The History of Abilene
From Wild West to Storybook Capital: The Evolving Cultural Heritage of Abilene, Texas
Abilene, Texas is a city with a rich history and a unique cultural heritage. Located in West Texas, Abilene was founded in 1881 by the Texas and Pacific Railway Company. The city was named after Abilene, Kansas, which was the endpoint of the Chisholm Trail, a major cattle trail during the days of the American Old West.
In its early years, Abilene was a rough-and-tumble frontier town, with cowboys, gunfighters, and saloon brawls all part of everyday life. Despite its Wild West reputation, Abilene also had a thriving arts scene, with many talented musicians and artists making their home in the city.
In the early 20th century, Abilene began to grow and evolve into a more modern city. Its economy shifted from being primarily agricultural to being more diverse, with a focus on manufacturing, education, and healthcare. Today, Abilene is home to three private universities and an Air Force base and has a flourishing Downtown Cultural District with educational museums, urban parks, and a thriving public arts scene.
One of the most unique and interesting aspects of Abilene's history is its connection to the world of children's literature. The city built a museum, the first of its kind in the nation, called the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. Then came Storybook Sculptures of characters from children’s books populating Abilene’s Downtown Cultural District. The city started an annual event called the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival that attracts visitors from all over the country. This unique cultural heritage has earned Abilene the distinction of being the "Storybook Capital of America®."
Today, Abilene is a vibrant and thriving city, with a rich history and a bright future. The city's unique blend of western heritage, cultural experiences, and innovation make it a truly special place to visit and call home.
One of the last Indian fights occurs. With the area more secure, large numbers of settlers begin to arrive.
The Texas and Pacific railroad tracks reach Abilene.
The U.S. Post Office opens and the first 'official' train arrives.
A town lot auction is held and Abilene is ""born."" By the end of the next day, 317 lots are sold for the sum of $51,360.
The city incorporates. It boasts two newspapers, numerous churches and a public school. Abilene now has enough people to petition for an election to move the county seat from Buffalo Gap.
Abilene wins the county seat election by a landslide. This stabilizes the area and brings new enterprises to town. Today Abilene is the center of a 22 county trade area.