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History of Plainview
Plainview, the county seat of Hale County, is on Runningwater Draw at the intersection of Interstate Highway 27, U.S. Highway 87 and 70, State Highway 194, and numerous local roads. The city is located 47 miles north of Lubbock and 76 miles south of Amarillo in the northeast section of the county. The elevation is 3,366 feet above sea level.
Founding the City
In 1886, Z.T. Maxwell moved his family and 2,000 sheep from Floyd County and established a farm in what is now northeast Hale County. About the same time, Edwin Lowden Lowe from Tennessee took up residence north of the Maxwell homestead. Enticed by the possibility of founding a town, Maxwell and Lowe secured a post office on March 18, 1887. The names Runningwater and Hackberry Grove were rejected in favor of Plainview - Lowe's choice - since a vast, treeless plain surrounded the post office. The town received a charter on July 3, 1888.
A Growing Population
Plainview became the county seat when Hale County was organized in August of 1888. The first courthouse was soon completed, at a cost of $2,500. Within a year, the town grew to a population of 75 and had a hotel, a Methodist church, and Thomton Jones' store. The first newspaper in the county was the Hale County Hesperian, established in Plainview by John Davidson and D.B. Hill in October 1889. The first public school opened the same year. Located on a cattle trail in an area of abundant water, good ranch land, and excellent soil, the new town grew dramatically. By 1892, Plainview had four churches, two hotels, a seminary, a newspaper, stagecoach service, numerous businesses, and a population of 250.
Arrival of the Railroad
In 1906, the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway reached the town. The line was dedicated the next day, January 1, 1907. The coming of the railroad brought an agricultural boom for Plainview and the surrounding area. The growing city incorporated in 1907. The population reached almost 3,000 people by 1910, when the economic district housed 90 businesses, including 20 land agencies. A local newspaper editor nicknamed the town the "Athens of West Texas."
Building of Educational Facilities
Central Plains College and Conservatory of Music was founded in Plainview in September 1907 and was soon bought by the Methodist Church and renamed Seth Ward College. Successful years followed until the entire college complex (three buildings) burned down in 1916. Wayland Baptist College, now Wayland Baptist University, was established in 1909 after Dr. John H. Wayland gave 40 acres of land and $10,000 to found a Baptist school in Plainview.