You’ve heard the old cliche, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” That’s no massive surprise given its breathtaking distances from border to border, its cattle ranches, its oil reserves, and cities such as Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. However, every state has small, out-of-the-way places—places so small that they could fit into a gymnasium, a house, or a vehicle. Even Texas has many small towns scattered throughout its vast expanse. So, what is the smallest town in Texas?
Smallest Town in Texas
The smallest towns in most states tend to be rural. So, it may surprise you that the smallest town in Texas is a suburb. According to the 2020 Census, the smallest town in Texas is Impact, a suburb of Abilene. This does not include Census Designated Places (CDPs), which are only named and counted for Census purposes. It is located near the junction of US 83 (the longest-numbered highway in Texas) and Interstate 20.
Size and Population of Impact
As of the 2020 Census, Impact had a population of 21 people. This is small enough to fit into a luxury suite in Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts! This was significantly lower than its “boomtown” 1970 population of 61. Impact’s 58 total acres is tiny—its first 20 acres consisted of a poultry farm. Today, there are a handful of houses, a warehouse, and a small local church, which probably has a larger attendance on Sundays than the total population of Impact.
History of Impact
Impact was founded in response to Abilene’s prohibition of alcohol by an advertiser named Dallas Perkins. Perkins owned a 20-acre poultry farm on the edge of Abilene and saw an opportunity to profit from Abilene’s prohibition laws. In response to the popularity of “bootleg” alcohol being sold, Perkins bought an additional 27 acres of property along his farm and moved to incorporate it. After obtaining the required signatures, Impact, named after Perkins’ advertising firm, was incorporated in 1960.
The town then voted on a measure to allow the sale of alcohol, which passed by an 18-2 margin. Though Abilene lawyers immediately sought to quash the town’s incorporation, the Texas Supreme Court allowed the incorporation to move forward and approved the town’s right to sell alcohol.
In 1963, two liquor stores opened in Impact and had sales in the first month equivalent to $3.5 million. With the revenue, the town paved roads, provided lights, began garbage pickup, and hired a police officer.
In 1978, the people of Abilene voted to allow liquor sales. No longer having a purpose, Impact’s liquor sales plummeted, and the town’s population began to shrink. However, it was never more than a few inhabitants and acres of land.
Where Is Impact on a Map?
Animals in Impact
Impact is a suburb of Abilene, TX, between the rural expanses and this mid-sized Texas city. Abilene has displaced a great deal of wildlife, but the surrounding county—Taylor County—has a diversity of specimens. Consequently, the bulk of the wildlife here consists of animals that have adapted to the intersection of urban and rural habitats. A few hardy species stand out in particular.
The fox squirrel, frequently mistaken for the American red squirrel, is a large tree squirrel. It is twice the size of the eastern gray squirrel. It has a reddish coat and a large, bushy tail. Though a tree squirrel, it spends most of its time on the ground, foraging for food. The fox squirrel has adapted to urban settings and often gets around by running across telephone and power lines. Sometimes, they get electrocuted and short out the wires.
The only marsupial native to the United States and Canada, the Virginia opossum carries babies in its pouch and has 50 teeth. This is more than any other North American mammal. It is thought that opossums are immune to some snake venoms, which makes them hardy, indeed. This gray-furred, white-faced, pink-footed marsupial has adapted to urban conditions. It even finds food by getting into and turning over trash cans.
This grackle is one of Texas’ many blackbirds. Its natural habitat is in woodlands, marshes, and the shrubs, bushes, and small trees of dry coastal areas. However, it has made itself at home in populated communities of the urban and agricultural West. It can be found in backyards, landfills, and parks throughout the Abilene area.
Abilene’s purple martins are the largest swallows in North America. Their feathers are not purple but black/blue. It’s a trick of the feathers’ iridescent sheen that makes them appear bright purple, navy blue, or sometimes an iridescent green. They are fast and maneuverable fliers known for making daring, diving entrances to their nests. People will place hollow structures like natural or artificial gourds for purple martins to nest in. This means that they will often gather in the vicinity of people. They have a preference for developed areas for nesting.
Western Narrow-Mouthed Toad
One of the few amphibians that has made its home in Taylor County, TX, is the Great Plains, or western, narrow-mouthed toad. It is a frog rather than a toad, but it has developed an affinity for land. It lives in moist leaf piles, the undersides of rocks, or dead branches and logs. When they breed, they seek out rain-filled puddles for their water source. One should be wary of picking one up. Their skin secretes a substance that can cause intense pain if it gets into the eyes.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/mirza kadic
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