He joined the Texas Railroad Commission by appointment in 1933 and was elected to full terms in 1934, 1940, 1946, 1952, and 1958.
He became an international expert on national petroleum and natural gas production and conservation. Thompson, May Peterson Thompson, a former Metropolitan Opera singer, was involved in the arts while in Amarillo and later when the couple lived in Austin. Routes 60, 87, 287, and 66 merged at Amarillo, making it a major tourist stop with numerous motels, restaurants, and curio shops.
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Availability of the railroad and freight service after the county seat election made the town a fast-growing cattle-marketing center.
The settlement originally was called Oneida; it later changed its name to Amarillo, which probably derives from yellow wildflowers that were plentiful during the spring and summer or the nearby Amarillo Lake and Amarillo Creek, named in turn for the yellow soil along their banks and shores (Amarillo is the Spanish word for the color yellow).
In the 1980s, ASARCO, Iowa Beef Processors (present day Tyson Foods), Owens-Corning, and Weyerhaeuser built plants at Amarillo.
The Eastridge neighborhood houses many immigrants from countries such as Vietnam, Laos, and Burma.
Many of them found employment at the nearby Iowa Beef Processors plant.
In May of 1982, a strong EF-3 tornado struck Amarillo's western suburbs, devastating parts of Dawn, and Bushland.
The tornado touched down southwest of Amarillo, near the town of Hereford, then tracked it's way Northward, on a collision course with Amarillo.
The tornado tore through the south and east sides of the city shortly after 8 pm.
Amarillo operates one of the largest meat-packing areas in the United States.
Pantex, the only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility in the country, is also a major employer. Large ranches exist in the Amarillo area: among others, the defunct XIT Ranch and the still functioning JA Ranch founded in 1877 by Charles Goodnight and John George Adair. Berry established a site for a town after he chose a well-watered section along the way of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad, which had begun building across the Texas Panhandle.
Discovery of natural gas in 1918 and oil three years later brought oil and gas companies to the Amarillo area.