Goodnight is at the edge of the Llano Estacado on U.S. Highway 287 in northeastern Armstrong County. It was named for Charles Goodnight, who settled on a ranch near the site after selling his minority interest in the JA Ranch in 1887. Soon afterwards, the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway established a station there, and in November 1888 a post office was opened with Sam Dyer as postmaster. The first building at the townsite was Goodnight's ranchhouse, built in 1887. John Dorterer served as agent at the railroad depot, and C. M. McCurdy was the section foreman. R. M. Hathorn, the JA Ranch blacksmith, opened a shop in 1888. The Goodnight News began publication in 1890; it later merged with the Claude Argus to become the Claude News. A rural school district was organized in 1891, and Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight's concern for education was further exemplified by Goodnight College, which operated from 1898 until 1917. The Goodnight Baptist Church, which helped run the school, was chartered in 1904. Charles Goodnight remained the dominant force in the community until his death in December 1929. His century-old house remained on his home ranch in 1990, along with the buffalo herd he started to help preserve the species. By 1940 the town of Goodnight reported a population of 300 and nine businesses. The emergence of Claude as the county's business center, together with improved transportation and communication facilities, resulted in the rapid demise of the business district in Goodnight. The population dropped from 200 in 1944 to twenty-five in 1969. Despite the filming of Hud in Goodnight in 1963, activity in the town continued to decrease, and the post office closed by 1969. As of 1984 only one church and the community cemetery remained, along with the Goodnight Ranch facilities. In 2000 the population was eighteen.
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Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876–1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965). J. Evetts Haley, Charles Goodnight (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
H. Allen Anderson,
“Goodnight, TX (Armstrong County),”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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