Hudspeth County, Texas

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Hudspeth County, Texas
Hudspeth county courthouse 2009.jpg
Hudspeth County Courthouse in Sierra Blanca
Map of Texas highlighting Hudspeth County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of USA TX.svg
Texas's location within the U.S.
Named for Claude Benton Hudspeth
Seat Sierra Blanca
Largest community Fort Hancock
  Total4,572 sq mi (11,841 km2)
  Land4,571 sq mi (11,839 km2)
  Water0.8 sq mi (2 km2), 0.02%
Population (est.)
  Density0.8/sq mi (0.3/km2)
Congressional district 23rd
Time zone Mountain: UTC−7/−6

Hudspeth County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 3,476. [1] Its county seat is Sierra Blanca, [2] and the largest community is Fort Hancock. The county is named for Claude Benton Hudspeth, a state senator and United States Representative from El Paso. [3] It is northeast from the Mexican border.

County (United States) Subdivision used by most states in the United States of America

In the United States, an administrative or political subdivision of a state is a county, which is a region having specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs respectively.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.


Hudspeth County is included in the El Paso, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is one of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas. Hudspeth is one of two Texas counties to observe Mountain Time, along with neighboring El Paso.

El Paso, Texas City in Texas, United States

El Paso is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, in the far western part of the state. The 2017 population estimate for the city from the U.S. Census was 683,577. Its metropolitan statistical area (MSA) covers all of El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas, and has a population of 844,818.

The El Paso Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Census Bureau, is an area consisting of two counties – El Paso and Hudspeth – in far West Texas, anchored by the city of El Paso. As of the 2017 census estimate, the MSA had a population of 844,818. The El Paso MSA forms part of the larger El Paso–Las Cruces combined statistical area, with a total population of 1,060,397 as of the 2017 Census estimate.


The Trans-Pecos, as originally defined in 1887 by the Texas geologist Robert T. Hill, is the portion of Texas that lies west of the Pecos River. The term is considered synonymous with "Far West Texas", a subdivision of West Texas. The Trans-Pecos is part of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. It is the most mountainous and arid portion of the state, and most of its area is vast and sparsely populated, comprising seven of the ten largest counties by area in Texas. The area is known for the natural environment of the Big Bend and the gorge of the Rio Grande, part of which has been designated a National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. With the notable exceptions of Big Bend Ranch State Park, Big Bend National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the vast majority of the Trans-Pecos region consists of privately owned ranchland. However, the majority of the region's population reside in the El Paso metropolitan area.


Prehistoric Jornada Mogollón peoples [4] were practicing agriculture in the Rio Grande floodplain A.D. 900–1350. These people left behind artifacts and pictographs as evidence of their presence. [5]

Human prehistory is the period between the use of the first stone tools c. 3.3 million years ago by hominins and the invention of writing systems. The earliest writing systems appeared c. 5,300 years ago, but it took thousands of years for writing to be widely adopted, and it was not used in some human cultures until the 19th century or even until the present. The end of prehistory therefore came at very different dates in different places, and the term is less often used in discussing societies where prehistory ended relatively recently.

Mogollon culture ethnic group

Mogollon culture is an archaeological culture of Native American peoples from Southern New Mexico and Arizona, Northern Sonora and Chihuahua, and Western Texas, a region known as Oasisamerica.

Pictogram ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object

A pictogram, also called a pictogramme, pictograph, or simply picto, and in computer usage an icon, is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Pictographs are often used in writing and graphic systems in which the characters are to a considerable extent pictorial in appearance. A pictogram may also be used in subjects such as leisure, tourism, and geography.

The Rodriguez-Sanchez Expedition [6] of 1581 encountered friendly Indians bestowing gifts upon the explorers. Antonio de Espejo [7] 1582-83 expedition encountered Otomoaco Indians in the county.

Antonio de Espejo was a Spanish explorer who led an expedition into New Mexico and Arizona in 1582–83. The expedition created interest in establishing a Spanish colony among the Pueblo Indians of the Rio Grande valley.

The Mescalero Apache [8] frequented the area to irrigate their crops. In 1849 John Salmon "RIP" Ford [9] explored the area between San Antonio and El Paso noting in his mapped report the productive land upon which the Mescalero Indians farmed. By the mid-17th century the Mescaleros expanded their territory to the Plains Navajos and Pueblos from the Guadalupes, and El Paso del Norte. Their feared presence deterred white settlers. In January 1870, a group of soldiers attacked a Mescalero Apache village near Delaware Creek in the Guadalupe Mountains. In July 1880 soldiers at Tinaja de las Palmas attacked a group of Mescaleros led by Chief Victorio. [10] In August 1880, Buffalo Soldiers ambushed Victorio at Rattlesnake Springs. Victorio retreated to Mexico and was killed in October by Mexican soldiers. [11] Two weeks later, Apaches killed seven Buffalo Soldiers, [12] members of the famous black Tenth United States Cavalry.

Mescalero ethnic group

Mescalero or Mescalero Apache is an Apache tribe of Southern Athabaskan Native Americans. The tribe is federally recognized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation, located in south central New Mexico.

Victorio Indian tribal chief

Victorio was a warrior and chief of the Warm Springs band of the Tchihendeh division of the central Apaches in what is now the American states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua.

The demand for new routes from Texas to California caused an uptick in explorations. [3] The San Antonio to El Paso leg of the San Antonio-California Trail was surveyed in 1848 under the direction of John Coffee Hays. Hudspeth became known as a place travelers passed through, on their way to somewhere else. Fort Quitman [13] was established in 1858 to provide protection for travelers.

John Coffee Hays Texas ranger and politician

John Coffee "Jack" Hays was a captain in the Texas Rangers and a military officer of the Republic of Texas. Hays served in several armed conflicts from 1836 to 1848, including against the Comanche people in Texas and during the Mexican–American War.

Fort Quitman Ghost Town in Texas, United States

Fort Quitman was a United States Army installation on the Rio Grande in Texas, south of present-day Sierra Blanca, 20 miles southeast of McNary in southern Hudspeth County. The fort, now a ghost town, was named for Mississippi Governor John A. Quitman, who served as a major general under Zachary Taylor during the Mexican–American War.

Lt. Francis Theodore Bryan [14] camped at Guadalupe Pass while exploring a route from San Antonio to El Paso via Fredericksburg. Upon reaching El Paso in July 1849 his report recommended sink wells along the route. In July 1848, Secretary of War William L. Marcy wanted a military post established on the north side of the Rio Grande. Major Jefferson Van Horne [15] was sent out in 1849 to establish Marcy's goal.

John Russell Bartlett [16] [17] was commissioned in 1850 to carry out the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Bartlett declared the Guadalupe Mountains dark and gloomy, and proposed a transcontinental railroad be built south of the peaks. Three years later, Capt. John Pope [18] was sent to scout out a railroad route, and in the succeeding year to search for artesian water supplies. Texas Commissioner Robert Simpson Neighbors [19] was sent by Governor Peter Hansborough Bell in 1850 to organize El Paso.

The Butterfield Overland Mail [20] and the San Antonio-San Diego Mail [21] served the county from 1857 to 1861. These mail coaches provided a means for travelers to reach California in 27 days, if the passenger had the $200 for a one-way fare and was courageous enough to withstand the weather and dangers en route.

Men from San Elizario and the other villages along the Rio Grande near El Paso had become dependent on the salt trade [22] for their livelihoods. After the Civil War they broke a road from Fort Quitman to the Salt Basin in northeastern Hudspeth County. But Anglo politicians tried to capitalize on this trade by asserting ownership of the salt lakes and levying fees on the traders. The result was the 7-year San Elizario Salt War, [23] which heightened tensions between Mexicans and Americans in the 1870s.

Rival railway companies began competing for rights of way. The Texas and Pacific Railway [24] and the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway [25] eventually reached an agreement to share the tracks, with a number of towns arising along the way

Hudspeth was formed in 1917 from El Paso. Sierra Blanca was named the county seat, and has the only adobe courthouse [26] in the state of Texas.

From 1992 to 2002, the county accepted over 200 tons per day of treated, dried sewage from New York City. The waste was spread over a remote site in the county. [27]

In recent times Hudspeth County has become notorious as a location for frequent drug arrests for individuals traveling east on Interstate 10 from El Paso, due to the presence of a US Border Patrol checkpoint. Several celebrities, including touring musicians Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and Fiona Apple, and actor Armie Hammer have been arrested on drug charges at this location. [28]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,572 square miles (11,840 km2), of which 4,571 square miles (11,840 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) (0.02%) is water. [29] It is the third largest county in Texas. Part of Guadalupe Mountains National Park lies in the northeast corner of the county.

Major highways

Adjacent counties and municipalities

Protected areas


Historical population
1920 962
1930 3,728287.5%
1940 3,149−15.5%
1950 4,29836.5%
1960 3,343−22.2%
1970 2,392−28.4%
1980 2,72814.0%
1990 2,9156.9%
2000 3,34414.7%
2010 3,4763.9%
Est. 20174,408 [30] 26.8%
U.S. Decennial Census [31]
1850–2010 [32] 2010–2014 [1]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 3,476 people residing in the county. 78.8% were White, 1.4% Black or African American, 1.1% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 16.1% of some other race and 2.2% of two or more races. 79.6% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

As of the census [33] of 2000, there were 3,344 people, 1,092 households, and 841 families residing in the county. The population density was 0.7 people per square mile (0.3/km²). There were 1,471 housing units at an average density of 0.3 per square mile (0.1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 87.23% White, 0.33% Black or African American, 1.41% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 8.76% from other races, and 2.09% from two or more races. 75.03% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 1,092 households out of which 45.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.9% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of one person and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.03 and the average family size was 3.56.

In the county, the population was spread out with 34.1% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 102.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.3 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $21,045, and the median income for a family was $22,314. Males had a median income of $22,862 versus $18,594 for females. The per capita income for the county was $9,549. About 32.6% of families and 35.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.3% of those under age 18 and 42.6% of those age 65 or over. The county's per-capita income makes it one of the poorest counties in the United States.


Hudspeth County is served by four school districts. The Fort Hancock Independent School District, based in Fort Hancock, covers the western part of the county, along the El Paso County line from the Mexican border to the New Mexico state line. A strip along the Culberson County line in the eastern part of Hudspeth County which includes Allamoore is served by the Culberson County-Allamoore Independent School District based in Van Horn. Most of the northern part of the county is served by the Dell City Independent School District, based in Dell City. Most of the southern part of the county is served by the Sierra Blanca Independent School District, based in Sierra Blanca.

According to statistics from January 2009, 52% of Hudspeth County adults were illiterate. [34]



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost Towns


Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results [35]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 57.8%50337.2% 3245.1% 44
2012 54.6%47143.9% 3791.5% 13
2008 51.0%45847.9% 4301.1% 10
2004 65.1%57734.1% 3020.8% 7
2000 55.8%51441.2% 3803.0% 28
1996 40.9% 36747.6%42711.6% 104
1992 37.4% 32541.9%36420.7% 180
1988 49.6% 40549.8%4060.6% 5
1984 60.4%55739.2% 3620.4% 4
1980 53.3%47144.6% 3942.2% 19
1976 44.8% 39554.4%4790.8% 7
1972 64.2%46734.4% 2501.4% 10
1968 40.3% 28540.9%28918.8% 133
1964 33.7% 22465.9%4380.5% 3
1960 39.0% 26759.7%4091.3% 9
1956 45.7% 31653.2%3681.2% 8
1952 57.1%35542.1% 2620.8% 5
1948 9.8% 4987.8%4372.4% 12
1944 8.8% 3584.1%3337.1% 28
1940 11.2% 5488.6%4260.2% 1
1936 6.2% 2493.6%3630.3% 1
1932 8.3% 3191.4%3410.3% 1
1928 51.3%12348.8% 117
1924 23.9% 3459.2%8416.9% 24
1920 27.4% 3771.9%970.7% 1

See also

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Hudspeth County Courthouse

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Carnoviste was a hostile southern (Guadalupe) Mescalero chief, his band—presumably Tsehitcihéndé or Niit'ahénde—lived in the Texan Big Bend Country, ranging on both sides of the Rio Grande from the Guadalupe Mountains towards east of the Limpia Mountains onto the edge of the Southern Plains.


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Coordinates: 31°27′N105°22′W / 31.45°N 105.37°W / 31.45; -105.37