Far Far Away

When Simmons College was founded in 1891, the city of Abilene was itself only a decade older, having been founded in 1881.  The railroad was the main hub for the early city, and the busiest section of town was around North and South 1st, and many of tree streets, including Pine Street.

campus view2

According to Google Maps, the distance from the entrance of HSU to North 1st and Pine is 2 miles.  Today we can hop in our cars and drive that route in a short time (or not if you hit all the red lights).  In the early years of HSU, driving was not an option, and even visiting town was discouraged by President O.C. Pope:

Aimless loitering about town on the part of male students does not speak well for the young men themselves nor for the schools which they attend.  Hence, frequent visits to town will not be encouraged and no student will be permitted to go to town without permission.campus view

Even with permission town was still 2 miles away, and with the primary method of transportation for the students being walking, most students stayed on campus.  The distance between HSU and Abilene can best be illustrated by the fact that the last house was at 8th Street, and the roads leading to campus “were as cattle trails through the brush country” according to Dr. Rupert N. Richardson.Streetcar

Around 1908 a street car had a route in Abilene.  The track ended at Simmons Street to the North, and ran to the Church of the Heavenly Rest to the South.  Even still, by 1915 it took over 30 minutes to get to town via this new transportation method, and there are many jokes written about the timeliness and speed of the street car in the Brand.

Hardin-Simmons is almost as old as Abilene itself, and has grown with the city over the past 122 years.  We take for granted how easily we move around on campus and through the city, when years ago, it would have been much more difficult to get to town, if you were even allowed to go.  Many things have changed since that time, and in terms of transportation, it has become much easier.

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