BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Welcome to the Bosque De Palmas and it is exactly like it was in 1519. There was a Spanish explorer by the name of Alonso Álvarez de Piñeda that came through the Texas coast. What Piñeda was mapping the coastline and securing his conquested lands in the name of his boss, Francisco de Garay, who was the Provincial Viceroy of Cuba.
The Bosque De Palmas is a natural palm forest because these palms are a specific species. They are called Sabal Mexicana or the Sabal Texana. They are native of this region and they only extend now as far north in a very slight degree to Victoria, Texas. Then they go all the way down into Central America. The Sabal Palm grove as we have around us here thankfully was preserved throughout the various ownerships and years of its existence in the modern colonization period.
The first person of record to own this track beyond the Espiritu Santo grant was the Rabb-Starck dynasty. This particular piece of property was bought out of the Kennedy tract around 1885. This setting actually got world acclaim back in 1936 because there was a person in Brownsville called “Snake King” and he was an animal tamer, animal importer/exporter. His son made a film in 1936 with Clyde Beatty called “Lost Africa”. They utilized some of this backdrop in order to actually fit into the movie.
This tract of land remained as a sanctuary all of those years until fairly recently. About a decade ago it was transferred from the Audubon Society on over to the Gorgas Science Foundation based in Brownsville.