Potter County
Historical Markers

Texas Plains Trail Region

Map of Potter County

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section).
_X (LX) First Ranch in Potter County | Amarillo Livestock Auction | Canadian River | Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail Gregg Route, 1840 | Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail Marcy Route, 1849 | Frying Pan Ranch | Great Spanish Road; First Ranch in Potter County; First Store in Potter County | Juan De Padilla | Potter County | Potter County, Establishing of | Potter County Courthouse | Route 66 in Amarillo | Tecovas Springs | Wild Horse Lake

_X (LX) First Ranch in Potter County

Marker Title: The _X (LX) First Ranch in Potter County
Address: US 87 N about 22 mi. from Amarillo
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1971
Marker Location: from Amarillo, take DS 87 north about 22 miles. Marker is on west side of highway
Marker Text: Established by W.H. Bates and D.T. Beals, Colorado merchants and ranchers on the Arkansas River since 1870. "Crowded conditions" there resulted in moving herd and brand to the Panhandle of Texas in 1877 -- three years after Indians were expelled from this region. LX cattle were being driven to Dodge City for shipment to market or to ranges in Montana and Wyoming as the buffalo were being exterminated in the area. The ranch extended from present cities of Dumas (30 mi. N) to Amarillo (20 mi. S), and was 20 miles wide--1,000 square miles of open range. The ranch was sold in 1884 to the American Pastoral Company, Ltd., London. Ownership included 210,597 acres of land, 45,000 cattle and 1,000 horses. Famous LX cowboys included Allie Bates and John Ray, whose names are on geological maps, and Charles Siringo, author of Western Americana and Cattle Rustler Detective. Potter County was organized on Aug. 30, 1887 by 53 qualified electors. By unanimous vote of the 38 LX cowboys, Amarillo was elected the county seat. In 1906 the Pastoral Company began liquidating. Heirs of large purchasers now own the properties. (1971)

Amarillo Livestock Auction

Marker Title: Amarillo Livestock Auction
Address: 100 South Manhattan St.
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: 100 South Manhattan Street, Western Stockyards, Amarillo.
Marker Text: Established to serve the first permanent industry in the Texas Panhandle--ranching. Now famed for handling more cattle than any other commission auction company in the United States. The years 1874-1878 saw Indians expelled, buffalo herds exterminated, and ranches established in the region. Longhorns were trailed to Dodge City for shipment. After railroads came, ranchmen rode the cattle trains to care for herds en route to market. Railroad construction across the Texas Panhandle in 1887 established Amarillo as the largest rural cattle shipping point in the nation (1892-1897). More efficient handling began in 1904 with the founding by O.H. Nelson, Al Popham, and associates of the Western Stockyards, predecessor of Amarillo Livestock Auction. This livestock commission market opened in 1935 with the sale of 36 cattle and 21 horses by Jack Coulter, Auctioneer, and Virgil Light, Manager. In 1940 Jay Taylor and Eddie Johnson bought the Western Stockyards and constructed the present sales ring, incorporated 1945 as Amarillo Livestock Auction Company. Marketing was revolutionized. Annual sales exceed 400,000 cattle valued at more than $78,000,000. (1970)

Canadian River

Marker Title: Canadian River
Address: US 287, 15 mi. N of Amarillo
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From Amarillo, take Highway 287 about 15 miles north (Marker is just north of Canadian River on east side of road).
Marker Text: A travel route and dwelling site for over 12,000 years, the Canadian River supported stone and adobe Indian villages from the 12th to the 14th Centuries. This waterway was also one of the first interior rivers of the U.S. known to early explorers. Coronado, coming from Mexico, crossed the Canadian in 1541 in his search for the famed city of Quivira. Juan de Onate, also seeking Quivira, saw the river in 1601. The Canadian traders Pierre and Paul Mallet followed it in 1741. Josiah Gregg, famous Missouri trader, took $25,000 worth of goods to Santa Fe along the river trails in 1839. Gold seekers bound for California were escorted along the trails in 1849 by Army Captain R.B. Marcy. During its history, the river has borne many names. (1967) More

Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail Gregg Route, 1840

Marker Title: Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail Gregg Route, 1840
Address: SH 136, about 12 mi NE of Amarillo
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: From Amarillo, take SH 136 about 12 miles northeast (Marker is just south of junction of SH 136 and Route 293).
Marker Text: Southwest of this marker are dim traces of overland trail to connect river ports of Fort Smith and Van Buren, Ark. with Santa Fe, a trade and travel center since 1609. This road was pioneered by Josiah Gregg, a Santa Fe trader who first passed this point on March 15, 1840. Many goldseekers later used his route--from the summer of 1849, when worldwide "fever" drew them to California. The Gregg Route, in the days before barbed wire, regularly was traveled by military parties, hunters, and traders. (1964)

Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail Marcy Route, 1849

Marker Title: Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail Marcy Route, 1849
Address: SH 136, about 20 mi NE of Amarillo
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: From Amarillo, take SH 136 northeast about 20 miles (Marker is 9 miles north of junction of SH 136 with Highway 236).
Marker Text: Clearly visible to the northeast and southwest are ruts of the Old Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail, the overland route connecting river ports of Fort Smith and Van Buren, Arkansas with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Route gained national fame when Col. R.B. Marcy, U.S. Army, escorted party of 500 Arkansans--professional and business men and families--over this road in June 1849, on the way to California's gold fields. Scores of goldseekers in smaller groups also used the route that year. Old trail became proposed route in 1853 for first transcontinental railroad as surveyed by Lt. A.W. Whipple. Prior to the Civil War, this route had won Congressional support, but the War shifted sentiment so that Union Pacific, to the northward, actually was built first. During the War, a mail line left the Old Butterfield Stage Route in Eastern Oklahoma and went by way of this point over to Las Vegas and Santa Fe. In 1878 began usage of this link of road for a mail-stage line from the federal fort at Mobeetie, in the Texas Panhandle, to Las Vegas, New Mexico. The trail has not been used since 1888. (1965)

Frying Pan Ranch

Marker Title: Frying Pan Ranch
Address: IH 40, E of Bushland
City: Bushland
County: Potter
Marker Text: First big cattle ranch fenced with barbed wire. Established to demonstrate effectiveness of barbed wire in controlling use of grass, in preserving herd bloodlines and in reducing ranch work forces. Owned by barbed wire inventor Joseph F. Glidden and his Texas sales agent, Henry B. Sanborn. Sanborn developed the ranch, devising the "Panhandle Brand"--immediately renamed "Frying Pan" by cowboys branding 12,000 head of cattle originally pastured here. Fencing began here in 1881 with wire freighted from Dodge City. Cedar posts were cut in Canadian River Valley and Palo Duro Canyon (40 mi. SE). Ranch was successful in proving the advantages of barbed wire fencing: the most important contribution to the economic conquest of the Great Plains. Potter County was organized in 1887 with Amarillo the county seat. Glidden and Sanborn moved city one mile east to their townsite addition in 1889. In 1892 Sanborn traded his interest in the Frying Pan for Glidden's interest in the city. In time the eastern fence line of the ranch became Western Street in Amarillo. Heirs of Glidden still manage the family estate. The old ranch headquarters was located at Tecovas Springs (6 mi. NW). (1970)

Great Spanish Road; First Ranch in Potter County; First Store in Potter County

Marker Title: Great Spanish Road; First Ranch in Potter County; First Store in Potter County
Address: US 87, N of Amarillo about 15 mi.
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: From Amarillo, take Highway 87 about 15 miles north. Marker is north of Canadian River Bridge on east side of road.
Marker Text: Near course of the Canadian River, early as days of the American Revolution, men from Santa Fe went past this spot on trips to meet traders from San Augustine, Nacogdoches, and other Spanish towns of East Texas. In 1786, Pedro Vial was commissioned by the Spanish Governor at Santa Fe to establish this route, and secure direct connection from Santa Fe to San Antonio, Texas, with access to East Texas towns. The Great Spanish Road served well colonial Texas and foreshadowed 20th Century usage of the route for a segment of a great intercontinental highway. First Ranch in Potter County - established 1877 at point 1 1/2 miles east of this site, by Bates and Beals, northern investors. Ran the LX Brand, and once had a cowboy named Will Rogers--later internationally famous as a humorist. First store in Potter County - opened 1878 a few hundred feet west of this marker, by William Pitcher, whose name was given to nearby creek, and who figured in a desperate robbery from which LX cowhands rescued him. (1964)

Juan De Padilla

Marker Title: Juan De Padilla
Address: 12th and Jackson St., St. Mary's Church
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Located across from St. Mary's in Elmwood Park at the intersection of Twelfth Street and Jackson Street, Amarillo.
Marker Text: Front - Self Sacrifice of Padre Fray Juan De Padilla - 1544; Back - Built to the glorious and perpetual memory of Father Fray Juan De Padilla, O.F.M. Franciscan Missionary, first martyr for Christianity in the United States and in Texas; Accompanied the Coronado Expedition to Palo Duro Canyon, went with Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his chosen party in search of La Gran Quivira; Returned soon and began his zealous labors for the civilizing and christianizing of the Wichita and other Indian nations in the region of the Texas Panhandle; His martyrdom occurred in 1544; Erected jointly by the State of Texas and the Texas Knights of Columbus in 1936.

Potter County

Marker Title: Potter County
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Text: Formed from Young and Bexar Territories; Created August 21, 1876; Organized August 30, 1887; Named in Honor of Robert Potter 1800-1842; signer of the Declaration of Independence; Secretary of the Navy; Senator in the Texas Congress, 1840; Amarillo, County Seat.

Potter County, Establishing of

Marker Title: Potter County, Establishing of
Address: 500 block of S. Taylor St.
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: 500th block of South Taylor Street, courthouse grounds, Amarillo.
Marker Text: Named for Robert Potter, Secretary of the Navy (1836) and Senator (1840-42) of the Republic of Texas. In territory ranged by Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians, and since 1600 familiar to Spanish military parties and French traders. On established routes of the Great Spanish Road from Santa Fe to San Antonio (1786) and the Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail of 1840 which was followed in 1849 by California gold seekers. Although still uninhabited, the county was created in 1876 by Texas Legislature. The years 1874-78 saw Indians expelled and buffalo replaced by longhorns. In 1877 the famous LX Ranch was established, with headquarters 20 miles north of this site. The Frying Pan, first large ranch fenced with barbed wire, in 1881 built its headquarters 16 miles to the west. Railroad construction across the Texas Panhandle made local government desirable. LX and Frying Pan cowboys were the electors who voted on Aug. 30, 1887, to organize Potter County. This county was discovery site (1918) of the vast Panhandle-Hugoton Gas Field. It is noted as location of Alibates National Monument (established 1965), an aboriginal flint quarry, with ruins of prehistoric Indian villages inhabited as early as 10,000 B.C. (1970).

Potter County Courthouse

Marker Title: Potter County Courthouse
Address: 501 South Taylor
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1996
Marker Location: 501 South Taylor, Amarillo
Marker Text: Organized in August 1887, Potter County erected its first courthouse in 1888 in old town Amarillo. The building was constructed by Mays, Hightower, and Jackson for a cost of $191. Over the years, three more courthouses were built as Amarillo and Potter County grew. During the 1920's the Panhandle experienced an oil boom. As a result, business increased, the population of Amarillo nearly tripled, and eight sky scrapers were added to the city. The fifth courthouse in Potter County, this building was designed by Architect W.C. Townes of Townes, Lightfoot and Funk of Amarillo. It was constructed at a cost of $420,000 in 1930-32 by Amarillo builder Charles Lambie. More than 500 laborers, residents of Potter County, applied to work on building the new courthouse. The Potter County Courthouse is a fine local example of an art deco style institutional building. It exhibits stepped massing from its entrance pavilion to the top of the tower, and skillful use of details that include ornamental figural and botanical bas relief, symmetrical pilasters and metal casement windows. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1996

Route 66 in Amarillo

Marker Title: Route 66 in Amarillo
Address: 6th Ave, between Georgia and McMasters St.
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1996
Marker Location: SW Sixth Avenue between Georgia and McMasters Street, Amarillo.
Marker Text: Commonly called the "Main Street of America" and also the "Mother Road," Route 66 became the first paved transcontinental highway in the U.S. spanning from Chicago to Los Angeles; the route in Texas crossed 7 panhandle counties over 177 miles. Route 66 was popular with automobile tourists. The road was important in the development of Sixth Street and the San Jacinto area in Amarillo, which was the only large urban city on the Texas route. In 1994 the area was listed in the National Register of historic places, and has become the focus of local preservation efforts. (1996)

Tecovas Springs

Marker Title: Tecovas Springs
Address: IH 40 near Bushland
City: Bushland
County: Potter
Marker Location: On Roadside Park near Bushland (1 mile E. 1-40, Roadside Park, Bushland).
Marker Text: Located 6 miles northwest of this marker. Favorite campsite of prehistoric Indians, and of later traders, military parties and hunters, from time of 18th Century Spanish explorations. Meeting place of 19th Century Plains Indians with traders, smugglers and the renegade peddlers called Comancheros. Summer range home ground of Mexican shepherds before the cowmen came in the 1870's. Since 1881, location of the headquarters of the Frying Pan, ranch started by J.F. Glidden and Henry S. Sanborn, inventors and promoters of barbed wire. (1964)

Wild Horse Lake

Marker Title: Wild Horse Lake
Address: Amarillo Boulevard and Old Route 66
City: Amarillo
County: Potter
Year Marker Erected: 1994
Marker Location: Located on the S access road of Amarillo Boulevard, or Old Route 66, about .1 mile W of intersection of Amarillo Boulevard and Travis Street, Amarillo.
Marker Text: At various times this playa lake served as a reliable water source for buffalo, wild horses, nomadic native americans, explorers, cattle drivers, traders, and pioneers traversing the high plains. The lake area, also called Amarillo Lake, became the original townsite of Amarillo in 1887. Frequent flooding caused the town's relocation to higher ground one mile east of here by 1890. Amarillo developed there to become the cattle and agricultural railroad shipping center of the Texas high plains region. Modern development has diverted the lake's natural drainage system and reduced its size. (1994)


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