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Amarillo History

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. Centered on the intersection of four major highways, most motorists simply take Interstate 40, one of the most traveled routes in the country that follows the footprint of historic Route 66.

Amarillo’s rich history epitomizes the greatness of the West. Once the location of one of the last Native American strongholds, Amarillo flourished as cattlemen and sheep herders from all points of the compass arrived looking for fresh grazing grounds and a place to start a new life. As the railroads stretched across America, Amarillo continued to grow from a “Ragtown” tent camp to a bustling city.

As the gateway to the West, today Amarillo is a thriving city with an economy supported by diverse industries that include heavy manufacturing, aviation and aerospace, transportation and logistics, food technologies, financial services, oil and gas, renewable energy and modern farming and ranching.

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 those of the late nineteenth century, and there is a vibrant twenty-first century economy which provides leadership for the modern west.


The El Camino Real (The King’s Highway) runs from Santa Fe, NM to San Antontio, TX and passes through the Amarillo area.


The first battles of Palo Duro occur between US troops and Native Americans.


Charles Goodnight begins the local cattle industry by bringing in 1,600 head of cattle to the area.


Railroad construction camp on Amarillo Creek grew into a small tent city named Ragtown. The rail system established the area as a major cattle shipping center.


Originally known as Oneida, the city was renamed to Amarillo and voted the county seat of Potter County


Amarillo was incorporated. The city limits are one square mile.


The Santa Fe railroad is built in Amarillo.


Oil is discovered in the region. Route 66 passes through the city.


Amarillo College is organized.


Amarillo Army Air Field is activated during World War II.


Interstate 40 is dedicated and the Amarillo Medical Center is established


Amarillo celebrates its Centennial