Armstrong County History Written in 1922
Armstrong County. The Palo Duro Canyon in Armstrong County is one of the most picturesque features of Texas physiography, and it has often been proposed that the Government should set it aside as a national park. It was in this locality that Col. Charles Goodnight established the pioneer Panhandle Ranch in 1876, and even in recent years Armstrong has claimed the distinction of marketing more cattle, hogs and sorghum seed than any other county in the Panhandle. For many years the cattle industry has been the chief resource, and the county contains many large ranches, one of them, comprising about a fifth of the area, being one of the largest in extent in all Northwest Texas. Of late years stockmen have devoted a great deal of attention to the improvement of breeds, and as a result the ranches are stocked with splendid specimens of Herefords, Polled Angus and other breeds of beef animals. Livestock farming is taking the place of ranching in many sections, particularly in the northern and eastern portion in the vicinity of the Fort Worth & Denver Railroad. At Goodnight is found one of the few herds of buffalo in the United States. Colonel Goodnight has succeeded in domesticating the buffalo and cares for a large number on his place. His ranch has gained fame as the home of the “cattalo,” an animal produced by a crossing of the native buffalo with Polled Angus cattle. It is said to be a splendid beef animal, capable of withstanding a severe climate and of existing on short forage if necessary. In the last two decades nearly a fifth of Armstrong County has been brought under cultivation, and the farmers and stockmen produce large quantities of the Panhandle forage crops, corn, oats, wheat and also considerable fruit.
Armstrong County was created in 1876 and was organized March 8, 1890. In 1880 its population was 31; in 1890, 944; in 1900, 1,205 ; in 1910, 2,682, and in 1920, 2,816. In 1888 the Fort Worth & Denver City Railroad was completed across the north half of the county, and one of the first stations established was Claude, which was given the honor of the county seat. By 1890 a prosperous little village has grown up on a site where eighteen months before not a house was to be seen. and at the last census it was a town of 1,200 in population. In 1887 the Southern Kansas Division of the Santa Fe Railroad was graded across the Panhandle as far as Panhandle City, and that road soon afterwards found entrance to Amarillo by extending a branch to Washburn in Armstrong County, and thence using the tracks of the Fort Worth & Denver Road to Amarillo. In recent years the Santa Fe tracks from Panhandle to Washburn have been abandoned, so that Armstrong County has now only one railroad line.
In 1903 the valuation of property in the county was $1,671,431 ; in 1913, $4,558,141 and in 1920, $4,712,794. The last census enumerated 28,186 cattle ; 5,840 horses and mules ; 1,296 hogs ; 1,940 sheep. The total area of the county is 577,920 acres. At the last census about 117,000 acres were “improved land,” as compared with about 22,000 acres in 1900. There were 172 farms or ranches in the county in 1900, and 387 in 1910. The acreage devoted to the principal crops in 1909 was : Kaffir corn and milo maize, 11,245; hay and forage crops, 22,311 ; oats. 10,725; corn, 3,453 ; wheat, 3,112 ; and about 15.000 orchard fruit trees were enumerated. – History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.