley, too, he argued. With good roads to Boca Chica Beach, Valleyites could have a Sunday lunch at home, then drive to the beach for a Sunday afternoon swim at the beach and still be home by 10 p.m.
Robertson’s oceanside highway was never developed. But looking at South Padre and North Padre today, just north of Boca Chica with their causeway bridges, carefully maintained beaches, opulent hotels and verdant landscaping, you can see that his dream for the island has been partially realized.
Robertson opened his Del Mar Resort on Boca Chica Beach in 1931, but the resort was virtually wiped out by a hurricane two years later. He rebuilt within six months and constructed an asphalt road from Brownsville to Boca Chica Beach because his personal mantra was: “Civilization follows transportation.”
Musk would like that, too.
During the cold war many Cubans fled to Miami. Now that there’s a thaw…why are Cubans flocking to Texas…and why so many? Also- Boca Chica we have a problem—Residents of a tiny gulf coast village now wish wish that Space X would take off…we’ll hear why. And Attention shoppers, Texas A&M thinks its developed a better tater- we’ll hear about the Reveille Russet. Also the rise of adult coloring books, make that -coloring books for grown-ups…Plus the week in Texas politics, and much more.