Like many towns in Texas, Killeen began as a sparsely populated community of farms that happened to be in the path of a railroad. In 1881, the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway was constructed through Central, Texas and the railroad company decided to plot out a tract of land in Bell County, Texas for a town that would eventually become the city of Killeen, Texas. For most towns, this is where the most unique part of their history would end, but Killeen’s future took a major change in direction in 1942 when the federal government decided to make it the home of Camp Hood, a military training center for World War Two.
After the war, Camp Hood was re-named into Fort Hood and it became a permanent military facility for the United States Army. Over the years, Killeen’s economy, population, and cultural make up have all been greatly affected by the ups and downs of Fort Hood. In years where there is little military activity in the world, Killeen has seen its economy and population take a down turn. In years of heightened military activity like the Vietnam War and the Gulf War, Killeen has seen its economy and population boom. In many ways, Killeen functions like a college town. The city is intimately tied to a large institution that is the center piece of its commerce, cultural makeup, and welfare.