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Palo Alto Battlefield

Brownsville, Texas
County of Cameron.
6 miles north of Brownsville on Farm Road 511
National Register Number: 66000812
Resource type: Site.
Property type: Defense - battle site. The threat level was Watch in
Congressional District: TX-27 Certified Local Government: YES
This NHL offers public access.
Please contact the NHL directly for visitor information.
Current use/information: National Historic Site; See www.nps.gov/paal.

Statement of Significance (as of designation - December 19, 1960):
Here, on May 8, 1846, 2,300 U.S. Army soldiers led by Brig. Gen. Zachary Taylor engaged 3,300 Mexican troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Mariano Arista in the first of two important battles of the Mexican War founght on American soil. Galling fire from Taylor's artillery kept Mexican forces from reaching the American line. After the battle, the Mexican troops began their retreat to behind the Resaca de la Palma; Taylor's victory here made the invasion of Mexico possible.

The National Park Service owns or controls only about half of the battlefield. Over 2,000 acres within the administrative boundary of Palo alto Battlefield are currently in private hands. The development and expansion of Farm to Market Road 511, which borders the park on the south, and Farm to Market Road1847, which borders the park on the west, has increased the value of private lands within the park. The owners of one 1,400 acre parcel are currently negotiating the sale of their property to a local real estate developer. This tract of land contains valuable historic resources including Arista’s Hill which was used as a vantage point by commanding Mexican General Mariano Arista during the battle of Palo Alto. The Palo Alto Inn was constructed on the property during the U.S.-Mexican War and served as a stop over for individuals traveling from Port Isabel to Matamoros, Mexico. Development of the tract would directly impact these resources by destroying surface and subsurface artifacts. Palo Alto's ability to interpret the first battle between the U.S. and Mexico would also be impacted; along with impacting the visitor experience by destroying the park’s eastern view shed.

The NPS has been working with The Conservation Fund to purchase the 1,400 acres of private land within the park's administrative boundary and which are currently threatened by development. Working also with the City of Brownsville to develop and implement zoning overlays which would protect the park's view shed. NPS is developing a Vegetation Management Plan/EA which will assist the park in restoring the historic cultural landscape and removing invasive plants. NPS has added additional infrastructure for maintaining and interpreting the site. These include a small maintenance facility, trails along the United States and Mexican line of defense, interpretive exhibits along the trails, and additional replica canons. New exhibits will continue to interpret the U.S. War with Mexico from both the United States and Mexico perspective. Additional work includes removing cattle dip tank and the soil surrounding the tank; which are contaminated with arsenic and pose a safety hazard to both employees and visitors.

Comments and questions about the database may be directed to NHL_info@nps.gov