By Larry Zelisko
Taylor County’s youngest town’s first impact was in the courts, but today little is heard about the once-spirited oasis.
Controversy began soon after a petition was presented to County Judge Reed Ingalsbe on Feb. 1, 1960, to incorporate 47 acres north of Abilene into a town to be known as Impact. Dallas Perkins, owner of much of the flood-prone area, led the effort and named the town after his Impact Advertising agency.
Ingalsbe set an election for Feb. 13, but revoked his decision on Feb. 11 after the Abilene City Commission quickly tried to annex the North Park neighborhood, of which Impact was a part, and after concerns that the proposed town would allow alcohol sales in a county that had been “dry” for nearly six decades.
The election was held anyway, but Ingalsbe refused to canvass the 27-0 vote to incorporate. Lawsuits ensued. The city of Abilene fought the incorporation. Churches fought the prospect of liquor sales. Abilene’s state legislators introduced bills against Impact.
Meanwhile, Impacters, as the Abilene newspaper called residents of the fledgling town, approved alcohol sales by an 18-2 vote on Sept. 18, 1961, but argued over who could sell alcohol, and where.
Liquor sales began on Dec. 22, 1962, with Mayor Perkins buying the first bottle of whiskey. Bumper-to-bumper traffic was reported as Abilenians no longer had to drive 45 miles to Stamford to buy booze. A Metroplex television station reporting from Impact said $25,000 worth of alcohol was sold the first day among two liquor stores, one of which was a converted turkey barn.
On April 17, 1963, the town of Impact was validated as the Texas Supreme Court ruled its incorporation was legal.
The “city that booze built” prospered until alcohol sales began in Abilene in 1978 following a controversial election and a ruling by the state’s highest court. One liquor store lingered through the 1980s as traffic declined along the cedar tree-landscaped Impact Drive.
Impact had 35 people in the 2010 census. The main street is now a private drive and the business district was purchased, ironically, by a church.
"Enterprise: Liquorville," Newsweek magazine, Feb. 14, 1966
Graham, Carmen Anita Gillmore. Municipal Incorporation for the Purpose of Liquor Sale; A Case Study of Impact, Texas, thesis, August 1967; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc699754/: accessed July 27, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu.
Hutcheson, Don. Aerial Photograph of Impact, Texas (1961), photograph, September 7, 1961; University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Hardin-Simmons University Library.