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Big Spring is the Howard County seat. It is located in a rocky gorge between two high foothills of the Caprock escarpment. The name is derived from the huge natural spring in Sulphur Draw that provided water to area wildlife, as well as the Comanche and Shawnee tribes. The first white men used the site in 1849 as a campsite on the Overland Trail to California. The spring is now located in Comanche Trail Park. The city is the home of Howard College, Dorothy Garrett Coliseum and Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf.