Gray County is located in the central part of the Panhandle and the eastern edge of the High Plains. Its center point is at 35°25' north latitude and 100°49' west longitude. Lefors is located near the center of the county, and Pampa, the county seat, is about twelve miles away in the northwestern corner. Pampa is approximately sixty miles northeast of Amarillo on U.S. Highway 60. The county occupies 934 square miles of level prairie and rolling river breaks. The county's sandy loam and black waxy soils support a variety of native grasses as well as abundant wheat, corn, grain sorghum, and hay crops. The timber in the riverbottoms includes cottonwoods, hackberries, elms, and walnuts as well as the ever-present mesquite. The county has huge reservoirs of oil and natural gas. Gray County is basically made up of two distinct parts: the flat plains in the west and north, and the Red River breaks in the east, center, and southeast. Gray County is at the head of the North Fork of the Red River; numerous intermittent and flowing creeks can be found in the eastern part of the county. McClellan Creek flows northeastward across the southern part of the county toward the North Fork, and the North Fork itself flows across the central part. Cantonment Creek flows southward and empties into the North Fork in the northeastern corner of the county. The elevation ranges from 2,500 to 3,300 feet above sea level, the average annual rainfall is 20.14 inches, and the growing season averages 195 days a year. The average minimum temperature is 23° F in January, and the average maximum is 94° in July.
Gray County, formed in 1876 out of the Bexar District, was named for Peter W. Gray, a lawyer and politician of the Republic of Texas and Civil War eras. The county's prehistoric Plains Apache inhabitants gave way to the Apaches, who in turn were displaced by the Comanches and Kiowas. These peoples dominated the Panhandle until they were crushed in the Red River War of 1874 and removed to Indian Territory. With Gray County for settlement, ranchers began to reach the region as early as 1877. In 1878 a well-known local rancher, Perry LeFors, established a small ranch on Cantonment Creek. Other small ranching operations developed in the eastern part of the county. In 1882 the Francklyn Land and Cattle Company purchased a huge tract of land that included the western part of Gray County. The company failed in 1886 and was reorganized as the White Deer Lands (formally the White Deer Lands Trust of British bondholders), which operated the huge Diamond F Ranch. For the rest of the nineteenth century Gray County remained the domain of cattle ranchers. The population, 56 in 1880, rose only to 203 in 1890 and 480 by 1900. A ranching economy with little need for manpower occupied the area. By the turn of the century the county's stable stock-farming population felt a growing need for self-government. As a result, in 1902 the county was organized with Lefors as the county seat. Lefors, a tiny ranching town, remained the county seat until 1928, when Pampa's oil-induced growth led to its becoming the county seat.