Albany (population 1,920) was developed to be the county seat of newly created Shackelford County in 1874. The coming of the Texas-Central Railroad in 1881 helped to ensure the community’s early prosperity, which is reflected in an elegant limestone county courthouse built in 1883-84.
Farming and ranching dominated the early economy, and Albany became known as “Home of the Hereford” when the first of that new breed of cattle was introduced there. Later, the discovery of natural gas in Shackelford County led to an economic boom during the 1910s and 1920s. Drilling continues today on a reduced scale, and Albany has diversified its economy by promoting itself as a destination for hunting, recreation, and heritage tourism.
Albany is a featured community on the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Forts Trail. The heart of historic Albany is the Shackelford County Courthouse Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among its historic buildings is the Old Jail Art Center. The adaptively used 1877 jail is the centerpiece of a nationally accredited art museum complex. Also housed here is a regional history archives collection.
A major Albany tourist draw is the Fort Griffin Fandangle, an outdoor musical that has been performed each summer for 70 years. Written and performed by local citizens, the Fandangle celebrates the history of the area through song and pageant. The evening of the performances, chuckwagon barbeques on the courthouse lawn draw playgoers to the historic downtown.
Designated a Preserve America Community in March 2008.