It was one of those days when God was creating the earth...
He was working on Texas as darkness fell at the end of the day, and as he prepared to quit He gave the Great Plains of West Texas a smoothing stroke and said to Himself, "In the morning I'll come back and make it pretty like the rest of the world, with lakes and streams and mountains and trees."
But the next morning when He returned, it had hardened like concrete. As He thought about having to tear it all down and make it over, He had a happy thought: "I know what I'll do", He said, "I'll just make some people who like it this way."
And that is how it came about that the people who live in the Panhandle like it this way.

        George Autry
        Lifetime Member, Panhandle-Plains Historical Society



Amarillo is one of the last places on earth where the Old West is just minutes away. Amarillo sits at the crossroads of America, almost equidistant from both coasts. Air travelers reach the city through connecting flights from every major air terminal in the central U.S. Motorists simply take Interstate 40; one of the most traveled routes in the country.

Since the 16th century, Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle have drawn visitors from around the world. Francisco Coronado, the first European to see the vast open spaces of the American Southwest, crossed the high plains in 1541, nearly 80 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. He was followed by cattlemen and sheep herders from all points of the compass looking for fresh grazing grounds and a place to start a new life. Most famous of them was Charles Goodnight, inventor of the chuck wagon and a character in Larry McMurtry's "Streets of Laredo."

When the oil boom hit Texas, it exploded across the Texas Panhandle. The "black gold" created fortunes overnight and the region's economy grew.

Since World War II, the Panhandle economy has diversified to include heavy manufacturing, petrochemicals, and modern farming and ranching. In the last decade, ranches have been the key to a new industry and tourism. The Amarillo area is now a major destination for Old West enthusiasts from all over the globe.

Amarillo and the surrounding Panhandle area are a unique blend of two American eras. There are the working ranches, whose operations are essentially unchanged from tthose of the late nineteenth century, and there is a vibrant twenty-first century economy which provides leadership for the modern west. That's why we say that when you step into Amarillo, you "Step Into The Real Texas."



1541Spanish conquistador Francisco Coronado is the first European to reach the area.

1786A portion of El Camino Real (The King's Highway) from Santa Fe, NM, to San Antonio, TX, included the Amarillo area and was widely used for exploration and trade.

1874The first and second battle of Palo Duro, between U.S. troops and the Indians, started the demise of the Native American in the area.

1876Potter Country - named after Robert Potter, Secretary of the Navy and Senator of the Republic of Texas - was created by the Texas Legislature. Rancher Col. Charles Goodnight, developer of the chuckwagon, started the local cattle industry when he settled in the area and brought 1,600 head of cattle with him.

1878The buffalo was replaced by the Longhorn, the LX Ranch was established, and the Frying Pan was the first of the large ranches to be fenced in with barbed wire.

1883Judge O.H. Nelson imported Hereford and Shorthorn cattle, unwittingly starting the demise of the Longhorn.

1887Amarillo became a county seat and the first railroad freight service came to the area.

1910West Texas A&M University was founded; today it serves the entire Texas Panhandle, a region the size of Indiana.

1913Amarillo was the first city in Texas and only the fifth in the nation to adopt a city commission/city manager form of government.

1918Natural gas was discovered in the Texas Panhandle.

1921Oil was discovered in the area.

1922The first radio concert was broadcast from an Amarillo radio station and carried by WDAG - one of the first 80 licensed stations in the country.

1929U.S. Bureau of Mines' Amarillo Helium plant was completed, and the city was on the way to becoming the ěCenter of the Helium Industry.î Amarillo International Airport opened.

1930Air mail service started to Amarillo.

1948The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) moved its headquarters to Amarillo.

1965Lake Meredith opened and recorded 227,000 visitors the first year. President Johnson signed the act dedicating Alibates Flint Quarries as a National Monument.

1966Paul Green's ěTexasî opened; this was made possible after the sound and light show Thundering Sounds of the West drew 36,000 people the previous summer.

1992Major renovation of Amarillo International Airport is completed.

1995The Working Ranch Cowboy Association (WRCA), an organization entirely dedicated to the working cowboy, was created with headquarters in Amarillo.

1998Bell Helicopter announced development of an Amarillo manufacturing center to build the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft with the capabilities of both fixed-wing and helicoprter aircraft.



In 1893 Amarillo's population was listed as "between 500-600 humans and 50,000 head of cattle."

In 1886 the XIT Ranch ran 150,000 head of cattle and was valued at more than 1.5 million dollars; at one time the ranch extended into 10 counties.

In 1929 Amarillo was a stop along the first continuous, scheduled air passenger and mail service from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Some people maintain that during an Amarillo sunrise and sunset one can see the curvature of the earth, due to the wide open spaces of the Great Plains.

The Amarillo airport has the 3rd largest runway in the world and is designated as an alternate landing site for the space shuttle.

Amarillo ranches and feedlots produce 25% of the nation's and 88% of Texas' beef .

Amarillo was rated nationally as having some of the cleanest air in the country.