Way Back Wednesday: Swimming in Taylor County

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It’s #WayBackWednesday and this week we are talking about Summer Heat and here in Texas we are feeling that heat this week! Our Summer heat is not a new thing for us and we found these “cool” photos of people cooling off in our neighbor town, Buffalo Gap, around the turn of the century. Buffalo Gap is still a respite for many locals and travelers, alike – with many offerings for recreation, dining, history, and beautiful scenery.

Postcard of Big Elm Creek in Buffalo Gap, before Lake Abilene, Collection of The Grace Museum, Gift of Anne Florea

Postcard of Buffalo Gap, before building Lake Abilene, Collection of The Grace Museum, Gift of Anne Florea

Just a few miles south of Abilene, Texas, the small town of Buffalo Gap was once a passageway for buffalo to travel to the high plains. The Elm Creek that runs through Buffalo Gap was a watering hole for these buffalo for hundreds of years. Buffalo Gap was officially founded in 1877 and grew in population until 1883 when the town lost the county seat to Abilene. For the settlers and families, the Elm Creek provided water for farms and watering areas for sheep and cattle. Prior to the construction of Abilene State Park and Lake Abilene, residents and visitors alike enjoyed recreational activities along the Elm Creek including swimming and horseback riding. The dates for these photographs are unknown, however, one of the photographs states it was taken before the construction of Lake Abilene in 1919.

Comanches frequented what is now the [Abilene State] Park, camping in the groves of native pecan trees, like you see in [the] picnic area. The state acquired the property in 1933 from the city of Abilene… The Civilian Conservation Corps built the park’s facilities in the early 1930s. Abilene State Park opened on May 10, 1934. Learn more in the Interpretive Guide to Abilene State Park.

With the growth of Abilene and the railroad, the need for a city water supply grew and construction of Lake Abilene began, forever changing the landscape of the Buffalo Gap and Elm Creek area. Although it proved to fail as a water source, the City of Abilene offered the Civilian Conservation Corps over 500 acres of land to create Abilene State Park. World War I veterans began construction in 1933 and the park was dedicated in 1934 and a water tower and swimming pool were added in 1935.

Abilene State Park Swimming Pool


Buffalo Gap is worth the trip! Check out some of these places when you visit. Make sure to check each of their current information to see current hours and offerings.