The Upton County Courthouse in Rankin
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
|o Total||1,242 sq mi (3,220 km2)|
|o Land||1,241 sq mi (3,210 km2)|
|o Water||0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2) 0.01%%|
|o Density||2.7/sq mi (1.0/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
Upton County is a county located on the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 3,355. Its county seat is Rankin. The county was created in 1887 and later organized in 1910. It is named for two brothers: John C. and William F. Upton, both colonels in the Confederate Army.
One of the first routes bringing people through the area was the Chihuahua Trail  connecting Mexico's state of Chihuahua with Santa Fe, New Mexico. The trail served as a trade route for nomadic tribes of Indians and Spaniards, as well as traders from both Mexico and Texas.
Cattle drive Goodnight-Loving Trail. served cowboys 1866-1888. The trail began at Young County, Texas and passed along the Pecos River, Fort Sumner, New Mexico, and Colorado before ending in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Upton was formed in 1887 from Tom Green County, Texas. The county was named after John C. Upton and his brother William F. Upton. of Tennessee. Cattleman George Elliott became the first to establish a homestead in Upton County in 1880. Beginning as open range, the land was shared with sheepmen by the 1890s. The United States Census counted fifty-two people living in the county in 1890, and only forty-eight in 1900; most of these were either members of three families, or were in their employ. The agricultural sector of the county has been out-paced by cattle and sheep ranching. In 1982, about 92 percent of the land in Upton County was in farms and ranches, but less than 1 percent of the county was considered prime farmland, and only 2 percent of the county was cultivated. 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.
Wildcatter George McCamey's Baker No. 1 in September 1925 opened up the McCamey Oil Field, established the town of McCamey and brought the subsequent oil boom to Upton County. The Yates Oil Field in Crockett and Pecos counties resulted in a financial boon for the town of Rankin, which served as a supply and service center. The resulting financial windfall benefitted infrastructure in Rankin. In 1946, Mike Benedum began wildcatting in Upton County and opened up what would become known as the Benedum Oil Field. The Weir No. 1 gushed in 1961 and enabled Upton County to continue as an outstanding Texas production area.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,242 square miles (3,220 km2), of which 1,241 square miles (3,210 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (0.01%) is water. The Spraberry Trend, the third-largest oil field in the United States by remaining reserves, underlies much of the county.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,404 people, 1,256 households, and 934 families residing in the county. The population density was 3 people per square mile (1/km²). There were 1,609 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile (0/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 77.79% White, 1.62% Black or African American, 1.20% Native American, 0.03% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 17.95% from other races, and 1.35% from two or more races. 42.57% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,256 households out of which 36.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.10% were married couples living together, 9.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.60% were non-families. 23.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the county, the population was spread out with 29.30% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 24.90% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 14.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 95.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $28,977, and the median income for a family was $37,083. Males had a median income of $30,729 versus $18,750 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,274. About 18.10% of families and 19.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.60% of those under age 18 and 13.50% of those age 65 or over.