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History of West Texas: Revisiting the New Frontier and the Rebel Spirit

Texas landscape

You might as well be crossing a whole country. Traveling from the easternmost point of the state to the westernmost tip takes about 11-12 hours, and as you ride, the landscape transforms from humid weather and tall oak trees to dry air and wide-open desert lands surrounded by mountains. The state has always possessed a rebellious spirit, but West Texas has its own sensibilities and myths, it has its own walk and fashion sense, as it formed part of the Western frontier that helped the expansion of the nation. So what makes West Texas so special and so unique? 

The myths, the legends, the geography, and the historical significance. 

Let’s dive in. 

Where Does West Texas Begin Anyway? 

The Lone Star State has 268,5897 square miles and the drive from El Paso to Beaumont expands a whopping 824 miles, but there is a detectable change when you pass through to what is known as West Texas. The landscape changes, the air feels different, the accents soften, and the style becomes more cowboy-inspired, and you might start seeing mountain ranges and cactus off in the distance. The term West Texas, however, is loosely defined geographically. That is, there is no discernible demarcation line that precisely indicates when you have crossed over. You just know it. 

Generally, however, the thinking suggests that West Texas begins somewhere between Wichita Falls, Abilene, and Del Rio. One American historian suggested that the true boundary was the 98th meridian line that separates the eastern and western parts of the state. 

In east Texas, wild oaks grow freely, but at a certain point when one travels westward, there is not enough rain to support those oak trees. So some try to define West Texas purely on landscape features and climate. 

In truth, no one quite agrees where precisely West Texas begins, but as you drive through this beautiful state, you just know. And that’s part of the magic. 

West Texas Physical Characteristics 

The lands of West Texas are thus instantly recognizable. It is a rugged and arid climate and part of the Chihuahuan Desert. The land has some rolling plains, mesquite savanna, and prairies. 

Out in West Texas, you will see mountains, open spaces, and be surrounded by unique wildlife including boars, deer, mountain lions and more. 

West Texas History & Notable Moments 

Thanks to the Louisiana Territory, there was suddenly a vast unknown that lay beyond the already established settlement of the Southern territories. The westward expansion of the United States in the mid to late 19th century would redefine and expand the United States. Out of this westward expansion have come many myths and concepts that are seared in the American identity and helped shape the beginning of the next century. 

The journey from a Mexican territory to the region to a state in the Union was not simple.

The Mexican government encouraged foreign settlement of Texas and did so by making the land cheap and tax-free, which encouraged people to flock to the region. As soon as settlers arrived in the Texas (then Tejas) region, they refused to adopt the Mexican identity and called themselves Texians, as this inspired land seemed to contain an identity of its own. 

Texans Begin to Break Away

Tensions brewed up with the Mexican government over slavery and thus the previously encouraged migration was halted, as Mexico feared they would lose control of the region. This began the push for state rule and independence. 

New incoming president Santa Ana supported a more centralized government and was not at all content with the idea of Texas self-rule. This prompted a group of Texas delegates and leaders to request certain provisions including further immigration from the United States. When denied, the leader of what the Mexican government considered ‘insurrectionists’—Stephen F. Austin— was imprisoned. 

This would spark the revolution that further solidified the Texas fighting spirit of “Come and Take It.” Texas would declare Independence and — although outnumbered— would fight Santa Ana’s large army. The Fall of the Alamo happens around this time, demonstrating the tenacity and will of the Texas rebels. Despite their tenacious spirit, however, the rebels suffer defeats and casualties.

It wasn’t until the Battle of San Jacinto that Sam Houston’s army managed to overtake the Mexican Army. In a stunning defeat, nine Texans were killed with about 630 Mexican casualties. The Republic of Texas was born, and about ten years later was annexed as a state joining the United States of America. 

Texas Becomes a State and the New Frontier 

Those early days in Texas were anything but easy. Lands had to be cultivated, clothes had to be stitched, cows, pigs, and other animals had to be cared for, and tensions between native people and settlers brewed up constantly. Despite all that, new settlers continued seeing Texas as the place to be. 

When divisions about boundaries caused tension with Mexico, Texas settlers found themselves once again in the midst of a war. The U.S.-Mexican War would end with Mexico finally agreeing to the border of Texas as the Rio Grande and recognizing the state as part of the U.S. Part of the acquisition after the war included the northern Mexican territories of modern-day New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, and part of Nevada. 

And so, Texas became the gateway to the vast unexplored territory of the growing United States of America. 

For Freedom, Beauty, and Independence, Consider a Texas Plot of Land

The complex history of a place like Texas cannot be fully revisited in one post, but the origin story certainly carries a lot of romanticism for people that live and love the lands of the Lone Star State. The concepts of independence and freedom reverberate in many aspects of Texas mythology. 

Lone Star Investments gives people an opportunity to take part in the great history of the state. 

Want to learn more about owning your own little piece of Texas. It’s easy, and far more accessible than you think. Call Lone Star Investments today.