Julia Cauble Smith

RUIDOSA, TEXAS. Ruidosa (Rio Doso, Riodosa) is on the Rio Grande and Farm Road 170, fifty miles southwest of Marfa in western Presidio County. The Spanish name, which means "windy" or "noisy," refers either to the wind that blows there most of the time or to the sound of the irrigation water as it falls over the dam. The first recorded settlement at the site of Ruidosa was a penal colony, called Vado Piedra or Rocky Ford, established about 1824 by the Mexican government. A group of convicts, called the Condemned Regiment, was sent to the area to guard cattle and horses in northern Chihuahua against raids by Comanches and Apaches. The Comanches massacred the regiment, and the penal colony was abandoned. A small farming community began at Ruidosa about 1872, when William Russell constructed irrigation ditches to bring creek water to his large farm along the river; he also built a toll mill that provided flour to Ruidosa and the surrounding communities for the next thirty years. George Brooks managed the farm and mill. By May 1876 Ruidosa was added to the rolls of Presidio County as Precinct No. 6. The county, however, was still a frontier, for in 1879 Mescalero Apaches raided the Russell farm and killed four men and wounded three. The Ruidosa community started a school in 1902, and in 1911 the Presidio County scholastic census listed the Ruidosa precinct with 287 students and a total population of 1,722. By 1914 the Ruidosa community reported 100 residents, three general stores, and a post office. That same year the farmers of the river valley began growing cotton as a money crop. The community built a gin around 1924 and reported a population of 300 in 1929. In March 1933, a local story has it, a Protestant evangelist attempted to preach at predominantly Catholic Ruidosa and could not find enough Protestants to hold services. Ruidosa had six businesses in 1933, but its gin closed in 1936. The post office had closed by 1954, and by 1964 no businesses were reported there. Ruidosa declined to forty-three residents by 1968 and reported that same population level through 2000.

John Ernest Gregg, History of Presidio County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1933). Virginia Madison and Hallie Stillwell, How Come It's Called That? Place Names in the Big Bend Country (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1958). Fred I. Massengill, Texas Towns: Origin of Name and Location of Each of the 2,148 Post Offices in Texas (Terrell, Texas, 1936). Cecilia Thompson, History of Marfa and Presidio County, 1535–1946 (2 vols., Austin: Nortex, 1985).

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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, Julia Cauble Smith, "RUIDOSA, TX," accessed February 24, 2020,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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