Established by cattlemen as stock shipping point on Texas and
Pacific Railroad in 1881, named for Abilene, Kansas, the original
end point of the Old Chisholm Trail; later became a major cattle
producing area with diversified farming. In recent years oil has
added great impetus to the city's economy. When the city celebrated
its centennial in 1981, a demonstration of oil-drilling rig was
set up on the county fairgrounds - just to illustrate the techniques
of "making hole." By pure accident, it struck oil -
not much, but enough for modest, profitable production. Cultural
aspects are influenced by Abilene Christian University, Hardin-Simmons
University and McMurry University, branches of Cisco Junior College
and Texas State Technical College; community theater and a philharmonic
association and fine arts museum.
The West Texas Fair, ten days in mid-September features exhibits
and amusements reflecting early days of Abilene, plus modern attractions
of West Texas.
The Western Heritage Classic in early May features ranch rodeo,
campfire cook-off, sheep dog trials, farrier competition, Cowboy
Poet's Society, Western art show, and many other activities recalling
early Western heritage.
The Buffalo Gap Art Festival has combined with the Railroad Festival to become "Celebrate Abilene". It's the first weekend in April and is held in historic downtown Abilene.
Abilene lies on U.S. 84; a segment of the Ports to Plains Highway
connecting the state's heartland to coastal ports, as well as
on U.S.. 83,277, and I-20.
ABILENE SATE PARK
CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE
FORT PHANTOM HILL
MUSEUMS OF ABILENE
- ABILENE SATE PARK - 621 acre
parkland near Lake Abilene; camping, trailer facilities, picnicking,
shelters, swimming pool, rest rooms and showers, hiking and fishing.
Large grove of some 4,000 native pecan trees, now a favorite picnic
area, was a once a popular campground for Comanche Indians. About
15 miles southwest on F.M. 89. Admission.
- ABILENE ZOO - One of the five largest
in the state'; animals are displayed in modern areas simulating
natural habitat. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (7 p.m. holidays
and weekends in summer).
Discovery Center is a "zoo within a zoo," housing
comparative habitat displays of invertebrates, fish, reptiles,
birds, and small mammals from the Southwestern U.S. and Africa.
In Nelson Park, about 3 miles east of the city on Texas 36 across
form West Texas Fairgrounds. Admission.
- CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS
- Working artists have studios displaying rotating exhibits. Open
from Tues. to Sat. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
to 4 p.m. Located at 220 Cypress
- DYESS AIR FORCE BASE - Strategic
Air Command base. Dyess Linear Air Par of vintage aircraft includes
31 World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War planes. Aircraft
are displayed along Arnold Blvd, main base thoroughfare. Open
during daylight hours. Visitors must stop at main entrance for
a temporary pass. (note: Base may be closed temporarily during
occasional military exercises.) For extensive base tours to flight
lines, reservations must be prearranged with Public Affairs Office,
915-696-5609. Loop 312 south of Business Loop I-20/U.S. 84.
- FORT PHANTOM HILL - Established
in 1851 to protect the frontier form Indians, the office suffered
a series of hardships; was abandoned in 1854. Historians say desertions
were frequent due to monotony and loneliness. The fort burned
shortly after abandonment; chimneys and foundations are principal
remainders along with the stone commissary, guardhouse, and powder
magazine. Site offers interpretive signs. 10 miles north via F.M.
- LAKES - Local Lake Kirby
within city offers fishing and picnic sites. For information on
Lakes Abilene, Fort Phantom Hill check
with the Chamber of Commerce.
- MUSEUMS OF ABILENE - Comprised
of the Fine Arts Museum, Abilene Historical Museum and the Children's
Museum; now in historic Grace Hotel, known as the Grace Cultural
Center. The Grace, built in 1909, is listed on the National Register
of Historic Places, and portions are restored to its 1929 condition,
while other parts of the building have been renovated to make
it appropriate for the Museums; use. Free admission on Thur. 5
p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Open Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Thur. until
8:30 p.m.)102 Cypress Street. Admission
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