Port of Brownsville

Brownsville boasts modern, state-of-the-art health care services and facilities. Two major hospitals, two surgical hospital and numerous specialty clinics provide a full range of medical services. Brownsville has doctors of every area of expertise. The abundant services combined with the warm climate make Brownsville an ideal location for medical procedures. The environment is right for recuperation and rehabilitation.

Wellness center programs are available at some hospitals and clinics. In addition, several fitness centers and gyms offer wellness-training programs in Brownsville.

Population in July 2009: 176,858. 

Households: 138,387

  • In family households: 131,554 (22,504 male householders, 9,968 female householders)
  • 23,456 spouses, 55,791 children (53,056 natural, 654 adopted, 2,081 stepchildren),7,170 grandchildren, 2,055 brothers or sisters, 1,744 parents, 6,378 other relatives,2,488 non-relatives
  • Size of family households: 7,248 2-persons, 6,865 3-persons, 7,105 4-persons, 5,402 5-persons,2,905 6-persons, 2,947 7-or-more-persons.
  • Size of nonfamily households: 5,095 1-person, 565 2-persons, 81 3-persons, 37 4-persons, 36 5-persons.
  • 29,132 married couples with children.
  • 10,264 single-parent households (1,340 men, 8,924 women).
  • 12.8% of residents of Brownsville speak English at home.
  • 86.6% of residents speak Spanish at home (52% speak English very well, 21% speak English well, 15% speak English not well, 13% don't speak English at all).
  • 0.3% of residents speak other Indo-European language at home (78% speak English very well, 18%speak English well, 4% speak English not well).
  • 0.3% of residents speak Asian or Pacific Island language at home (66% speak English very well, 15%speak English well, 19% speak English not well).
  • 0.1% of residents speak other language at home (48% speak English very well, 25% speak English well, 9% speak English not well, 18% don't speak English at all).

Foreign born population: 44,116 (31.5%)
(35.3% of them are naturalized citizens)

Estimated median household income in 2009: $32,131 (it was $24,468 in 2000)

Estimated per capita income in 2009: $12,155


Birders and hikers will enjoy the Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary. Beach-goers will be wowed by the pristine undeveloped Boca Chica Beach east of town where birding, surf casting, dolphin viewing, and shelling are popular pursuits. Just north of town, the 45,000-acre Laguna Atacoasa National Wildlife Refuge offers plentiful trails where you can spot ocelots, alligators, birds, armadillos, and the endangered jaguarondi. The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in the upper Rio Grande Valley is famous for its birding opportunities.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge 
On the most southern tip of Texas, along the shores of the Laguna Madre, dense patches of thorny brush rise among unique wind-blown clay dunes called “lomas.” In a region of Texas some call the last great habitat, thorn forest intermingles with freshwater wetlands, coastal prairies, mudflats and beaches. Here, the endangered ocelot silently hunts within the brushlands, white-tailed deer browse on a banquet of plants, Aplomado Falcons soar above the grasslands and nearly half of all the bird species found in the continental United States rest, feed, nest and or migrate.

The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Along the banks of the lower Rio Grande is the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, a 2,088 acre refuge established in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds. Considered the ‘jewel’ of the refuge system, this essential ‘island’ of thorn forest habitat is host or home to nearly 400 different types of birds and a myriad of other species, including the indigo snake, malachite butterfly and the endangered ocelot.

At an ecological crossroad, Santa Ana is strategically located where subtropical climate, gulf coast, great plains and Chihuahuan desert meet. Thousands of birds from the Central and Mississippi flyways funnel through the area on their way to and from Central and South America. This small patch of midvalley riparian woodland is also habitat for about one half of all butterfly species found in the United States.

Before dams and control structures significantly reduced the flow of the Rio Grande, periodic floods cut shifting channels into the delta creating crescent-shaped oxbow lakes, referred to as ‘resacas.’ Santa Ana’s management program mimics the historical flooding of the Rio Grande, maintaining the bottom land hardwood forest and providing crucial nesting and feeding habitat for birds, watering holes for animals, and homes for countless amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans and insects.

With over 95 percent of the original habitat in the lower Rio Grande delta cleared or altered, Santa Ana is a reminder of the semitropical thorn forest that once dominated the area.


Sabal Palm

For birders and nature-lovers, no visit to South Texas is complete without a stop at the Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is home to many native species of plants and animals that reach the northernmost limit of their Mexican range here and do not occur elsewhere in the U.S. Cradled in a bend of the Rio Grande along the U.S./Mexico border, the Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary harbors one of the most beautiful and critical ecosystems of South Texas and Northern Mexico. Sabal Palms once grew profusely along the edge of the Rio Grande in small stands or groves extending about 80 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Today, only a small portion of that forest remains, protected on 557 acres of this Audubon Sanctuary.

The Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary is dedicated to instilling a shared appreciation and sense of stewardship for the natural world through hands-on nature education, citizen science and preservation of the Sabal Palm Sanctuary.


Port of Brownsville

The Port of Brownsville provides the most efficient services to facilitate the international movement of goods between Mexico and the United States. At the Port of Brownsville, the land transportation of Mexico is linked with the Inland Waterway System of the United States. The Port of Brownsville is the county seat of Cameron County, Texas. It lies on the shores of the Rio Grande River across from Matamoros, Mexico, 22 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The port complex and industrial and agribusiness center includes Brownsville, Harlingen, and San Benito. In 2000, just under 140 thousand people called the Port of Brownsville home.

Open since 1936, the Port of Brownsville is located at the southernmost tip of Texas at the end of a 17 mile (27 kilometers) channel that meets the Gulf of Mexico at the Brazos Santiago Pass. The City of Brownsville is 2 miles (3 kilometers) to the southwest, and lies adjacent to the Rio Grande River providing a convenient gateway to Mexico. Today’s Port of Brownsville hosts industries in the areas of petrochemicals, food processing, and aircraft repair. With an international airport and connections to major highways and railways, it is the biggest urban center in the lower Rio Grande valley.

The Port of Brownsville’s economy is also supported by significant tourism, being near Boca Chica Beach, Padre Island National Seashore, and the northeastern Mexico coast. Brownsville’s culture reflects the close relationship between Texas and Mexico.

The Port of Brownsville is a major center of industrial development with over 230 companies doing business here.

Activities include:

  • construction of offshore drilling rigs
  • ship repairing and dismantling
  • steel fabrication, boat construction
  • rail car rehabilitation
  • LPG storage/distribution
  • waste oil recovery
  • bulk terminaling for miscellaneous liquids
  • grain handling and storage

Adequate space is available for expansion of existing or addition of new industries.

The Port of Brownsville is governed by the Brownsville Navigation District, a political subdivision of the State of Texas.  The District is guided by an elected Board of Commissioners which establishes the policies, rules, rates and regulations of the Port and approves all contractual obligations.

The deepwater Port of Brownsville handles a variety of bulk cargoes that include ores, fuel oil, and grains. It is also home base for a large shrimping fleet. The Brownsville Navigation District owns the waterfront facilities on the Brownsville Ship Channel, the main harbor, and the fishing harbor. All deepwater facilities in the main harbor are public facilities. Over four million tons of waterborne cargo passed through the public terminals at the Port of Brownsville in 2005.

Cargo-handling facilities include 10 deep-sea dry docks, four deep-sea liquid cargo docks, two liquid cargo barge docks, and one dry cargo barge dock. The port contains 444 thousand square feet of transit shed space and 450 thousand square feet of dockside aprons, all served by railroad.

The Port of Brownsville’s main harbor contains almost five miles of improved frontage. The turning basin is 3500 feet long and varies from 400 to 1200 feet in width. It contains a combined total of over 5000 feet of docks. The turning basin extension contains oil docks, a bulk cargo dock (serving a grain elevator), a liquid cargo dock, and an express dock totaling 5400 feet long with a 500-foot bottom width. The turning basin is encompassed by a wide range of marine-related businesses, including ship repair and salvage yards.

The Port of Brownsville’s fishing harbor, located four miles east of the turning basin, has a protected entrance. The basin is 2100 by 1600 feet and contains two 300- by 1200-foot peninsulas in the middle. The fishing harbor offers 10 feet of dock space with a depth of 14 feet.

The Entrance Channel to the Port of Brownsville is protected by two rock jetties, each over 5000 feet long. The channel is unobstructed and virtually straight, facilitating easy navigation.

The Port of Brownsville offers five different transportation modes that include ocean vessels, truck and rail service, barge service, and air service. It offers over 33 miles of railroad and rail sidings that serve warehouses, industries, and all port docks. Three tenant public grain storage/elevator companies serve the Port of Brownsville, all of which can load and unload both barges and ships. The largest elevator has capacity for more than 3 million bushels, and adjacent bulk facilities offer flat storage for dry bulk commodities.

The port operates eight transit sheds with a total of over 400 thousand square feet of space. All buildings are adjacent to vessel berths and are equipped with rail tracks. The port offers another 1.2 million square feet of public warehousing near the docks. In addition, the Port of Brownsville offers over 240 thousand square feet of deep-draft open dock and more than 200 thousand square feet of shallow-draft open docks. Away from the docks are over 80 acres of open surface storage space.

Major dry bulk cargoes passing through the Port of Brownsville include ores, fertilizers, petroleum, grain, sulfur, minerals, ores, aluminum, and grains. Terminal facilities at the Port of Brownsville handle and store a variety of liquid bulk cargoes. Rail- and truck-loading racks facilitate the safe and efficient transfer of petroleum and chemicals.