Trans-Pecos

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Trans-Pecos
FouquieriaSplendens 2006 BigBend.jpg
Ocotillo in the Chihuahuan Desert of the Trans-Pecos
TransPecosTexas.svg
Floor elevation300–2,667 m (984–8,750 ft)
Area31,479 sq mi (81,530 km2)
Geography
Country United States
State Texas
Rio Grande valley in the Big Bend area Big Bend Rio Grande.jpg
Rio Grande valley in the Big Bend area
Big Bend National Park and Chihuahuan Desert Big Bend Chihuahuan Desert.jpg
Big Bend National Park and Chihuahuan Desert

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. [1] The term is considered synonymous with "Far West Texas", a subdivision of West Texas. [2] 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 (outside the city of El Paso) 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.

Robert T. Hill United States geologist

Robert Thomas Hill was a significant figure in the development of American geology during the late nineteenth century and in the early part of the twentieth century. As a pioneer Texas geologist, Hill discovered and named the Comanche Series of the Lower Cretaceous, and was a lifelong student of the structure and stratigraphy of the Cretaceous deposits of Central Texas and neighboring regions.

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.

Pecos River river in the United States of America

The Pecos River originates in north-central New Mexico and flows into Texas, emptying into the Rio Grande. Its headwaters are on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County north of Pecos, NM, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet (3,700 m) feet. The river flows for 926 miles (1,490 km) before reaching the Rio Grande near Del Rio. Its drainage basin encompasses about 44,300 square miles (115,000 km2).

Contents

Demographics

The Trans-Pecos region consists of nine counties: Brewster, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, and Terrell (See table below). Brewster County, the largest, has a land area of 6,193 sq mi (16,040 km2). To put this figure in perspective, the land area of Brewster County is about 10% larger than the entire state of Connecticut, yet it has a population density of only 1.4 persons per square mile compared to the 723 persons per square mile who reside in Connecticut. However, Brewster County is not the least-populated of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos. Terrell County, which borders both the Pecos River and the Rio Grande, is the least-populated county in the Trans-Pecos region. According to the United States Census of 2000, Terrell County had a total population of 984 residents occupying a land area of 2,358 sq mi (6,107 km2), resulting in a population density less than 0.5 persons per square mile.

Brewster County, Texas County in the United States

Brewster County is a county located in the western part of the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 9,232. Its county seat and only city is Alpine. The county is named for Colonel Henry Percy Brewster, a Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas.

Culberson County, Texas County in the United States

Culberson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 2,398. The county seat is Van Horn. Culberson County was founded in 1911 and organized the next year. It is named for David B. Culberson, a lawyer and Confederate soldier in the American Civil War.

El Paso County, Texas County in the United States

El Paso County is the westernmost county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 800,647, making it the sixth-most populous county in the state of Texas. Its seat is the city of El Paso, the sixth-most populous city in Texas and the 19th-most populous city in the United States. The county was created in 1850 and later organized in 1871.

The Trans-Pecos is a region of extremes, and at the opposite extreme from sparsely populated Terrell County is El Paso County, which is the smallest but most populated of the nine counties. El Paso County has a land area of only 1,015 sq mi (2,629 km2), yet it has a population of 800,647 individuals, resulting in a population density of 789 persons per square mile, a value that exceeds that of Connecticut. El Paso County makes up 93.5 percent of the region's total population

Overall, the total population of the Trans-Pecos amounts to 856,187 residents occupying an area of 31,479 sq mi (81,530 km2), resulting in a population density around 27 persons per square mile (10 persons per km2), less than a third of the population density of the state as a whole. If the Trans-Pecos were to become a state, it would rank 45th in population (more than Delaware, less than Montana), 40th in total area (larger than South Carolina, smaller than Maine), and 42nd in population density (higher than Nevada, lower than Kansas).

Politics

Of its nine counties, Presidio is the most consistently Democratic, being like South Texas the longest-established Democratic stronghold in the nation. [3] El Paso has also been solidly Democratic since Ronald Reagan won the county in 1984. Jeff Davis is the most Republican county in the region, last being won for the Democratic Party by Jimmy Carter in 1976, [3] although even George W. Bush’s 66.79 percent of the vote in 2000 [4] stands modest compared to the 90 percent or more Republican vote common in Panhandle counties since the turn of the millennium. Hudspeth, Pecos and Terrell Counties, last won for the Democrats by Bill Clinton in 1996, [3] have become comparably Republican to Jeff Davis in the past couple of elections. The remaining three counties, especially Brewster County, have been “swing” counties since the 1970s, although Hillary Clinton consolidated Democratic majorities in Culbertson and Reeves counties in 2016.

Ronald Reagan 40th president of the United States

Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975.

Jimmy Carter 39th president of the United States

James Earl Carter Jr. is an American politician and philanthropist who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A Democrat, he previously served as a Georgia state senator from 1963 to 1967 and as the 76th governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. After his presidency, Carter has remained active in the private sector; in 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center.

George W. Bush 43rd president of the United States

George Walker Bush is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He had previously served as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

The city of El Paso and its environs form Texas's 16th congressional district, currently represented by Congressman Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso). The remainder of the region is located entirely within Texas's 23rd congressional district, currently represented by Congressman Will Hurd (R-Helotes).

Texass 16th congressional district

Texas District 16 of the United States House of Representatives is a Congressional district that serves El Paso and the surrounding area in the state of Texas. The current Representative is Democrat Veronica Escobar.

Veronica Escobar American politician from El Paso, Texas

Veronica Escobar is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Texas's 16th congressional district, based in El Paso. A member of the Democratic Party, Escobar previously served as a County Commissioner and County Judge for El Paso County from 2010 to 2017.

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its rival, the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

In the Texas Senate, El Paso County forms a single district, Senate District 29, represented by José R. Rodríguez (D-El Paso), while the remainder of the region is included in Senate District 19, represented by Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton). In the Texas House of Representatives, El Paso County is divided between House Districts 75-79, while the remainder of the region is included in House District 74.

Texas Senate

The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas State Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing single-member districts across the U.S. state of Texas, with populations of approximately 806,000 per constituency, based on the 2010 U.S. Census. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. Elections are held in even-numbered years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In elections in years ending in 2, all seats are up for election. Half of the senators will serve a two-year term, based on a drawing; the other half will fill regular four-year terms. In the case of the latter, they or their successors will be up for two-year terms in the next year that ends in 0. As such, in other elections, about half of the Texas Senate is on the ballot. The Senate meets at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The Republicans currently control the chamber, which is made up of 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

District 29 of the Texas Senate is a senatorial district that currently serves a portion of El Paso county in the U.S. state of Texas. The current Senator from District 29 is José R. Rodríguez.

José R. Rodríguez is an American attorney and politician. He is currently serving as a Democratic member of the Texas State Senate representing District 29 in El Paso, Texas.

Trans-Pecos Vote
by Party in Presidential Elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2016 27.4% 63,89266.8%155,7295.75% 13,399
2012 27.3% 65,17371.5%170,8161.22% 2,914
2008 34.6% 69,83964.4%129,9071.01% 2,046
2004 44.0% 83,03445.1%102,0861.99% 3,767
2000 40.9% 65,91056.5%91,1312.66% 4,288
1996 32.6%49,17661.5%92,7865.98% 9,025
1992 34.7% 52,94349.9%76,06815.5% 23,593
1988 46.8%63,71652.7%71,8170.52% 703
1984 56.0%76,91343.5% 59,7200.40% 549
1980 53.6%62,36540.8% 47,5095.63% 6,557
1976 47.45% 50,07051.2%54,0361.34% 1,411
1972 60.9%59,00738.4% 37,1840.75% 774
1968 43.4% 35,47647.3%38,6929.32% 7,626
1964 36.8%25,40336.9%43,4440.31% 212
1960 48.1% 30,66451.6%32,8670.32% 202

Road transportation

Interstates 10 and 20 are the largest freeways in the Trans-Pecos region. Major federal highways include US Highway 90 and US Highway 67, which are partially cosigned; Highway 90 continues from Alpine east to Del Rio, while Highway 67 runs south from Marfa to the Mexico-United States border at Presidio/Ojinaga, after which it continues as Mexican Federal Highway 16. State Highway 17 begins in Pecos and traverses Balmorhea State Park before joining Route 67 in Marfa, while State Highway 118 begins shortly after the junction of Interstates 10 and 20 near Kent and continues south to Study Butte at the entrance of Big Bend National Park.

Interstate Highway System United States highway system

The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, is a network of controlled-access highways that forms part of the National Highway System in the United States. Construction of the system was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. The system extends throughout the contiguous United States and has routes in Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.

Interstate 10 (I-10) is the major east–west Interstate Highway in the Southern United States. In the U.S. state of Texas, it runs east from Anthony, at the border with New Mexico, through El Paso, San Antonio and Houston to the border with Louisiana in Orange, Texas. At just under 880 miles (1,420 km), the Texas segment of I-10, maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation, is the longest continuous untolled freeway in North America that is operated by a single authority,. It is also the longest stretch of highway with a single designation within a single state. Mile marker 880 and its corresponding exit number in Orange, Texas, are the highest numbered mile marker and exit on any freeway in North America. After widening was completed in 2008, a portion of the highway west of Houston is now also believed to be the widest in the world, at 26 lanes. There is a wider section in China on the G4 Beijing–Hong Kong–Macau Expressway; however, that section is a toll plaza approach.

Interstate 20 in Texas is a major east–west Interstate Highway in the Southern United States, running east from a junction with Interstate 10 east of Kent, Texas, through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to the border with Louisiana near Waskom, Texas. The original distance of Interstate 20 was 647 miles (1,041 km) from I-10 to the Louisiana border, reduced to the current distance of 636 miles (1,024 km) with the rerouting of I-20 in the 1980s and 1990s. I-20 is known as the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway within the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

See also

Related Research Articles

Terrell County, Texas County in the United States

Terrell County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 984, making it the eighth-least populous county in Texas, and the 37th-least populous county in the nation. Its county seat is the census-designated place of Sanderson; no incorporated municipalities are in the county. The county was named for Alexander W. Terrell, a Texas state senator.

Reeves County, Texas County in the United States

Reeves County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 13,783. Its county seat is Pecos. The county was created in 1883 and organized the next year. It is named for George R. Reeves, a Texas state legislator and colonel in the Confederate Army. It is one of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas.

Presidio County, Texas County in the United States

Presidio County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 7,818. Its county seat is Marfa. The county was created in 1850 and later organized in 1875. Presidio County is in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas and is named for the ancient border settlement of Presidio del Norte. It is east from the Mexican border.

Pecos County, Texas County in the United States

Pecos County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 15,507. The county seat is Fort Stockton. The county was created in 1871 and organized in 1875. It is named for the Pecos River. It is one of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas.

Jeff Davis County, Texas County in the United States

Jeff Davis County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 2,342. Its county seat is Fort Davis. The county is named for Jefferson Davis, who served as the 23rd United States Secretary of War in the 1850s, and then, during the American Civil War, as President of the Confederate States of America. Jeff Davis County is easily recognizable for its unique shape; it is a pentagon which has no north-south nor east-west boundaries, save for a six mile line serving as its southern boundary. It also is the only county in the United States that touches a foreign country (Mexico) at a single point. Jeff Davis is also one of the nine counties that compose the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas.

Marfa, Texas City in Texas, United States

Marfa is a city in the high desert of the Trans-Pecos in far West Texas, between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park. It is the county seat of Presidio County, and its population as of the 2010 United States Census was 1,981. The city was founded in the early 1880s as a water stop; the population increased during World War II, but the growth stalled and reversed somewhat during the late 20th century. Today, Marfa is a tourist destination and a major center for minimalist art. Attractions include Building 98, the Chinati Foundation, artisan shops, historical architecture, a classic Texas town square, modern art installments, art galleries, and the Marfa lights.

Big Bend (Texas) geographic region in the western part of the state of Texas in the United States

The Big Bend is a colloquial name of a geographic region in the western part of the state of Texas in the United States along the border with Mexico, roughly defined as the counties north of the prominent northward bend in the Rio Grande as it passes through the gap between the Chisos Mountains in Texas and the Sierra Madre Oriental in Mexico. It is sometimes loosely defined as the part of Texas south of U.S. Highway 90 and west of the Pecos River. The region includes three counties in Texas: Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio.

West Texas Region in Texas, United States

West Texas is a loosely defined part of the U.S. state of Texas, generally encompassing the arid and semiarid lands west of a line drawn between the cities of Wichita Falls, Abilene, and Del Rio.

Texas State Highway 17 highway in Texas

State Highway 17, or SH 17, runs from Marfa to Pecos in west Texas. The road is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

Area code 432

North American area code 432 is a state of Texas telephone area code in the Permian Basin area of the state including the cities of Midland and Odessa. It was created, along with area code 325, on April 5, 2003 in a split from area code 915.

Solitario mountain in Texas, United States of America

The Solitario is a large geologic formation in Big Bend Ranch State Park in West Texas. When viewed from above, it suggests an impact crater; though it is actually the eroded remains of a laccolith. The approximate center of the Solitario is located 56.8 km (35.3 mi) east southeast of Presidio, Texas, just west of the line dividing Brewster County, Texas and Presidio County, Texas. The formation covers a circular area of approximately 135 km2 (52 sq mi). The geology of the Solitario is complex. In 1988 the state of Texas purchased the property containing the Solitario and created Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Geography of Texas

The geography of Texas is diverse and large. Occupying about 7% of the total water and land area of the U.S., it is the second largest state after Alaska, and is the southernmost part of the Great Plains, which end in the south against the folded Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico. Texas is in the south-central part of the United States of America, and is considered to form part of the U.S. South and also part of the U.S. Southwest.

Texas State Highway 118 highway in Texas

State Highway 118, or SH 118, is a 155.3-mile (249.9 km) state highway in the U.S. state of Texas that runs from Big Bend National Park north to Kent and passes through the towns of Study Butte, Alpine, and Fort Davis. SH 118 is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The road lies entirely within the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. SH 118 is a two-lane road along its length except for a section in Alpine where the route follows the path of U.S. Route 67 and U.S. Route 90. All of the route except for the 2.8-mile (4.5 km) section between Big Bend National Park and Farm to Market Road 170 is included in the Texas Historical Commission's Texas Mountain Trail.

Farm to Market Road 170, Farm Road 170, or FM 170 is a 114.6-mile (184.4 km) highway maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in Presidio and Brewster counties in Texas. The route, known locally as the River Road, runs along the United States side of the Rio Grande which in Texas forms the international boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. The road runs from Candelaria through the city of Presidio as well as several smaller communities and former settlements to State Highway 118 in Study Butte near Big Bend National Park. The road also passes through the southern portion of Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Big Bend Ranch State Park

Big Bend Ranch State Park is a 311,000-acre (126,000 ha) state park located on the Rio Grande in Brewster and Presidio counties, Texas. It is the largest state park in Texas. The closest major town is Presidio, Texas, where the state park's head office is located.

Allium coryi, common name yellowflower onion, is a plant species endemic to trans-Pecos Texas, but sometimes cultivated as an ornamental elsewhere. It is reported in the wild from only five counties: Brewster, Presidio, Jeff Davis, Pecos and Terrell. Some of the populations lie inside Big Bend National Park.

References

  1. Hill, R.T. 1887. The topography and geology of the Cross Timbers and surrounding regions in Northern Texas. The American Journal of Science, 3rd Series, 33:291-303.
  2. Greene, A.C. 1998. Sketches from the five states of Texas. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 176 pp.
  3. 1 2 3 Sullivan, Robert David; ‘How the Red and Blue Map Evolved Over the Past Century’; America Magazine in The National Catholic Review; June 29, 2016
  4. David Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections; Jeff Davis County, 2000