Introduction to Wichita Falls, Texas
Wichita Falls is a city located in north-central Texas, about 15 miles south of the Oklahoma border and 120 miles northwest of Dallas. Home to Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls is serviced by Interstate I-44 and U.S. Routes 277, 281, 287, and 82. Texas State Highways 79 and 240 also run through the city. Wichita Falls serves as the county seat of Wichita County and is considered the primary population center of North Texas.
First settled in the mid-1800s, Wichita Falls experienced a boom in the sale of town lots concurrent with the arrival of the first train in 1882. Soon thereafter a lumberyard and mill took root, followed by a general merchandise store. Incorporated in 1889, the city continued to see its economy stimulated by the arrival of more railroads, establishing Wichita Falls as a transportation and supply center for Northwest Texas and southern Oklahoma. By the early 1900s, the city's economic focus shifted to oil and by 1913 the North Texas fields were producing 46 percent of the state's oil supply. The oil boom ushered in a building boom which was later slowed, but not stopped, by the Great Depression. In 1941 the economy was further bolstered by the opening of Sheppard Field, an Army Air Corps training facility which would later become Sheppard Air Force Base. Wichita Falls was devastated on April 10, 1979, by one of the largest tornadoes in recorded history which swept through the southern part of the city, destroying a large percentage of town dwellings and damaging numerous business establishments. The city made a rapid recovery, repairing most of the damage within a few short years.
Arts and Culture in Wichita Falls
Wichita Falls has a wide variety of attractions and places of interest for visitors and residents alike. The Wichita Falls Museum and Arts Center sponsors a variety of arts programs and features hands-on science displays and traditional art exhibitions throughout the year. The Wichita Falls Railroad Museum, which opened in 1980, is a must-see for visiting train buffs. On display are old steam engines and other train-related memorabilia. The Kell House Museum is housed in a beautiful Neo-classical home built in 1909 and previously owned by one of the city's founders, Frank Kell. The Heritage Center, located on Sheppard Air Force Base, boasts a unique collection of artifacts which chronicle the growth of the base and its close ties to the city. For performing arts, Wichita Falls has the Backdoor Theater, the Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre, and the Wichita Falls Symphony.
Sports fans can root for the Wichita Falls Wildcats, a professional ice hockey team which competes in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Also in town are the Wichita Falls Drillers, a semi-Pro football team which has won a Minor League Football national championship.