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Dick D. Heller, Jr.

ALTON, TEXAS (Hidalgo County). Alton is four miles north of Mission on State Highway 107 in Hidalgo County. It originated as a stop on the San Benito and Rio Grande Valley (Spiderweb) Railway in 1911, when the population was fifty, and was named by railroad officials after the Alton Railroad that had been founded by citizens of Alton, Illinois. A post office operated there from 1913 to 1916. In the late 1920s the Alton Independent School District was formed. The small, six-grade Alton school was later consolidated with the Mission Consolidated Independent School District. A grade school was in operation in the community in 1990, when Alton was a rural bedroom community for McAllen; the population of 3,069 was 80 percent Spanish-speaking and included many migrant workers. Beginning in the late 1980s the community had a contract sub-post office. San Martín de Porres Catholic Church, originally a mission, was constructed in 1967 and declared a parish in 1969, when a large parish hall and other improvements were added for the 1,000 families it served. Water District No. 7 was formed in the 1930s to serve Alton; in 1990 it was called the United Water District. A sewage disposal plant, volunteer fire station, city hall, and community center were among the public buildings. The community voted to incorporate on April 10, 1978. At 7:30 A.M. on September 21, 1989, a Dr Pepper truck hit a Mission school bus, knocking it into the caliche pit at the corner of Five-Mile Road and Bryan Road. Twenty-one children from the Alton area were drowned, and sixty were injured. This was the worst school bus accident to date in Texas history. In 2000 the community had 4,384 inhabitants.


Austin American-Statesman, September 22, 1989. Valley By-Liners, Roots by the River: A Story of Texas Tropical Borderland (Mission, Texas: Border Kingdom Press, 1978).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Dick D. Heller, Jr., "ALTON, TX (HIDALGO COUNTY)," accessed July 22, 2019,

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on September 24, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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