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West Texas
Region
West of Notrees
Country  United States
State  Texas
Map of Texas

West Texas is a vernacular term applied to a region in the southwestern United States that primarily encompasses the arid and semi-arid lands in the western portion of the state of Texas.

There is a general lack of consensus regarding the boundaries that separate East Texas and West Texas.[1] Walter Prescott Webb, the American historian and geographer, suggested that the 98th meridian west separates East and West Texas.[2] The Texas writer A.C. Greene proposed that West Texas extends west of the Brazos River.[3] Perhaps, the truth is that there is no distinct line that separates East and West Texas. Rather, there are places that are clearly in West Texas and there are places that are clearly in East Texas, and then there are places that fall within a transitional zone between these two regions.

West Texas is often subdivided according to distinct physiographic features. The portion of West Texas that lies west of the Pecos River is often referred to as "Far West Texas" or the "Trans-Pecos," a term first introduced in 1887 by the Texas geologist Robert T. Hill.[4] The Trans-Pecos lies within the Chihuahuan Desert, the most arid portion of the state. Another important subdivision of West Texas is the Llano Estacado, a vast region of level high plains that extends into the Texas Panhandle. To the east of the Llano Estacado lies the “redbed country” of the Rolling Plains and to the south of the Llano Estacado lies the Edwards Plateau. The Rolling Plains and the Edwards Plateau subregions act as transitional zones between East and West Texas.

Contents

Population

West Texas has a much lower population density than the rest of the state. It was once mostly inhabited by nomadic Native American tribes such as the Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa until after the Civil War. It does not have as many ties to other parts of the Southern United States as does East Texas, although many of the people who currently populate West Texas are also migrants from other parts of Texas and other Southern states or their descendants. There is a very large Hispanic population, especially near the Rio Grande. Many Mexicans fled Ojinaga and walked to Stonewall during the Mexican revolution in the early days of the 20th century. Many Mexican-Americans still have close family ties in Mexico.

Climate

West Texas receives much less rainfall than the rest of Texas and has an arid or semi-arid climate, requiring most of its scant agriculture to be heavily dependent on irrigation. This irrigation, and water taken out farther North for the needs of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico, has reduced both the Pecos River and the once mighty Rio Grande to a stream in some places, even dry at times. Much of West Texas has rugged terrain including many small mountain ranges while there are none in other parts of the state. West Texas contains part of the Chihuahuan Desert and also the Southern Great Plains, known as the Llano Estacado.

Politics

The area is known for its conservative politics — some of the most heavily Republican counties in the United States are located in the region, where former President George W. Bush spent his early youth. Republican candidates often win in this region by well over 70 percent of the vote. Glasscock County, for instance, gave over 90 percent of the vote to the Republican candidate in both 2004 and 2008.

This region was one of the first areas of Texas to abandon its Democratic roots; some counties (such as Midland) haven't supported a Democrat for president since 1948. However, Democrats continued to win most local races well into the 1990s.

Industry

Major industries include livestock, petroleum and natural gas production, textiles such as cotton, grain and because of its proximity to the Mexican border, the maquiladora industry. West Texas has become notable for its numerous wind turbines producing clean, alternative electricity.

Cities and Towns of West Texas

Major West Texas cities and metropolitan areas include: Abilene, Amarillo, El Paso, Lubbock, Midland, Odessa, and San Angelo.

Some of the smaller West Texas cities and towns include: Alpine, Andrews, Big Spring, Brownfield, Crane, Fort Stockton, Hale Center, Lamesa, Levelland, Littlefield, Marfa, Monahans, Ozona, Pampa, Pecos, Plainview, Post, Seminole, Snyder, Socorro, Sweetwater, and Van Horn.

Gallery

References

  1. ^ Cochran, M., Lumpkin, J. and Heflin, R. 1999. West Texas: a portrait of its people and their raw and wondrous land. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 176 pp.
  2. ^ Webb, W.P. 1935. The Texas Rangers: a century of frontier defense. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 583 pp.
  3. ^ Greene, A.C. 1998. Sketches from the five states of Texas. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 176 pp.
  4. ^ 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.

See also

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