Riviera is on U.S. Highway 77 fifteen miles south of Kingsville in Kleberg County. It was founded by Theodore F. Koch, a land promoter from St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1907, Koch purchased from Henrietta King a large tract that he had surveyed and divided to be sold to land seekers. He laid out a townsite adjacent to St. Louis, Brownsville, and Mexico Railway (the line had been completed in 1904) and named it Riviera because the area reminded him of the southern coast of France. After a railroad depot was built, Koch began running a train from Chicago to Riviera once or twice a month to bring potential customers to see the land. To make a good impression on these visitors, Koch had a hotel constructed and a flowing artesian well located near the depot. His guests were taken down a wide boulevard through Riviera; in the middle of the boulevard grew tropical trees, plants, and flowers. Those interested in buying farms were carried in buggies and, later, automobiles, to see Koch's land. Many bought land and established homes in the community. Several businesses were started, including a general mercantile establishment and a seed store. In 1907, a post office was established; in 1908, a school; and in 1910, a jail.
The first few years of Riviera witnessed considerable growth, and optimism about the future was high. But in 1915, a severe drought discouraged many residents, and they left. The next year, a devastating hurricane hit. Many settlers remained, however, and others moved in. The construction of roads in the county during the 1920s made Riviera more accessible and strengthened the local economy. Its population in 1930 was 400, and by 1935 it had increased to 500. In 1990, the town reported 550 residents and thirteen businesses.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sterling Bass, History of Kleberg County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1931). Kleberg County Historical Commission, Kleberg County, Texas (Austin: Hart Graphics, 1979). Tom Lea, The King Ranch (2 vols., Boston: Little, Brown, 1957).
George O. Coalson, The Handbook of Texas Online
Picture of Mr. and Mrs. Koch provided by Idella Underbrink Strubhart, author of A Small Town In God's Country.
The Riviera I. S. D. does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, or disability in providing education services, activities, and programs, in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
El Districto Escolar Independiente de Riviera; no discrimina en base a la ede, raza, religion, colored piel, nacionalidad, sexo, y discapacidad al proporcinar servicios educativos, actividades, y programas, decuerdo con Titulo VI del acta de Derechos Civiles de 1964, como ha sido amendada, el Titulo IX de las Enmiendas Educativas de 1972; y la Seccion 504 del Acta de Rehabilitacion de 1973, como ha sido amendada