A Living Legend

Baffin Bay

The names Kingsville and King Ranch are often thought of synonymously and with good reason. Kingsville is located on land which was part of a Mexican land grant purchased by Captain Richard King in 1853. That purchase was the beginning of a dream to tame the Wild Horse Desert which he would pursue during the remainder of his life. His widow, Henrietta, continued that pursuit for forty years following his death. Her crowning achievement was the founding and development of Kingsville in 1904, a raw town site in the middle of the prarie, along the newly completed St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway.

From its beginnings in 1853 King Ranch, Inc., has evolved into a major multinational corporation, organized principally into two business segments; agribusiness and energy. The South Texas propery, recognized as one of the birthplaces of the American ranching industry, was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961. The four South Texas divisions, known as the Home Ranches, sprawl across 825,000 acres of the Gulf of Mexico coastal plains. Home to the Santa Gertrudis and King Ranch Santa Cruz breeds of cattle, the first registered American Quarter Horse, a Triple Crown winner and a rich diversity of native wildlife and migratory birds, visitors are invited to tour portions of this historic ranch. Each year in November, the gates to the Ranch are opened to the public and the community's Christmas season begins with a Ranch Hand Breakfast. A variety of demonstrations and a real cow camp breakfast draw thousands of visitors who are hoping for an authentic look at a ranch steeped in almost 150 years of history. Guided historical tours through the headquarters of the Santa Gertrudis Division, located west of Kingsville on Highway 141, are available daily (except for Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Special interest tours and nature tours are available by advance reservation. Please call (512) 592-8055 for daily tour schedules and for reservations for special interest and nature tours.

The citizens of Kingsville have not lost sight of its rich heritage and traditions. The downtown area stands as a reminder of the earliest days of building and growth. The two-story public school building, donated by Mrs. King, still stands at the west end of Kleberg Avenue. The cornerstone for the downtown shopping district is the King Ranch Saddle Shop, located in the J.B. Ragland Mercantile Co. building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been restored to its authentic architectural style. Many other buildings along Kleberg Avenue have undergone renovations that are reminiscent of the early 1900's, the businesses within catering to visitors to the community. Local artists' and craftsmen's products are exhibited, rotating on a monthly basis in La Galleria of Sellers Market; unique gifts, hobby items, works of art and clothing and leather goods with a South Texas flair are found in the most unexpected spots; and specialty foods and drinks are available in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. All across town a harmonious blend of traditions is evident: the spicy Mexican taste, fresh seafood, or mesquite grilled wild game, and ALWAYS pizza; shopping for items from yesterday to the needs of the traveler today; and annual events, happening all year round, to inform as well as to entertain - Las Posada de Kingsville, South Texas Ranching Heritage Festival, Kleberg County Livestock Show, International Young Performers Musical Competition, Prickly Pear Symposium and Cactus Festival, Fiesta de Colores, George Strait Team Roping Classic and Concert, other rodeo events such as ropings and team pennings, and sporting activities ranging from A&M; football to Junior High level softball tournaments and High School level basketball tournaments.

The Henrietta Memorial Center named in memory of a granddaughter of the King Ranch founder, is a renovated ice factory, built shortly after the founding of Kingsville in 1904. Located only five minutes from from the Ranch entrance and three blocks from Kingsville's downtown district, a portion of the Center is available for rental for events such as meetings, conventions and receptions. The King Ranch Museum which is partiallly handicapped accessible, is housed in the Henrietta Memorial Center. Its permanent collections include Toni Frissell's award-winning photographic essay of life on King Ranch in the early 1940's, saddles from around the world, a gun collection which includes a King Ranch commemorative Colt Python 357 Magnum revolver (serial number KRI), antique carraiges and vintage cars, including el Kineño, a custom Buick Eight hunting car. The Museum is open Monday thru Saturday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm and on Sunday from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm (except for New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Admissions is charged. (For information about special exhibits, group tours or rental reservations call (512) 595-1881.)

Texas A&M; University-Kingsville (formerly Texas A&I;) grew out of the "normal school" movement in the early 1900's. Notable alumni include widely-acclaimed Southwestern artist Amado M. Pena, Jr., NFL Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw and retired Exxon CEO Bill Stevens. Degrees offered include an Ed. D. in Bilingual Education. Home to the only accredited natural gas engineering program in the United States, the University is the country's sixth largest producer of Hispanic engineers. Annual research expenditures for improving or developing wildlife management programs for South Texas are double those of all other South Texas institutions combined through the renowned Caesar Klegerg Wildlife Research Institute. A joint arrangement with Texas A&M; University offers a Ph.D. in Wildlife Science.

The John E. Conner Museum is located on the University campus. Its numerous dioramas and permanent exhibits specialize in "South Texana" of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the ranching heritage and natural history of South Texas. An entire room of trophy mounts, horns and artifacts is featured, the result of a lifetime of collecting by Graves Peeler, best remembered for its efforts to save the Texas Longhorn from extinction. Admission is free. The Museum is open Monday thru Saturday, 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. For information about special exhibits, call (512) 593-2819. Across the street from the Conner Museum are located several buildings which host a diverse selection of cultural activities. The Art Gallery located in the Ben P. Bailey Art Building, displays changing shows throughout the year, including exhibitions of the works of students, faculty, University alumni and regional guest artists. There is no admittance fee. The gallery is open Monday thru Friday, 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. Edward Newton Jones Auditorium along with the Little Theatre and Recital Hall located in Joseph L. Bellamiah Hall, sets the stage for musical and dramatic presentations. For information about exhibits or productions, call the main University number (512) 593-2111. University buildings are closed during scheduled University holidays and vacations.

Dick Kleberg Park located south of Kingsville at Highway 77 and Escondido Road, provides facilities to accomodate a wide variety of activities. A lighted outdoor rodeo arena, horse stalls, lighted baseball and softball fields, volleyball sandcourts, tennis courts, socder fields, basketball court, open air pavillion, fishing pier, walking and jogging trails, and playground and picnic facilities are available and usable year-round for outdoor enthusiasts. The recreation hall and barbecue hut provide a location for large gatherings that might require protection from the elements. The J.K. Northway Exposition Center, an integral part of the Kleberg Park complex, is an indoor, air conditioned multipurpose coliseum that can be converted to host rodeo-type events or conventions. One of Kingsville's finest events each year is the George Strait Team Roping Classic and Concert, held inthis building which has 2,800 bleacher seats and a standing room of 5,500. For information about scheduled events or for booking information, call (512) 595-8591.

Texas is famed for its birds and Texans are known for their hospitality. The union of the two has formed the The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, developed to provide birders with a rich and varied birding experience along the Texas Gulf Coast. Kingsville's prominent spot onn the Trail, The Kingsville Loop, is one twelve separate loops which encompasses an array of associated sites and birds. these locations provide a unique opportunity as over 350 species can be found in this area. More than twenty-five various sanctuaries are located throughout Kingsville and Kleberg County. A walk along Esondido Creek that runs through Dick Kleberg Park will result in sightings of both migratory and resident bird species. King Ranch maintains a variety of habitats that attracts a rich diversity of wildlife. King Ranch Bird Watching Tours can yield an incredible number of sightings, including many tropical and migratory species. The Wildlife tours offered by the Ranch provide visitors an excellent opportunity to observe the native wildlife of South Texas.

Home to the largest and most advanced jet training facility of its kind in the world, Naval Air Station Kingsville has over one thousand military personnel and twelve hundred civilians which make the base the largest employer in Kingsville. Defense contractors like Boeing, Hughes Aerospace and Rolls Royce maintain the aircraft and equipment and provide instruction for pilots in simulators. NAS Kingsville is also home to home to the Relocatable Over-the Horizon Radar, one of only two such wide bistatic systems in the free world with a range of fifteen hundred miles. Pre-arranged tours of the base are available.

We invite you for a day, weekend, or a lifetime!

Please contact:
Kingsville Convention and Visitors Bureau
P. O. Box 1562
Kingsville, Texas 78364