In 1888 the Santa Fe Railroad was building a railroad from Ballinger to San Angelo when it ran out of funds at a location which is now the town of Miles. Johnathan Miles made a donation of $5000 to the railroad. In honor of this generous man, the settlement was called Miles Station. In 1905 the name “Station” was dropped and Miles was incorporated.
The first grocery store was located in a box car and was run by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Robinson who came to Miles from England. The main street is named in their honor. Most of the early settlers came from overseas and a large number of those were of German descent.
The land here was very attractive to these early settlers. Knee-high grass covered the area and land was selling for 75¢ to $1.50 per acre. Mesquite trees were very scarce and were controlled by the prairie dog.
Most of the rock buildings located in Miles were built or started in 1904. One of these buildings is the Opera House, built by Uncle Joe Thiele, who came from Germany. He worked his way from New York to Texas and acquired a flock of sheep on the way. He rode the train with his sheep as far as Fort Worth, where the railroad ended. He camped on Willow Creek outside of Miles. He bought many sections of land in the Willow Creek area and he hired Mexican sheep herders to tend his sheep because there were no fences.
As early as 1888, the citizens met at China Mott on Uncle Joe Thiele's ranch on Willow Creek. The First Baptist Church was organized and built south of the railroad. That part of town became known as “Baptist Hill”. The first school was also located in this area. Four different school buildings have housed students during the past century.
Miles boomed during the early years of 1900. At one time it had a population of over 3000 and was larger than San Angelo. Many businesses opened and thrived. There were three drug stores, two banks, two barber shops, two hardware stores, a funeral parlor, several grocery and clothing stores, two meat markets, a wagon yard and livery stable, as well as a depot and jail. There were also several saloons. A city ordinance was passed making it a violation for any lady to walk down the east side of the street because of the number of saloons on that side of the street.
The wagon yard and livery stable were busy places since horses and mules supplied the energy to transport the people by wagon, hack and buggy. One could even hire teams and vehicles from Mr. Curry, Mr. Louder and Mr. Middleton.
The Opera House was built in 1904. Operas and plays as well as other events were held often. It was a gathering place for members of the community. In 1930, the Opera House was sold to H. W. Bigler, and was converted to a hotel. Delicious meals, prepared by Mrs. Bigler, were served to guests. The Biglers closed the hotel in 1950. The former Mary Bess McGuire, now Mrs. A. T. “Slim” Granzin, realized the need for a meeting place. She helped organize the Miles Preservation Authority which eventually purchased and restored the Opera House for the use of all the citizens of Miles. The Opera House also houses the Senior Citizens Center. Frances Lacy and Joy Lacy were instrumental in placing a historical marker on the building in 1968. In July of 1976, through the efforts of the Miles Preservation Authority, the Opera House was placed on the National Register.
In 1925, the town section of Robinson Street was paved with brick. All these brick were laid by a single black man. Until the year 1930, it was almost impossible to drive to San Angelo after a heavy rain because of the muddy roads. By May of 1930, a concrete, eighteen feet wide, two-lane highway was finished. In June of 1961, the present four-lane highway was completed.
Today, Miles has a population of about 870 friendly people.
For more information and/or a tour contact:
**Miles Museum organizer = Glenda Lacy 325-468-2167**