Abilene Texas History & Information:
Prior to the coming of the railroad the area inhabited by nomadic Indians and U.S. military personnel. buffalo hunters and ranchers moved into the area. By the 1870s, Indian threats had receded and ranchers began grazing cattle. In 1878, Buffalo Gap, the only town in the county, became the county seat of the newly organized Taylor County. In 1880, several cattle ranchers and businessmen convinced the Texas and Pacific Railroad to build a railroad line across their land in the northern part of Taylor County, bypassing Buffalo Gap. All parties agreed that the town of Abilene would be established between Cedar and Big Elm Creeks, and east of Catclaw Creek. The railroad arrived in 1881 and platted and advertised the townsite. Several hundred people arrived and established businesses before the sale of town lots began. In March, over 300 lots were sold. Abilene became a commercial and shipping center for the cattle industry. Abilene incorporated in January 1883, and became the Taylor County seat in 1883. By 1890, the town had 3,194 residents. Because of Abilene’s low annual rainfall, the town impounded Lytle Lake in 1897, Lake Abilene in 1919, Lake Kirby in 1927, and Lake Phantom Hill in 1937. Local farmers were encouraged to diversify their crops in order to protect themselves from drought, pests, falling prices and other events that were out of their control. In order to improve the town environment for families, saloons were abolished in 1903. The town remained legally dry until 1978. Ove the years, the town’s economy diversified to include light manufacturing and other industries. Camp Barkeley was established during World War II, and Dyess Air Force Base was established in 1952. Abilene is located at the intersections of IH-20, U.S. 84, U.S. 83, U.S. 277 and SH 36, 69 miles east of Colorado City, 41 miles east of Sweetwater, 53 miles southeast of Roby, 24.5 miles southeast of Anson, 16.8 miles southeast of Merkel, 39.5 miles south of Stamford, 59 miles southwest of Breckenridge, 35 miles southwest of Albany, 55 miles west of Eastland, 20.6 miles slightly northwest of Baird, 44.3 miles northwest of Cross Plains, 52 miles northwest of Coleman, 89 miles northeast of San Angelo, 68 miles northeast of Robert Lee, 55 miles northeast of Ballinger, and 16 miles northeast of Buffalo Gap, Texas.
Texas Plains Trail Region:
The 52-county Texas Plains Trail Region includes the Texas Panhandle and Plains. It stretches from the Texas towns of Big Spring and Colorado City in the southern portion of the region, to Muleshoe and the New Mexico state border in the west, to Quanah and Knox City in the east, and to the top of the Texas Panhandle, from Dalhart in the west to Lipscomb in the east. The Texas Plains Trail Region organization is a nonprofit heritage tourism organization affiliated with the Texas Historical Commission. TPTR acts as an economic development initiative that helps Texas communities to promote their historic and cultural resources and increase tourism to their areas. The organization helps promote travel to heritage destinations and historic sites. A name repeatedly mentioned in the history of West Texas is Cynthia Ann Parker, a young child captured during a raid on Fort Parker. She grew up among the Comanches, married Comanche chief Peta Nocona, and had three children, Pecos, Quanah and Prairie Flower. In 1860, a party of Texas Rangers led by Sul Ross, a future governor of Texas, rescued her and her infant daughter Prairie Flower; Charles Goodnight participated in this raid. Her son Quanah became famous as the last great War Chief of the Comanche. One of TPTR’s most visible recent projects is the Quanah Parker Trail
. When the project is completed, giant Quanah Parker arrow markers will have been installed in all 52 counties in the Texas Plains Trail Region. Some counties will have more than one installation. The arrows were created and donated by New Home, Texas, artist Charles Smith. As of early 2014, over 70 arrows had been installed in almost 50 counties. Each arrow will have a plaque giving pertinent historical information. (806) 747-1997. P.O. Box 88, Lubbock, Texas 79408. Email Texas Plains Trail Region Map
Abilene & Forts Trail Visitor Center:
The Visitor Center is located in the historic Texas and Pacific Railway depot. The adjacent Everman Park features an ornamental fountain, and displays both permanent and rotating outdoor sculptures. The “Frontier Texas!” movie allows visitors to experience the Texas frontier between 1780 and 1880 through experiencingIndian and wolf attacks, a card game shoot out, a buffalo stampede, a prairie thunderstorm, and a spring evening filled with fireflies. The museum hosts group tours, and offers summer camps for grades 1 through 6. The visitor center is open Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm; Sun, 1pm-5pm; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. An admission fee applies to the film. The Visitors Center also offers a walking tour brochure and a public art tour brochure. (325) 676-2556. (800) 727-7704. 1101 North 1st Street, 79601.
Taylor County Courthouse, 1972:
This modern style courthouse was designed by the architectural firm Tittle, Luther, and Lee. The 1879 County Courthouse (the first) is located in Buffalo Gap. The second Taylor County Courthouse was built in 1883; it was razed to make room for the 1914 County Courthouse. The Taylor County Veterans’ Memorial Plaza is located in front of the 1972 courthouse. The 2010 Taylor County census was 131,506. (325) 674-1235. 300 Oak Street, Abilene, TX 79602. Email
Taylor County Courthouse, 1914:
The courthouse was designed in classical revival style by architect George L. Burnett. The courthouse houses probation offices. An Alamo Monument is located in front of the building. The courthouse is located on Oak Street, across the street from the 1972 courthouse (301 Oak Street, 79602).