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By Janis C. Test

Merkel, in northwestern Taylor County, was founded in the early 1880s as the Texas & Pacific Railway pushed west, and was first known as Windmill Town. The community was a shipping point for the surrounding area, and in 1881, was renamed for its first settler, S. M. Merkel.

The first store was built in 1882, and the town gained a post office and telegraph station in 1883. The first school opened in 1884 with an enrollment of seven students. A college opened in 1887 and enrolled about 100 the next year. This institution lasted only four years. With a population of 25 in 1885, the town boomed to have 400 citizens by 1890. Merkel incorporated in 1906.

Agriculture, oil-related jobs and military-support jobs at nearby Dyess Air Force Base are staples of the local economy, as are jobs in Abilene for the population of 2,620. 


Handbook of Texas

City of Merkel webpage


[View at Parade], photograph, Date Unknown; University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting McMurry University Library.

Merkel: Service
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