Abilene in 1937
Abilene in 1937
The city of Abilene
Abilene is one of the most important educational centers in what is generally designated as West Texas. It is the home of Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene Christian College, McMurray College, and St. Joseph’s Academy.
In 1881 with the advent of the Texas & Pacific Railroad, Abilene was founded as a promotion project by a townsite company. It is ideally located and today its estimated population is 28,000. The city has a commission form of government.
For many years the country contiguous to the city was utilized for cattle raising, and thousands of longhorn steers roamed the ranges. As the possibilities of the area for farming became more apparent, efforts were made to grow crops, most of the attention being given to cotton production. Of late years the better quality white-faced cattle have replaced the longhorns and the livestock industry has broadened to include sheep, goats and hogs. Dairying is becoming of increasing importance. Radical changes have also come about in the agricultural program, and instead of a single crop, cotton, farming has become diversified with gratifying results. Grain sorghums, dairy products, poultry, hogs, fruits, vegetables, and various grains have added to the prosperity of the section and Abilene has profited thereby.
The discovery of oil in West Texas brings Abilene millions of dollars yearly and its great shallow fields have done much toward the city’s growth and prosperity.
During the past decade Abilene has seen greater industrial expansion than all the other periods of its existence. Located in the midst of an almost boundless territory, still largely undeveloped, Abilene looks forward to even greater progress, prosperity and growth than any heretofore experienced.
In Abilene are approximately 75 wholesale and jobbing establishments from which are distributed commodities to more than a hundred cities and towns in its trade territory. Excellent transportation facilities are available for growth and expansion in this direction. Three railroads serve the city, and motor freight lines radiate in every direction over a new network of modern paved highways. Excellent passenger service in every direction is provided by 48 bus schedules. A recently constructed modern airport with excellent facilities is a regular stop on the American Airlines transcontinental route, providing daily passenger air service. In the city are more than a hundred miles of paved streets.
Natural gas and electricity for domestic and industrial use are plentiful and cheap. The municipal water system representing an investment of more than two million dollars is sufficient to care for a city of 100,000 people, yet plans are already under way to double the capacity.
Twenty-six church buildings, a free public library, good theatres, parks and pleasure clubs all go to help make Abilene an attractive, pleasant and interesting city in which to live. Its two major hotels with capacity of 1000 rooms provide modern facilities among the finest and most attractive in Texas.
Here are located the general offices and central power plant of the West Texas Utilities Company, one of the largest and most important public service corporations in the southwest. It serves 154 West Texas towns and cities from this central point. Other important industries include one of the largest cotton oil mills in the south, a candy factory, grain elevators, brick manufacturers, garment factory, several creameries, etc. Abilene has ample banking facilities and a strong building and loan association.
Retail establishments in Abilene number more than 500 and in addition to serving the needs of its own citizens, they enjoy patronage from the large student bodies of the various colleges located here. From an average radius of probably 75 miles Abilene, as the most important city in this section, draws retail trade. Unusually large stocks are carried in the various lines, and local jobbers and merchandise brokers representing a wide diversity of goods, maintain stocks in local warehouses for quick delivery over a great expanse of West Texas territory.
Most of the tourists passing through West Texas to the Pacific Coast via the southern route pass through Abilene every year. They number into the thousands. This is the famous “Broadway of America” highway, an all-year east to west transcontinental highway and the shortest all-paved route crossing the country. The Great Plains Highway, going completely across the country from north to south and through the central part of the continent intersects at Abilene, with the east and west transcontinental “Broadway of America” route. Six other State and United States highways converge upon Abilene.
Abilene is the largest city in that vast territory called “West Texas.” It is the educational, financial, manufacturing, jobbing, commercial, religious, hotel, hospital, recreational, and oil-operating center of this vast area. Those factors which have contributed to the remarkable development of this section of Texas during the past quarter of a century, have likewise contributed to the growth of Abilene and the other towns of this section. West Texas is an empire within itself and despite its phenomenal development of recent years, it is yet the American frontier, with vast resources yet untouched. Abilene visualizes a city of 100,000 not many years away and the vision is not without foundation.
The State of Texas book : one hundred years of progress, 1937, page 487