When the workmen of the Texas and Pacific Railway laid tracks over the grassy plain of Taylor County in early 1881, the only inhabitants to greet them were millions of barking prairie dogs. But, just weeks after the rails (and stacks of East Texas lumber arrived) native Abilenians showed up to place their bids for a brighter future. The staked lots of the “Future Great City” were auctioned off on a damp and cold March 15th with many of the new arrivals relocating from Buffalo Gap. Frame homes and businesses were quickly hammered up along numbered streets and others named for trees (with so few trees at the time, some say the street names were designed to be reminders!)
The intrepid and hardy West Texans who chose to create a town and devise an economy alongside the tracks quickly set out to improve their new village. Churches and a college were started. Culture clubs cropped up and creeks were dammed up to provide water. Wholesalers set up shop to supply far flung merchants and the ranches beginning to spread throughout the western fringes of Texas. Abilene was quickly voted the county seat and the citizens of the newly-incorporated city began a steady movement of growth.
Today, the grassy plains of northern Taylor County are a hub of commerce, higher education, arts, healthcare and a proud host of the military. The pesky prairie dogs have moved on as the optimistic descendants of those who first set down their lives in this railroad town continue to create the city we call home.