Whitney, the first railroad town in Hill County, was established in 1879 on the route of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad and was named for railroad investor Charles A. Whitney. Lots in the new town were sold at a "Grand Picnic" on November 25, 1879. An eager crowd bid on the lots which sold at prices ranging between $100 and $750. Several merchants who purchased lots established "tent stores" while carpenters worked night and day to complete wooden frame stores. Soon a central business district was in operation. The new town included a post office, bank, school, several churches, civic organizations, a newspaper, and many businesses. The opera house was the cultural center for entertainment, offering theatrical and musical productions and, later, movies. Several devastating fires burned much of the downtown area over the years, but the citizens rebuilt each time. The building of nearby Whitney Dam caused the town's population to expand in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and brought increased tourism from those visiting the newly created Lake Whitney. The town of Whitney observed its 100th birthday on November 25, 1979. A centennial celebration included a parade, musical entertainment, and fireworks.