The Texas “panhandle” is the northwest part of the state. The “panhandle” term comes from the lay of the land, like the “handle” of a “pan.” The term “panhandle” was applied to Virginia in the 1840s-1850s, and then to Texas in the late 1860s.
What is the Texas Panhandle?
The panhandle name is a general geographic referral to an area that is a long, narrow strip of land that appears to jut out from the normal geographic boundary and is used officially by geographers and cartographers to describe such geographic peculiarities. Really the Panhandle name is a metaphor that is used because the particular geographic region, if it were small and hand held, would resemble a pan with a handle. Look at Oklahoma, Florida, Nebraska, Utah, etc. They have Panhandles also.
The Texas Panhandle is the northwestern most geographical region of Texas. New Mexico limits its western border, as does Oklahoma to the north and east. It is situated on the southern High Plains region of the United States. The Texas Panhandle comprises the 26 northern most counties of Texas.
The Handbook of Texas Online
PANHANDLE. The 25,610-square-mile Panhandle of Texas was shaped by the Compromise of 1850,qv which resolved the state’s controverted territorial claims. It is bounded on the east by the 100th meridian, on the north by parallel 36°30’, and on the west by the 103rd meridian. It comprises the northernmost twenty-six counties of the state; the line forming the southern boundary of Swisher County in the central Panhandle marks the southern boundary. The elevation declines from about 4,700 feet in the northwest (Dallam County) to about 2,000 feet in the southeast (Childress County). The growing season increases from 178 days a year to 217 days over the same distance. The average annual precipitation ranges from about 21.5 inches in the eastern counties to about seventeen inches in the western counties. Thus the dry Panhandle climate ranges narrowly from subhumid to semiarid. The High Plainsqv cover all but the gently undulating southeastern third of the Panhandle, where the Rolling Plains begin. The two are separated by the scenic eastern High Plains escarpment commonly called the Caprock.qv The upper tributaries of the Red River and the Canadian Riverqv drain the region. The Canadian cuts across the High Plains to isolate the southern part, the Llano Estacado,qv which has little drainage and a reputation as one of the world’s flattest areas of such size.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
orig. and chiefly U.S. A long narrow strip of land projecting from a larger territory.
Originally used with reference to parts of Virginia, and subsequently of other states, esp. as a name for the north-western part of Texas.
1849 J. J. HOOPER in Spirit of Times 14 Apr. 87/3 The elephant was the great point of attraction. ‘I want his hide and frame for a corn crib,’ said a fellow from the Pan-Handle Beat. 1856 Porter’s Spirit of Times 8 Nov. 159/1 He was from old Virginnyfrom what, he said, they called the Pan-handle. 1862 Congress. Globe 11 Feb. 754/3, I want to compare the district of Mr. Segar with the Wheeling district. One is called the pan-handle of the East, and the other the pan-handle of the West. 1888 Missouri Republican 24 Feb. in J. S. Farmer Americanisms (1889) 408/1 The Panhandle of Texas offers desirable homes to a million of people, at a nominal price.
September 1871, Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine, “To Texas, and By the Way,” pg. 270:
I HAD not seen New Orleans since I was eight years of age, and to Texas I had never been; so I was well pleased with the prospect of visiting the Southern country. To one coming direct from California, overland by rail, it seems like entering a different world—a world that has been lying asleep for half a century—when the great “pan-handle” route is left to one side, and Louisville once passed.
January 1874, Scribner’s Monthly, “Glimpses of Texas,” pg. 308:
The great State is usually considered by its inhabitants as divided into eight sections—namely, Northern, Eastern, Middle Western, Extreme Southwestern, and Northwestern Texas, the Mineral Region, and the “Pan Handle.” This latter section, which embraces more than twenty thousand square miles, is at present inhabited almost entirely by Indians.
14 July 1874, New York Times, pg. 5:
As a Leavenworth paper expresses it, “not only have the infernal red-skins been skirmishing along the Kansas border, but they have skipped out of the Territory on both sides, and on the Canadian, in the Texas Pan Handle, they have been giving the hunters a lively game.”
May 1875, The Phrenological Journal and Scenic of Health, “Our Country and Its Resources,” pg. 304:
The largest herds are in the southern half of this western belt, the more northern counties being subject to incursions from Indians, as well as the more distant and almost unknown divisions, Presidio, El Paso, and the “Pan-handle,” through which runs the Canadian River. In all this region summer and winter pasture is free to all, those who own the cattle owning little or none of the land, which belongs to the State of Texas.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, August 29, 2006 • Permalink