Touted as the “Future Great City of West Texas,” Abilene was founded in 1881 as a stock shipping point at a strategic location along the Texas and Pacific Railroad. Eventually, highway travel would become as vital to the frontier town as the railroad. As part of the Good Roads Movement that began in Texas around the turn of the century, earthen and gravel roads appeared in West Texas to serve the area’s increasing transportation needs. One of these roads, known as the Fort Worth–El Paso Highway, cut right through Abilene, running parallel to the T&P Railroad. This road became part of the Bankhead Highway when it was established in 1916. Throngs of travelers rode into the city and frequented hotels, shops, and gas stations that appeared along downtown streets. High‐style, multi‐story buildings, grand for their day, were constructed, reflecting the commercial and cultural hub Abilene had become.
Abilene Courts, 633 S. 11th St.
Though currently vacant, Abilene Courts, opened in 1930, is one of the least-altered and most complete tourist courts along the Bankhead. Motor courts like this one were a mainstay for travelers, providing an affordable alternative to more fashionable hotels or tent camping at a roadside park. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Abilene Convention and
1101 North 1st St. in the T&P Railroad Depot