Altair is on State Highway 90A in south central Colorado County. The community dates from the late 1880s. A post office was established there in 1888. The town was originally named Stafford's Ranch in honor of a leading local rancher. Because a Stafford, Texas, already had a post office, the name Altair, for the star, was approved by the residents in 1890. That same year Altair obtained service from a branch of the Texas and New Orleans Railroad. Stafford's Ranch has sometimes been mistakenly called Spafford's Ranch. During the 1960s Altair had a population of 200. From 1974 until 1986 its population was estimated at eighty. In 1986 the community supported a few stores and rice-drying facilities. In 1990 and in 2000 the population was thirty.