Texas Counties Deliver – learn how county government serves you


      This county, though given formal boundaries in 1887 and detached from original Tom Green County, long remained among the unorganized counties of west Texas, and the county government was established in 1910.  Previously it had been attached to Midland County for judicial purposes.  Until very recently it has been essentially a stock raising country, and its limited population were almost entirely engaged in that vocation.  Since 1910 two important developments have occurred.  The first demonstrated that Upton County lies in the area of the "shallow water belt," and by means of pumping it is possible to irrigate large quantities of land on an economic basis.  About 1912 the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient Railroad was constructed across the southern border of the county, and that railway promises to inaugurate a new era of improvement, and the coming of new settlers of a farming class will bring about a more general utilization of the natural resources of this section.

       The population of Upton County at the three last census years was:  in 1890, 52; in 1900, 48; and in 1910, 501.  The county seat town is Upland, which is located near the center of the county and was the only post office until the coming of the railroad, since which time the station of Rankin has been located on that line.

      The report of the last census furnished only meager statistics on agricultural development.  One hundred and five farms were enumerated, as compared with eighteen in 1900.  Of a total area of 764,800 acres, 1,638 acres were so classified; 6,224 cattle were enumerated, about two thousand horses and mules, and 2,118 goats.

    • 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.  A bill was presented to the Nineteenth legislature on March 11, 1885 to divide the western portion of Tom Green County into Ward, Crane, Upton, Ector, Winkler, Loving. Thereby creating six new counties.

      The county of Upton is named in honor of Col John C Upton who was killed at the head of his regiment before the evacuation of Richmond

      In the fall of 1911 the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway reached the townsite of Rankin, and by January 1912 most of the people living in Upland had moved to Rankin. The county's population soon was concentrated at or near Rankin, and after 1913 the town's school system served the entire county. Rankin became the county seat in 1921.

      In 1926 George McCamey's wildcat brought 700 hopeful people to the area and established a new town in the southwest corner of Upton County named for the oil discoverer. The opening of the Yates oilfield especially helped to develop Upton County's economy. The Yates field actually lies in Crockett and Pecos counties, but Rankin developed as the supply and oil service center for the rich district and boomed as a result.  McCamey field operators gained a railroad spur from the Santa Fe Railroad, which had taken over the Orient Railroad, to aid development and encourage growth of the new town. By late 1927 several thousand people lived in McCamey. Water had to be freighted from Alpine, 100 miles distant, and was sold at one dollar per barrel until 1929, when good water from the Trinity sands wells seventeen miles away was piped into the town. (Source Unknown)


      First Upton County Seat

      Texas Ghost Town
      Upton CountyWest Texas

      31° 21' 59" N, 101° 58' 50" W (31.366389, -101.980556)

      About 10 Miles N of Rankin the county seat
      45 Miles S of Midland
      Population: 0

      • Upland First Upton County Seat

        Now abandoned, the town of Upland (10 miles N) was intended as a station on the rail line from St. Louis to Chihuahua, Mexico. It was also located near the stage route of the Butterfield mail line. Henry Halff and his son platted the townsite in 1908 and a school opened the same year. In 1910 Upland was named the first county seat and a stone courthouse was constructed later. By passed by new rail lines and suffering from a severe drought, the town declined. Homes and buildings were moved here by 1921 when Rankin became the new seat of government.

    • History in a Pecan Shell

      The first county seat of Upton County tried its best to comply with state law and located very near the county’s geographic center. It was granted a post office in 1907 and was platted the following year by Henry Halff. Upland was officially declared the county seat in May of 1910.

      With a centered county seat, a small but growing population, and even a newspaper, Upland’s future looked bright despite a severe lack of water and poor soil. Residents held out against nature, but it was progress that doomed the town.

      Upland joined the long list of ghost towns that were killed by being bypassed by the railroad. The year was 1911 and the population of Upland relocated to Rankin, even going so far as to move the hotel there in 1912. The newspaper moved to Rankin as well and although the post office held out for a few more years, it closed in 1918.

      Today there is the historic marker in the Upton County Courthouse to serve as Upland’s tombstone. The name still appears on old maps and perhaps some faded postmarks on brittle envelopes in distant trunks.

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