TOP OF TEXAS
The community of Pampa, named for the grasslands of Argentina by local ranch manager George Tyng who had once traveled to the South American pampas, grew up around a railroad stop along the Southern Kansas Railway. The community benefited from the railroad’s proximity, thriving within the newly formed Gray County at the turn of the 19th century, serving as agricultural and cattle shipping point for the region. From 1900 on, Pampa experienced steady growth, receiving an additional boost from the local oil boom of the 1920s.
By 1928, Pampa had become county seat. A military presence, established during World War II with the Pampa Army Air Field, was followed by industrial investments from the petrochemical industry. Pampa’s good fortune afforded a robust collection of heritage architecture, now preserved and restored. Today, heritage travelers may enjoy a walking tour of the brick-paved streets of downtown Pampa where a printed tour guide, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce, highlights many of the historic locations. At the city’s center is the Beaux Arts Gray County courthouse, a 1929, four-story edifice restored through the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. Nearby are the jail, fire station, and city hall, all built during the period and of similar style. Elsewhere, the White Deer Land Museum details the history of Pampa and the surrounding countryside, the “Freedom Museum, USA” chronicles Pampa’s military history, and the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center, commemorates the famous folk singer who lived in Pampa from 1929 to 1937.