McKinney, Texas (population 54,369), located 30 miles north of Dallas, was founded in 1848 and named for Collin McKinney, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Situated in some of the state’s most fertile and productive farmland, McKinney has depended on agriculture for much of its history.
When the railroad arrived in 1872, the city became the main distribution point for surrounding Collin County, as farmers from all over the area came to McKinney to ship their crops. By 1926, Collin County was the sixth largest cotton-producing county in the nation, but like the rest of the country, hit hard times in the 1930s. After World War II, McKinney made the transition from a mostly agriculture-based economy to one that included industry and manufacturing.
McKinney’s significant commercial and residential historic districts have been carefully preserved. The Chestnut Square Historic Village is a collection of seven historic houses and buildings dating from the 1850s. Monthly living history weekends are held there, complete with practitioners of blacksmithing, spinning, weaving, rug making, candle and soap making, carpentry, and other 19th and early 20th century crafts and skills. Children can participate in Prairie Adventure Camp, where they experience a child’s life in early Collin County, wearing 19th century clothing, attending school in the recently restored J.B. Wilmeth one-room schoolhouse, and participating in period chores and games.
Other attractions in McKinney include the Collin County History Museum, the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, and Pecan Grove Cemetery Park, one of the oldest cemeteries in North Texas.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2006.
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