Have you ever been to Amarillo? Like much of Texas, cattle ranches around Amarillo played a pivotal role in shaping where people settled. Specifically, the JA Ranch still operates on the land southeast of Amarillo. Cattle ranches attracted men and families to rural areas for settlement because they provided jobs. Amarillo’s proximity to the Chisum and other cattle trail corridors connected it to the meat packing industry in Chicago.
The JA Ranch was founded in 1877 by Charles Goodnight and John George Adair, two prominent cattlemen who played pivotal roles in Amarillo’s founding. The JA Ranch was successful, which attracted the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad in its push to lay track throughout the Texas panhandle. As The JA Ranch grew, so did the business opportunities.
In 1887, the place that is now Amarillo won the honor of being the seat of Potter County. Up to this point, the settlement had been named Oneida. As the official seat, the settlement became a city called Amarillo and a regional capital for the cattle business.
Modern Amarillo is a bustling city of just over 200,000 people that kept its cattle history and culture intact as an outpost of the cattle industry. The city is considered the Texas panhandle’s regional economic center, which is still currently based on meat packing. Did you know that approximately 25% of the US beef supply comes from Amarillo?
- In its 135-year history, Amarillo has enjoyed some colorful nicknames. The “Helium Capital of the World” name comes from a nearby underground field of helium gas that has been productive for decades. The “Rotor City” name originated from Amarillo’s proximity to the Osprey plane factory. Then there’s “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”
- Amarillo is the Spanish word for the color yellow. Though the exact place that the founders described as yellow for naming the town is unknown, many claim the name comes from the yellow soil along the banks of a nearby river of the same name.
- The meat packing industry developed in the United States because of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad and others that brought businesses and people to rural areas.
- Amarillo celebrates automotive travel history with Route 66’s iconic attractions.