The West Texas city of Amarillo, population approximately 175,000, sits in a region of the state first visited by the Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado in 1541. The town itself, however, was not founded until 1887. Since a nearby creek and lake are both bordered by yellowish soil the Spanish word for the color was chosen for the name of the town, hence, Amarillo.
The discovery of oil in the Panhandle in 1918 caused a boom of oil and gas companies in Amarillo, Texas. At that time the hottest Amarillo, Texas real estate was the kind with a drilling rig working day and night.
Like other towns in the American Southwest the Great Dust Bowl of the 1930s in Amarillo, Texas was devastating to the local economy. After World War II the area was boosted by the presence of an Air Force base but when it closed in 1968 the population in Amarillo, Texas declined dramatically. It took more than two decades for the city to recover from the loss of the base.
Now the thriving economy in Amarillo, Texas effects not just local pocketbooks but the economies of five states. Increasingly Amarillo, Texas real estate of the rural variety has been converted to dairy farming, an industry rapidly growing in Texas.
The presence of large corporations and manufacturing endeavors in Amarillo, Texas further contribute to the prosperity of the area. Bell Helicopter Textron does the final assembly of its V-22 Osprey in Amarillo, Texas and both Owens Corning and Tyson Fresh Meats have facilities in the city as do Xcel Energy and the BNSF Railway.
Major medical facilities in Amarillo include Baptist St. Anthony's Hospital, Northwest Texas Hospital, the Harrington Cancer Center, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and the Texas Tech School of Pharmacy. These facilities are all grouped in the large medical district known as the Harrington Regional Medical Center.
The areas surrounding the city remain heavily agricultural. In addition to the growing dairy farm industry, wheat and corn are major crops for Amarillo farmers. Although less known for cattle production, Amarillo is home to the Big Texan Steak Ranch, an eatery made famous by it standing offer to give away a 72 ounce steak to anyone who can consume the steak in an hour.
A more conventional local attraction is Palo Duro Canyon, second in size only to the Grand Canyon. Located south of Amarillo proper, each summer Palo Duro Canyon is the site of performances of the play "Texas Legacies."
For those with a more whimsical turn of mind, a drive west of Amarillo will take them to the Cadillac Ranch, a sculpture by local artist Stanley Marsh 3 who painted and then partially buried a series of Cadillac cars head first in the dirt.
Amarillo has two local institutions for higher education, Amarillo College (a two-year accredited community college with a student body of approximately 10,000) and the private Wayland Baptist University. The latter, a branch of the main Wayland campus in Plainview, offers only one degree (in education). The primary site for area youth who want to attend a university and stay close to home is West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.