With a population of 195,210 (2012) Amarillo is the 14th largest city in Texas and the commercial center of the Texas panhandle. The Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad began building across the panhandle in 1887. Along this route, J.T. Berry arrived from Abilene and platted the town along a well watered area along the railroad right of way. By the end of the year, the town became the county seat for Potter County and the railroad made its way through. Thus provide a path for increased commerce for the cattle industry.
Amarillo dropped its Hispanic pronunciation (Ah-mah-ree-yoh) and over the next few years it developed into a thriving community. From 1890 to 1900, the town grew in size from 482 to 1442. Ten years later, the population grew to over 9,000 due in part to increase railroad traffic from Southern Kansas, the Pecos and Northern Texas, and the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf railroads. Gas was discovered in 1918 and oil just three years later. Unlike Grit, Tx, Amarillo grew. By 1928 gas, petroleum, agriculture, and cattle became Amarillo’s principal sources of income.
In 1929, Amarillo College was born and held its first classes in September of that year. The college grew and added vocational courses in 1942. In 1958, the college had its own Board of Regents and by 2009, it served 11,000 students regionally.The Dust Bowl of the 1930’s led to economic depression but U.S. Routes 60, 87, 287, and 66 merged at Amarillo bringing life back to this thriving city. Between 1950 and 1960, Amarillo’s population grew from 74,443 to 137,969. Today, Amarillo (195,210) is larger than Abilene (118,887) and smaller than Lubbock (236,065).
Some interesting facts about Amarillo:
- The city gained national media attention in 1998 when television talk show host Oprah Winfrey was unsuccessfully sued by local cattlemen for comments made on her show connecting American beef to mad cow disease, costing them and their industry millions of dollars. In order to attend the trial in Amarillo, she temporarily relocated her show to the Amarillo Little Theater for nearly a year. During the trial, Winfrey hired Dallas-based jury consultant Phil McGraw to aid her attorneys on selecting and analyzing the members of the jury. McGraw would later become a regular guest on Winfrey’s television show and subsequently started his own talk show, Dr. Phil, in 2002.
- Amarillo is home to the world’s largest helium reserve (over 1 billion cubic meters).
- In 1920, West Texas A&M University was founded; today it serves the entire Texas Panhandle, a region the size of Indiana.
- The runway at Rick Hubbard Amarillo Airport was designated as an alternate landing site for the now defunct space shuttle program.
- Amarillo ranches and feedlots produce 25% of the nation’s and 88% of Texas’ beef.
- The American Quarter Horse Association, located in Amarillo, Texas, is the world’s largest equine breed registry and membership organization.
- If you were traveling West to East from Bakersfield, CA to Chattanooga, TN (2,150 miles), Amarillo is the mid-point.
- If you were traveling North to South from Casper, WY to Corpus Christi, TX (1,342 miles), Amarillo is the mid-point.
Some of the places we plan to visit during our stay here:
- Amarillo Railroad Museum
- Amarillo Little Theater
- American Quarter Horse Association
- Cadillac Ranch
- Cross of Jesus at Groom
- Helium Monument
- Historic Route 66
- Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian
- Palo Duro Canyon
Hope we can get all this done in the six months we are planning on staying here. Thanks to Wikipedia, Texas State Historical Association, and various other on-line sources for the information. And thank you for stopping by – y’all come back now.