Abilene, named after the Kansas cattle town, owes its 1881 beginning to the Texas and Pacific railway. Before the railroad, the area was home to Native Americans, the U.S. military and, later, buffalo hunters and ranchers. When the railroad arrived, Abilene was promoted as the "future Great City of West Texas." This city is home to seven institutions of higher education and Dyess Air Force Base. Today, the area boasts the world's largest wind farm. Abilene is a designated Cultural District, All-America City and Preserve America city. It is home to a philharmonic orchestra, regional ballet, community theater, opera and Broadway plays.
The West Texas Fair and Rodeo, first held in 1884, is now held in mid-September. The Western Heritage Classic Ranch Rodeo is the second weekend in May.
Abilene, on the Texas Forts Trail (www.texasfortstrail.com), lies on U.S. 84, a segment of the Ports-to-Plains Highway connecting the state's heartland to coastal ports.