"A Cow Town with Pizazz" Top 5 Page for this destination Abilene by BruceDunning

Abilene Travel Guide: 84 reviews and 196 photos

Showing the layout of the town

Only about 20 blocks long going down the main street, Buckeye, the sides streets are either designated SE, SW, NW, or regular numbers. The town had a handful of famous people that made the town establish roots. One was Lebold, who started the newspapers here, and built a large mansion. A.B. Seelye was a medicine entrepreneur who had patents on drugs, and built a large mansion in 1905. Then of course was Dwight Eisenhower whose family lived here and owned land around the home that still stands today. There were 6 boys in the family.
During the heh day of cattle transfer the the East, there were 200,000 head shipped via rail car. That was 4,000 cars sending them. JOe McCoy, who came up with the idea to start a rail head in 1867 got the benefit at $5 a rail car, or he earned $20,000 a year; equal to $300,000 today. By 1871, the cattle herding dried up due to farmers moving in and fighting the diseases of Texas cattle, and protecting their land. The town grew to 3,000 at the peak, and with cowboys in town during the round ups, it swelled to 10,000. The town found itself in a quandry of allowing prostitution, drinking, gambling and all vices. McCoy was Mayor and was told to leave by 1872 due to this change of cultures. Each town in Kansas needed a rail line to survive. Abilene went down a lot after the drives turned to Dodge City. See my page on that town.

Ike is the Main Attraction for Decades to Come

The Eisenhower Presidential library and Museum are the main features in the town. It is a large complex of the museum, old home where he was raised, a library used for research, and visitor center. They moved here in 1892, and Ike stayed until he went off to military school. His mother lived in the same home until 1946. Ike, Mamie, and one son are buried on the compound managed by the Governemnt.

Wide open Country.

In the middle of the country, there are flat lands, but some rolling hills (none probably over 100 feet high though), and sunflowers still prevail. The town is only 6,500 and seems to maintain the heritage that once made this a real cow town. It started as a stage coach stop back in 1857, but shortly afterword a rancher J.D. McCoy decided to drive herds of cattle to here for railhead transport to Kansas City and onto the East. That led to feuds over territory, and who could use the land for grazing versus growing crops. Ranchers did not want the land fenced and many people were killed over this issue in 20-30 year period. It was somewhat of a lawless society at times, and some famed people, like Wild Bill Hickok marshalled here.
A cattle herding cowboy age was 15-25 years and life expectancy was 22 years. The majority of deaths was falling off a horse on a trail ride. it took 3-4 months to herd from Texas to Abilene.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Wonderful museums and structures to see
  • Cons:Gets hot in summer out in plains;cold and windy in winter
  • In a nutshell:Nice quiet town with a lot of sites to take in
  • Last visit to Abilene: Sep 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (14)

Comments (5)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Aug 3, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Enjoyed your page! Sounds to be quite a bit of interest here! I wouldn't mind looking at the Indian souvenirs, but like you, probably wouldn't buy. Would like to try the candy though!

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Feb 26, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    What a wonderful Abilene page Bruce. I enjoyed the lovely tour very much. Wonderful information too!

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo
    Feb 22, 2010 at 3:55 AM

    Very interesting. I'd like to see the Telephone Museum. Hope you had a fabulous birthday.

  • 807Wheaton's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    As you can see I'm still trying to get my trip together for my last two states! Decisions, decisions, decisions.........thanks for the tips.

  • atufft's Profile Photo
    Nov 23, 2009 at 3:57 PM

    I find it interesting that Ike wasn't buried at Arlington National Cemetary--given his veteran status...I really returned to his roots!


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