The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

Goodnight Historical Center opens cowboy palace to visitors

By Gerald E. McLeod, December 20, 2013, Columns

The Charles Goodnight His­torical Center in Goodnight, Texas, returns the home of a Texas pioneer to its former glory. After a six-year restoration, the house where the cattleman lived for 40 years once again welcomes visitors.

The complex also includes a new museum that tells the story of Goodnight's life, from cattle drives to the landmark JA Ranch to saving the last herd of the southern bison. He was a man of uncommon stature and accomplishment.

Built in 1887, the two-story house was Goodnight's headquarters after the former Texas Ranger left the JA Ranch. Owned by Irishman John Adair and managed by Goodnight, the JA was the first permanent cattle operation in the Panhandle. Walking through the house you can almost hear the scrape of spurs on the wood floors. The rooms are small, but bright. Brick fireplaces once warmed each room.

Goodnight often slept on the porch on the southeast corner of the house. From here the old plainsman had a view of the sunrise and sunset. Visible to the southwest are the jagged edges of the flat prairie where he once lived in a dugout cabin in Palo Duro Canyon.

The Goodnight Center is just off US 287 about 40 miles east of Amarillo. Descend­ants of the bison calves that Mary Ann Goodnight persuaded her husband to rescue are in the pasture next to the house. The complex is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

1,168th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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