WASHBURN, TEXAS. Washburn, on U.S. Highway 287 in the northwest corner of Armstrong County, was part of the JA Ranch holdings from 1876 until the ranch was divided in 1887. In August of that year Robert E. Montgomery, who owned section ninety-eight, promoted a townsite at what was then the terminus of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway. He named it after D. W. Washburn, an official of the railroad and an old friend of his father-in-law, Grenville Dodge, then president of the Union Pacific line. The Denver Road drilled two water wells and erected a double pump station, a coal chute, a section house, a depot, and stock pens. In 1888 a line was built to Panhandle, in Carson County, to connect with the Southern Kansas Railway. Washburn thus boomed with tents, dugouts, and board shacks almost overnight. It became a base of operations for settlers, ranchers, and neighboring towns. A post office was established in March 1888 with postmaster James Logue, who also served as justice of the peace, as postmaster. In 1889 a combination school and church building was erected. By 1890 the town had a newspaper, the Armstrong County Record, three hotels, and a building supply house. That year in a close, contested election, Washburn lost its position as county seat to Claude. Businesses failed, and people left. The failure to complete other railroad projects, the abandonment of the tap line, and the emergence of Amarillo caused a further decline. Nevertheless, Washburn's community spirit enabled it to survive as a rural town. Telephone service was extended from Amarillo in 1896. A Methodist church was built in 1907, and the following year James Logue established a bank, which in 1911 merged with the one at Claude. Sometime before 1920 a community club was organized for the purpose of modernizing the school facilities, improving education, and sponsoring cultural events. A Baptist mission was established in Washburn in 1963. Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, Washburn had a population estimated at twenty-five. It rose to an estimated 100 in 1964. From 1974 to the 1980s the population was estimated at seventy. In 1984 the town had a hotel, a grain elevator, and one business. Its post office closed in 1956. Some of its residents commute to Amarillo, twenty miles west. In 1990 the population of Washburn was 104. The population reached 120 in 2000.
Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876–1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965).
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, H. Allen Anderson, "Washburn, TX," accessed May 05, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnw22.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 29, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Get Texas history every day,
with day by day
Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles