Armstrong County

Goodnight Texas


Goodnight is at the edge of the Llano Estacado on U.S. Highway 287 in northeastern Armstrong County.


Goodnight was named for Charles Goodnight, who settled on a ranch near the site after selling his minority interest in the JA Ranch in 1887. Soon afterwards, the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway established a station there, and in November 1888 a post office was opened with Sam Dyer as postmaster. The first building at the townsite was Goodnight’s ranchhouse, built in 1887. John Dorterer served as agent at the railroad depot, and C. M. McCurdy was the section foreman. R. M. Hathorn, the JA Ranch blacksmith, opened a shop in 1888. The Goodnight News began publication in 1890; it later merged with the Claude Argus to become the Claude News. A rural school district was organized in 1891, and Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight’s concern for education was further exemplified by Goodnight College, which operated from 1898 until 1917. The Goodnight Baptist Church, which helped run the school, was chartered in 1904. Charles Goodnight remained the dominant force in the community until his death in December 1929. His century-old house remained on his home ranch in 1990, along with the buffalo herd he started to help preserve the species. By 1940 the town of Goodnight reported a population of 300 and nine businesses. The emergence of Claude as the county’s business center, together with improved transportation and communication facilities, resulted in the rapid demise of the business district in Goodnight. The population dropped from 200 in 1944 to twenty-five in 1969. Despite the filming of Hud in Goodnight in 1963, activity in the town continued to decrease, and the post office closed by 1969. As of 1984 only one church and the community cemetery remained, along with the Goodnight Ranch facilities. In 2000 the population was eighteen.

Goodnight – the town.  Goodnight post office was established November 17, 1889 with Sam Dyer as the postmaster.  A depot was built and John Dorterer was agent.  C. M. McCurdy was section foreman. R. M. Hathorn had a blackmith shop. – A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876-1965, page 125.

Goodnight. Named in honor of Charles Goodnight, 1836-1929, noted scout, Indian fighter and trail blazer who established the first ranch in the Texas Panhandle in 1876 and is also known as the Burbank of the Range. – Historical Marker Text.  Marker erected 1936. Located in the Roadside Park on US 287 at eastern city limits of Goodnight.

History of Goodnight. The history of Goodnight, Armstrong County, Texas, is in reality part of the life history of the late Charles Goodnight, for whom the town was named…. Goodnight came to the Panhandle from Colorado in 1876, and established the Palo Duro Ranch due east of the site of the town of Canyon. Here in the canyons these men came on herds of buffaloes grazing. This ranch, known as the Old Home Ranch, first in the Panhandle, was 250 miles from a railroad and base of supplies….

Later during the same year Goodnight met J. George Adair, a Britisher who was interest in western range life, and together they founded the J.A. Ranch. The Adairs and the Goodnights together cane from Colorado south to the Canadian, crossing at Tascosa, and went south and east along the divide between that stream and the Palo Duro, aiming to enter the canyon from the northeast, opposite the Home Ranch. Goodnight and Adair remained partners for several years. In 1887, he settled on his home ranch near Goodnight….

The population grew here and soon schools were needed and the Goodnights built the Goodnight College, a co-educational institution. Colonel Goodnight do­nated two sections of land and from this built a frame girls’ dormitory and chapel and several small buildings used for boys’ dormitories. The Colonel spent $8,000 on the college only to see it fall. McIlhaney was the first president of the College. It was offered to the Methodist denomination who refused it. In 1904 the Baptists took it over and more buildings were erected. A two and one-half story brick administration college building was erected in 1906 and 1907. This building burned in 1918. The Girls’ dormitory, which was built in 1911, is still standing. The College was changed to a Junior College in 1913. Most of the students of the college were boarding students and the highest enrollment was about 150. The college closed in 1917.

A branch of Buckners Orphans Home of Dallas was placed in Goodnight in 1918. Fire destroyed the chapel building and the Home was moved beck to Dallas in 1920.

The greatest development of the town occurred in the years 1906-1910. A General Mercantile store went into business in a rock building in 1910. The Goodnight Mercantile was a stock company comprised of several citizens of the community. A furniture store was operated by G. C. Terry about this time. One of the first grocery stores was founded by Mr. Beevers in 1906. which later charged to Brooks-Dodson. Dr. T. B. Miller started a drug store in 1907 which later sold to Roach Bros. in 1909. There were other business houses, one of which was the Goodnight State Bank. It was organized in 1910 with J. M. Crain as president and Gaither Miller is cashier. It continued operations there until 1928, when it was moved to Claude and in­corporated with the First State Bank there.

Site of Old Goodnight College. (1898-1917) Founded by first permanent Texas Panhandle ranchers, Col. and Mrs. Charles Goodnight. With 20 students, classes began in the Methodist church while donors’ funds were being used to erect 3-story administration building, two dormitories, and dining hall. Enrolment grew to 200; school had good athletic program. College in 1905 became a Baptist-supported academy; a junior college, 1913. Presidents were: Dr. Marshall McIlhaney, C. H. Webb, the Rev. J. P. Reynolds, Dr. D. T. Sutherland, the Rev. A. H. Thornton, E. B. Moore, and R. B. Morgan. In World War I era the useful pioneer school closed.  – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1971.  Located at the community building on FM 294 just north of intersection with US 287, Goodnight.

Site of Old Goodnight Ranch.  First ranch in the Texas Panhandle; established in 1876 by Charles Goodnight 1836-1929; noted scout, Indian fighter, trail blazer and rancher; The Burbank of the Range. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1936.  Located near intersection of US 287 and FM 294, 1 mile east of Goodnight.

Charles Goodnight. (1836-1929). Illinois-born, came to Texas in 1845. At 19, on way to gold field, saw ranching possibilities, and started herd in Palo Pinto area. In the Civil War scouted for the frontier regiment in northwest Texas, New Mexico and Indian Territory. With Oliver Loving, pioneered Goodnight-Loving Trail across deserts and Indian lands, 1866. Established in 1876 the first Texas Panhandle ranch, in Palo Duro Canyon, longtime winter shelter of Plains Indians. Later with Irish partner, expanded into the great JA Ranch. Founded old Goodnight College. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1964.  Located US 287, east city limits,. Goodnight.


35° 2′ 32.964″ N, 101° 11′ 31.2″ W

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