Howard County

Howard County, Texas

Howard County, Texas

View of the Big Spring State Park Pavillion, located in Howard County, Texas.
Photograph Credit: Robert Plocheck.
Howard County, Texas

Howard County, Texas

Landscape and moon of Big Spring State Park in Howard County, Texas.
Photograph Credit: Robert Plocheck.
Howard County, Texas

Howard County, Texas

The Howard County Courthouse in located in the city of Big Spring, the seat of Howard County, Texas. Photograph by Billy Hathorn.
Howard County, Texas

Howard County, Texas

Map of Howard County, Texas. Map Credit: Robert Plocheck.

Howard County, on the High Plains of West Texas eighty miles west of Abilene, is bordered by Glasscock, Martin, Dawson, Borden, Scurry, and Sterling counties. It lies at the eastern tip of the Permian Basin and at the foot of the escarpment marking the beginning of the Edwards Plateau, which extends 200 miles to the south. To the north is the Caprock, the edge of the Llano Estacado. The center of the county is at 32°18' north latitude and101°25' west longitude. Big Spring is the county seat and largest community. Interstate Highway 20 bisects the county from east to west, and U.S. Highway 87 runs northwest to southeast. State highways 33, 176, and 350 are other important roads. The county comprises 901 square miles and is drained by the North Concho River and Morgan and Wild Horse creeks. The soils range from light to very dark loams, with some deep clayey subsoils. Some areas also have considerable accumulations of lime in the subsoils. In the south central part of the county are outcroppings of limestone bedrock. Elevations range from 2,200 to 2,550 feet. The average annual rainfall is 15.88 inches. Temperatures in January range from an average low of 29° F to an average high of 57° and in July from 71° to 95°. The growing season lasts 217 days, with the last freeze in early April and the first in early November. Dust storms and high winds are common in the early spring and summer. The vegetation is typical of the High Plains region, with buffalo grass and blue grama predominating. Between 41 and 50 percent of the land in the county is considered prime farmland. Most of the county's annual income is derived from agriculture, with approximately 90 percent of receipts from cotton, wheat, and sorghum culture. Leading natural resources include oil and gas, sand, gravel, and stone.

From an early period Big Spring, on Sulphur Draw, had been a favored watering place for Skidi Pawnees and Quahadi Comanches, who fought for its possession and for the herds of buffalo and antelope that wintered there. The spring, now dry, long provided the only reliable source of water within 100 miles. The first Europeans to traverse the future county were probably a Spanish expedition of 1768. Capt. Randolph B. Marcy of the United States Army described the area in 1849, but it remained unsettled until after the Civil War. The first known settler to have come to the region was William Travis Roberts, who moved from Georgetown, Texas, in 1870 and settled at Moss Spring, twelve miles southeast of Big Spring. When the spring site was bought by Will Wardell and Frank Biler, Roberts moved his headquarters a mile and a half up the draw, dug the first well in the county, and built a dugout to live in. Until the coming of the Texas and Pacific in 1881, Brownwood was the supply point for settlers and mail was brought from Fort Concho. Other early cattlemen included F. G. Oxsheer, C. C. Slaughter, and B. F. Wolcott. The Wolcott Ranch is said to have installed the first of many windmills in the county. Other early settlers were L. F. McKay, who installed the pumping equipment for the railroad and remained to become a citizen of the county, and the Earl of Aylesford, who bought 37,000 acres of land in the county in 1883 and built the first permanent structure in Big Spring. Dave Rhoton is credited with starting the local sheep business in 1887 by building a wool-storage structure at his headquarters in Iatan, Mitchell County.

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Christopher Long | © TSHA

Handbook of Texas Logo

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

Currently Exists

Yes

Place type

Howard County is classified as a County

Altitude Range

2180 ft – 2800 ft

Size

Land area does not include water surface area, whereas total area does

  • Land Area: 900.8 mi²
  • Total Area: 904.2 mi²

Temperature

January mean minimum: 31.3°F
July mean maximum: 94.6°F

Rainfall, 2019

19.5 inches

Population Count, 2019

36,664

Civilian Labor Count, 2019

13,968

Unemployment, 2019

9.4%

Property Values, 2019

$5,010,061,371 USD

Per-Capita Income, 2019

$40,255 USD

Retail Sales, 2019

$600,280,989 USD

Wages, 2019

$189,251,209 USD

Howard County

Highlighted:
  • Howard County
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Place Type Population (Year/Source) Currently Exists
Town
Town 26,144 (2020) Yes
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Town
Town 945 (2020) Yes
Town 10 (2009) Yes
Town 5 (2009) Yes
Town 225 (2020) Yes
Town 200 (2009) Yes
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Town 25 (2009) Yes
Town 3 (2009) Yes
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Town
Town
Town
Town
Lake Yes
Town
Lake Yes
Town
Town 878 (2020) Yes
Town
Town
Town 5 (2009) Yes
Town 10 (2009) Yes
Town
Town
Town
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Town

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