Channing, the seat of Hartley County, is located on the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway in the southeastern part of the county. Of all the Panhandle towns associated with the XIT Ranch, only Channing can truly claim that it developed directly from that enterprise. It derived its original name, Rivers, from George Channing Rivers, paymaster of the railroad when it built through the county in the spring of 1888. Since the name Rivers duplicated that of another Texas town, the name was changed to Channing later that year. At the time that Willis D. Twichell platted its business district in 1891, Channing was general headquarters of the XIT. Albert G. Boyce, the ranch's general manager and a prominent early citizen, built the first house in the town. Boyce's "Poor Farm," the Rita Blanca Division headquarters, was less than two miles south of town. When Tascosa was abandoned, several of its businesses were moved to Channing. By 1900 Channing had two lumberyards, two general stores, a school, and a grocery store, which also housed the post office. Although the town initially had several saloons, these were later voted out. Two elections, one in November 1896 and the other in May 1903, were required for Channing to replace Hartley as county seat. The original frame courthouse was moved to Channing on wheels by a group of XIT cowboys and was transformed into a hotel when the brick courthouse was built in 1906. Two years later, the local women's club established a public library, one of the earliest in the Panhandle.
The XIT, which conducted much of its business from Channing, was the town's chief customer until liquidation of the ranch in 1911. For a time thereafter, the real estate business thrived from the sale of XIT lands. Among the prominent citizens were the brothers James and William Powell of England, who were the first to breed Hereford cattle in the Panhandle. With A. G. Boyce, the Powells established the Channing Methodist Church. Walter Farwell, one of the family of XIT financiers, built his spacious summer home just outside Channing. His tree-lined driveway and his wife Mildred's southern hospitality became legendary. In addition, Farwell had on his estate a dam and artificial lake and a polo field on which he trained cow horses for the game.
On September 6, 1931, a fire destroyed seven buildings in the business district. Nevertheless, by 1940 Channing had a population of 475 with a high school, three churches, and five businesses, including a plant for grinding volcanic cinders and a cinder-block plant. Channing was incorporated in 1960 and grew as a shipping point and trade center for grains, feed, and livestock. By 1984, mainly because of the accessibility of Dalhart and Amarillo by U.S. highways 87 and 385, the population had decreased to 304. Six businesses were in operation. In 1990 the population was 277 and in 2000 it was 356.