Presidio County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 7,818. Its county seat is Marfa. The county was created in 1850 and later organized in 1875. Presidio County (K-5 in Texas topological index of counties) is in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas and is named for the ancient border settlement of Presidio del Norte. It is on the Rio Grande, which forms the Mexican border.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,856 square miles (9,990 km), of which 3,855 square miles (9,980 km) are land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km) (0.02%) is covered by water. It is the fourth-largest county in Texas by area.
Presidio County is triangular in shape and is bounded on the east by Brewster County, on the north by Jeff Davis County, and on the south and west for 135 miles (217 km) by the Rio Grande and Mexico. Marfa, the county seat, is 190 miles (306 km) southeast of El Paso and 150 miles (241 km) southwest of Odessa. The center of the county lies at 30°30′ north latitude and 104°15′ west longitude.
Geographically, Presidio County comprises 3,857 square miles (9,990 km) of contrasting topography, geology, and vegetation. In the north and west, clay and sandy loam cover the rolling plains known as the Marfa Plateau and the Highland Country, providing good ranges of grama grasses for the widely acclaimed Highland Herefords. In the central, far western, and southeastern areas of the county, some of the highest mountain ranges in Texas are found. These peaks are formed of volcanic rock and covered with loose surface rubble. They support desert shrubs and cacti and dominate a landscape of rugged canyons and numerous springs. The spring-fed Capote Falls, with a drop of 175 feet (53 m), the highest in Texas, is located in western Presidio County. In the southern and western parts of the county, the volcanic cliffs of the Candelaria Rimrock (also called the Sierra Vieja) rise perpendicular and run parallel to the river, separating the highland prairies from the desert floor hundreds of feet below them. The gravel pediment, which allows only the growth of desert shrubs and cacti, extends from the Rimrock to the flood plain of the river. Along the river, irrigation allows the farming of vegetables, grains, and cotton. No permanent streams exist in the county, although many arroyos become raging torrents during heavy rainfalls. Major ones are Alamito Creek, Cibolo Creek, Capote Creek, and Pinto Canyon. San Esteban Dam was built across Alamito Creek and on the site of a historic spring-fed tinaja in 1911 as an irrigation and land-promotion project. Altitudes in the county vary from 2,518 to 7,728 feet (767 to 2,355 m) above sea level. Temperatures, moderated by the mountains, vary from 33 °F (1 °C) in January to 100 °F (38 °C) in July. Average rainfall is 12 inches (300 mm) per year, mainly in June, July, and August. The growing season extends for 238 days. Natural resources under production in 1982 were perlite, crushed rhyolite, sand, and gravel. Silver mining contributed greatly to the economy of the county from the 1880s to the 1940s. Presidio County has no oil or gas production.
As of the 2010 United States Census, 7,818 people resided in the county. About 85.9% were White, 1.0% Asian, 0.7% Native American, 0.6% Black or African American, 9.9% of some other race, and 1.9% of two or more races; 83.4% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
As of the census of 2000, 7,304 people, 2,530 households, and 1,864 families resided in the county. The population density was 2 people per square mile (1/km²). The 3,299 housing units averaged 1 per square mile (0/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 84.95% White, 0.27% Black or African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 13.48% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. About 84.36% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Of the 2,530 households, 40.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.50% were married couples living together, 13.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.30% were not families. Around 24.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.85 and the average family size was 3.43.
In the county, the population was distributed as 32.70% under the age of 18, 8.30% from 18 to 24, 24.90% from 25 to 44, 20.20% from 45 to 64, and 13.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 94.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.00 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $19,860, and for a family was $22,314. Males had a median income of $23,218 versus $16,208 for females. The per capita income for the county was $9,558. About 32.50% of families and 36.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 43.40% of those under age 18 and 44.10% of those age 65 or over. The county’s per capita income makes it one of the poorest counties in the United States.