Potter County History 1922
Potter County History Written in 1922
Potter County. The chief city and business metropolis of the Panhandle is Amarillo, the county seat of Potter County. The Fort Worth and Denver City Railway was completed across the Panhandle in 1888, with a station at Amarillo. During 1887 the Southern Kansas Division of the Santa Fe had been built into the Panhandle from another direction, with its temporary terminus at Panhandle City, thirty miles northeast of Amarillo. A little later this road was extended to Amarillo, and in 1901 on to the southwest through the purchase of the Pecos Valley & Northeastern Railway. Within ten years following the Santa Fe had extended its lines southward from Amarillo through Western Texas and had completed its line westward to a connection with its main line in New Mexico, near Albuquerque. In 1903 the Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railway from Memphis, Tennessee, crossed the eastern boundary of the Panhandle and gave a third railway line to Amarillo. This line was immediately made a part of the Rock Island system and in 1910 was continued westward to a connection with the transcontinental line of the Rock Island through New Mexico. These railroads, which have been such prominent factors in the development of all the Panhandle country, have been of especial benefit to the development of Amarillo, giving that city a location on several transcontinental lines and making all the Panhandle country and Eastern New Mexico tributary to this distributing and market point, in a territory of 60,000 square miles.
Until the coming of the first railroad the Panhandle cattlemen had hauled all their supplies from Trinidad in Colorado or from Colorado City on the Texas & Pacific Railway. Closely settled communities were impossible under such conditions, with the source of necessary supplies several hundred miles away ; but with modern transportation population came into the Panhandle in sufficient numbers to found towns and organize communities, to establish schools and churches, and provide all the facilities which are common in a well settled country. Another factor, not previously noted, which was important in favoring the settlement of the Panhandle, was the land law, which went into effect in July, 1887.
Although the people complained of the delay in the classification of the land and what they considered the arbitrary powers given to the Land Commissioners, no serious trouble arose that time could not adjust. The homeseekers that came in with the railroad found they could obtain school and state lands on liberal terms—forty years' time and five per cent interest. A large proportion of the settlers in Northwest Texas during the '80s possessed insufficient money to establish permanent homes and carry on successfully farming in a new and dry country.
In consequence, when the dry years and the financial stringency of the '90s [1890s] followed, there was a general exodus from the Panhandle, and only a nucleus of the pioneer stock remained to reap the rewards of later development. Since that time the limitations as well as the possibilities of the Panhandle have been realized. Instead of subjecting the country to the sort of farming pursued in the well-watered regions of the state, agriculture has been conformed to suit the country, crops adapted to the soil and climate, and settlers have sought to understand the real nature of the country they have chosen as home. Thus during the past ten or fifteen years the immigration has been of a better class than the Kansas and Oklahoma boomers of the '80s and '90s.