Amarillo Texas was originally called Oneida. It’s located in the Llano Estacado area. Early years for Amarillo gave it the name of the Helium Capital of the world.
Ranches in the area include the new defunct XIT Ranch and the JA Ranch that was founded in 1877 by none other than Charles Goodnight and of course, John George Adair Goodnight. Upon the death of Adair, his widow, was the sole owner until her death in 1921.
In 1887 the town was established as an ideally situated site for watering along the Fort Worth and the Denver Railway. Merchants sought to make this new town the region’s main trading area.
In August of 1887, it became the county seat and was at that point established as Potter County. This turned the town into a rapid growing cattle market region.
By the late 1890s, it was fast emerging as one of the most renowned cattle shipping regions. The population grew exponentially. Soon, a grain elevator, a mill, and feed manufacturing centers were in production and the population again enjoyed a surge.
In the 1900s the Helium was discovered and soon natural gas. Within three more years, oil would be found and these would all add to the livelihood of the region.
It wasn’t long before the US Government purchased the Cliffside Gas Field that had the high helium content. The Bureau of Mines would begin to operate the famous Amarillo Helium Plant within the next 2 years.
Upon the death of the railroad, Topeka and Santa Fe Railways, as well as Chicago and Rock Island and the Pacific Railroad, would establish their own services from Amarillo to other regions.
By the year 1929, Ernest O. Thompson who was a decorated World War I general turned his sights to business and was the new mayor of the town. He would go on to become a renowned expert on petroleum and natural gas as well as conservation.
His first wife, May Peterson was a former Metropolitan Opera singer and very involved in the arts of the area. When the dust bowl hit in the great depression Amarillo would become a major tourist region and quickly attained fame as a curio shop capital.
Here, the famous routes of US 60, 66, 87 and 287 all converged so there was plenty of traffic and it was easy to turn it into a tourist area.