Upshur County is in northeastern Texas. The center of the county lies at 32°44' north latitude and 94°54' west longitude. Gilmer, the seat of government, is near the center of the county, twenty-three miles northwest of Longview. The county was named for Abel Parker Upshur, the secretary of state under President John Tyler. Upshur County encompasses 587 square miles of land that slopes gradually from northwest to southeast, with altitudes that range from 225 to 685 feet above sea level. It is in the Piney Woods vegetation region and is covered by grasslands; loblolly, shortleaf, longleaf, and slash pines; and hardwoods such as oak, hickory, and maple. Generally sandy, acidic, light-colored surface soils cover deep reddish, mottled subsoils. Upshur County straddles both of the major drainage systems of Texas. The northern portion drains into the Mississippi River via Little and Big Cypress creeks, while the waters of the southern portions flow to the Gulf of Mexico by means of the Sabine River, which forms the southwestern border of the county. The county has a subtropical humid climate and an average annual rainfall of 45.74 inches. Temperatures range from an average minimum of 37° F in January to an average maximum of 96° in July; the average growing season lasts 245 days. Prehistoric Upshur County was almost entirely forested with a blend of pine, maple, sweet and black gums, hickory, birch, ash, and many kinds of oaks, such as are found in the mixed deciduous-pine forests throughout the Eastern Woodlands region. The lumber industry has been a major operation from the early days of settlement, and none of the area's virgin forest now exists. In the 1980s more than half the county was forested. While the local flora and fauna generally belong to the mixtures common to the Mississippi Valley and the Eastern Woodlands, during the drought of the 1950s road runners, armadillos, and other species from West Texas migrated into the county and have since remained. Mineral resources include oil, natural gas, lignite, and industrial sand.
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.