Taking a Ride Through History

Words by Melissa Cortes Santiago

Edited by Abigail Vela

Haunted Hotels, underground tunnels used to smuggle goods, and forts dating back to the Civil War, where it’s rumored that the spirits of soldiers still lurk throughout the grounds. These all sound like the trademarks of an old scary movie or stories from a sleepy town somewhere in the South. But the truth is, you can find these locations right here in the RGV. All you gotta do is hop on a trolley and take a ride!

Bessie III is an air-conditioned trolley established in 2009 and operated by Rio Grande City’s Main Street Program. The trolley was named and modeled after a steamboat that brought goods up the Rio Grande River in the mid-1800s. It now serves as a quirky attraction for the city, taking tourists and locals on rides to important historical locations throughout the town.

Bessie Trolley in Rio Grande City
Photo by Aime Miranda

Bessie III is one of the very few trolley tour services in the entire RGV! Its main goal? Educating citizens on the diverse historical and cultural legacies of Rio Grande City and preserving the town’s heritage. 

The trolley ride makes its way through different locations. The more notable ones include La Borde House, built by French immigrant Francois La Borde in the late 1800s, now serving as a hotel. The house has been the subject of speculation over the years and is rumored to be haunted. It also houses some of the tunnels used to smuggle goods into the U.S. during the early 1900s. Fort Ringgold served as a military base during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.

A Green Sign with reading La Borde House in Rio Grande City, Texas
La Borde House, Photo by Aime Miranda

By highlighting these significant locations, Bessie III is bringing small pieces of the town’s history into the light for the public to explore and, more importantly, get educated on the hidden jewels of this small city.

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