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Rancho San José de Corralitos

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c. 1786, 1870. U.S. 83, 3 miles upriver from San Ygnacio

This fortified ranch house, or fortaleza, is the oldest documented structure to survive from the Spanish colonial period in the lower Rio Grande region. The one-room, rectangular, windowless, sandstone fortress was built to shelter ranch settlers during Indian raids. More primitive and much smaller in appearance than the nearby Jesús Treviño Fort ( SM1) in San Ygnacio, the fortaleza exhibits numerous troneras (gunports) along its exterior walls, including its parapet. Its original hand-hewn wooden beams and fireproof roof of chipichil were accurately replicated in a rehabilitation of 2006 by building conservator Frank Briscoe Jr.

Approximately 150 feet away, on the same property, a larger two-room fortified structure (1870) still stands. It has a projecting perimeter base forming a pollo, or water table, a typical building component of the region to ensure structural stability. Its lack of gunports indicates the minimized threat of Indian raids by the late nineteenth century.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "Rancho San José de Corralitos", [San Ygnacio, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: Central, South, and Gulf Coast, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 281-281.

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