SALINEÑO, TEXAS. Salineño is on the Rio Grande two miles from State Highway 83 and twelve miles northwest of Roma in western Starr County. It is a quaint, 250-year-old community, formerly headquarters of Rancho Salinas. The site is near an ancient Indian river crossing, which was used until bridges were completed. Ranching in the Mier (Tamaulipas) and Salineño area started in 1734, and by 1757 five area ranches had 4,000 horses and cattle and 40,000 sheep and goats. The area was in the province of Nuevo Santander under the Spanish and in Tamaulipas under the Mexicans; it became part of the state of Texas in 1848, after the Mexican War. The residents often rushed back to Mier or Camargo, the parent cities, when Indians raided or boundaries changed. By 1900 the ranch school had nineteen pupils in grades one through four taught by a single Spanish-speaking teacher in a wooden school located where the Catholic church now stands. The area was first served by traveling Oblates of Mary Immaculate; a mission church was established in 1906. In 1937 a brick school replaced the wooden building. Teachers came from Rio Grande City and Roma. The Salineño residents were primarily ranch workers and migrant laborers, who followed the harvest north and south every year. In the early 1950s the completion of Falcon Dam brought many changes, including consolidation with the Roma Independent School District. School buses replaced the private transportation of Raphael Canales. A rural water system serving Falcon Heights and Falcon Village replaced the old water wagon that filled the town's cisterns. In the 1960s telephone service came to the area, and later the main road and city streets were paved by the county. In 1990 the town had three stores, a church, a post office, a waterworks, a well-kept cemetery, and 155 inhabitants. A number of nearby ranches were served there. Except for a small compound of bird watchers, the community is Spanish speaking; the birders host thousands of their fellows each winter, who watch rarities at their feeders, including the brown jay, Audubon's oriole, and Altamira oriole. Nearby are found Muscovy ducks, red-billed pigeons, and hook-billed kites. The population was 304 in 2000.
Herbert Eugene Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1915; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970). Val W. Lehmann, Forgotten Legions: Sheep in the Rio Grande Plain of Texas (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1969). Florence J. Scott, Historical Heritage of the Lower Rio Grande (San Antonio: Naylor, 1937; rev. ed., Waco: Texian, 1966; rpt., Rio Grande City, Texas: La Retama Press, 1970).