Abilene Christian College - Prickly Pear Yearbook (Abilene, TX)

 - Class of 1963

Page 362 of 372


Abilene Christian College - Prickly Pear Yearbook (Abilene, TX) online yearbook collection, 1963 Edition, Page 362
Page 362

Text from page 362:

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ABILENE KEY CITY OF CENTRAL WEST TEXAS Following a parTern which was Tamiliar in The develop- menT oT The WesT, The CiTy oT Abilene, Texas, was Tounded as a direcT resulT oT The building oT a railroad. In January oT l88I The Texas and PaciTic Railway compleTed Track To The TownsiTe oT Abilene, and in March oT ThaT year an aucTion sale oT Town loTs was held. From ThaT Time The CiTy oT Abilene has conTinued To grow and develop, unTil Today, as The "Key CiTy oT CenTral WesT Texas," iT is a ciTy wiTh a rneTropoIiTan populaTion oT approximaTely II9,000 people and is widely known as The commercial, educaTionaI, medical and IivesTock cenTer oT The enTire region. The TirsT developmenT oT The Abilene counTry was in The year I852 when ForT PhanTom Hill was esTablished a Tew miles norThwesT OT The TuTure IocaTion oT The ciTy. This army posT was one oT a series of garrisons erecTed To proTecT The whiTe seTTlemenTs Trom Indians, and was an overnighT sTop on The overland mail rouTe which Tollowed The BuTTerTieId Trail. The ForT was in use Tor only Three years before iT was abandoned by The Army, and Today iTs ruins may be viewed Trom The roadway, a shorT disTance norTh oT ForT PhanTom Hill Lake. AnoTher imporTanT rouTe Through This counTry was The CenTerline Trail Trom Texarkana To EI Paso. This Trail was made by surveyors oT The Texas and PaciTic Railway and was an imporTanT link prior To The building oT The railroad. In I858 a counTy was carved ouT OT Bexar and Travis CounTies and named Taylor in honor oT Edward Taylor who was an early seTTIer in WesT Texas. By I877 There were several Tamilies in This area, and approximaTeIy a dozen Tamilies were seTTled in The souThern parT oT The counTy in a cuT or gap in The Callahan Divide. This IiTTIe seTTlemenT which was named BuTTalo Gap, esrablished a posT oTTice and secured regular mail service in I877. In ThaT same year a general sTore was opened and The counTy's TirsT wedding was solemnized. The wesTward progress oT The Texas and Pacific Railway gave a sTrong impeTus To seTTlemenT oT The TerTiIe WesT Texas TerriTory. By I878 The popuIaTion oT The counTy had increased To approximaTely 400 people, and on July 3rd oT ThaT year The counTy was oTTicially organized, and BuTTalo Gap was designaTed The counTy seaT. The railroad considered Two possible rouTes Through CenTraI WesT Texas. one by way OT BuTTalo Gap and an aITernaTe by way oT ForT PhanTom Hill. The IaTTer rouTe was abandoned, and iT seemed quiTe probable ThaT The road would be buiIT Through BuTTaIo Gap. Land values in and around The counTy seaT were driven rapidly upward by specu- IaTors. A dispuTe over land ownership resulTed in liTigaTion. and one oT The leading ranchers OT The TerriTory, Col. C. W. MerchanT, and some associaTes aTTempTed To buy ouT The IiTiganTs, buT wiThouT success. Following This unsuccessTul venTure, an hisToric meeTing was arranged in The summer oT T880 aT The Hash KniTe Ranch, headquarTers oT which were locaTed on The presenT siTe oT Abilene ChrisTian College. PresenT aT This meeTing were The ranch owner, John Simpson: The Texas and PaciTic Railway Town and Track locaTor, H. C. WiThers: a surveyor. 358 S. L. Chalk: a rancher, J. T. Barry: Col. C. W. IvlerchanT: and The colonel's Twin broTher J. D. lvIerchanT. The purpose oT This meeTing was To circumvenT The diTTicuITy and delay caused by IiTigaTion over The land aT BuTTaIo Gap, and To speed The process oT bringing The railroad To WesT Texas. To achieve This goal, iT was necessary Tor The group To seIecT a TownsiTe in The viciniTy and To induce The railroad To rouTe iTs Tracks Through or near This siTe. ShorTly ThereaTTer, The receiver oT The Texas and PaciTic Railway joined wiTh Col. MerchanT and his associaTes, and This group purchased land in The area ThaT was desTined To become Abilene. In I880 Col. MerchanT and John Simpson named The Town Abilene aTTer The Tamous Kansas caTTIe shipping poinT oT The same name. IT was Their Tirm beIieT ThaT Abilene, Texas, would become an even more imporTanT ciTy Than Abilene, Kansas. Their hopes were realized, and in The years ThaT Tollowed. The Kansas ciTy declined in imporTance while iTs Texas namesake grew and prospered. As menTioned earlier, The railroad reached Abilene in I88I. The Tollowing year The ciTy was incorporaTed and conTinued iTs phenomenal growTh. On OcTober 30, I883, The counTy seaT was moved To Abilene Trom BuTTalo Gap as a resulr oT a biTTerly ToughT eIecTion. Since iTs Tounding, The growTh oT Abilene has been based on Two imporTanT TacTors: The cenTraI IocaTion oT The ciTy in The hearT oT a rich agriculTuraI and livesTock producing region, and The superioriTy oT iTs TransporTaTion TaciliTies. Income Trorn The agriculTure and IivesTock indusTry has always been TundamenTaI in Abilene's economy alThough The oil indusTry and manuTacTuring are proving oT increasing im- porTance. In I907, Abilene was connecTed wiTh WichiTa Falls To The norTh by The ForT WorTh and Denver Railroad and Two years laTer The Abilene and SouThern Railroad com- menced service To The souTh. Since l9I0, The ciTy has had access To service by The SanTa Fe Railroad which has a sTaTion aT View, a Tew miles souThwesT oT The Abilene ciTy IimiTs. Only Ten years aTTer Abilene was TirsT served by a railroad, in I89 I, an eIecTric power planT began operaTion in The ciTy. The oTher uTiIiTies, Telephone and gas, began service in I898 and I9I4 respecTiveIy. AbiIene's exTensive highway sysTem has made possible The developmenT oT The ciTy inTo a primary reTaiI Trade cenTer Tor 22 counTies. Abilene is locaTed on U. S. Highway 80- The Broadway oT America-which is an imporTanT link be- Tween The EasT and WesT coasTs. In addiTion, The ciTy is served by U. S. Highways 83, 84 and 277 and by STaTe Highways 36 and 35l. The excelIenT TransporTaTion TaciliTies and The cenTraI IocaTion oT Abilene have also combined To make The ciTy an imporTanT wholesale cenTer Tor WesT Texas. GrowTh and developmenT oT The vasT SouThwesT during The pasT decade have caused a rapid expansion oT The wholesale and disTri- buTing Trade in Abilene. As The naTuraI sTorage and shipping poinT Tor This region, more and more companies are esTab- Iishing branch oTTices and warehouses in The ciTy.

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