No matter where you're coming from, you'll find a little bit of everything in Abilene, and much of it with a special West Texas twist.
The City of Abilene, Texas, is located approximately 180 miles due west of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. We’re situated in west central Texas near the geographic center of the state. Situated adjacent to Interstate 20, Abilene is the center of a 22-county area commonly referred to as the Texas Midwest or the Big Country. Abilene serves as the county seat for Taylor County, one of 254 counties in Texas. Taylor County has a current population of about 136,000, 120,373 of which live within the Abilene city limits.
Described as "the Future Great City of West Texas," Abilene was established in March 1881 upon the completion of the Texas & Pacific Railroad. Abilene's civic progressiveness and its logistic function as a regional center for distribution, commerce, industry, transportation, and education provide an assortment of lodging, dining, cultural, and shopping opportunities typically found only in much larger cities.
Abilene is in the northeast corner of Taylor County. It is situated 1,708 feet above sea level on generally flat terrain. The city is connected east-west by Interstate Highway 20 and north-south by U.S. highways 83, 84, and 277. Reflecting its beginning as a railroad townsite, Abilene is bisected by the Texas and Pacific tracks, which run east-west.
Abilene owes its genesis to the Texas and Pacific and a group of ranchers and land speculators. Before the coming of the railroad, the Abilene area had been sporadically inhabited by nomadic Indians and United States military personnel and later by buffalo hunters and ranchers. By the 1870s the Indians had been driven out, and cattlemen began to graze their herds in the area. Taylor County was organized 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—Claiborne W. Merchant, John Merchant, John N. Simpson, John T. Berry, and S. L. Chalk—met with H. C. Whithers, 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. C. W. Merchant apparently suggested the name Abilene, after the Kansas cattle town.
1876 - One of the last Indian fights in Taylor County occurred, opening the West Texas prairie for safe settlement.
1881 - T&P Railroad tracks reached milepost 407, and the new settlement was named Abilene. In February, the U.S. Post Office opened and the first official train arrived. Town lots were sold in March. (139 lots sold for $23,610.)
1883 - Already boasting a newspaper, a number of churches and a public school, the City of Abilene incorporated. In the summer of the same year, the newspaper office and one-fourth of the town burned.
1892 - The first session of Simmons College, now Hardin-Simmons University was held.
1906 - Abilene Christian University opened as Childers Classical Institute.
1923 - McMurry University held its formal opening as McMurry College.
1924- Hendrick Medical Center became the first permanent hospital to serve the Texas Midwest.
1930- The Wooten Hotel, named after the grocery entrepreneur H. O. Wooten, was constructed. It was later restored in 2004. In that same year the Paramount Theatre opened its doors with a 90-ft tall marquee and 1,400 lights.
1940 - U.S. Government established Camp Barkeley, an army training base, near Abilene. It was home to over 20,000 soldiers during WWII. It closed on April 1, 1945.
1952 - Drive began to get land and financing for new air base.
1956 - Abilene Air Force Base was dedicated. On Dec. 6 that same year, the base was renamed Dyess Air Force Base in honor of Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess.
1960- Abilene's population nearly doubled in 10 years from 45,570 in 1950 to 90,638. In the same year, a second high school was added, Cooper High School.
1961- Abilene Police Chief Warren Dodson recommend the use of canines to City Commissioners. The Chief requested and received three German Shepherds at the cost of $800 each. Saber, Bruno and Major were the Departments first Police K9 Officers.
1966- The Abilene Zoo was created near the Abilene Regional Airport.
1966- Abilene Police Department moved into the new City Hall building located at 555 Walnut St. It was formerly located in the basement of the old City Hall building located at 190 Cedar St.
1967- The most important bond election in the city's history passed for the funding of the construction of the Abilene Civic Center, now the Abilene Convention Center, and the Taylor County Coliseum, as well as major improvements to Abilene Regional Airport.
1968- Abilene Regional Medical Center was founded by a group of physicians. It was then known as the West Texas Medical Center.
1982- Abilene became the first city in Texas to create a downtown reinvestment zone.
1983- Presbyterian Medical Care Mission opened as a medical and dental clinic to serve low-income individuals and families without insurance.
1985- Texas State Technical College and Cisco Junior College both began offering classes in Abilene.
1989- French Robertson Prison Unit was built and housed 2,250- beds.
1990- The City of Abilene was named an All-American City by the National Civic League.
1992- The Grace Museum and Paramount Theatre renovations revitalized downtown Abilene and sparked a decade of downtown restoration. Artwalk began in the same year.
2004- Frontier Texas opened its doors highlighting the history of the area from 1780 to 1880.
- City of Abilene Events Calendar
- Board Meetings Calendar
- Abilene Convention Center
- Abilene Public Library
- Recreation Division
- Solid Waste Services Schedule
- ATN TV Channel 2 Schedule
- Watering Days
- Abilene Convention Center
- Abilene Public Library
- Abilene Zoo
- Parks & Recreation
There are two main school districts in the City of Abilene, as well as a number of private schools.
Abilene Independent School District*
Wylie Independent School District*
The City is home to three church-related institutions of higher learning. US News and World Report has recognized all three as top private liberal arts colleges.
Abilene Christian University*
The city's 10,000+ student population is supplemented by three centers of learning.
Texas State Technical College*
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center*
School of Nursing
School of Pharmacy
Safety City, also known the Melvin Martin Center for Children’s Safety, is available for scout, camp, and school groups. The Abilene Fire Department and the Abilene Police Department partner with Safety City to teach children road safety, fire safety, and more.