The Future Great City of West Texas
Long before Abilene became a city, the rolling plains of the area were populated by native Americans and buffalo. Ranchers and land speculators organized Taylor County in 1878, and Buffalo Gap was designated the county seat. When the Texas and Pacific Railway began to push westward in 1880, several ranchers and businessmen met with the Texas and Pacific track and townsite locator, and arranged to have the railroad bypass Buffalo Gap. They agreed that the route would traverse the northern part of the county and consequently their own land, and that a new town would be established between Cedar and Big Elm creeks east of Catclaw Creek. The name Abilene was chosen after the Kansas cattle town. After the Texas and Pacific arrived at the site in January 1881 the railroad promoted Abilene as the “Future Great City of West Texas.” In slightly more than 100 years Abilene developed from an almost entirely agricultural economy to a diversified economy based on oil, agriculture, commerce, light manufacturing, and service. Today, the population of Abilene stands at approximately 117,000 friendly people.
Plenty to do and see
Historic downtown may well become one of your favorite local destinations, with its exciting museums; specialty gift and antique stores; and local flavor at uniquely Abilene restaurants. Frontier Texas! is one of only a few museums in the world that feature life-sized holographic figures. You will experience the big picture of the Texas frontier between 1780 to 1880 as the story comes to life in this multimedia facility. The Grace Museum, located in the heart of downtown in a historic building, offers new experiences in art, science and history through changing exhibits that feature the best of Texas art, past and present, within the context of American art. The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum displays and interprets the division’s WWII historical collection. It serves as a teaching museum for the study of WWII and its impact on the American people. And for a literal stroll through history, plan to visit the Buffalo Gap Historic Village where you can explore Texas from the 1870s to the 1920s. In Abilene, interesting day trips abound and if you crave a big city experience, the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is only 2 hours away.