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All Aboard for Abilene

By Kalene Lozick | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | October 13, 2017

    The history of Abilene dates back to the pioneer cattle days when herds of longhorns were driven from Texas to Abilene, the western boundary of the first railroad through Kansas.

      Abilene became a city in 1858 when Timothy F. Hersey and his family settled there.

     Cattlemen noticed the city after a section of the Kansas Pacific Railroad was built there in 1867. With the new form of transportation, Joseph G. McCoy, entrepreneur and livestock dealer from Illinois, saw the railroad as a means of transporting Texas cattle to markets in the West.

      After the end of the “Texas cattle trail,” Abilene rapidly grew into a wild frontier town making way to stores, saloons and gambling houses.

      Today, Abilene provides patrons with a wide range of attractions to educate the public on the city’s historic past.

      Visitors can take a 10- mile excursion train ride across the Smoky River Hill Valley. On excursions, guests may choose to dine in a 100-year-old wooden coach dining car. The trains used for the tour are either a regular passenger train or the classic 1919 Baldwin 4-6-2 “Pacific” type, steam locomotive, Santa Fe #3415.

     The 1919 Baldwin is one of only three operational steam locomotives in the state of Kansas. Furthermore, locomotive #3415 has been registered under the National Historical Register since April 2012.

      For more information about the excursion rides across the Smoky River Hill Valley visit www.asvrr.org/ index.html. Excursions run from May to October.

     For those who enjoy museums, Abilene has many. Within a four-square-block area, Abilene has five museums centered by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home. The close proximity allows groups to go on individual walking tours of the museums. These museums include the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad, Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, the Heritage Center and others.

      Due to the historic past of mansions and the 21 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the city of Abilene invites visitors to see the Seelye Mansion, Jeffcoat Photography Museum and more.

     The city of is filled with weekend events from gunfighters to can-can dancers. Times and days will vary per performance.

     Visual Art fans are not forgotten in Abilene. The city has the Great Plains Theatre, the only regional professional theatre between Kansas City and Denver, Colorado, and various cultural art scattered throughout the community.

     Need a pit stop to recharge? Abilene offers a wide range of unique dining options found only in the city limits. Visitors can sip an old fashion soda-pop at 304 N. Broadway, the Bankes Old Fashioned Soda Fountain, one of only 38 operating soda fountains in Kansas.

     For more information about the sites of Abilene visit www.abilenecityhall.com.

 

Tag Day Trips   Tag Local Attractions