A History of Canyon - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

A History of Canyon

            Canyon was incorporated in 1906, but its roots as a community date back to the mid- to late-1800s. The early pioneers of Canyon built a solid foundation for the city, which has withstood the test of time.

            Today, Canyon boasts one of the lowest tax rates in the State, compared to other cities its size. The City Commission and City Staff maintain a "pay as you go" philosophy, while staying ahead of infrastructure replacement needs. The City's unequivocal commitment to comprehensive and long-range planning results in dependability of services. Citizens can rely on the fact that when they wake up in the morning, the water will be flowing, the trash will be picked up, and they will be able to drive to and from work and school on safe, well-maintained streets.

            The Canyon Police and Fire Departments remain unswerving in their commitment to public safety for Canyon residents. The Canyon Police Department is the only nationally accredited police department of its size in Texas. Canyon residents enjoy one of the lowest crime rates in the State.

Despite the fact that the Canyon Fire Department is mostly volunteer, it has outpaced
many larger cities to become ranked the second-best fire department in Texas. Because of its exemplary service, Canyon has an insurance rating (ISO) of 3. This low rating translates into lower insurance rates for Canyon homeowners.

            While committed to the future, Canyon is also loyal to preserving the past. The City was recognized as a 2002 Texas Main Street City. The Main Street program offers an approach to downtown revitalization that has been successful in more than 1,000 towns and cities throughout the country. With this designation, Canyon will continue to preserve the past while planning for the future. Resources have been dedicated toward restoring Canyon┬╣s celebrated brick streets, as well as enhancing the inherent qualities around the square and within the central business district.

            Gateway to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, home to the outdoor musical drama TEXAS Legacies - Canyon's Official Vacation Packages Provider, West Texas A&M University and the site of the oldest and largest museum in the Lone Star State, Canyon has captivated the hearts and imaginations of visitors from around the world.

            Located on Interstate 27, just 15 minutes south of Amarillo, Canyon is a bustling community that has successfully combined a progressive attitude with small town friendliness and charm.

Nestled in the middle of the Texas Panhandle, Canyon claims a rich history based in cattle and ranching, and a heritage rooted in the pioneer spirit of the West.

            A temperate climate with more than 250 days of sunshine annually, a low crime rate and excellent education facilities all contribute to making Canyon a great place for family.

            The City of Canyon is a residential community located in the Texas Panhandle, just south of the City of Amarillo. Canyon derives its' name from Palo Duro Canyon , located approximately 12 miles from the City. Canyon was incorporated in 1906, but its roots as a community date back to the mid-to-late 1800's.

            In 1876, Randall County was created from the Bexar District (and organized in 1889). Named after Confederate General Horace Randal, the County that bears his name also misspelled it. Colonel Charles Goodnight settled in Randall County in 1876 with 1,600 head of cattle, and would eventually control almost 1,000 square miles of Panhandle Plains.

            In 1878, Jot Gunter and William B. Munson selected the site for the City of Canyon for the T Anchor Ranch.

            In 1887, Canyon City (as it was called at the time) began to see settlers with arrival of L.G. Conner. Within 2 years, Conner's home also operated as Canyon City's post office, general store, and voting place. Canyon City was selected as the county seat for Randall County in 1889.

1898, The arrival of the Pecos & Northern Railroad gave Canyon City its first industry - railhead for shipping cattle. As Canyon City entered the next century, its population has grown to 560 persons. Cattle and the railroad served to establish the City's prominence in the Panhandle.

1906, Canyon City was formally incorporated.

            Canyon's growth paralleled neighboring Amarillo's and both prospered. As the agricultural base diversified, Randall County's soil conditions (silty clay loam) proved ideal for increased farming. Throughout periods of economic reversal - including World War I and the Great Depression - Canyon continued to grow. By 1940, the City had grown to a population of 2,622 persons - over four times the size of Canyon City in 1900.

            In 1910, West Texas State Normal College opened and became a degree-granting institution by 1917. It has undergone several name changes including West Texas Teacher's College (1923), West Texas College (1949), West Texas State University (1963), and West Texas A&M University (1990).

The University has been responsible for several key aspects of the City's growth. In 1921, the University helped form the Panhandle Plain Historical Society to document and preserve the region's history. By 1933, the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum was opened on the West Texas campus. Initially a 25,000 square foot building, the museum has grown to over 285,000 square feet, making it the largest State-supported museum in Texas.

            As West Texas State Normal College was just getting started, just 20 miles north, noted American artist Georgia O'Keeffe was living in Amarillo where she was an elementary school art teacher (1912-14). Although O'Keeffe left Amarillo in 1914 (to return to the University of Virginia), she returned to the Panhandle just two years later to accept a faculty position at West Texas. As head of the College's art department (and its only instructor), O'Keeffe lived in Canyon from 1916 to 1918. She rented a room at the home of fellow faculty member D.A. Shirley (500 20th Street) and would often take meals at the Hudspeth House (1905 4th Ave.). As a young instructor (29 years old) and unconventional artist, storied circulated in Canyon regarding O'Keeffe's eccentricities.

            Regardless of her unconventional mannerisms and dress, O'Keeffe found great inspiration in the plains of Randall County. It is widely believed that nearby Palo Duro Canyon was key in the development of her distinctive Southwest style.

            O'Keeffe left Canyon in 1918 to relocate to New York City, where she spent the next 30 years. Her time in Canyon and Amarillo undoubted fueled her desire to return to the Southwest in the 1940's. Georgia O'Keeffe's years in Canyon were fundamental to the development of her style that has cemented her as one of America's most renowned artists.

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