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Texas Ghost Towns: proposal

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I'm submitting a proposal for a category in the member's* section: Texas Ghost Towns.

Along the lines of the 'historical markers' thread introduced by Cowboy, the category could serve as a deposit and archive of ghost towns riders happen upon or intentionally visit. For some (perhaps it is already), it could be a new 'treasure hunt' like Gilke's and Janet's courthouses.

A few books in print list and locate ghost towns in Texas, but they are not complete. A short list is in the first several pages of the current "Roads of Texas" mapbook. I've been in a few over the last two months that are not mentioned anywhere. It's a big state with lots of territory and history; there are probably MANY ghosts towns that are less known, some perhaps lost in the memories of the old timers.

Regardless, I propose a criteria:

"A Ghost Town is a town or community that at one time had a commercial or population center, and is either wholly abandoned or faded greatly from its peak, and now is just a shadow of its former self." (1)

And classification (1):

"All ghost towns can be categorized into five basic classes based on what remains at the site.

· Class A...barren site

· Class B...rubble and/or roofless building ruins

· Class C...standing abandoned buildings (with roofs), no population, except maybe a caretaker.

· Class D...semi/near ghost towns. A small resident population, many abandoned buildings.

· Class E...busy historic community, yet still much smaller than in its boom years.

· Class F...Not a stand-alone class, but an addition to any of the above. This class usually designates a restored town, state park, or indicates some other “additional” status.

Riders must submit a photo of the location and/or any buildings, structures, ruins, or anything that occupies the space where the town once stood.

Other data required: location. Using roads and/or distances from nearby places, or GPS coordinates.

Something, anything, no matter how short or long, about the significance of the town: history, personal perspectives, anecdotes, even, yes, historical markers. Stories are welcome.

If a moderator is needed for this, I volunteer. I don't wish to add to the burden of those already donating precious time and energy on the forum.

* Does this mean that only members can view the thread? That's a shame. It would be really nice if visitors that are not members can view it.

(1) Source: Ghost Town USA’s GHOST TOWN CATEGORIES.
 
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I like the idea!

I've seen a few places that could qualify in my travels through Texas into New Mexico, so scouting for these could be fun. Add in the history lesson, background story behind the ruins that you find ... this could be a lot of fun to participate in.
 
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Jesus, I live in one!!!!Coryell City used to have over 2,000 people, stores, doctors, etc...Now it has less than 70 people and postoffice closed back in 93..1993...only thing left is a church and the volunteer fire department......
 

WoodButcher

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I rode through there today on my loop from Austin to Crawford and back. Nice to meet you by the way.
 
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I've seen a few places that could qualify in my travels through Texas into New Mexico, so scouting for these could be fun. Add in the history lesson, background story behind the ruins that you find ... this could be a lot of fun to participate in.
Exactly!

Coryell City used to have over 2,000 people, stores, doctors, etc...Now it has less than 70 people and postoffice closed back in 93..1993...only thing left is a church and the volunteer fire department......
How appropos... (ghost rider living in a ghost town... cool! :mrgreen: ) If and when we get approval, and a spot, you can lead off with your home(ghost)town. I have two to submit, also.
 
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how weird. i was thinking about doing the same thing. found a cool site that lists all the ghost towns in Texas.

http://www.texasescapes.com/Texas-Ghost-Towns-A-to-Z.htm

i was wanting to do a "towns with funny names" project and thats when i found out that most of them were ghost towns. so i thought, why not do a ghost town project and combine the two. i like the way yall think!!
 
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i was wanting to do a "towns with funny names" project and thats when i found out that most of them were ghost towns. so i thought, why not do a ghost town project and combine the two. i like the way yall think!!
Must be telepathic. ;) I started a "towns with funny names" collection last year, too. (Energy and Indian Gap were first ones) With same observation; most are ghost towns.

My only objection to inclusion of towns that don't meet the ghost town criteria is 'funny' name is too subjective and relative. 'Energy' was an odd name to me, but may not be to everyone else. Yet it definitely meets the ghost town criteria. Other town names I consider odd, they are definitely not ghost towns. The ambiguity and loose characterization of towns with odd names might detract from the ghost town thread, which might be better as specific.

However, you might propose a category for places with odd names, which happens to be another interest of mine (in my insatiable curiosity bucket). For example, a certain county road -Coca-Cola Ranch Rd- is full of character, mystery and history. No one knows where the name originated (I've asked everyone I run into in that area), it's a sweet ride, and for three miles it runs right on the old Butterfield Stagecoach Trail as well as being part of the old (but later) Jacksboro-to-Gainesville Wagon Road.

So, that category could encompass towns, roads, landmarks (?). And be just as much, if not more, interesting. (btw -trivia moment here- the study of this is called 'ethnogeography'. That, too, is interesting ;) )

How does that suggestion sound?
 
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yea, thats fine. i like the ghost town idea. pretty much going to accomplish both at the same time anyway. did you get a chance to look at the web site?
 

pacman

Die with memories, not dreams.
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Outstanding! Thanks for sharing this link. I've already read several of the stories, and so far this is my favorite:

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Subject: Brazos Point
"The Old Man's Place"
[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
My brother H.L. Stephenson and his wife Denise first took me to Brazos Point back in 1970. We all called it "The old mans place," for the old farmer who lived there. He ran a campground right on the river called Braden's Camp. It was just to the left as you passed over the bridge head'n toward Walnut Springs.

For three dollars you could camp all week (and probably not see anyone else). When I reached driving age it was a favorite destination of mine. I would take friends and camp all weekend or longer. Sometimes I'd take a date for a picnic there. It never failed. Everyone loved the old bridge, the river, and the old man's camp. I have slept under the bridge on a sand bar and made coffee from Brazos river water. I camped with friends and loved ones, some of whom are now gone or I have lost touch with. My best dog Buzzard loved it also. I could say to her "Wanna go to the river?" and she'd start danc'n. When we got there she'd run and play for hours, trying to bite us on the rear as we jumped in the water. I remember her plum tuckered out with a sunburn on the tip of her nose laying by the campfire.

We'd go every weekend during the summers, and sometimes we'd camp in winter. Buzzard and I went the most, just the two of us. Brazos Point has changed, the old man has passed on and his camp is no more. A new, ugly bridge has been built right beside the original. Buzzard has been gone for about 15 years now. I have my memory and lots of pictures and a rock that I carried up from the river floor when my wife and I were dating. It is in the shape of a triangle and must weigh well over 100lbs. It's right out the back door of my house for the last 25 years. I can place my hand on it and I'm almost there. - Don W. Stevenson, July 16, 2007
[/FONT]
 
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Great idea! I'll chime in before the new section arrives...

--- Bryant Station, Milam County, Texas, USA ---

In early 1836, (Captain) Bejamin Franklin Bryant raised a company of men and joined the main body of Sam Houston's army in March of that year, after the fall of the Alamo but in time for the Battle of San Jacinto.

Captain Bryant so distinguished himself at San Jacinto that Houston and the new Republic awarded him around three thousand acres (surveyed by George Erath - later member of the Republic of Texas house of representatives and the United States Senate) north of the Little River in modern Milam County. Bryant's charge was to develop a trading post which would also serve as a fort to protect the new capital of the Republic at Washington-on-the-Brazos.

As one of the most important crossings over the Little River (including the Marlin to Austin stage run) the new community, called Bryant Station, flourished. Jacob deCordova visited around 1858 and found what he called "a large and flourishing settlement." Bryant Station by then had Captain Bryant's fort/store, many other commercial buildings, hundreds of homes, several churches, a permanent Mason's lodge, and a large Czech community. (Jacob deCordova was born in Jaimaica, set up a land business in New Orleans which he later moved to Galveston in time to become a citizen of the Republic, and laid out (with George Erath) the town of Waco.)

In 1881, the Santa Fe railway passed Bryant Station. The town began a decline that saw the town effectively gone by the end of the 19th century. All of the commerce conducted in Bryant Station moved to the town established by the railway company (Buckholts, Texas) even though the crossing on the Little River remained important. The State of Texas continued to improve the crossing until as late as 1909 when a steel truss bridge was erected.

Bryant Station's cemetery and the 1909 bridge are all that remain. The State of Texas moved Captain Bryant's and his wife's grave to the State Cemetery in Austin in 1931.


My Dad's Adventure Bonneville and My Adventure Cyclone in front of the cemetery.


The cemetery gets mowed, but the forest is making progress.


It's a beautiful spot. Like most 19th century cemetaries, this one is full of infants and children.


The view across the steel bridge today. There is a new concrete bridge that opened not long ago. At one end of this bridge there is a grove of huge old pecan trees. Go at the right time of year and eat lunch off the ground!

--- To Get There ---

Take Highway 190 eastbound from Temple. About 4 miles west of Buckholts (the railroad town that killed Bryant Station), county road 104 splits off eastbound 190 and parallels the highway eastbound for a short distance. Follow it as it turns south (crossing the railroad tracks that made Buckholts) and turns to gravel. You'll go about 3 1/2 miles and it will make a sharp turn east. Keep following it, cross two bridges (probably 1/2 mile) and you'll find a turn to the south. Go south and you'll find a sign for the cemetery after about 1/4 mile. There's a trail through the trees and across a pasture to take you to the cemetary. To get the to bridge, stay on the south-bound road down to the river.
 
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Anyone know of some books on the subject? I have always found the subject interesting and been to a few of them in Oklahoma. It also helped that I have a book called Ghost Towns of Oklahoma[/i] which made it easier to find some of the towns. I also knew the author (an OU professor) who was putting the book together when I worked in an art supply store.
 
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Anyone know of some books on the subject? I have always found the subject interesting and been to a few of them in Oklahoma. It also helped that I have a book called Ghost Towns of Oklahoma[/i] which made it easier to find some of the towns. I also knew the author (an OU professor) who was putting the book together when I worked in an art supply store.
http://www.texasescapes.com/Texas-Ghost-Towns-A-to-Z.htm

go to the very bottom of the link. there are a couple of books for sale.
 
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Copperas Cove, TX
how weird. i was thinking about doing the same thing. found a cool site that lists all the ghost towns in Texas.

http://www.texasescapes.com/Texas-Ghost-Towns-A-to-Z.htm

i was wanting to do a "towns with funny names" project and thats when i found out that most of them were ghost towns. so i thought, why not do a ghost town project and combine the two. i like the way yall think!!
Thats a neat site and the whole idea is great. years ago a group of us used to go ghost town hunting in colorado, but had not considered it in texas. the site is very helpful and gives another reason to ride and learn. already got a couple places to check out. Thanks.
 

pacman

Die with memories, not dreams.
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Elzi, I went and checked out the Kimball ruins today. I was a little disappointed with the accessibility to the actual ruins. They were either behind fences or very far off the road. The stuff that's far off the road looks like the most interesting, from what I could tell. I'd like to go back with hiking boots and jeans on so I don't get my riding gear all torn up by briars and burrs. Besides, I forgot my camera today, so a return trip is mandatory.
 
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Elzi, I went and checked out the Kimball ruins today. I was a little disappointed with the accessibility to the actual ruins. They were either behind fences or very far off the road. The stuff that's far off the road looks like the most interesting, from what I could tell. I'd like to go back with hiking boots and jeans on so I don't get my riding gear all torn up by briars and burrs. Besides, I forgot my camera today, so a return trip is mandatory.
Please do, and provide photos.
Many of the photos and descriptions for ghost towns on Texasescapes.com are outdated. Changes can occur quickly; old structures can crumble and disappear within a short period of time. Vegetation reclaims sites even quicker. Or, as in the case of a ghost town in Nevada, turned into a resort or amusement park.

One advantage of this project may be to update these places as they are now. Thus this thread/category can serve as an unofficial archive representing this time frame. Also, from the perspective of a biker rider; we are able to be more intimate with the locations' surroundings than those who drive/ride in a car and look or take photos from their car windows.

Additionally, as you commented, sometimes you just have to put the kickstand down and get off the bike to explore. ;-)
 
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I did alot of work for the Corps of engineers at Kimball Bend and I was disappointed too. BTW Woodbutcher you passed through Osage going to Crawford. Osage was a town of over 3,000 people until the 1930s. They had a big fire and the entire downtown burned and never really rebuilt. I fyou look to left of the lowwater crossing you can see the burned foundation stones... I am a bit of a history buff so I have hit alot of ghost towns in the past...Would be glad to go back to them again...Don't forget about the The Grove off of Hwy 36 toward Temple. Most of its buildings still stand.
 
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In search of Fort Spunky

Spunky.jpg


I took some time off of my housework today (I am on vacation from the paying job this week) to go looking for a ghost town that had caught my attention a while back. Fort Spunky was originally Barnardville, and was never actually a fort. Settled by George and Charles Barnard in partnership with the Torrey brothers and Sam Houston, Barnardville and a neighboring community named George's Creek prospered for a while as trading posts on the Brazos River. It was hoped that the commerce would improve relations with the local Indians.

By the mid 1850s all of the Indians had been relocated to Fort Belknap and the trading posts declined. It acquired the name Fort Spunky because of the fistfights that broke out in town quite frequently.

A post office was opened in 1886, but by 1900 population had declined to about forty people. As of 2000 it was reported that as many as 14 people might still have been at Fort Spunky, but today I saw that a sand company has begun mining the spot.

All that is left is one lone windmill and a dilapidated barn that seems to be hiding behind some giant Mesquite trees. A fence and some no trespassing signs kept me from exploring the barn like I wanted to.

Fort Spunky is (was) in south Hood County, on Farm Road 2174 between CR 325 and CR 326. The barn is down CR 326, but in sight of the intersection of the farm road. Its GPS coordinates are 32.326549° lat and -97.650325° lon.

IMG_1651.jpg


IMG_1658.jpg


IMG_1653.jpg


IMG_1660.jpg


IMG_1662.jpg
 
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pacman

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Fences are made to be climbed. :trust:
 
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Not while the mining company people are driving by every thirty seconds eyeballing me as if I were already doing something wrong.:uhoh:
 
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thanks to Dan and Ed for posting the first two ghost towns. I'd like to remind posters to include location; GPS coordinates or general location description like Dan did in his post.

Perhaps we'll get a delegated section soon :trust:
:mrgreen:
 
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Okay, the missing information is added. By the way, there looks to be many miles of gravel, sand, and dirt to explore out there near this ghost town. Next trip I take that way will be on the KLR.

And the cobbler at Hammonds was pretty good today too. :wave:
 
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Never had heard of Ft Spunky, thats a good story... Ft Belknap would be a ghost town also, it was once a bustling trading camp for buffalo hunters...I am going to start geting some fresh picks of the ghost towns near me...Kimball has been mentioned so I might skip unless someone requests info on it...:rider:
 
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i fly in and out of Sabine Pass for work so i might try to swing over and see what is left of Sabine while im here. wont be on the bike tho...
 

TWTim

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There are dozens of ghost towns in West Texas. Check out the ruins of Hymen Settlement at 4:40 in this video I shot last summer:

 
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Well alrighty then...... While heading towards the Hill country last memorial day weekend we rode thru Indian Gap, which is on CR1702, just east of 16. This first pic is of the old school dated 1913 that we took. the 2nd photo is one taken off of off this site:http://www.texasescapes.com/CentralTexasTownsNorth/IndianGapTexas/IndianGapTx.htm

HillCtry028.jpg


IndianGapSchool.jpg


This next pic of the old small house is almost in front of the old school.

HillCtry027.jpg


This picture of the old store was the general store in Indian Gap, but mine didnt come out so this one is off of the texasescapes.com website also......... although the store hasnt changed any....

OldStore.jpg


This is the old church across from the old school.....

HillCtry026.jpg


Im a fanatic of old rundown buildings and old churchs........... I think Im gonna take an afternoon ride and head down to Indian Gap again...... with a picnic basket in hand this time! :rider: :eat:
 
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Indian Gap is a cool place. And nice road to ride. It's my preference for riding into the hill country, sort of a 'Through the Magic Door'.

Except for when you get lost on the gravel roads that surround it.....
 
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Sounds like fun to me!
On the Sherpa, it would be, and is. But on the top-heavy, too-tall thoroughbred, and with a bum ankle, and on golf-ball sized road rock, it was not. I almost lost the bike twice when trying to turn it around in said conditions. It was not fun.

The Sherpa, on the other hand, I could get lost on that forever and love it.
 
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IMG_0695.jpg

Wizard Wells
Jack County, Texas

Historical Marker:
N 33.20077
W097.97113


IMG_0697.jpg

I had never heard of Wizard Wells until researching stations on the Butterfield Trail in Texas. The name captivated me. Why 'Wizard'?

When the Butterfield Trail was rerouted from the original -Gainesville, Davidson's, Conolly's stations and Hog-eye Prairie- it went through Decatur and across the West Fork of the Trinity on Hwy 920, west of Bridgeport (Old Bridgeport was right on the bank for a few years, eventually moving east to present location). The next station was near Bean's Creek and east of where both old and new trail converged: Jacksboro.

Bean's Creek runs through, as you can guess, Bean's Valley. The valley and creek were favorite hunting and camping grounds of the Kiowa. By the 1850's, settlers were staking claims and setting up homesteads for farming and grazing livestock. It seemed a logical place for the Butterfield Overland Company to put a station. And the area prospered.

In the late 1870's George Washington Vineyard moved to the area. He dug a well for his household water, but it was so full of minerals it was undrinkable. Yet the water was used to bathe in. GW was plagued with chronic ulcers on his legs which the water supposedly cured, as well as his eye 'disease'.

News of GW's miraculous 'healing' from the water brought people from all over suffering from everything imaginable and hoping to find the cure-all, the 'miracle water'. Many camped along the creek during their stay. Eventually three hotels and 'soaking tubs' were built to accommodate cure-seekers.

IMG_0700.jpg

Vineyard owned most of the property in the area, but I can find no mention of what became of him or his family. The town, then called Vineyard (or Old Vineyard), was established in 1882 with a general store. Later followed by several churches, a newspaper, school, sawmill, blacksmith shop, and post office. It became a thriving retail center for the local farmers and ranches and by 1890 had a population of 100. From the 1920s until the 1940s the town's population was near 175, and by 2000, 63.

You can't really get a complete story of Wizard Wells without nearby associated towns: Vineyard (be patient; you'll see) and Sebree. When the Chicago, Rock Island and Texas Railway bypassed Vineyard on it's way from Bridgeport to Jacksboro in 1899, many people left Vineyard and formed a new community around the depot two miles south. The historical marker claims they called the new town 'Sebree'.

HF Stamper and his two sons, all from Missouri, had settled in the town of Vineyard. When many left and settled to the south near the RR, the three male Stampers petitioned the Texas Legislature in 1914 to rename the town of Vineyard to 'Wizard Wells'.

In 1915, after the name change to 'Wizard Wells', the new town, then a center for shipping of farm and ranch products and a thriving community on its own, adopted the new name of 'Vineyard.' So this is the second 'Vineyard'. By 1925 the population of Vineyard was 212 and by 1933 the new Vineyard was a thriving community with a brick school, businesses and several stores. However, following the demise of the railroad no businesses or stores existed by the 1970s. The population had declined by the 1950s to 40. In 2000 the population was 37.

Now, another source reports that Sebree was a separate community; by 1910 it had become a community center for area farmers and ranchers. "Three general stores, a cotton gin, a grocery store, and a dry goods store served an estimated 200 residents in 1914. Soil erosion reduced the productivity of the land surrounding the community, however, and residents left Sebree for Jacksboro, the county seat, fourteen miles to the north, and for Bryson, where oil had been discovered in the 1920s. The post office was closed in 1915, and by the mid-1940s Sebree no longer existed."

So where is Sebree? I guess we'll have to find out :trust:

Interestingly, the Wizard Wells cemetery is the final resting place for many members of the founding families: Stampers, Beans, etc. An interesting place to explore, for sure.

The pattern I've seen here, and elsewhere, is "Build it and they will come." Railroads, stage coach lines, military roads, etc. And when the original impetus for many of the communities die, so do the towns. Look at the same pattern today, such as the strip malls, etc along the major highways/freeways. Transportation seems to be a significant factor in civilization, both birth and death.

Now on to some modern news. Wizard wells still stands; well and all.
I found this advertised by the current owner:

"Whispering Waters is a Holistic Retreat Center owned and operated by Kevin and Gail Leech. Kevin and Gail are registered massage therapists and artists who purchased the property in 1999. They have worked steadily (obsessively?) ever since to bring the land and buildings back to life in a creative, loving and respectful manner.
Your Hosts

As registered massage therapists, Gail specializes in cranio-sacral therapy, while Kevin's focus is myofascial release. The charge per therapy session is $40. Overnight stays are $50 per room for up to 2 guests(add $10 for a 3rd). Mineral soaks and outdoor hot tub are included with the room, as is a light breakfast and lots of peace and quiet.
The Property

The property consists of a 3 story building,built in the 1940's, whose bottom floor has been renovated to include 7 bedrooms with 16 beds, 7 bathrooms, 1 soaking room, 1 of 3 massage therapy rooms, a small esoteric library and a cozy plant filled entry-way. The second and third floors are in the process of being renovated to accommodate 3-4 longer term house guests. Kevin and Gail are currently living on the 2nd floor.Connected to the 3-story is a single 3,000 square ft building,built in the 1930's which includes a unique common area that serves as a dining room, classroom, gathering space, etc. Adjoining the common area is a large kitchen, another large soaking room, the other massage therapy rooms and a small gift shop. On the land are also 2 other buildings. One was originally the town's general store and hasn't been used since the 70's and is in need of repair.This building would eventually make a great sanctuary or community space for all to come and share in the oneness that IS. The other,the oldest, a native rock building, consists of 4 separate rooms which is currently in use as Kevin's pottery studio.

There are endless possibilities here and we are continually open to guidance about our purpose.In following the promptings of spirit, we feel now we are creating a gentle place to energize and heal.We stand back and look at what has been created and see artist studios, quiet places to rest your mind,body and spirit, energizing encampments,a place to nurture spiritual awakening, growth, renewal. Surrounded by ever improving organic gardens of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and cactus, guests can enjoy the medicine wheel, meditation gardens, massage therapy sessions, camping, comfortable lodging, workshop facilities, personal overnight and weekend retreats. We have also been blessed with a rich esoteric library, relaxing mineral waters for soaking,soothing or detoxing, magical musical chimes and so much more."


Thus New Age merges with Old Age ;-)

It certainly is an interesting place to visit. One of these days soon, the Sherpa and I will be paying another visit to discover more, stop to visit the New Age people and the hotel, and explore another nearby long-gone community and cemetery, Jim Ned.

IMG_0707.jpg


IMG_0708.jpg


WizardWellspan.jpg
 
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WOW!! :clap: ^^^^^ Well there isnt anything left of Sabine, espacilly after the hurricane but i took some pics of Sabine Pass and surrounding areas with some historical markers. i will edit this later for the report.
 
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So many excellent write ups, so many great pictures! My hat is off to Tim for his amazing video footage! Well done to all!:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
 
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Squaw Mountain community, Jack County

Squaw Mountain, Jack County.
Historical marker: FM 2190
N 33.36433
W098.32640


406577784_bSKwC-M.jpg

On my way north up to Oklahoma last Friday I rode through two ghost towns. One I stopped to spend some time in.

This is excerpted from my story of that weekend:

On FM 2190 I passed Lynn Creek Rd to see a small church off the road and shaded by a tree-covered hill. Bingo; the familiar Texas Historical Society marker alongside the road. Executing a perfect U-turn I pulled up to stand on the grassy bank in front of the marker, dismounted and looked around.

According to all the resources I’ve read (and there aren’t many), a skirmish between a group of Texas Rangers and a band of Indians occurred here in 1875. A young Indian woman was killed on a mountain near Lynn Creek and the Rangers buried her there. The peak was named Squaw Mountain based on the legend, and the community that grew up along the creek and near the mountain also bore that name.

Settlers arrived in 1877 and Squaw Mountain grew. In 1892, along with a stage relay stop, a post office was named. Later followed cotton gins and a thresher, blacksmith shop, store, school and another church. Coal mines were discovered in 1917.

But, as the familiar pattern with pioneer towns, the exodus followed the railroads. By 1997 only a church and a few ranches remained. The only business I’m aware of is a large big game ranch with a lodge, cabins, elk, deer, axis, oryx, hogs, Dall and Corsican sheep, turkey, and dove, 20 ponds and a lake. Even that was listed for sale in the mid-2000’s; only for $3 million.

Yet many of the original settlers, some of their descendants and families, still remain here at rest in a cemetery a few miles away down a lonely gravel and dirt road. [Lynn Cemetery; included in main story]

Other than a small modest building serving as a church for the neighboring farmers and ranchers, nothing else betrays presence of a community that once stood here. Cows grazed in a pasture across the road, giving me an occasional glare. But the surrounding Cross-timbers and mesquite thickets betray nothing; no town, no stage coaches, no cotton fields, no comfortable community with a few bustling business.

Like most other ghost towns, Nature reclaims her own.

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Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Messages
12
Location
Fort Worth
Eliasville, Young County

In the early 1870s, J. L. Dobbs built his ranch headquarters on a wide, southerly bend of the Clear Fork of the Brazos in what is now the extreme southern end of Young County. At the time, this was the extreme western edge of the frontier; the town of Arkansas (later called South Bend) was located ten miles downriver but Dobbs was the first to settle his part of the Brazos Valley.

(My mom's mom's maiden name was Dobbs - I suppose we're related somewhere deep in the woodpile.)

In 1878, Elias DeLong established a store to serve the growing community, and an unknown amount of politicing resulted in the name Eliasville.

Brothers William and Thomas Donnell had arrived in the area in 1876 from Missouri. They began raising cattle and planning a gristmill business. They built their first mill in 1877; it was destroyed in a flood. The 1878 attempt was also destroyed by a flood.

They overcame their male unwillingness to seek advice and consulted with a U. S. Agricultural Extension engineer in 1879. The engineer picked a spot near Dobbs' headquarters on an ancient limestone shelf. He chose wisely - the mill is still there:



Learn from the Donnell brothers. When an engineer gives you advice, take it.

The town grew, and boomed starting in 1921 when commercially viable quantities of oil were discovered nearby and the Wichita Falls and Southern Railway opened a line to serve the growing gasoline refinery and the carbon black plant.

By the middle 1920s, Eliasville had a bank, several churches, a school complex, dentists, doctors, a lumberyard, a boilermaker business, a feed store, a hotel, two theaters, three filling stations, and the old gristmill.

Oil production eventually decreased, and the refinery and carbon black plant closed in the late 1920s. A lightning strike in 1927 burned the gristmill. The consolidation of agricultural production began to affect small towns everywhere during the 1930s, and the Second World War emptied the town when the defense plants in Fort Worth began hiring.

By the middle 1950s, Eliasville was a ghosttown. The commercial district today:



The school complex closed in 1957. Today:



All of the other ghosttowns that I've chased down died in the late nineteenth century or very early in the twentieth. Seeing one that finally died during the fifties is pretty neat: you can still see railroad rights-of-way, building foundations, standing buildings... Neat, and creepy.

I'm new to the DFW metroplex, and I hadn't ridden in the Clear Fork Valley before. It is gorgeous out there.

To get there:
Eliasville is about fifteen miles southwest of Graham and about twenty miles west of Possum Kingdom Lake at the intersection of county roads 701 and 3109.
 
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Messages
12
Location
Fort Worth
South Bend, Young County

Settlers arrived at the junction of the Clear Fork of the Brazos and the Brazos proper in far southern Young County in the middle 1850s. Nearby Eliasville grew more quickly until July 4, 1920 when the McCluskey Oil Company's first well gushed in with a Spindletop-level blowout.

What had been a quiet ranch and farm trade center boomed; suddenly over ten thousand new citizens established multi-story hotels, boarding houses, rooming houses, a school with six teachers, oil field service businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, hardware stores, speakeasys, brothels, casinos, a lumberyard, a small refinery, movie theaters, car repair businesses, a dairy, gasoline stations, and two churches.

Most of the old Texas town stories I've read about towns that grew up during the nineteenth century make it sound like the first three things built were a church, a school, and a store. South Bend was a twentieth century town, and it sounds like the casino/brothel/bar action arrived before (and outnumbered) the school/church/hardware district.

As oil production in the area got harder and slower during the late 1920s, the town stared dying. Today, there isn't much left. I don't know when this motor hotel was built, but judging by the width of the attached covered parking spaces, it was in the Model T and Model A era:



Last to arrive, last to leave:



At the very end of South Bend's oil boom, Eugene Stovall was hoping against hope and still drilling for oil. He hit a vein that very quickly stopped producing oil and started flowing dark and oily water. He thought it was useless.

Stovall's now-useless well was on ranch property that he owned about two miles west of the townsite. His ranchhand's children had been suffering from some kind of skin ailment, but after they went swimming in the tea-colored oil-topped water, they were cured.

Stovall quickly grasped the commercial implications and built a bathhouse, a restaurant, and a hotel featuring masseurs, nurses, chiropractors, playgrounds, croquet, and skeet. The spa boomed until the 1950s, and stayed open until it burned in 1994. (Interesting - the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells opened around the same time and offered similar Curative Waters, but it closed in 1963. Eugene Stovall's little outfit on the banks of the Brazos outlasted it by three decades.)

Not much is left. The bathhouse:




The cafe:


I drove through Mineral Wells on the way back to Euless. Does anybody know how to get into the Baker Hotel?

To get there:
South Bend is at the intersection of county roads 67 and 701 about five miles south of Graham. To find the hot springs, go north off 701 onto an unmarked paved road (crossing the Clear Fork by an old concrete bridge) about 100 yards west of 67. Go about one mile, then turn north onto a once-paved road marked by a very faded sign reading Stovall Springs Circle. The ruins of the bathhouse are about one mile down Stovall Springs Circle.
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 12, 2008
Messages
148
Location
Plano
I'd reccomend a visit to Spanish Fort. It's up north of Nocona/St Jo. Here's a map. Might not be as 'Ghost Towny' as some of the aforementioned towns but it is pretty lonely up that way. Plus you get to stop on Munster and get some bratwurst!:eat:

Didn't get too many photos but here's one that I got while out there.
f4lcsn.jpg
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2005
Messages
391
Location
Kyle, TX
First Name
Rex
Great idea, Elzi! I've subscribed to this thread.

Me and a buddy are going for an all day ride this Saturday, heading NW out of Ft. Worth. We're planning on stopping at about 10 of the Ghost Towns listed on TexasEscapes.com. I'll make sure to take pictures.

Here's another site that I found with some targets to hit: http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/tx/tx.html

Also, this site: http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/shell-county.htm will allow you to search all of the Historical Markers in TX. I was able to get a pretty good fix on the Donahoe Cemetery using this site.

We're also working on a Google Map to which we're adding every
Ghost Town (or it's approximate location) that we can locate. I'll post a link to it when we get more done.
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
Admin
Joined
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45,978
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Huntsville
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Scott
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Friday
I'm submitting a proposal for a category in the member's* section: Texas Ghost Towns.

* Does this mean that only members can view the thread? That's a shame. It would be really nice if visitors that are not members can view it.
:tab Any visitor to TWT can see that the Member's section exists, but they cannot view the content. All they have to do is register and then they can view/post like anyone else. Seeing as there is no charge for registering, I don't think it too big a deal for someone to register :shrug: You can't just give it all away without keeping something to entice people ;-)

:tab As for some of the posts in this thread, it would be cool if the original posters could replicate their posts as new threads in this section.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Me and a buddy are going for an all day ride this Saturday, heading NW out of Ft. Worth. We're planning on stopping at about 10 of the Ghost Towns listed on TexasEscapes.com. I'll make sure to take pictures.

We're also working on a Google Map to which we're adding every
Ghost Town (or it's approximate location) that we can locate. I'll post a link to it when we get more done.
That's a great idea! I was thinking the same but I lack that precious commodity: time. :(

Realize that many ghost towns exist that are not chronicled in those web sites. Which is cool; we get to trail blaze. Or is that 'ghost blaze'? :mrgreen:

If you are around Fort Belknap, be sure to stop in. Fascinating history there. The former town is nearby in the middle of a cow pasture. One of my Texas frontier 'heros' is buried there, shot in the back on the main street (now reverted to cow poop and grass).

:tab As for some of the posts in this thread, it would be cool if the original posters could replicate their posts as new threads in this section.
I started doing just that the other day. I hope the others will follow suit.

I'll be up on the Panhandle and along the eastern Estacada escarpment this holiday. Have several ghost towns already marked. (still need to report on half a dozen visited previously :doh: )
 
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