HALE CENTER, TX (KCBD) - Hale Center was founded in 1983. Many events have shaped this little town in its span of more than a century.
Since settlers came here in the late 1800's, the city has not only seen name changes, but other big changes as well.
Being between Plainview and Lubbock, the city has had the opportunity to play home to the railroad and a major interstate. They have certainly come a long way from the covered wagon.
Reverend Horatio Graves built the first home in Hale County and he founded the town of Eppworth. Just down the road Hale City was formed and it was that way until 1893. "Hale City and Eppworth came together to form Hale Center, and it was called Hale Center because it was in the middle of Hale County," says Dr. Ray Freeman, volunteer with Hale County Farm and Ranch Museum.
They had a name, now all they needed was people and people needed a way to get there. "Well, when we're giving tours in the spring, I always tell the kids this was the first mobile home," said Henry Rieff, volunteer with Hale County Farm and Ranch Museum.
Settlers came in their 'mobile homes' and went looking for ways to use the land. "We found that we could grow anything from watermelons to cotton," says Rieff.
Now all they needed was a way to deliver it. "These men actually went to Kansas City to bribe the railroad company with $75,000 to come right directly through Hale Center," says Rieff. World War II sent farmers to the battlefields, and the women? "If the wife needed to come in there and catch the mules or the horses to plow, well then she did so," says Rieff.
"By 1952, there were 1200 people," says Dr. Freeman."
"This used to be a little city. I mean Plainview couldn't compare," says Trinie Briseno, Hale County Resident.
In 1965, Hale Center faced one of the biggest catastrophes of its time. A tornado ripped through downtown causing many of the buildings to collapse and needing to be replaced. "We were across the street in the cellar and I remember I could vividly hear that it sounded like a train, and when we come out, there was debris everywhere," says Mayor Eugene Carter.
The tornado killed five people and injured 87. Rebuilding downtown was a slow process. "There has been a concerted effort to improve the appearance of downtown Hale Center by beautification, cleaning up the vacant lots from the tornado, painting the murals on the buildings," says Dr. Freeman.
The lots next to the painted murals are now parks. The highway has moved from Main Street to a new Interstate that brings more travelers through the area. Proof that Hale Center is growing and has a bright future.
"As the population grows, businesses will come in to try and accommodate that population growth," says Carter.
A great way to check out the history of the town is to visit the murals painted on many of the buildings. Dr. Ray Freeman and other volunteers have painted nearly 20 murals of everything from the county's first settlers to a busy day downtown.