Location and History

Did You Know?

Dalhart is closer to five other state capitals (New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Kansas) than the state capital of Texas (Austin). Dalhart is uniquely located near the crossroads of these states and is only 85 miles northwest of Amarillo. This makes for fast and easy trips to the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado.

Dalhart is the seat of Dallam County in the far northwestern corner of the Texas Panhandle; its western border abuts New Mexico, and its northern boundary borders Oklahoma. The City of Dalhart straddles Dallam County to the north and Hartley County to the south.

Dalhart by Road

Dalhart intersects Highway 87, providing great transportation from Texas metro cities to mountain destinations. Also crossing Dalhart is Highway 54, an east/west thoroughfare for snowbirds. SPIRIT (Southwest Passage Initiative for Regional and Interstate Transportation) has the goal of widening Highway 54 to four lanes over its 740-mile stretch from Wichita, Kansas to El Paso, Texas.

The Ports to Plains initiative, which encompasses Highway 87 through Dalhart, will provide smooth transportation from the border of Mexico (near Laredo) to Denver, Colorado and points north, eventually including Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

The Dalhart Municipal Airport is located three miles southwest of Dalhart. This former Army air base serves the public with facilities for commercial and private aircraft. There are two lighted 75-foot-wide runways measuring 6,400 and 5,669 feet. The airport is equipped with services including plane parking, aviation fuel, maintenance, pilot supplies, lounge and snooze room, public telephones, and more. The Airport Café is open during daylight hours, serving home-cooked breakfasts and lunches. Airplane enthusiasts and locals alike enjoy great daily specials just like mom used to make.

Just a short scenic drive to Amarillo, passenger air service is available at Rick Husband International Airport through some of the nation’s major airlines.

Dalhartans probably like that name a lot better than Twist Junction-ites! Dalhart began in 1901 and was briefly known as Twist Junction due to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway crossing tracks nearby. Although Dalhart celebrated its centennial in 2001, the history of the Panhandle dates back to 1885. The following is true – even though it sounds as if a couple of cowboys were telling tall tales around a campfire.

In the early 1880s, settlers weren’t too interested in the vast acreage in the Panhandle and land pricing was holding at fifty cents an acre. The Texas Constitutional Convention set aside three million acres in hopes of building a new state capitol building. This acreage would become known as the XIT Ranch. At one time it was the largest fenced ranch in the world – covering portions of ten counties. In 1881, fire destroyed the state capitol building in Austin and the Texas Constitutional Convention bartered with Charles and John Farwell of Chicago to build a $5 million red granite capitol building in exchange for the three million acres of the XIT Ranch.

The Farwell brothers got into business with Taylor, Babcock and Company through association with a subcontractor, and the pressure was on – rebuild the capitol building and develop the XIT Ranch. And it is no legend, both situations ended brilliantly. The Farwell brothers were succeeded by B.H. Campbell, an experienced rancher. In the late 1800s, the XIT Ranch was running 150,000 head of cattle. The XIT brand discouraged cattle rustling, as it was difficult to alter.

Dalhart grew quickly as a shipping center for the XIT and other area ranches. The town grew and continued to prosper with the addition of a water well, hotels, businesses, and a hospital. Even through the difficulties of the late 1930s when ferocious dust storms were prevalent, the people of the Panhandle did what they could when money was tight and food sparse – they even canned tumbleweeds!

In 1942, The Dalhart Army Air Field opened on 3,000 acres. The base was intended for glider training, but was used for B-17 and B-29 training and for fighter planes to assist bombers. The base was closed in 1946, and the property handed over to the City of Dalhart. Today it is the site of Dalhart Municipal Airport.

During the 1990s, Dalhart became the site of a state prison. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Dalhart Unit has the capacity to house 1,300 prisoners and is located outside of the city limits. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is a major employer in the area, and its honor squad provides valuable community improvement services.

Bringing Texline’s Past into the Future

Texline is named for its location on the Texas-New Mexico line on Highway 87. Texline is 11 miles southeast of Clayton, New Mexico in western Dallam County. It began in 1888 when the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway purchased land from the Capitol Freehold Land and Investment Company and built a division point there for its line. By the end of that year, the town had a post office, a hotel, a depot, and railroad shops. Charles Rudolph, editor of the Tascosa Pioneer, predicted that Texline would be “the wildest and the roughest and the toughest town of this section,” and for a time his prediction was right.

Texline served as the Dallam County seat from 1891 to 1903 when the county government was moved to Dalhart. The county’s first public school began in Texline about 1892.

Charles French, an agent for the Panhandle Land Improvement Company, described Texline’s boom days and the hardships that his family and other area homesteaders endured due to the lack of adequate medical treatment (until 1907, the nearest doctor was in Clayton) and occasional fuel shortages. Often the only fuel available was coal, which local residents purchased from the railroad.

The town was incorporated in 1916, but removal of the railroad shops in 1923 caused the population to decrease to 385 by 1940. The population was 511 in 2000.

Channing, the Hartley County seat, is 50 miles northwest of Amarillo and 30 miles south of Dalhart. Of all the Panhandle towns associated with the XIT Ranch, only Channing can truly claim that it developed directly from that enterprise. It derived its name from George Channing Rivers, paymaster of the railroad in 1888. At the time that Willis Twichell platted its business district in 1891, Channing was general headquarters of the XIT. Albert Boyce, the ranch’s general manager and a prominent early citizen, built the first house in the town. Boyce’s “Poor Farm,” the Rita Blanca Division headquarters, was less than two miles south of town. When Tascosa was abandoned, several of its businesses moved to Channing. Two elections, one in 1896 and the other in 1903, were required for Channing to replace Hartley as county seat. The original frame courthouse was moved to Channing by a group of XIT cowboys and was transformed into a hotel when a brick courthouse was built in 1906. Two years later, the local women’s club established a public library, one of the earliest in the Panhandle.

The XIT, which conducted much of its business from Channing, was the town’s chief customer until liquidation of the ranch in 1911. The brothers James and William Powell of England were the first to breed Hereford cattle in the Panhandle. With Boyce, the Powells’ established the Channing Methodist Church. Walter Farwell, one of the XIT financiers, built his spacious summer home just outside Channing. His tree-lined driveway and his wife Mildred’s southern hospitality became legendary. The Farwell estate had a dam, artificial lake, and a polo field to train horses.

In 1931, a fire destroyed seven buildings in the business district. Nevertheless, by 1940 Channing had a population of 475 with a high school, three churches, and five businesses, including a plant for grinding volcanic cinders and a cinder-block plant. Channing was incorporated in 1960 and grew as a shipping point and trade center for grains, feed and livestock. By 1984, mainly because of the accessibility of Dalhart and Amarillo by highways 87 and 385, the population had decreased to 304. The population was 356 in 2000.

Hartley is at the junction of highways 87 and 385, 14 miles southeast of Dalhart in east central Hartley County. It was named after the pioneer Texas attorneys Oliver Cromwell Hartley and his brother Rufus. It began as a tent village in 1888 after the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway purchased the right-of-way through the site. By the summer of 1890, a permanent town had been platted, and a local school district had been established.

When Hartley County was organized in 1891, Hartley was elected county seat and remained so until 1903, when another election chose Channing. Despite threats from some local citizens, armed deputies and XIT Ranch cowboys managed to move the wooden frame courthouse, mounted on wheels, out of Hartley to Channing. Nevertheless, Hartley continued to grow as Hartley Townsite Company advertisements attracted prospective homesteaders and business people. By 1910, Hartley had a hotel, a school, and a variety of stores and small businesses. The community had five businesses and a population of 150 in 1940 and was a shipping point for cattle and grain. Though Amarillo and Dalhart drew away some Hartley residents in the 1930s and 1940s, Hartley had grown to a population of 370 by 1990 and 441 by 2000.

Source: The Handbook of Texas online

Miles from Dalhart

Albuquerque NM  270
Amarillo TX 85
Austin TX  567
Colorado Springs CO 232
Corpus Christi TX 733
Dallas TX  440
Denver CO 345
El Paso TX 587
Ft. Worth TX 425
Houston TX  687
Lubbock TX 197
Oklahoma City OK   320
San Angelo TX 382
San Antonio TX 590
Santa Fe NM   250
Topeka KS  437
Waco TX 512
Wichita KS  300
Wichita Falls TX  310