Dalhart is a city in Dallam and Hartley counties in the U.S. state of Texas, and the county seat of Dallam County. The population was 7,237 at the 2000 census. Founded in 1901, Dalhart is named for its location on the border of Dallam and Hartley counties. Dalhart sits at the intersection of U.S. Highway 87, 385, and 54. The city of Dalhart is known by many Texans as a gateway to the Colorado Rockies. The city's position in the northwestern corner of the Texas Panhandle -- only the town of Texline is further northwestward in Texas—makes it a pivotal stopover for travelers going to or returning from the mountains. Two miles south of Dalhart is Rita Blanca Canyon, site of Rita Blanca Lake State Park. Dalhart is also known as the "XIT City" because of its relationship with the historic XIT Ranch. The ranch was a 3,000,000-acre (12,000 km) plot of land traded in exchange for the construction of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The ranch was dissolved in 1912, but its history is celebrated with the city's XIT Museum and the XIT Rodeo and Reunion. Held annually on the first full Thursday through Sunday weekend of August, the event includes the world's largest free barbecue, junior rodeo as well as Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events, three nights of live music, and a variety of other offering to celebrate the occasion. The Empty Saddle Monument, located at the crossroads of Dalhart, was constructed in 1940 at the request of Bobby Dycke, the wife of a ranch hand, to recognize the contribution of the XIT cowboys to the history of the region. Dalhart was in the center of the Dust Bowl, an area adversely affected by a long period of drought and dust storms during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was here that Tex Thornton operating on the now debunked concussion theory coaxed today's inflation adjusted equivalent of $1 million from the locals on claims he could fire rocket powered explosives into the clouds and cause rain. At the Dallam County Courthouse, Dalhart honors the memory of James R. Fox, Jr. (March 16, 1919—March 11, 1943), who flew supplies to China for Pan American Airways, then a joint Chinese and American company, during World War II through the treacherous Hump Route. Fox and his two Chinese copilots were killed, when their Douglas C-52 cargo plane crashed. In 2002, the Peoples Republic of China made a bronze bust in Fox's honor and presented it to Dalhart.