INVENTING THE “MAGIC VALLEY” OF SOUTH TEXAS, 1905–1941* Academic Article uri icon


  • In this article we examine the invention of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas as the "Magic Valley." To sell land and water, early-twentieth-century land developers and boosters created the Magic Valley as a place myth comprising claims of abundant irrigation water, pliant and abundant labor, and modernity overtaking wilderness. We use a conceptual framework developed from place-making and place-marketing literatures in which language, iconography, and performance are simultaneously deployed in the creation of place images and place myths. Textual descriptions, visual imagery, and performances relied on material transformations of the landscape. We describe the changes in the Magic Valley place myth, emphasizing characterizations of labor, nature, the good life, and security of investment. Two perspectives are adopted, one that considers a range of promotional literature and one that centers on a prominent individual. Copyright © 2009 by the American Geographical Society of New York.

altmetric score

  • 16

author list (cited authors)


citation count

  • 12

publication date

  • April 2009