In 1880, the Texas Pacific Railroad began to lay tracks about the same time Southern Pacific began building from the east from El Paso. Both met in Sierra Blanca where a silver spike was driven similar to the one earlier in Utah. The railroad pushed a boxcar off here to be used for storage of supplies becoming the start of the town. Midland was originally named Midway because it was half way between El Paso and Fort Worth. It was only discovered later that in the Panhandle of Texas a town by the same name was already established when Midway was changed to Midland.
Midland County was organized in March 1885. After Midland became the county seat, a new courthouse was built by 1886 and the city began to grow. By 1890 it had become one of the most important cattle shipping centers in the state and had an estimated population of 600.
Prior to World War 1, Midland was a prosperous railroad town serving the surrounding ranching community. However, on May 27, 1923, the future of Midland would change with the discovery of oil. Today, Midland lies in the geographic center of the vast Permian Basin, which contains 22% of the nation’s oil reserves. In 1996 Midland County’s population was 115,818 ranking as the 27th highest populated county in the state.
Projections for the year 2000 indicate the Midland County population will increase by 11.4% from the 1990 census. The Anglo population is expected to change from 70.0% of the county’s total to 64.2%. On the other hand the Hispanic population percentage is expected to increase from 21.4% in 1990 to 27.3%. The African American and other racial and ethnic groups are expected to remain constant in their percentages of the county population. Gender population is also expected to remain constant with the largest age representing 60.5% of the population.
Midland County Per Capita Personal Income (PCPI) in 1996 was $28,073, which was an increase from the 1986 PCPI of $16,871. The Midland County 1996 PCPI ranks 7th in the state and was 126% of the State average of $22,324.
Midland County is growing, and like other Texas counties, is concentrating on a strong educational system and developing a strong economy that will prepare its citizens and its children for the 21st century.
Texas AgriLife Extension plays a vital role in Midland County by providing educational opportunities and researched based information to address community issues and needs. Educational programs promote economic development, agricultural profitability, family health and well-being, youth development, leadership development and environmental stewardship. Through these programming efforts, Extension helps improve the lives of the people in Midland County.
Extension programs of Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.