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History of Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo, county seat of Potter County, is situated near the geographic center of the Texas Panhandle, earning it the nickname "Crossroads of the Panhandle." The first European to reach the area was Coronado in 1541. A monument to one of Coronado's party who was killed by Indians stands in Ellwood Park. Little settlement took place before the Civil War. In the 1870s, buffalo hunters killed most of the buffalo for their hides, driving the animal to near extinction. Ragtown was the name given to the place when the Fort Worth & Denver City Railroad came through in 1887. The name Amarillo was adopted in 1892 when the city was incorporated. It means "yellow" in Spanish and refers to the yellow banks of nearby Amarillo Lake. In the 1890's, Amarillo was a booming cattle town, one of the most important cattle shipping points in the nation. The Texas Rangers were responsible for keeping law and order until 1899. Eventually, farmers began moving in and Amarillo began a new phase of cotton ginning. Still later, the discovery of natural gas in the Panhandle Field in 1918 led to greater industrialization. In 1929, Amarillo College was organized as the first junior college in Texas to be independent of the local school board. During World War II, its offerings were expanded to include vocational classes. In 1995, it absorbed Texas State Technical College - Amarillo. Amarillo boasts three high class museums: the Don Harrington Discovery Center, the Amarillo Museum of Art, and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Amarillo is served by Northwest Texas Hospital. Texas Tech University has a Health Sciences Center in the city, which began in space borrowed from Northwest Texas Hosital in 1972.