Abilene was established by cattlemen as stock shipping point on Texas and Pacific Railroad in 1881, named for Abilene, Kansas. The city later became major cattle producing area with diversified farming. In recent years, oil has added great impetus to city’s economy. When the city celebrated its centennial in 1981, the city set up a demonstration oil-drilling rig 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 influenced by Abilene Christian Univ., Hardin-Simmons Univ., and McMurry Univ., branches of Cisco Junior College and Texas State Technical College; community theater and a philharmonic association and fine arts museum. Abilene is home to the Forts Trail Regional Office at 1025 N 10th, and the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature at North 1st and Cedar sts. This one of a kind children’s museum offers the best works of today’s premier children’s authors and illustrators, and it is home to the permanent collection of works by William Joyce.
The West Texas Fair, 10 days in mid-Sept., 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 second weekend in April features Celebrate Abilene, an outdoor festival held in the historic downtown area bringing the arts, history, railroad, and family entertainment into one fun-filled festival for the entire community.
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.