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20221102 IMG 8533 webIt’s always fun to take a stroll through one of local World Birding Center parks. Last week we went out to the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse to see what was happening at the park. Main goal was to catch the model trains in action, but the offices had closed early, so we decided to walk part of the trail and enjoy some of the grounds.

What was even more interesting on this visit, was that the park was decorated for their Halloween event they held this week. There were spiders, monsters and clowns everywhere you looked. Even the little entry to the train room had a dark tunnel with things hanging along the walls.

20221102 Pumphouse DSC 1114 HMoering webThe center features a 4.5-mile round trip biking and walking trail. On this trail, bikers are likely to see a variety of birds such as Kiskadees, Kingfishers, cardinals, hummingbirds, pelicans, and others. You can take the trail east to the wetlands, or west underneath the border crossing. Visitors can also take their time and walk the grounds or make reservations for a tour.

The Magic Valley’s early 20th Century transition into an agriculture powerhouse is retold at the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, which now embraces nature conservation as part of its purpose. The pumphouse still features some of its old mechanics on the grounds giving a peek to its history. Visitors to the museum can learn about the steam-driven irrigation pump that transformed Hidalgo County into a year-round farming phenomenon.

Through the museum, you will learn that the hurricane of 1933 shifted the Rio Grande River a half-mile away from the pumphouse, requiring the digging of a canal to the river. There were originally two pumps installed in 1909 in the old pumphouse with others added over the years to send water to farm fields and cities via irrigation canals. All the pumps are still there for viewing.

The bonus with the facility, is a look at the RGV Rails Club’s model train layout that is spread over a large area of Pumphouse lower floor. You can usually find someone there in the mornings eagerly awaiting to show you how the trains run.

Richard “Red” Knepfler invites Winter Texan railroaders to come out to the museum and join him and others that love the craft. He invited any model railroader to bring their HO scale trains and run them around the extensive layout. The current layout has been there for about 20 years Red, a year-round resident at Mission West RV Resort originally from Michigan, said he has about 150 cars of rolling stock of his own. You can reach Red at (313) 532-8549 if interested in more information about the model railroaders.

The Pumphouse is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is located at 902 S. Second St. in Hidalgo. Call (956) 843-8686 for more information or visit www.thrworldbirdingcenter.com/Hidalgo.html.

20221102 IMG 8547While you are in the area, the block preceding the Pumphouse is full of history. Located just a short distance away is the old courthouse, jail and other historic buildings. Also close by are several dining and shopping options in old houses.

You can also locate other historic areas of Hidalgo on their sidewalk map located by a little swing and small pavilion.