Plainview, Texas

Plainview, Texas

Downtown view of Plainview, the seat of Hale County, Texas. Photograph by Robert Plocheck.

Plainview, the county seat of Hale County, is on Runningwater Draw at the intersection of Interstate Highway 27, U.S. highways 87 and 70, State Highway 194, and numerous local roads, forty-seven miles north of Lubbock and seventy-six miles south of Amarillo in the northeast section of the county. The Burlington Northern and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroads serve the city. The elevation is 3,366 feet above sea level. In 1886 Z. T. Maxwell moved with 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. Plainview became the county seat when Hale County was organized in August of 1888, despite moderate competition from Hale Center. The first courthouse was soon completed, at a cost of $2,500. Within a year the town grew to a population of seventy-five and had a hotel, a Methodist church, and Thornton Jones's 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 ranchland, 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. 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 by 1910, when the economic district housed ninety businesses, including twenty land agencies. A local newspaper editor nicknamed the town the "Athens of West Texas." 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 in 1916. Wayland Baptist College, now Wayland Baptist University, was established in 1909 after Dr. John H. Wayland gave forty acres of land and $10,000 to found a Baptist school in Plainview.

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Plainview by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Pop. Year Source
20,740 2019 Texas Demographic Center
22,194 2010 Texas Demographic Center
22,336 2000 Texas Demographic Center
21,698 1990 Texas Demographic Center
22,187 1980 Texas Demographic Center
19,096 1970 Texas Demographic Center
18,735 1960 Texas Demographic Center
14,044 1950 Texas Demographic Center
8,263 1940 Texas Demographic Center
8,834 1930 Texas Demographic Center
3,989 1920 Texas Demographic Center
2,829 1910 Texas Demographic Center