Upton County

Upton County, Texas

Upton County, Texas

Upton County showing in Texas Map. Photograph Credit: 1940s Map #4335, courtesy of the Texas General Land Office via TexasEscapes.com
Upton County, Texas

Upton County, Texas

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

Upton County is in southwestern Texas. The center of the county lies at 31°22' north latitude and 102°02' west longitude. Rankin, the county's seat of government, is fifty air miles south of Midland. The area was named for Confederate generals John C. Upton and William F. Upton. Upton County covers 1,241 square miles of rocky land in the Edwards Plateau vegetation region; elevations range from 2,300 to 3,000 feet above sea level. While northern sections of the county are flat, the southern sections are rolling and hilly and are pierced by numerous small lakes. The county's exposed limestone surfaces and sandy loam soils are covered with scrub mesquite, greasewood, cacti, catclaw, and grasses. King Mountain in the southwest is the area's highest point; Castle Mountain is fifteen miles north and Moltke Hill is fifteen miles southeast of King Mountain. Numerous small lakes drain to the tributaries of the Middle Concho and Pecos rivers. Rainfall averages only 12.70 inches annually. Temperatures range from an average minimum of 33° F in January to an average maximum of 96° in July. The average growing season lasts 232 days. Mineral resources include caliche and limestone. The area's transportation network includes U.S. Highway 385, U.S. Highway 67, and State highways 329 and 349.

The area that is now Upton County was traversed during the early nineteenth century by Comanches and Apaches, who competed for hunting grounds in the area. Both tribes were superior horsemen, capable hunters of buffalo and other game, and relentless raiders of their neighbors. Despite their considerable achievements in material culture and adaptation to their environment, the Indians lost their domination of the region to the United States Army and the advancing tide of White settlers in the 1870s and 1880s. In the 1860s the Chihuahua Trail from Mexico to Indianola, Texas, a significant trading route, crossed the region, as did the route of the Butterfield Overland Mail (1858–61), and the Goodnight-Loving Trail. Originally part of the Bexar Territory, the area was part of Tom Green County from 1874 until 1887, when Upton County was established. One of the earliest settlers was Dr. George W. Elliott, who moved into the area in 1881 and drilled the first well; he reached water at thirty feet. The area was part of the open range until the 1890s, when sheepmen crossed the Pecos River to compete with cattlemen for the range. The United States Census counted fifty-two people living in the county in 1890, and only forty-eight in 1900; most of these belonged to the families of Arthur F. Schnaubert, Frank Inghram, and Jim O'Bryan, or were hired cowboys and ranch hands. According to the agricultural census for 1900, there were eighteen ranches that year; almost 39,000 cattle were reported, but virtually no crops were grown. The area began to attract more settlers in the early twentieth century. In 1900 and 1901 open range cattlemen started selling their holdings, and the state encouraged the sale of school and railroad lands for settlement. Rancher Henry M. Halff tried to develop an irrigation area for cotton and vegetable raising and sold town lots at Upland for the price of a notary fee. Upland opened a public school in 1908. By 1910 there were 105 ranches or farms in the area, and the population had increased to 501; the county was organized that year, and Upland became the county seat.

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William R. Hunt, John Leffler | © TSHA

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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


Place type

Upton County is classified as a County

Altitude Range

2310 ft – 3141 ft


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

  • Land Area: 1,241.3 mi²
  • Total Area: 1,241.5 mi²


January mean minimum: 31.9°F
July mean maximum: 95.3°F

Rainfall, 2019

15.1 inches

Population Count, 2019


Civilian Labor Count, 2019


Unemployment, 2019


Property Values, 2019

$4,915,481,626 USD

Per-Capita Income, 2019

$44,545 USD

Retail Sales, 2019

$39,509,721 USD

Wages, 2019

$36,670,193 USD

Upton County

  • Upton County
Place Type Population (Year/Source) Currently Exists
Town 1,825 (2021) Yes
Town 182 (2009) Yes
Town 759 (2021) Yes

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