VISITING BIG SPRING
Big Spring Then and Now
The picturesque town of Big Spring was founded in 1882. Our namesake landmark, the historical spring, provided life sustaining water for Indians and wagon trains traveling across the dry West Texas country.
The town branched out from there and was finally incorporated in 1907. Since its incorporation, there have been many changes and much improvement; From horse drawn fire engines to the current 350 "horse powered", state of the art suppression machines. From narrow dirt streets to large four-lane thoroughfares and from gathering water from a well to the ease of turning on a faucet. Throughout the years, the product remains the same; service to the community, providing quality of life functions such as public safety, water, streets, parks and recreation along with many other subsidiary departments.
Big Spring, the county seat of Howard County, is at the "crossroads" of Interstate Highway 20, U.S. Highway 87, State Highway 350, Farm Road 700, and the Missouri Pacific line. The City is in a rocky gorge where the northern limit of the Edwards Plateau and the southern most hills of the Caprock converge. It is named for the "big spring" in Sulphur Draw, a historical watering place for coyotes, wolves, and herds of buffalo, antelope, and mustangs. Signal Mountain, ten miles southeast of Big Spring, was a landmark used by early cattlemen. In 1849, Capt. Randolph B. Marcy's expedition reached Big Spring on the return trip from Santa Fe and marked it as a campsite on the Overland Trail to California.
Big Spring is a haven for nature enthusiasts with an abundance of recreational options. The area features hunting, fishing, bird watching and water recreation with over 800 acres of public parks. The original 'big spring' is surrounded by Comanche Trail Park which features hike and bike trails around Comanche Trail Lake, a disc golf course, a historic Amphitheater and an eighteen hole municipal golf course.
The Big Spring State Park is 382 acres located within the city limits of Big Spring in Howard County. The park was deeded by the city of Big Spring in 1934 and 1935, and was opened in 1936. Dramatic views off of the 200-foot bluff and from the three-mile drive that loops around the mountain following the ledge are the featured attractions of the park. Early morning or sunset, joggers, walkers, and cyclists circle the loop, enjoying these views as they exercise. A small prairie dog town lies in a little valley on the south side of the park and many of the area's numerous and varied bird species can also be observed at the park. Other activities include picnicking, nature study and sightseeing.
The McMahon Wrinkle Airport, formerly Webb AFB, has been the site of several major hang gliding championship tournaments, including the U.S. and World Hang Gliding Championships. It is also home to the Hangar 25 Air Museum. The Air Museum is housed in a fully restored WWII era hangar and often the museum is staffed by retired veterans and civil service employees who are ready to share their memories of the hangar when it was a hub of activity. First, during WWII as a part of the Big Spring Bombardier School and later as a part of Webb Air Force Base, supporting the training of over 10,000 pilots from 1952 to 1977. Since opening their doors in May of 1999, the Hangar 25 Air Museum has hosted more than 35,000 visitors from all 50 states and 31 foreign countries.
The Big Spring Heritage Museum contains pioneer and Indian Artifacts, art exhibits and the largest collection known of longhorn steer horns. There are also rare and unusual phonographs including models by Thomas A. Edison. There is also a large collection of dolls.
The Big Spring Symphony Association was organized in 1980 to bring quality symphonic music to Big Spring each year and performs concerts in the historic Municipal Auditorium and Comanche Trail Amphitheater.
Howard County Geography
The region consists of 904 square miles with a population density of 37.20 residents per square mile compared to a statewide density of 79.54. Howard County and Big Spring are located in an area where three ecological regions merge. To the north and east are the western Rolling Plains; to the south is the Edwards Plateau; and to the west are the southern High Plains (also known as the Llano Estacado or the Staked Plains). The mixing of ecological regions results in a variety of plant and animal life since representatives from each region are often found overlapping in a relatively small area. Other geographical landmarks are the historic Signal Peak and Moss Lake.