Big Spring

Big Spring, Texas

Big Spring, Texas

Skyline of the city of Big Spring in Howard County, Texas.
Photograph Credit: Robert Plocheck.

Big Spring, the county seat of Howard County, is at the intersection of Interstate Highway 20, U.S. highways 80 and 87, State Highway 350, Farm Road 700, and the Missouri Pacific line in southwest central Howard County. The city is in a rocky gorge between two high foothills of the Caprock escarpment in West Texas. It derives its name from the nearby "big spring" in Sulphur Draw, which was a watering place for coyotes, wolves, and herds of buffalo, antelope, and mustangs; the spring was a source of conflict between Comanche and Shawnee Indians and a campsite used by early expeditions across West Texas. Signal Mountain, ten miles southeast of Big Spring, was a landmark used by early cattlemen. In 1849 Capt. Randolph B. Marcy's expedition reached Big Spring on the return trip from Santa Fe and marked it as a campsite on the Overland Trail to California. The spring was also a campsite on the Santa Fe Trail from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to El Paso. Early ranchers, among them Adolph Miller and C. C. Slaughter, reached the area in the late 1870s, and after the ranchers came four-section plots with squatters' dugouts. In the late 1870s the community of Big Spring began near the spring as a settlement of hide huts and saloons for buffalo hunters. In 1880 the Texas and Pacific built through the area, following the line of Sulphur Draw several miles north of the spring. The community moved to the tracks, and Big Spring became the site of railroad shops and a station. When Howard County was organized in 1882 Big Spring became the county seat. That same year a post office started operating in the community, and its first general store opened. By 1884 Big Spring had an estimated population of 1,200, six saloons, four general stores, and a weekly newspaper (the Pantagraph). Several private schools were operating in the community by 1890, and the town had a public school by 1898.

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Big Spring is classified as a Town


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Big Spring by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Big Spring
Pop. Year Source
26,144 2020 United States Census Bureau
28,156 2019 Texas Demographic Center
27,282 2010 United States Census Bureau
25,233 2000 United States Census Bureau
23,098 1990 United States Census Bureau
24,804 1980 United States Census Bureau
28,735 1970 United States Census Bureau
31,230 1960 United States Census Bureau
17,286 1950 United States Census Bureau
12,604 1940 United States Census Bureau
13,735 1930 United States Census Bureau
4,273 1920 United States Census Bureau
4,102 1910 United States Census Bureau
1,255 1900 United States Census Bureau