Borger Celebrates 95 Years of Colorful and Rich History With Open Arms
Yesterday was one of those days where I found myself with an itch to roam the Panhandle. And as it turned out, with fortune in my favor and my trusty digital editor at my side, I ended up in Borger, Texas. The purpose of the trip was simple: get photographs of the famed Borger Hotel.
As I am someone who enjoys tales of what once was and photographing what now is, the Borger Hotel building fascinated me. However, I'll save that for another day.
Why? Well, because instead of walking across downtown towards the Borger Hotel, myself and our digital editor, Sarah, ended up walking right into Borger's 95th anniversary celebration. We couldn't believe the dumb luck of our timing. What a treat.
The treat wasn't the celebration in itself--which was a joyful and fun event--but rather, the hospitality shown to us by the people of this town of about 13,000.
You know something is up when the town's Main Street is completely closed off and there's shiny decorations abound.
The History Of Borger In a Nutshell
A.P. Borger, who was a businessman in every sense of the word, capitalized on the discovery of oil in the Texas Panhandle on the nearby 6666 Ranch by establishing a town on 240 acres near the Canadian River in Hutchinson County. Nearly overnight, the fledgling town swelled to a population of over 45,000--which was a whopping three times the size of Amarillo's then population of 15,000!
Fun fact: A.P. Borger had hand in establishing the town of Stinnett.
Borger as a Lawless Boomtown
Naturally, when you have that many folks show up that quick, the law doesn't follow quite so quickly. There was a red light district in the town, complete with brothels, speakeasies, gambling dens and all the characters that go along with it. It was mayhem.
In 1927, Texas Rangers were dispatched to Borger with the orders to clean up the town. Among the Rangers was a man by the name of Frank Hamer, who later went on to deal with Bonnie and Clyde.
Most of Borger's outlaw outbursts were quelled by the early 1930s--with the turning point being the murder of District Attorney John A Holmes as well as the death of the town's founder himself, A.P. Borger.
After the oil boom was cut by falling prices, the Great Depression rolled through Borger. But with the onset of WWII, the demand for synthetic rubber and petrochemicals revived the town's economy. Additionally, the creation of Lake Meredith in the 1960s added the boon of tourism to the local economy.
A Belated Birthday For Ex-Boomtown Borger
Today, The Wild West is long gone and a lively jazz band performs on Main Street to a dancing crowd celebrating the town's 95th year since its inception. Interestingly, the actual date for celebration is actually in the month of March, but COVID led the city officials to delay the celebration by several months.
But no matter the month, the amazing people of Borger were thrilled to see us. Not only did they ask us to join the celebration, they made sure we had a warm welcome.
(Note from the Editor: Hi. Sarah here. The omnipresent digital editor of the sites. I absolutely love Borger! Not only did they ask us who we were--we were strangers, after all!-- they made sure we had all the free drinks and cookies we could handle. They entertained my 5-year-old, provided cupcakes and conversation, I felt completely at home! If you are reading this and you were one of these lovely people, allow me to say THANK YOU! for your hospitality! We'll be back!)
One of the people I met at this event was the curator for Hutchison County Historical Museum and she recommended that we visit the museum--which was quickly followed up on. We were seriously impressed at this small town's set up. The displays and collection is impressive and well worth the trip alone if you do nothing else while in town.
Happy 95 to you, Borger! Here's to the next 95 years! As for everyone else: If you find yourself at the junction of State Highways 207, 136 and 152, rest assured that you'll find yourself in a modern, quiet and friendly Texas town with a rich history and people who are ready to welcome you with open arms.