About Amarillo, Texas
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 3,605 ft. (1,100 m). Population: 190,695 (2010 census).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Amarillo is located in the Texas Panhandle region. It is county seat of Potter County, and also extends into Randall County. Its Metro area has almost 250,000 inhabitants, making it the 185th in the U.S.
The word is of Spanish origin and it means "yellow". There are two explanations for this colorful name: one, that it was inspired by the yellow flowers that grow in spring and summer. Another that it derives from the name of the Amarillo Creek, which in turn has yellow clay on its banks; A. Whipple wrote about this in 1853: "At Arroyo Amarillo (Yellow creek), some beds of sandy marl, instead of being red and green, are greenish-yellow".
Amarillo is also the fourteenth most populous city in Texas, is also known as the "Yellow Rose of Texas".
View of Palo Duro Canyon
The Panhandle area has been inhabited for over 10,000 years, as "Clovis" type stone tools of that age have been in Clovis NM and Amarillo was a source of flint for the Indians and their ancestors.
In the 1540s, the Spanish "Conquistadors" explored the region searching for the mythical city of gold (Eldorado), but found only endless plains.
Pedro Vial probably crossed the area in 1786 seeking a route between Santa Fe and Natchitoches. Canadian River was explored by Maj. Stephen H. Long in 1820. The California Gold Rush prompted new explorations (Josiah Gregg in 1840 and Randolph B. Marcy in 1849). They were followed along Canadian River by Lts. James W. Abert and Amiel W. Whipple in 1845 and 1853, respectively.
Tecovas springs was a pasture land for Mexican shepherds and a trading post for Comancheros.
White buffalo hunters exterminated the herds, livelihood of the native Comanche and Kiowa Indians; this led to war with the natives (1874-75). They were defeated and penned off in reservations.
Soon ranchers and settlers began arriving, cattle breeding was the basis of the local economy.
The Fort Worth & Denver City Railway crossed the area in 1887. At that time there was a tent city, the "Ragtown" built along the eastern edge of the Frying Pan Ranch, it housed the railway construction workers.
Downtown area, Amarillo, TX W W W Nguyen Why
At that time elections were held to choose the county seat. A townsite proposed by J. T. Berry, Oneida was backed by the first county judge, William B. Plemons, won the vote thanks to the cowhands of nearby LX Ranch. The new town was renamed Amarillo.
A post office was opened and the first newspaper (Amarillo Champion) and a school were established in 1888. The town moved to avert flooding dangers, to a higher site in 1890, around Polk St. This was ratified by another election in 1893.
More railways were built and the large ranches were subdivided into farms, so farmers began arriving in large numbers.
Gas was discovered in 1918 and oil in 1921. In 1928, the discovery of the Cliffside gas field, with abundant helium, led to the first Helium extraction plant in the U.S.
The Dustbowl afflicted famers with drought, and the Great Depression hit the recent boom in the oil business. The New Deal programs were centralized in Amarillo and funded improvements in streets and sewerage. Population in Potter County reached 54,265 in 1940.
Amarillo Trivia. Actress and dancer Cyd Charisse was born in Amarillo.
World War II brought prosperity: the Army Air Field opened (it closed in 1946 but reopened in 1951 as the Amarillo Air Force Base -it closed in 1968).
Cattle, Oil, natural gas and helium are the pillars of local economy.
Amarillo: Where to Stay
Accommodation in Amarillo: There are plenty of hotels in the town.
Motels and Hotels in Amarillo:
>> Book your Hotel in Amarillo
Weather in Amarillo
Amarillo has a semi-arid weather, with great day-night temperature variation. Temperatures in summer average 108°F (42°C) and the lows average 90°F (32°C). The high altitude moderates the summer temperatures, so nights are about 25°F cooler than daytime (14°). Winter is relatively mild, with maximum temperature averaging 52°F (11°C) and lows of around 25°F (-4°C).
Rainfall is scarce; around 20 in (500 mm), mostly in summer. Sunny weather is very common and moderates the winter daily temperatures. Amarillo is the windiest city in the U.S.
Snow can fall in Amarillo at any time between September and May (the first snow usually falls during the first week of December). The high altitude causes greater snowfall than locations further east: 17” per year on average (with peaks of about 40”); 43 to 102 cm.
Tornadoes, Amarillo is located in the Texas region belonging to the famous "Tornado Alley"; read more: Tornadoes on Route 66.
Getting to Amarillo
Amarillo is located 108 miles (174 km) from the Oklahoma - Texas state line, and 73 mi. (117 km) from the New Mexico State Line.
Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport
The airport is 10 miles (16 km) east of the downtown district of Amarillo. It was named after the Amarilloan NASA astronaut, Rick Husband, who perished, as with his crew in the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia (it disintegrated upon re-entry).
The airport is served by major airlines and has non-stop flights to Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Houston and Las Vegas.
Map of Amarillo and Route 66
Map of Amarillo and Route 66 between Texola, Oklahoma and Glenrio, Texas.
Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: I-40 where it overlaps the old alignment.
Black: Jericho Gap section of US highway 66. Blue: Original alignment of US 66 between Amarillo and Conway.
Route 66 itinerary to Amarillo
See previous sections of US Route 66:
Detail of Route 66 Between Amarillo and Glenrio, TX
Below is the description of Route 66 between Amarillo and Glenrio on the NM - TX state line.
Leave downtown Amarillo, (0 mi.), from Amarillo Blvd. and Pierce St. - US 87 take a left cross the bridge over railroad and (1 mile) trurn right onto SE Sixth Avenue.
Head west, it will change its name to SW 6th Ave. go through an underpass (2.3 mi.) and then change its cocurse (2.9 miles). Head west along it as it crosses the famous Historic Sixth Street District.
Then take a left onto Bushland Ave (3.8 mi.), which has a southwesterly course passing in front of the Golf links and under Bell Street underpass (5 miles.).
Right after the underpass, take a left and enter W. Amarillo Blvd (I-40 Business Loop Westbound), the road will pass the Veteran's Hospital and curve slightly until it reaches Coulter St. (5.7 miles) where it shifts to a westerly course.
It will cross TX-335 (7.6 miles) and go past the small town of Soucy, just before the Historic Helium Plant (8.5 mi.) which you can see on the left side of the road.
Just before reaching the "S" curve under the old railroad, take a right turn (9 miles) and enter Indian Hill Rd., which is the original alignment of Route 66 prior to the I-40 days.
Drive along Indian Hill Road until reaching Hill Road (12.6 miles); take a left entering I-40 westwards. At Exit 57, (14.7 mi.) you will have reached Bushland.
Carry on along the North Frontage Rd. until Wildorado (23 mi.), set next to Exit 49.
Continue west along the north service road, and after Exit 37, this road will leave I-40 (which curves to the SW). Keep straight, the road will become I-40 Business W. (US 66) and then as it enters the town of Vega (35.1 mi.) it becomes Vega Blvd., reaching Main St. (35.7 mi.).
On the left, past Main St. is the famous Vega Motel. Head west along Vega Blvd., pass I-40's Exit 35 (37.3 miles) and drive west along the N. frontage Rd.
At Exit 28, (43 mi.) are the remains of what once was the town of Landergin, now a ghost town.
After Exit 23 ⁄ 22, the road again becomes I-40 Business Loop and goes through the town of Adrian , which marks the Midpoint of Route 66, (49.7 mi.).
Final part: Adrian to Glenrio
After Adrian, at Exit 18, Co. Rd. 18 and Gruhlkey (54.7 miles). Head west along the Service Road which ends suddenly; taking a right, northwards, away from I-40. This is the old alignment of US hwy 66, which followed the now abandoned Rock Island Railway tracks. The road curves north and then again south, meeting I-40 at Exit 15 (57.4 mi.), get onto the interstate here.
In the past, the road kept on southwards, following the railway tracks and then turned west.
The old alignment meets I-40 (67.2 mi.); to the south of the Interstate you can still see the old road next to the now abandoned railway corridor.
Keep on I-40. You will see the dirt Route 66 to the south, as the South Service Road (69.8 mi.). Just before you reach the New Mexico state line, leave I-40 at Exit 0 (72.5 miles), head to the south side of I-40, towards historic Glenrio.
After the overpass you will reach, at a "T" crossing, the old US 66, which runs from east - west. Take a right and enter the almost deserted town of Glenrio (73.1) at the Texas - New Mexico State Line.
I-40 Welcome Center New Mexico
There is a modern Welcome Center on Interstate 40 in New Mexico, it can accommodate one million yearly visitors and is environmentally friendly.
Attractions & Sights in Amarillo
Things to Do and See in Amarillo
Visit its Historic District (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and iconic landmarks such as the Cadillac Ranch, the Helium Monument and the Big Texan Steak Ranch. For Nature lovers, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is very close to Amarillo.
The city layout was defined by William H. Bush (the nearby town of Bushland was named after him); he defined that the north to south streets be named after U.S. presidents in chronological order (John Quincy Adams was skipped because John Adams had used the surname first). The last president to be named was Grover Cleveland.
Amarillo is mentioned in the song "Route 66" (of "get your kicks..." fame).
The Big Texan Steak Ranch
7701 Interstate 40, Amarillo (8 mi. SE of downtown)
This steakhouse restaurant and motel opened in 1960 (on the historic US 66 alignment along E. Amarillo Blvd.) and moved in 1970 to its current location. It burned down in 1976 and was rebuilt in 1977.
The large cow statue in the front of the premises announces its famous 72 oz. (2.02 kg) steak, the "Texas King", which costs $72 but is served free to those who can eat the steak and the trimmings (bread roll with butter, baked potato, shrimp cocktail, and salad) in less than one hour.
U.S. Route 66-Sixth Street Historic District
The Historic District is defined by 6th Street between Georgia and Forrest Avenues, Amarillo TX.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
The Historic Route 66 - 6th Street District spans 13 blocks along Sixth Street in the San Jacinto Heights district between Georgia and Forrest Avenues. It has several vintage service stations and buildings in different architectural styles from the 1920s to 1940s including stores, shops and a motel. Time travel to the classic Route 66 days.
It was developed in the early 1900s as a streetcar suburb; in 1921, the road already had a gravel surface, as part of the Ozark Trail highway system. San Jacinto Heights was incorporated into the city in 1925 and the road was paved with brick in 1927, after it became part of the Route 66 alignment. Its current asphalt paving dates back to 1942.
The street was widened in 1942 and this blended 1940s features into buildings of the 1920s.
The Sixth Street became a part of town catering to the 1920s travelers: a City Tourist Camp accommodated them; "auto campers" slept by their cars in the open, there were 12 service stations by the end of the 1930s. Service Stations were now designed to attract customers, with canopies, restrooms and pumps that were set away from the roadside. There were 25 tourist courts along route 66 in Amarillo by 1928.
US Route 66 moved to its newer alignment in 1953 when the four laned Amarillo Blvd. was completed to bypass the congested downtown area. Motels with swimming pools and restaurants soon sprung up along the new route, ending the golden era for the old Sixth St.
The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
Below we describe some of the significant buildings along Sixth Street:
»CLICK on images below for their Street View «
604 South Georgia
Natatorium, A. Whittall
Nat Ballroom or simply "Nat". It was built in 1922 to house an indoor swimming pool, it was turned into a ballroom in 1926. It had a 10,000 sq. ft. polished maple floor, neon-lit seating area on the lower area and a revolving mirrored ball. The second floor had a dining area, dance floor and small stage with balconies overlooking the main dance floor.
It has been labelled the ugliest building in Amarillo, with a medieval castle facade including corner turrets and battlements on its eastern part. The north face of the building was designed to look like an ocean liner with lifeboats included.
There were dances every night except Monday and a "big" band would play there every month (Duke Ellington performed at Nat's). It closed in 1960 and reopened in the 1970s for private events. The Nat Café on 6th St. was built by Nat's owners in 1935 and is still open.
San Jacinto Fire Station
610 South Georgia
San Jacinto Fire Station, A. Whittall
It is next door to the Natatorium. The San Jacinto Fire Station was built in 1926 in a Mission Revival style.
It was an initiative of W.E. Cazzell to improve the neighborhood and remained operational until 1975. It is the only surviving pre-World War II fire station in Amarillo.
Its stylistic elements include a pergola, curvilinear parapets, battered brick walls and red tiled roofs.
2713-2727 West Sixth
Bussey Building, A. Whittall
Four storefronts built with dark brown colored bricks with limestone details.
They were commissioned by L.W. Bussey and built by Albert Randall. The 2719-27 was built in 1924 and the 2713-17 in 1927. They were the first important commercial buildings along Sixth Street.
They housed various shops (drug stores, cafes, grocery stores and even a Beauty School from 1941 to 1964).
2806 and 2801 West Sixth
Cazzell Buildings, A. Whittall
W.E. Cazzell and his wife Ada lived around the corner from West Sixth, on 510 South Florida St. In 1918, they bought the property next to their home (2806 W. Sixth) for $190, and opened a general store there in 1918.
It was a simple one story rectangular brick building.
Later it was subdivided to house two separate stores such as grocery stores or bakeries.
The Cazzells sold it in 1922 to Allen Early for $7,500 (they had made a good investment), and had a two story building built across the road, at 2801 West Sixth.
When the street was widened in 1942 its facade was demolished and rebuilt with its current configuration, blending the styles of the 1920s with those of the 1940s.
Cazzell was known as "The Mayor of San Jacinto" for his efforts to promote the district's development.
3120 West Sixth
Borden's Heap-O-Cream, A. Whittall
This building has some Art Moderne details: rounded metal sheet corners, plate glass windows with oval shape, rounded metal awning on the facade and side.
It was part of the Borden Company's chain of dairy bars. Borden had two downtown bars and had this building built in 1941.
It was rehabilitated in 1990.
Adkinson-Baker Tire Company
3200 West Sixth
Adkinson-Baker Tire Co., Amarillo, A. Whittall
The Adkinson-Baker Tire Company was built in 1939 and also displays an Art Moderne style, reflecting the Texaco's corporate identity of the 1930s
It is a one story, rectangular-shaped service station with a canopy covering its pumps (notice the individual light bulb sockets outlining the canopy).
It belonged to the Adkinson-Baker Tire Company which sold Texaco gasoline. Later, in 1945 it housed the Theo A. Bippus filling station.
3313-23 West Sixth
Carolina Building, A. Whittall
It was built in 1926 by M.C. Hancock with two partners (T.W. Cotten and J.W. Kemp) to cash in on the growth that U.S. 66 would bring to the district.
It has housed barber and beauty shops, drug stores, cafes, bakeries and even an auto paint firm.
It is built in Spanish Colonial Revival style with eight glass storefronts separated by brick columns and a pent roof with red tiles that runs along the facade.
Dutch Mill Service Station and Café
3401 West Sixth
Dutch Mill Café and Service Station, A. Whittall
This rectangular shaped building with stucco walls looks quite plain but has some interesting features: roll-down garage door, plate glass windows and a door with glass panels. Its wall has crenellations on its upper part.
It was built in 1932 and had a Dutch windmill on the curb to attract customers. It housed a cafe and a service station until 1950; then the cafe moved into another building.
Taylor's Texaco Station
3512 West Sixth
Taylor's Texaco Station, A. Whittall
This is a relatively "recent" building, as it was built in 1950. It is a one story rectangular building. Its walls are covered with white porcelain enameled panels.
Its style is Art Moderne, with a canopy supported by pipe columns. It follows the design laid down by Walter Dorwin Teague in the late 1930s.
Martin's Phillips 66 Station
3821 West Sixth
Martin's Phillips 66 Station, A. Whittall
The current building dates back to 1963, when the former Tudor Revival cottage style service station was demolished. The original station was built in the 1930s, and was designed to look like a cottage, to blend in with the residential neighborhood (see the McLean Phillips Service Station, as a surviving example of this style).
The early 1960s building is of Modernistic style with a soaring triangular shaped canopy and canted plate glass walls in the office as well as angled service bay entrances.
3912 West Sixth
Hubbell Duplex, A. Whittall
A well-known Amarilloan architect, Guy Carlander designed this duplex in 1925. Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Hubbell were the owners of the Hubbell Diamond T Truck Co.
It is built in dark brown bricks and follows the Craftsman style, including battered brick columns supporting the dual entry porticoes. It has not been modified since it was built.
San Jacinto Methodist Church
505 South Tennessee
Methodist Church, A. Whittall
The church was built in 1926 in a Classic Revival style. It is a two story building, with dark brown brick and a pedimented entry.
The 1942 widening of Sixth Street led to the demolition of the original stairway entrance (they were concrete steps with a balustrade capped in cast stone) which was moved to face Tennessee St.
The sanctuary and educational facilities are now housed in a two story brick addition built at the rear.
2501 West Sixth Ave., Amarillo.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Ranchotel, A. Whittall
Built in 1940, it is a "U" shaped building with 16 units linked by alternating garage parking spaces.
It created a Western ranch air with its stucco-covered walls, chimneys, wooden windows & shutters. Gabled roofs with exposed rafter ends and wagon-wheel handrails added to the charm.
They were furnished with rustic beads, tables and chairs; the lamps had cowhide lampshades, the mirrors were horseshoe shaped.
When traffic moved to Amarillo Blvd. in 1953, it became an apartment building (and remains so until today) which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Helium Times Columns Monument and Museum
1200 Streit Drive, Amarillo,
Texas Historical Commission Marker
Helium Monument, Amarillo, Credits
It is a Time Capsule (and also a sun dial) located in front of the Don Harrington Discovery Center (an interactive science center with exhibits and a planetarium; it is named after a philanthropist).
The six-story high monument was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. It has three stainless steel legs and a vertical one. They contain four capsules that are to be opened 25, 50, 100 and 1,000 years from the date of erection (1968). The first capsule was opened in 1983 and its contents are exhibited at the Discovery Center.
In 1982 it was moved to its current location by helicopter from Nelson and I-40.
Great Spanish Road & First Ranch and Store in Potter Co.
U.S. 87, 15 mi. north of Amarillo. USGS 35.475959 -101.883304
Texas Historical Commission Marker
The marker which was dedicated in 1965 is on the east side of US 87 north of the Canadian River Bridge.
In the 1700s, the Creoles and Mexicans of the Spanish Colony at Santa Fe, NM, used the corridor of Canadian River to meet traders from the Spanish towns in Texas (San Augustine and Nacogdoches).
Pedro Vial was sent by the Spanish Governor in 1786 to open this direct route from Santa Fe to San Antonio TX. It remained open for over a century.
In 1877, Bates and Beals set up the First Ranch in Potter County 1.5 miles from this site, the LX Brand. In 1878, the First Store in Potter County opened just west of the marker.
817 South Polk Street, Amarillo, TX 79101
Paramount Theatre, Amarillo, Ross Griff
For 45 years, between 1932 and 1977, the theater entertained Amarilloans. It could seat 1,433 viewers, had a pipe organ, murals and red carpeting.
It has been converted to office space maintaining its original Deco facade and sign.
Route 66 in Amarillo
6th Ave. between Georgia and McMasters St., Amarillo
Texas Historical Commission Marker
The marker dedicated in 1996 commemorates the "Main Street of America" and its impact in the development of Sixth Street and the San Jacinto area in Amarillo.
See Route 66's Detailed alignment through Amarillo
When US Route 66 was created, it passed right through the city; it followed Fillmore south and then took West 6th Avenue across the San Jacinto Heights district. It then turned onto West 9th St. and Bushland Blvd.
To help reduce the congestion in the center of the city, US hwy. 66 was realigned in 1953 and it ran east to west along the northern part of the city, on NE 8th Avenue. It coincided with US 60 until Fillmore St., continuing west on NW 8th St. Which then curved towards the south and after meeting the "old" alignment by the Veterans Hospital, took a southwestern direction.
However the traffic would suffer another modification when Interstate 40 was completed in 1968. Most of the traffic along Amarillo Blvd. moved south, following I-40.
Brick Road Paving
Local citizens voted in 1910 for streets to be paved with bricks. The downtown area of the city still has 16.2 mi (26.1 km) of brick streets, which it diligently restores.
Museums & Art
The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA)
2601 East I-40. Amarillo,
Quarterhorse, Amarillo, Credits
The AQHA is dedicated to preserve and improve the American Quarter Horse breed. The organization's headquarters in Amarillo has a museum which includes the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. Several horse statues around the town commemorate this reliable and very American horse.
Typical in the Western U.S. (though the breed originated in England), it is a compact heavily muscled horse that can outrun any other horse in short distances, of up to a quarter of a mile; which gives it its name.
Amarillo Art Center
200 South Van Buren Street, Amarillo
It opened in 1972 and is located on the premises of the Washington St. Campus of Amarillo College.
It shares the site with the Amarillo Museum of Art (AMoA) and a concert hall.
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
2503 4th Avenue, Canyon, TX
Said to be the largest historical museum in Texas, with over 3 million artifacts. This Smithsonian with a Texas accent is located on the campus of the West Texas A&M University.
The Texas Pharmacy Museum
1300 Coulter, Amarillo TX.
It claims to be the only museum in Texas specializing in all aspects of pharmacy (from history to research).
Kwahadi Kiva Indian Museum
9151 Interstate 40, Amarillo TX.
Native American artifacts and dance performances.
Polk Street Block Party
Details at their website www.centercity.org
It is a summer event, on a Saturday in August, from 4 p.m. to midnight
It takes place on Polk Street with more than 20 bands, food, fun and a Car Show and Shine.
Tri-State Fair &Rodeo
Details at their website: www.tristatefair.com
A celebration of the Texas and cowboy culture. During the third week of September. Participants from New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.
Since 1921. Venue: Tri-State Exposition grounds.
The World Championship Ranch Rodeo
Details at their website: wrca.org
At the Amarillo Civic Center, during November. It is sponsored by the Working Ranch Cowboys Association
World Championship Chuckwagon Roundup
During the first weekend in June. Teams compete in preparing western foods of the 1860s (sourdough biscuits, baked beans, mashed potatoes and beef).
Texas, a musical
1514 5th Ave, Canyon TX, Tel. 806-655-2181. www.texas-show.com
The Pioneer Amphitheater, located in nearby Palo Duro Canyon is the setting for the outdoor musical drama "Texas".
Every night, during the summer. Onstage for 50 years.
It tells the epic saga of the Texas Panhandle settlers and pioneers.
Tours & Itineraries
The area around Amarillo has several attractions. Get your car and hit the road to visit them:
7954 East Amarillo Blvd., Amarillo.
Triangle Motel, A. Whittall
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
Silas Clayton (1888 - 1984) built the Triangle Motel between 1946 and 1952 on a triangular site at the intersection of US 66 and US 60 (E. Amarillo Blvd.)
The buildings were built in Streamline Moderne style and remodeled in 1956 replacing the stucco finish with a brick veneer. The rooms were located in two linear buildings that face each other with inset garages between rooms.
The site included a café and service station (Triangle 66), and was hit by a small tornado in the 1950s.
Clayton retired in 1977 and sold the business.
Amarillo Ramp, clui.org
Boys Ranch, Amarillo, TX, USGS 35.375084, -102.030018
The Amarillo Ramp is the final creation of artist Robert Smithson (1938 - 1973).
It completes his trilogy of "land art" (Spiral Jetty -Great Salt Lake, Utah, 1970 and The Broken Circle, Emmen, Holland, 1971).
It is located on the now dry Tecovas Lake, 17 mi north of Amarillo. It was built with sandstone rock and is 148 ft. diameter (45 m) and over 15 ft. (5 m) above the lake bed.
Smithson was killed in a plane crash while surveying the location for this work. It was completed in 1974 by his widow, Nancy Holt, on a commission by Stanley Marsh (local rancher well known for the famous Cadillac Ranch).
The dam failed years ago and the site is now dry. Grass and prickly pear cacti grow now on the earthwork.
Located between I-40 and Hwy 66 (W. Amarillo Blvd) and TX-335, 7 mi. SW of Amarillo
It began in 1908 as a station on the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad, followed by a town on land donated by William H. Bush. A school opened in 1910 and the government built a helium plant here in the late 1920s. It is part of Metro Amarillo.
Amarillo Helium Plant
9913 Hwy 66, south east corner of Helium Rd. and W. Amarillo Blvd., Soucy
Texas Historical Commission Marker
The now shuttered plant is 6.3 mi east of Bushland, along Highway 66, in Soncy.
Helium is a chemically inert (does not react with other elements) gas. It is light and non-flammable. It is quite rare but produced naturally by radioactive reactions within the Earth's crust. The gas accumulates with other naturally occurring gases in gas fields.
The old Helium Plant and its Historic marker, Amarillo:
It is used as an inert atmosphere for welding, medical uses, for blimps and also for deep sea diving.
Helium from the Cliffside gas field in Potter County was extracted by the U.S. government's Federal Bureau of Mines at the United States Helium Plant outside of Amarillo.
The plant operated between 1929 and 1970, and for years Amarillo was the sole producer of commercial helium in the world. By 1964, 95% of the world's helium was produced within 250 miles of Amarillo, the self-proclaimed «Helium Capital of the World»
I-40 Exit 60, along South frontage road 4.4 mi east of Bushland USGS 35.187276, -101.986898
We have a specific page with full information on the Cadillac Ranch or «Ant Farm»
This attraction is free of charge and open 24⁄7
Reaching the Cadillac Ranch
Follow the course given above and stick to Amarillo Blvd.; exit at Hope Rd. (10 mi), take a right along the South frontage Rd. and reach the Ranch (11.5 mi).
>> Read more about The Cadillac Ranch
US Highway 66
Old Cowboy Motel sign, by Highsmith, Carol M.
Historic Route 66 alignment
East of Amarillo
1926 - 1956.The original "eastern" alignment of US 66 between 1926 and 1956 (according to the National Parks Service) was NE 8th Ave, which in those days ran on the south tip of the Amarillo Air Force Base airport and then became Triangle Drive. At Amarillo Blvd. it turned left, towards the downtown area.
1956 - 1970.The alignment changed in 1956 and followed the modern BL-40 northwest to US 60 -E. Amarillo Blvd., and took a left along the E. Amarillo Blvd. into Amarillo. Finally in 1970, it was replaced by I-40.
West of Amarillo
1926 - 1953. US 66 entered town via Amarillo Blvd until reaching Fillmore St., where it turned south until W Sixth Ave.; there it took a right, turning west along it, through the Historic Sixth Street District.
US 66 turned left onto Bushland Ave running towards the SW, crossing Bell St. and taking a left onto W. Amarillo Blvd (I-40 Buss) which continued west out of town.
1953 - 1970. From Fillmore St. the road kept west along W. Amarillo Blvd. then took a wide southwards curve and continued along W. Amarillo Blvd. until leaving the city.
Above we detail the alignment of Historic Route 66 from Amarillo to Glenrio, including the Amarillo segment of the road.
National & State Parks
Amarillo has great landscapes and nearby places for outdoor recreation:
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
Take TX-136 north and reach Fritch (29 mi). The road continues to Sandford and Sanford Dam. Borger is 13 miles west of Fritch.
Yellow wild flowers at, Amarillo, NPS
The park is open all year round, 24 hours a day. Ideal spot for trekking, camping, horseback riding and of course, fishing, swimming and boating in the lake.
It is named after A. A. Meredith, former Borger city manager who promoted the dam (Sandford dam) on Canadian River to provide drinking waters to eleven Panhandle towns.
The dam was completed in 1965 and the lake covers 21,640 acres (8,760 hectares). Canadian River runs across the Panhandle and Oklahoma, to flow into the Arkansas River in eastern Oklahoma.
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Take TX-136 north towards Borger. After about 30 miles, turn left from TX 136 onto Cas Johnson Rd, after 3 mi. at the "Y" intersection go right and after 2 mi. Access Station.
The quarries provided Native Americans with top quality flint stone for tools and weapons for over 13,000 years.
Palo Duro Canyon
33 mi SE of Amarillo: take I-27 southwards, and pass Canyon to take a left on TX 217 to Palo Duro Park
The Palo Duro Canyon State Park (27,173 acres) protects the second largest canyon system in the United States (after the Grand Canyon): it is 120 mi long and between 600 and 800 ft. deep; it formed over the last million years.
It is just a short drive south of Amarillo.
Its name is a Spanish word meaning "hard wood", derived from the tough Rocky Mountain Juniper trees that still grow in the Canyon.
At the Visitor Center you can buy books, jewelry, pottery and souvenirs. The Park has 30 mi. of trails for bikers, hikers and horseback riding.
Buffalo Lake NWR
32 miles SW of Amarillo. Take TX-136 north and reach Fritch (29 mi). The road continues to Sandford and Sanford Dam. Borger is 13 miles west of Fritch.
Coyote at Buffalo Lake, Amarillo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Take I-27 south and US 87 to Canyon, US 60 west to Umbarger and from there FM 168 S to the NWR.
It began as a protected area around a lake formed by the 1938 Umbarger dam, and protects the best remaining short grass prairie in the U.S. of which 175 acres were designated a National Natural Landmark.
The now temporary lake forms during major storms in the Tierra Blanca Creek basin, as the springs that fed it ran dry in the 1970s.
Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway
I-17 to Tulia and TX 86 east up to Quitaque. Take a left onto Ranch Rd 1065/Geisler to the park.
About 100 mi (160 km) SE of Amarillo, in Briscoe County. It protects the official Texas State Bison Herd.
A. W .Whipple (1856). Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Vol.3
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.
Original artwork by A. Whittall based on Google Street View Imagery.
National Register of Historic Places, Registration Form, Triangle Motel
National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, U.S. Route 66 - Sixth Street Historic District
U.S. Route 66-Sixth Street Historic District and Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Route 66, National Park Service.
H. Allen Anderson, "Soncy, TX", Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Handbook of Texas Online, Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Diana J. Kleiner, Helium Production, Handbook of Texas Online. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Panhandle snowfall National Weather Service.