RIVIERA, TEXAS. Riviera is on U.S. Highway 77 fifteen miles south of Kingsville in Kleberg County. It was founded by Theodore F. Koch, a land promoter from St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1907 Koch purchased from Henrietta King a large tract, which he had surveyed and divided to be sold to landseekers. He laid out a townsite adjacent to the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway (the line had been completed in 1904) and named it Riviera because the area reminded him of the southern coast of France. After a railroad depot was built, Koch began running a train from Chicago to Riviera once or twice a month to bring potential customers to see the land. To make a good impression on these visitors, Koch had a hotel constructed and a flowing artesian well located near the depot. His guests were taken down a wide boulevard through Riviera; in the middle of the boulevard grew tropical trees, plants, and flowers. Those interested in buying farms were carried in buggies and later, automobiles, to see Koch's land. Many bought land and established homes in the community. Several businesses were started, including a general mercantile establishment and seed store. In 1907 a post office was established; in 1908, a school; and in 1910, a jail. The first few years of Riviera witnessed considerable growth, and optimism about the future was high. But in 1915 a severe drought discouraged many residents, and they left. The next year a devastating hurricane hit. Many settlers remained, however, and others moved in. The construction of roads in the county during the 1920s made Riviera more accessible and strengthened the local economy. Its population in 1930 was 400, and by 1935 it had increased to 500. In 1990 the town reported 550 residents and thirteen businesses. At that time Riviera was a marketing community for area farms and ranches. A number of its residents commuted to jobs in nearby towns. Since Riviera was the last stop for fifty-seven miles going south to Raymondville, many travelers used its restaurants and service stations. In 2000 the population reached 1,064.
Sterling Bass, History of Kleberg County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1931). Kleberg County Historical Commission, Kleberg County, Texas (Austin: Hart Graphics, 1979). Tom Lea, The King Ranch (2 vols., Boston: Little, Brown, 1957).