ODESSA (Ector Co.) 13 mi W of Odessa in Hwy rest area on IH 20 The Caprock A range of flat-topped ridges and cliffs stretching from Texas Panhandle to 20 miles south of this point and extending into New Mexico. The name also refers to tough limestone that caps ridges, rising sharply 200 to 1,000 ft. above plains. This section, Concho Bluffs, marks western edge of caprock escarpment, called the "break of the plains" because it divides the Staked Plains from the North Central Plains of Texas.
Observed by Coronado's Expedition, 1540-1541. Provided shelter in storms, but delayed entrance of settlers to Staked Plains. Herds of stampeding cattle at times plunged over its edge. In this area, the caprock blocked eastbound wagons, including some from California gold fields in 1850's Because of scarce surface water, Staked Plains were too dry for farming or ranching until wells were drilled and windmills installed.
Ridges and canyons here hindered railroad building. In 1881 workmen earned $2.50 a day--high- est wages ever paid until then on a Texas railroad job--at "Colt's big rock cut" (the mile-wide, 17- ft. chasm visible here). A tragic accident with dynamite injured several of Colt's men and killed three. Their graves, known to the pioneers around Odessa, were on a hill northeast of the tracks, but cannot now be found. (1967)
[Click on graves; or here to observe photos of so called lost Gravesite.]