Pecos County, Texas

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Not to be confused with Pecos, Texas.
Pecos County, Texas
Pecos county courthouse.jpg
Pecos County Courthouse in Fort Stockton
Map of Texas highlighting Pecos County
Location in the state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded 1871 [1]
Seat Fort Stockton
Largest city Fort Stockton
 • Total 4,765 sq mi (12,341 km2)
 • Land 4,764 sq mi (12,339 km2)
 • Water 1 sq mi (3 km2), 0.02%
 • (2010) 15,507
 • Density 3.5/sq mi (1/km²)
Congressional district 23rd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Pecos County is a county located in Texas which is named for the Pecos River. As of the 2010 census, its population was 15,507.[2] The county seat is Fort Stockton.[3] It is one of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas.


Native Americans[edit]

Archeological digs at Squawteat Peak uncovered prehistoric hunter-gatherer artifacts. 14 clusters of stones interpreted as wickiup and tipi rings indicate human habitation. A ring midden in the camp provided a radiocarbon date of 1300 A.D. Archeological finds along Tunas Creek include a burial site, pictographs, and artifacts; a possible modified Langtry projectile point (2,000 B.C. to A.D. 700–800).[4][5]

Early Routes[edit]

The Comanche Trail crossed Pecos County near Horsehead Crossing and through Comanche Springs.[6] The Chihuahua Trail connecting Mexico’s state of Chihuahua with Santa Fe, New Mexico brought travelers through the area by Comanche Springs about 1840.[7][8]

United States Army outpost, Fort Stockton, was established in 1858 at Comanche Springs to guard the San Antonio-El Paso Mail. That same year the Butterfield Overland Mail began service to the army post.[9]

County Established and Growth[edit]

The town of Fort Stockton began near the Fort Stockton army post at Comanche Springs as St. Gall, but was renamed in 1880.[9][10] Pecos County was established by the Texas legislature in 1871 originally out of Presidio County. The county was organized in 1875. St. Gall (Fort Stockton), became the county seat. There were 1,100 people living in the county that year.[4] By 1890 the county had 227 cattle and 150 sheep that year, and 1,300 acres (5.3 km2) were planted in corn. By 1900 the area's economy had become almost completely dominated by cattle and sheep ranching, though plots of wheat, rye, corn, and oats were grown.[4] Construction of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Company of Texas across Pecos County in 1913 caused a boom in land speculation and community growth, as did irrigation projects along the Pecos River.[11] Construction of Texas State Highway 290 linking Fort Stockton to Big Bend National Park gave a boost to the tourism dollar. In the 1980s the economy of Pecos County continued to be based on farming, ranching, oil and gas production, and tourism. The Yates Oil Field in Crockett and Pecos counties in 1927 resulted in a financial boom period for the county. Towns such a Red Barn, Iraan (combination of the names Ira and Ann Yates) and Bakersfield rose up in response to oil-related employment opportunities. The population of the county more than doubled during the 1920s. Oil production helped to stabilize the local economy.[12][13]

Alley Oop and Paisano Pete[edit]

Iraan prides itself on being the birthplace of cartoon caveman Alley Oop, when creator Victor T. Hamlin worked in the oilfields. Although first published in the Des Moines Register in 1932, Hamlin himself allegedly claimed to have originated the idea while he watched dinosaur bones being dug up by oil equipment. Visitors to Iraan can visit the Alley Oop Museum found on Alley Oop Lane.[14] Fort Stockton pays tribute to the agile roadrunner with their Paisano Pete the Roadrunner statue.[15]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,765 square miles (12,340 km2), of which 4,764 square miles (12,340 km2) is land and 1 square mile (2.6 km2) of it (0.02%) is water.[16] It is the second largest county by area in Texas.

Yates Oil Field[edit]

Pecos County is home to one of the largest oil fields in the United States, the Yates Oil Field, which is in the extreme eastern part of the county, along the Pecos River. The field covers approximately 41 square miles (110 km2) near the town of Iraan. Discovered in 1926, it has produced over a billion barrels of oil, and most industry estimates give it more than another billion in recoverable reserves. The Yates was one of the first giant fields to be found in the Permian Basin.[17][18]

Major Highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,807
1890 1,326 −26.6%
1900 2,360 78.0%
1910 2,071 −12.2%
1920 3,857 86.2%
1930 7,812 102.5%
1940 8,185 4.8%
1950 9,939 21.4%
1960 11,957 20.3%
1970 13,748 15.0%
1980 14,618 6.3%
1990 14,675 0.4%
2000 16,809 14.5%
2010 15,507 −7.7%
Est. 2012 15,619 0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[19]
2012 Estimate[2]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 15,507 people residing in the county. 79.4% were White, 3.7% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 13.5% of some other race and 2.1% of two or more races. 67.3% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

As of the census[21] of 2000, there were 16,809 people, 5,153 households, and 4,029 families residing in the county. The population density was 4 people per square mile (1/km²). There were 6,338 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile (1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 75.85% White, 4.39% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.51% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 16.13% from other races, and 2.69% from two or more races. 61.05% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,153 households out of which 41.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.10% were married couples living together, 11.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.80% were non-families. 19.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.86 and the average family size was 3.29.

In the county, the population was spread out with 27.70% under the age of 18, 13.80% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 20.50% from 45 to 64, and 10.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 123.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 132.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,033, and the median income for a family was $31,122. Males had a median income of $25,888 versus $18,113 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,212. About 18.10% of families and 20.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.20% of those under age 18 and 16.30% of those age 65 or over.

Notable residents[edit]

Oilman and rancher Clayton W. Williams, Sr., served for sixteen years as a Pecos county commissioner. His father, attorney Oscar Waldo Williams, earlier served a decade as Pecos county judge. Clayton Wheat Williams, Jr., the 1990 Republican gubernatorial nominee, was reared in Fort Stockton but resides in Midland.


Public education in Pecos County is provided by three Independent School Districts (ISDs): Buena Vista, Fort Stockton, and Iraan-Sheffield.

Williams Regional Technical Training Center[edit]

Pecos County is home to the Midland College Williams Regional Technical Training Center (WRTTC), located alongside Interstate Highway 10, in Fort Stockton. The center was built in 1996 - through a joint effort by Midland College, and by leaders of Fort Stockton education, business and government - as a means to enhance higher education and workforce development in this part of West Texas. Fort Stockton and Pecos County are part of the Midland College service area. After just four years, the facility - named in honor of Fort Stockton native and WRTTC donor Clayton Williams, Jr. - was doubled in size through fundraising and program development.


Area Ranches[edit]

The headquarters of 220,000-acre (890 km2) La Escalera Ranch, owned and operated by the Lyda family, is located 20 miles (30 km) south of Fort Stockton. The ranch encompasses much of Pecos County and portions of Brewster, Archer, and Baylor counties. The hundred-year-old core ranch was originally owned by California-based Elsinore Land & Cattle Company, but in 1992 was acquired by Gerald Lyda of San Antonio, Texas who renamed the property La Escalera Ranch (Spanish for "The Ladder"). The family's subsequent purchase of additional ranches has expanded the ranch's original borders. The ranch is known for its reputation herd of Angus cattle and abundant wildlife, such as West Texas mule deer, Auodad sheep and Rio Grande wild turkey. Located on the ranch is the internationally famous Sierra Madera crater, which was created when a huge meteorite struck the earth.



Unincorporated areas[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pecos County, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online. By Glenn Justice and John Leffler. Retrieved on 31 March 2007.
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 22, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ a b c Leffler, John. "Pecos County, Texas". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Squawteat Peak". Texas Beyond History. UT-Austin. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Comanche Trail". National Park Service. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  7. ^ Perry, Ann; Smith, Deborah; Simons, Helen; Hoyt, Catherine A (1996). A Guide to Hispanic Texas. University of Texas Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-292-77709-5. 
  8. ^ Sharp, Jay W. "Desert Trails: The Chihuahua Trail". Desert USA. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Hudnall, Sharon and Ken (2005). "Fort Stockton, Texas". Spirits of the Border III. Omega Press. pp. 178–187. ISBN 978-0-9754923-2-1. 
  10. ^ "Fort Stockton Tx". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Fort Stockton Railroad Depots". Texas Escapes. Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Iraan, Texas". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  13. ^ Harris, Jim; Texas Folklore Society (1991). Features and Fillers: Texas Journalists on Texas Folklore. University of North Texas Press. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-1-57441-074-7. 
  14. ^ Eckhardt, C F. "Victor T. Hamlin & Alley Oop". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  15. ^ Butko, Brian and Sarah (2005). Roadside Giants. Stackpole Books. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-0-8117-3228-4. 
  16. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  17. ^ Hyne, Norman J. Nontechnical Guide to Petroleum Geology, Exploration, Drilling, and Production, 2nd edition. PennWell Books, 2001. ISBN 0-87814-823-X, ISBN 0-87814-823-X p. 105.
  18. ^ Description at University of Texas Oil Connections.
  19. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved December 22, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Texas Almanac: County Population History 1850-2010". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 22, 2013. 
  21. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°47′N 102°43′W / 30.78°N 102.72°W / 30.78; -102.72