Midland was so named as the midpoint in an otherwise empty trip between Dallas and El Paso, while Odessa received its name from homesick Russian railroad laborers in the 1880’s. The economic base is concentrated mainly in the oil and gas industry. Odessa has two higher education facilities: a small University of Texas campus brings 3500 students and there is a health science center run by Texas Tech.
Midland is the county seat and more of a commercial center, and oil money brought an attractive, skyscraper-centered downtown. The area’s real story is low cost of living and affordable housing. Diversions include the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum and the Confederate Air Force, the largest owner and operator of vintage aircraft from World War II. Otherwise, the area is dry, dusty, and flat.
The Midland-Odessa region is on a relatively high southern extension of the Great Plains. The terrain is level with slight undulations. Vegetation consists mostly of native grasses and a few mesquite trees. The climate is semiarid. Summer daytime temperatures are hot but with a large diurnal range and most nights are comfortable. Humidity is low. Winters are characterized by frequent cold periods followed by rapid warming. Cloudiness is minimal. Summer showers are common and most of the annual precipitation comes from violent spring and early summer thunderstorms. Due to the flat nature of the countryside, local flooding and blowing dust may occur.