The Texas Panhandle – that rectangular region that sits at the very top of the state – is responsible for a large part of Texas’ unique geographic outline, as well as a major part of the “Texan” culture. The majority of the towns and cities that dot the Texas Panhandle region began life as some sort of economic “boom town.” Whether it was cattle, railroads or oil, generally there was a boom of some sort happening in the region which resulted in the founding of these towns. As a result, these towns also became great “mixing pots,” drawing people from across Texas and beyond when times were good. Today, the region’s many astonishing natural attractions draw visitors on a regular basis.
Perhaps no other Texas city has been named in as many songs as Amarillo. That just speaks to the unique character of this panhandle city. Founded as a “cowtown” in the 1800s. For years, Amarillo was the hub of cattle driving activity in Texas and the Southwest United States. Amarillo’s main attraction today include the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, American Quarterhorse Hall of Fame, Wonderland Amusement Park, Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian and the renown Cadillac Ranch. The Big Texan Steakhouse, famous for its massive 72 ounce steak, is another popular stop for visitors in Amarillo. In addition, Amarillo is also within a short drive of Palo Duro State Park, which is one of the state’s most unique and popular state parks.
Andrews is a tiny berg, founded, as most Panhandle cities were, in the 1800s as a result of the cattle boom. Officially founded in 1876, Andrews was only able to enjoy a little over a decade of the cattle boom, which entered a decline in the mid-1880s. However, Andrews got another shot of economic growth when oil was discovered there in the 1920s. Today visitors to Andrews enjoy participating in the many outdoor activities available, including golf, fishing, hiking, camping, and swimming.
Located right along the northern edge of the Edwards Plateau, Big Spring was founded in 1882. As the name implies, Big Spring was named for a large natural spring on the site where the town was founded. Like other Panhandle cities, today most visitors to Big Spring come for the town’s natural attractions such as Moss Lake and Signal Mountain.
One of the Texas Panhandle’s better known cities, Brownwood is home to Howard Payne University. Lake Brownwood is one of the Panhandle region’s largest lakes and is a popular spot for water skiing, fishing, boating, and swimming, as well as hiking and camping along the lake shore. Brownwood also boasts a golf course in addition to numerous shops, restaurants and museums.
Canyon is one of Texas most unique – and under appreciated – cities. Canyon has an interesting history, dating back to its founding on Christmas Day 1887. As a cattle town, Canyon was reliant on the cattle industry throughout its early history. Later, the railroad turned Canyon into a prosperous shipping hub. Today, it is home to West Texas A&M; University and proclaims itself “The Gateway to the Grand Canyon of Texas,” referring to its close proximity to Palo Duro Canyon.
Palo Duro Canyon is one of the state’s greatest natural attractions. Measuring 120 miles long, 20 miles and 800 feet deep. Palo Duro is a popular destination for a variety of activities, including horseback riding, mountain climbing, camping and hiking are also popular activities.
Colorado City, located at the base of the Texas Panhandle, is one of the regions southernmost cities. Originally founded in the 1870s, Colorado City had a spartan existence until the coming of the railroad in 1881. Today Colorado City draws visitors for its natural attractions such as Lake Colorado City, as well as attractions like the Branding Wall, which features 230 cattle brands used in the region, and the Heart of West Texas Museum.