Earliest civilized settlement in present Zapata County was Hacienda Dolores, founded by José Vasquez Borrego in 1750. The ruins are designated a state historic site.) The town was named in honor of Antonio Zapata, a Mexican army officer and fierce fighter. The historic old town on the banks of Rio Grande was relocated to higher ground with the completion of Falcon Dam. A new Zapata was built on U.S. 83. Zapata is home to Falcon Lake, which covers 87,000 aces. It is the site of ranching, oil and natural gas production. Hunting and fishing are abundant.
Zapata joins Texas under six flags, but also boasts a seventh flag—the Republic of the Rio Grande—that flew over the area from March–April 1840.
Zapata has excellent birding opportunities. The white-collared seedeater has made its home near the city park for years. In addition, scaled quail, red-billed pigeon, Cassins and black-throated sparrows, black-tailed gnatcatcher and varied bunting can be seen here, along with many species of birds associated with the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
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