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When the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway began building across the Panhandle ina group of Colorado City merchants chose the site to establish stores. In April J. Berry arrived from Abilene to plat the new town. Berry and the Colorado City merchants sought to make their new townsite the Potter county seat and the region's main trade center. Since most of the qualified voters were LX Ranch employees, Berry enlisted the ranchers' support by promising each cowhand a business lot and residence lot in the new town if it should be chosen county seat.
On August 30,Berry's townsite was elected for that honor. The settlement was originally called Oneida but was by majority consent renamed Amarillo after the nearby lake and creek. These natural features had been named by New Mexican traders and pastoresprobably for the yellow soil along the creek banks or the yellow wildflowers that were abundant during the spring and summer.
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Charles F. The railroad arrived shortly after the county election, and by October freight service was made available. Amarillo boomed as a cattle-marketing center. Holding grounds, complete with pens, were built near the tracks to corral the numerous herds that came from ranches in the Panhandle, South Plains, and eastern New Mexico for shipment.
A post office was established in with Robert M. Moore as postmaster. George S. Berry soon replaced Moore, and the office was moved to Berry's real estate office nearby. By the spring of the patent to Berry's townsite had been obtained. Wetzel, held equal interest in it.
Tuck Cornelius, formerly of Jacksboro, operated the town's first livery stable. His father, Dr. Cornelius, was the first physician in Amarillo, and on June 18,Tuck's daughter Mayvi became the first child born in Amarillo.
Meanwhile a lumberyard and a twenty-five-room hotel were established, and H. Brookes began publication of the town's first weekly newspaper, the Amarillo Championon May 17, Bonds were voted for a two-story brick courthouse to replace the small frame building and for Amarillo's first school.
On May 29 town lots were sold to the public by auction. People were brought in by excursion trains. Although Berry's cowtown seemed to be well established, Henry B. Sanbornpart owner of the Frying Pan Ranchargued that Berry's site was on low ground that would flood during rainstorms.
Sanborn and his partner, Joseph F. Glidden, began buying land to the east to move Amarillo out of its "mudhole. Sanborn's enticements gradually won over people like Tuck Cornelius and H. Brookes, who moved their businesses to Polk Street in the new commercial district. Sanborn erected the elegant, forty-room Amarillo Hotel, which became the town's social center and the unofficial headquarters of area cattle buyers.
He also donated a half-block for Amarillo's first union church. In the spring ofwhen heavy rains almost flooded "Old Town," the railroad embankment prevented effective drainage and prompted more people to move to Sanborn's higher location.
Despite a successful lawsuit filed against Sanborn by the Murphy-Thomason-Wisner interests over ownership of block 88, even the county and city officials eventually ed the cattlemen's project; by the town's nucleus was one mile east at the city's Glidden and Sanborn addition. That year the First National Bank opened for business, and the three Wolfin brothers from Gainesville established a mercantile store. In Phillip H. Seewald moved from Tascosa and opened a jewelry store.
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The depot and courthouse remained at the old site, since the law decreed that they could not be moved until five years after the election. In another county-seat election officially transferred the title to Sanborn's town, and the records were housed in a newer building there. By Amarillo had three newspapers: H. Rankin's Amarillo Northwestand J. Caldwell's Amarillo Weekly News.
Ellwood Park, the first of Amarillo's many city parks, was established in the s. Three churches were constructed during the decade, and other denominations organized local congregations. From to Willis Day Twichell operated Amarillo College in a building donated by the Sanborn family; the public school met at the former old-town courthouse until late inwhen a three-story red-brick school opened. On February 18,the citizens of Amarillo voted to incorporate and elected Warren W. Wetzel mayor. However, the inauguration of city government was restrained by injunctions, and municipal administration was carried on by county officials and Texas Rangers for a while.
The first annual Tri-State Fair was held in Amarillo in the fall of By Amarillo had emerged as one of the world's busiest cattle-shipping points. The population grew from in to 1, by Construction of the Southern Kansas, the Pecos and Northern Texas, and the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf railro by added to the shipping facilities and helped to increase the population to 9, by The sudden influx of people with the railro resulted in the rise of Amarillo's Bowery district, notorious for its saloons, brothels, and desperadoes; crime there was commonplace, but after prohibition was imposed in the Bowery faded away.
In the two-story St. Anthony's Hospital, the first hospital in the Panhandle, was erected; it served the entire area. Electrical service also came that year with the establishment of the Amarillo Light and Water Company, precursor to Southwestern Public Service.
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The Amarillo Independent School District was formed inand by the following year a new stone courthouse and jail were completed, after a bitter court battle over ownership of the courthouse square. The Grand Opera House opened in In a second hospital, Northwest Texas, was added. Mary's Academy, Amarillo's first Catholic school, opened inthe same year the Board of City Development was formed. Increasing production of wheat and small grains made Amarillo an elevator, milling, and feed-manufacturing center during the early s.
Prior to the railroad's extension into the South Plains area, cotton farmers often brought their produce to Amarillo for shipment. Industry and culture developed in Amarillo after World War I. Gas was discovered in and oil three years later.
The Panhandle added a zinc smelter, oil refineries, and oil-shipping facilities. Robert H. Gray arrived at Amarillo on April 27, Lee BivinsW. Fuqua, and others promoted the aviation industry, and in the Panhandle Air Service and Transportation Company was established; at one time Amarillo had five airfields, including the Municipal Airport.
By automobiles and buses had made Amarillo's streetcar system obsolete. In Eugene A. Lawrence Martin started Amarillo's first radio station, WDAG, in ; a municipal auditorium was completed in ; a twelve-piece Philharmonic Orchestra was formed in ; and the Amarillo Little Theater was organized in The Bivins addition became the first suburban extension in southwest Amarillo.
However, the city was a regional center for numerous federal relief programs, especially the Work Projects Administrationwhose funds helped improve Amarillo streets, water, and sewerage facilities.
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The arrest and suicide of attorney Alfred D. Payne made national headlines in the summer ofwhile Ernest Othmer Thompson was mayor. Payne had pleaded insanity in the murder of his wife in an auto explosion, partly because of financial problems and an extramarital affair. In Cal Farley founded the Maverick Club for underprivileged boys; from that program later grew Kid, Incorporated. Amarillo College moved to its present campus on Washington Street in Between and the Amarillo High School football team won several district titles and four state championships.
Four U. Although many local oil companies folded during the Great Depressionthe firm of Hagy, Harrington, and Marsh was formed in with offices in Amarillo. By Amarillo's population ed 51, A United States veterans' hospital was built west of the city.