Amarillo, Texas is located in the northern Panhandle region of the state. Amarillo covers ninety square miles of Texas and has a population of 180,000 residents. The word 'amarillo' is Spanish for yellow. There are two theories on how this choice was made as the city's name. One is the plentiful wildflowers that dot the landscape in the spring and summer months. The other is the yellow sand along the shores of nearby lakes and creeks. Keeping with that theme, Amarillo is known as The Yellow Rose of Texas. Other nicknames the city has collected over the years are Helium Capital of The World and Beef City.
Amarillo was founded in 1887 and by the late 1890s was one of the world’s cattle shipping points. By the early 1900s, Amarillo had also become a major feed manufacturing location. In the coming years, the city was discovered to be rich in natural resources. In 1918 gas was discovered in Amarillo. Three years later oil followed. In 1927 the US government purchased a helium field in Amarillo, which would be the only producer of commercial helium in the world for several years. The US Helium Reserve is still stored in a dome located on the original field.
The area surrounding Amarillo is full of natural attractions. The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is the second largest canyon system in the country, after The Grand Canyon. The Alibates Flint Quarries are also located in this region and were known to supply prehistoric settlers with flint to be fashioned into weapons and tools. The Wildcat Bluff Nature Center is comprised of six hundred acres of rolling hills and grassy plains. Giant cottonwood trees and native wildflowers are also plentiful in the center. Some of the wildlife known to frequent the center are hawks and horned toads.
The western and cowboy cultures remain popular in Amarillo today and the city is home to several annual events highlighting these cultures. The World Championship Ranch Rodeo is held in Amarillo each November. Amarillo is also the site of the World Championship Chuckwagon Roundup each June. The American Quarter Horse Association has its headquarters in Amarillo and maintains The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. At River Breaks Ranch, visitors to Amarillo can experience the cowboy way of life first hand via wagon trips through the canyons and seeing real cowboys roping steer and herding horses as part of their jobs at a working ranch. Another option for an authentic cowboy experience in Amarillo can be found at Elkins Ranch Cowboy Morning Breakfast, which includes a jeep ride through the canyons as well.
The most popular attraction in Amarillo is the Historic Route 66. Route 66 is famous for being the America’s first highway and represents the transition from dirt to paved roads. Route 66 spans for 2,400 miles across the country. Along Amarillo’s piece of the historic route are over one hundred businesses, restaurants, and shopping venues nestled in a nostalgic setting of vintage lighting and cobblestone sidewalks.
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