Vernon was established in 1881 with an initial name of Eagle Flats, Vernon is the county seat for Wilbarger County which borders the Red River. Wilbarger County was named for Josiah Wilbarger, a man famous both for being an early surveyor and as one of very few men to survive being scalped. Vernon is home to the headquarters of the huge W. T. Waggoner Ranch, and is the commercial center for rich farming, ranching, and oil with industries involved in agricultural supplies and processing, seed propagation, textiles, meat packing, cottonseed, and alfalfa milling.
About 15 miles north is Doan's Crossing, one of the most famous of historic cattle crossings on the Red River. Vernon is home of Vernon Regional Junior College and the Santa Rosa Palomino Club, a precision equestrian riding club which has been proclaimed by the Texas Legislature as Texas' Ambassadors on Horseback.