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Kilgore is a city in Gregg and Rusk counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Texas. Over three-fourths of the city limits is located in Gregg County, the remainder in Rusk County. Kilgore was the childhood residence from age six of the noted classical pianist Van Cliburn, the namesake for Van Cliburn Auditorium on the Kilgore College campus. The population was 12,975 at the 2010 census; a July 2015 estimate placed it at 14,947.
Kilgore was founded in 1872 when the International–Great Northern Railroad completed the initial phase of rail line between Palestine and Longview. The rail company chose to bypass New Danville, a small community about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Longview, in lieu of a new townsite platted on 174 acres (0.70 km2) sold to the railroad by Constantine Buckley Kilgore, the town's namesake. That way the railroad gained the profits from sale and development of these lands.
The new town received a post office in 1873 and, with a station and transportation for getting commodity crops to market, soon began to draw residents and businesses away from New Danville. By 1885, the population had reached 250, and the community had two cotton gins, a church, and its own school. The racially segregated Kilgore Independent School District was organized in 1910. By 1914 the town had two banks, several businesses, and a reported population of 700.
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