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14th-most populous city in the state of Texas, United States. Amarillo, originally named Oneida, is situated in the Llano Estacado region. The city was once the self-proclaimed “Helium Capital of the World” for having one of the country’s most productive helium fields. Large ranches exist in the Amarillo area: among others, the defunct XIT Ranch and the still functioning JA Ranch founded in 1877 by Charles Goodnight and John George Adair. Berry established a site for a town after he chose a well-watered section along the way of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad, which had begun building across the Texas Panhandle.
Berry and Colorado City, Texas, merchants wanted to make their new town site the region’s main trading center. An aerial view of the Amarillo business district in 1912. On June 19, 1888, Henry B. Sanborn, who is given credit as the “Father of Amarillo”, and his business partner Joseph F. Glidden began buying land to the east to move Amarillo after arguing that Berry’s site was on low ground and would flood during rainstorms.
By the late 1890s, Amarillo had emerged as one of the world’s busiest cattle-shipping points, and its population grew significantly. The city became a grain elevator, milling, and feed-manufacturing center after an increase in production of wheat and small grains during the early 1900s. The United States government bought the Cliffside Gas Field with high helium content in 1927 and the Federal Bureau of Mines began operating the Amarillo Helium plant two years later. The plant was the sole producer of commercial helium in the world for a number of years. Following the lead of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad established services to and from Amarillo.
Thompson, a decorated World War I general and a major businessman in Amarillo, was elected mayor to succeed Lee Bivins. Thompson instituted a major capital-improvements project and worked to reduce utility rates. Amarillo was hit by the Dust Bowl and entered an economic depression. Routes 60, 87, 287, and 66 intersected at Amarillo, making it a major tourist stop with numerous motels, restaurants, and curio shops. In 1949, a deadly EF-4 tornado devastated much of Amarillo, shortly after nightfall on May 15, tearing through the south and east sides of the city, killing seven people, and injuring more than 80 others. The tornado touched down southwest of Amarillo, near the town of Hereford, then tracked its way northward, on a collision course with Amarillo.
In 1951, the army air base was reactivated as Amarillo Air Force Base and expanded to accommodate a Strategic Air Command B-52 Stratofortress wing. In 1970, the Census Bureau reported Amarillo’s population as 6. In May 1982, a strong EF-3 tornado struck Amarillo’s western suburbs, devastating parts of Dawn, and Bushland. In 2006, the historian Paul H. Carlson, professor emeritus at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, published Amarillo: The Story of a Western Town. Lighthouse pinnacle in Palo Duro Canyon: The canyon system is located south of the city. Amarillo is located near the middle of the Texas Panhandle.
It does not share similar weather characteristics with south and east Texas. It is situated in the grasslands of Northern Texas, and is surrounded by dense prairie. Though urbanization, agricultural farming, and construction have occurred over the last century in and around Amarillo, the native grasslands that dominate this region have remained largely untouched. Amarillo is the Canadian River, which divides the Western High Plains ecological region. The southern divide of the Western High Plains is the Llano Estacado or Staked Plains geographical region.
The underground structures known as Amarillo Mountains are an extension of the Arbuckles of Oklahoma and the Ouachita of Arkansas and Oklahoma. They are some thousands of feet underground. The range was discovered by pioneer oilmen. Most of Amarillo’s population growth and commercial development are occurring in the southern and northwestern parts of the city. Similar to many towns in the Texas Panhandle, the city’s downtown has suffered economic deterioration throughout the years. The 31-story Chase Tower was opened in Amarillo’s downtown in 1971.