Paint Rock, the county seat of Concho County, is in the north central part of the county at the junction of Ranch Road 380 and U.S. Highway 83, about twenty-one miles northeast of Eden. The town was named for the extensive Indian pictographs about a mile away on the bluffs of the Concho River (see INDIAN ROCK ART). County commissioners, selecting a site for the county seat in July 1879, chose a location just west of the junction of the Concho River and Hog Creek. The site was at one of the few good fords on the river, which carried more water at that time than it did in the 1990s. Despite an initial error that led to the construction of the first buildings on the wrong survey, which necessitated their removal to a site about a half mile to the east, Paint Rock grew steadily. By 1884 it had become a shipping center for wool, hides, pecans, and mutton.
Paint Rock acquired a post office in 1879. That same year a subscription school, the first school in Concho County, opened there. In August 1886 Paint Rock petitioned to form a school district. A Presbyterian church was organized at the community in 1881 and a Baptist church in 1886. In 1892 the Methodists erected the first church building, which was used by all the denominations until they each acquired their own. Early social organizations included the Masons (organized 1885), the Paint Rock Literary and Debating Society (ca. 1894), the Order of the Eastern Star (1907), and Woodmen of the World (by 1908). The population rose from 100 in 1884 to 800 by 1914, when Paint Rock had a waterworks system, a newspaper (the Concho Herald, established 1890), and a bank (1909). The town acquired a railroad connection in 1910, with the completion of the Concho, San Saba and Llano Valley Railroad from Miles (Runnels County) to Paint Rock. The railroad was discontinued after a flood washed away the bridge over the Concho River in late 1936. The development of Paint Rock was punctuated by two serious fires, in 1909 and 1922, on the town square.
In 1931 the population reached a peak of 1,000, then fell to 500 by 1933. It rose to 800 by 1941 and remained at about that level for the next two decades, when it began to decline again. After hitting a low of 193 in 1972, the population stood at 290 in 1988. In 1993 thirteen businesses and 224 residents were reported there. The population grew to 320 in 2000. Fannie Elizabeth Ratchford, a noted literary scholar, was born in Paint Rock in the 1880s.