From its earliest documented history as a long line of apartment and town home dwellings on the bluffs along the Canadian River in the 1100's, through today's present rebirth, Canadian has always inspired the imagination of those who visit and the loyalty of those who call it home. In 1544, long after the culture that had built those apartments along the western side of the panhandle disappeared, Coronado and his band wrote romantic descriptions of a land with stirrup high grasses and warned of a fierce and dangerous river.
The first white settlers arrived in the 1860’s and 70’s following their own herds of longhorn cattle, moving from one good patch of grass to the next. In early 1887 E. P. Purcell and O. H. Nelson, laid out a 240-acre townsite for the soon to arrive Southern Kansas Railway. The site, which was on the South bank of the Canadian River connected to the community of Hogtown (AKA Clear Creek) by a bridge. That summer residents and businesses crossed from Hogtown to be near the rails.
A post office was granted in August of 1887 and the town's first hotel - The Log Cabin opened its doors. On Independence Day 1888, Canadian hosted the first annual Cowboys' Reunion rodeo - one of the first commercial rodeos in Texas.
By 1900 the town was thriving due to its being a division point fort the railroad. The town soon had cotton gins, grain elevators and even a private academy, as well as the usual businesses necessary to a vibrant town. It was estimated that the town once had as many as thirteen saloons. Visitors to Canadian today are fascinated to find that this really was the wild, wild west made famous in Western movies, TV shows and the dime novels of the time. The most famous heroes, outlaws, Indian chiefs, battles and Texas Rangers seemed to have all converged here.
The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl sideswiped all of Canadian’s progress, but there was a bright future coming in the second half of the 20th century for Canadian.
In 1954 the County’s first productive well was brought in by Sun Oil Company. In the summer of 1957 the Ray Wilson # 1-53 was drilled and in 2009 is still producing. The brightest hope for Hemphill County’s economic future came with the biggest gas well ever drilled in the United States. The Gulf-Helton # 1-21 was completed in the Buffalo Wallow field producing 588,000,000 cubic feet of gas per day.
By the 1970s, the oil and gas boom hit Canaidan in a big way. Hemphill County was listed in the top ten producers of natural gas in the country. The County’s population swelled over 5,000 for the first time when production reached nearly 2,000,000 barrels of oil per day. By 2000, the boom was over and the County’s population once again stabilized at about 3,300 people.
Today the County and City of Canadian has worked hard to reconcile their economic goals, rich history, unique culture and quality of life. Today citizens look forward to a future that preserves a hometown they love and conserves a natural setting they cherish and share with the birds and wildlife that also call it home.
Monday - Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM