Ghostly Towns
Remember when your mom used to tell you to do something productive with your time?
She probably didn't have Ghost Town Hunting in mind.

I'm a dedicated, unapologetic ghost town hunter. While others collect stamps, coins, or beanie babies, I hunt out abandoned
buildings and forgotten roads with my maps and camera. I listen to the ancient stories carried by the winds, rustling through the
decrepit ruins of what used to be commerce, progress, and dreams.  


US 82 west of Wichita Falls

Dundee was once the largest city in Archer County, with many businesses, churches, and schools catering to the area ranchers. A three
story hotel greeted travelers on the railroad, and the town even had study clubs and other civilized endeavors. Despite its prominent
beginning, Dundee never recovered from a tornado and the Great Depression.

What’s to see?
A row of commercial buildings, now vacant, still grace US 82 and Main Street. The old Dundee School is falling in on itself.


OK 36 north of Grandfield until you see a sign that points towards Loveland (left). Though well maintained, notice that this dirt road can be
difficult in wet weather.

The railroad started Loveland, when it sold lots to farmers in 1908. Soon, the town centered the agricultural activity in the area. Although
the railroad still runs through what used to be the town, several fires destroyed the commercial area and nothing was rebuilt. By the
1960s, Loveland was a goner.

What’s to see?
The base of the water tower makes a scenic photo. Some over-grown ruins hover over the town, and either a bank vault or calaboose sits
forlorn on the side of the road.


TX 91 south of Chilicothe (which is on US 287 west of Vernon)

The town was named after the nearby Medicine Mounds, which are ancient Comanche holy places. The town was larger than it once was
until, reportedly, a spurned woman burned down the commercial district in the 1930s. Buildings were replaced using Oklahoma stone (you’ll
see similar architecture in Grandfield, OK). Today, the town has a population of zero. A preservation group helps to keep Medicine Mound
alive, and the general store (a museum) is open on Saturdays. Visit  
Medicine Mound's Website to learn more.

What's to see?
You can visit the general store and the gas station. In the brush, you'll also spot the remains of the school that sat alongside the railroad
tracks. Medicine Mound's depot sits along US 287 in Quanah.


OK 7 northwest of Ardmore

After the Civil War, several prominent civil rights leaders advocated for African Americans to move to Indian Territory, where they could
live and blossom relatively unmolested by white racism. Ida B. Wells and Booker T. Washington both extolled this "promised land." Many
families followed the advice and founded towns throughout Indian Territory, near antebellum towns that had already been established by
free blacks. One of these towns is
Tatums. The town centered around its church, hotel, and school, which was built with matching grant
funds from the Rosenwald Foundation. Lack of jobs pushed many of Tatums' citizens into the cities, so now the busiest day of the week is
Sunday, when church is in session.

What's to see?
One of the oldest black churches in Oklahoma, the wooden ruins of the hotel, and the old Rosenwald school (demolished). The school may
have now been completely removed as of this writing.


OK 199 east from Ardmore, then US 177 north, then OK 110 south

Dougherty's all about business, having been named in honor of a prominent regional banker after years of being known as either
Henderson or Strawberry Flat. The town's nestled alongside the Washita River in the Arbuckle mountains, and Amtrak's
Heartland Flyer sill
utilizes the Santa Fe tracks (but doesn't stop: the depot is long gone in Dougherty). Dougherty is still an incorporated town with a post
office but meets my definition of a ghost town, since the school is closed and children attend school outside the village.

What's to see?
The old school building still has playground equipment out front. A disused mill is accessible along a dirt road from the south of town.


US 82 west of St Jo, north on FM 1815

The railroad helped to build Bonita when the Gainesville, Henrietta and Western Railway (later, the MKT) came through in 1887. Never a
very big town, Bonita nonetheless served area farmers as a shipping point for cotton and cattle until US 82 bypassed it. Today, the town's
center is looked after by the pastor of the Baptist Church.

What's to see?
The 1906 brick bank building has collapsed, but the safe is still there. Remains of sidewalks and foundations are visible, as is the
right-of-way and various historic relics, like the bus above.


US 82 east of Gainesville, north on FM 678 past Callisburg to the end at CR 103

Dexter, founded in 1870, once held several businesses and considered itself a rival to nearby Gainesville. Citizens' hopes of progress
were dashed, however, when the railroad bypassed Dexter in favor of a more southerly route with more even terrain. Dexter-ites began to
move away, some even taking their buildings with them. By 1900, Dexter was barely limping, and it barely registers on maps today.

What's to see?
The cemetery has hand-carved stones. Along CR 103 (Dexter's Main Street), you can find the Masonic Lodge and remains of the bank,
including the vault (above). Remember to take photos only! People still live in Dexter, so please be respectful.
Dundee, Archer County, Texas
Loveland, Tillman County, Oklahoma
Medicine Mound, Hardeman County, Texas
Tatums, Carter County, Oklahoma
Dougherty, Murray County, Oklahoma
Bonita, Montague County, Texas
Dexter, Cooke County, Texas
I'll be adding more ghost towns soon. While you're waiting on me, how about contributing? I'd love to share stories,
memories, photos, and more with readers. If you know of a ghost town, let me know by sending  a message to
robin@redriverhistorian.com


TX 34 in between Ennis and Kaufman

Rosser began life as Trinidad. Situated at a bend along the East Fork of the Trininty River, the little town grew around steam boating before
the Civil War. After the war, when the Texas & Midland Railroad came through (first, the tracks were built by the Texas & Pacific), the post
master reapplied for a post office, and the town was renamed Rosser (Rosser was a businessman in town who applied for the post office).
The town grew ever larger for several decades until World War II, when many residents moved to larger cities to find work.

What's to see?
The depot dates from the turn of the previous century and will one day become a wine-tasting venue, at least according to a sign on the
side of the building. A small part of the commercial district is also visible, as is the old brick school, which has partially collapsed. Rosser
kids take the bus to Scurry, now.
Rosser, Kaufman County, Texas


South of US 62 Between Altus and Snyder

Though farmers settled the area around Headrick in the 1880s, the town itself wasn't formed until the Oklahoma City & Western Railroad
came through in 1901. Sitting along US 62, Headrick served as a farming community for several years, but the town kept dwindling until the
school district was consolidated and kids were sent to Navajo.

What's to see?
Two wonderful truss bridges span the Red River along old Route 62, which is now closed to traffic but is accessible to pedestrians.
Headrick doesn't have much going for it, except for a tavern, a silo,  and some old buildings, many of which have collapsed. The photo
above is the former hotel. Ruins from prairie fires dot the town. The Wichita Mountains lie just to the north.
Headrick, Jackson County, Oklahoma
Thalia, Foard County, Texas
Garland City, Miller County, Arkansas


US 82 east of Texarkana

Established as a steamboat landing on the Red River in 1833, Garland City made its money in the cotton business, slave trade, and
moonshine. After the Civil War, farmers continued to prosper when the St. Louis & Southwestern Railroad (better known as the Cotton Belt)
came through. Garland City continues to be a liquor hub but not much else, as US 82 bypassed it in the 1980s.

What’s to see?
Liquor stores on the old 82 alignment, two Cotton Belt bridges, two restaurants, a disused downtown, and a boarded up school.


US 67 (Bankhead Highway) northeast of Texarkana

Founded in 1819,
Fulton served as a border city between the United States and Mexico after the Louisiana Purchase, and it maintained its
frontier-like quality throughout its life, with numerous saloons, restaurants, inns, and stores catering to those who were Texas-bound,
including Stephen F. Austin and Davy Crockett. Situated at the Great Bend of the Red River, Fulton became a steamboat landing and deep
water ferry crossing at the Red and Little Rivers. The railroad no longer stops at Fulton and Interstate 30 bypassed it, making the
once-thriving port a city a sleepy but fascinating little village.

What's to see?
The only
commercial building left standing sits across from the post office, but the levees, the town water well, and a crumbling sidewalk
hint at what used to be. The railroad truss structure, rebuilt after the 1927 flood, is a sight to behold.
Fulton, Hempstead County, Arkansas
Ringgold, Montague County, Texas


Spur 19 off US 82 and US 81 west of Nocona

Ringgold sits only a few miles from Oklahoma, and it once was a fairly thriving town, as it was situated at the intersections of two highways
and two railroads (US 82 & US 81 and Rock Island & Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railways). However, after the railroad ceased operations and
pulled its tracks, Ringgold's population steadily declined. Its fate was not helped when a devastating wildfire ripped through the town in
2006. Ringgold and its neighboring ghost town, Stoneburg, share a school district.

What's to see?
Ringgold's downtown has three disused buildings, and there are still a number of houses and a school. Still, Ringgold ain't what it used to
be.


OK 59 northeast of Pauls Valley

Founded by the railroad in 1902, Byars sits not too far from the location of Camp Arbuckle, established in 1850. The town replaced
Johnsonville, a mere mile north, in prominence after the Oklahoma Central and Santa Fe railroads bought right-of-ways through the town.
Alas, the rails stopped running, and Byars has stopped growing.

What's to see?
Downtown Byars boasts a few abandoned buildings, a plumber, and a convenience store. Go north on the Johnsonville Road to spy
remains of the Oklahoma Central Railway, and cross the Canadian River along the Santa Fe truss, which was converted to an automobile
bridge.
Byars, McClain County, Oklahoma
Odell, Wilbarger County, Texas
Gotebo, Kiowa County, Oklahoma
FM 91 west of US 283 and northwest of Vernon

The Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway helped to found this town at the turn of the 20th century, which turned into a sizeable
settlement within just a few years' time. Alas, the cessation of the railroad, coupled with a fire in the business district sealed the fate of
this prairie town, which once boasted over 30 businesses, including a movie theater.

What's to see?
The abandoned school building is now a community center, and lots of farmers wave to you when you come to visit. The
calaboose,
located in a field, is a nice surprise. If you have a good eye, you can follow the old right-of-way all the way into Chillicothe.


OK 54 and OK 9 southeast of Clinton and northwest of Lawton

When I visited
Gotebo, I was stunned. This pretty little town on the prairie seems to be Oklahoma's newest ghost town, as businesses still
line the state highways but the downtown section is completely devastated. The string of commercial buildings, the old lodge building, a
drug-store foundation, and the abandoned school building hark to better times, when the Rock Island claimed the town at the turn of the
century. Gotebo still has a city hall, too!

What's to see?
Downtown is a wreck, the school's a goner, but the folks at the gas station are very nice. Gotebo hosts a big community sale every Labor
Day.
OK 9 west of Mangum

Vinson, once a part of Greer County, Texas before the Supreme Court decided that the boundary of Oklahoma extended to southern arm of
the Red River, was founded at the turn of the 20th century as a farming community in Oklahoma Territory. Upon statehood, Vinson had a
school, several churches, a hotel, an ice plant, a gin, and later, even a car dealership. Things were looking up until the Great Depression,
coupled with storms and people moving to larger cities, made Vinson shrink.

What's to see?
Downtown Vinson has a string of stores, several ruins, the cotton gin, and a caved-in "Beer to Go" gas station. The Masonic Lodge was
built by the WPA in 1939. Near the lodge is a remnant of either Vinson's school or ice plant.
Vinson, Harmon County, Oklahoma
TX 114 between Jacksboro (east) and Olney (west)

Although all of its downtown buildings date to the 1920s, Jean is a little older than that, having been founded by the town-building arm of
the Gulf, Western & Texas Railroad at the turn of the century. An oil boom kept the town afloat with a bank, stores, and a school, but when
the train stopped coming, so did newcomers to Jean.

What's to see?
A strip of downtown buildings and the old school, which has been turned into a community center.
Jean, Young County, Texas
Rodessa, Caddo Parish, Louisiana
LA 1 south of the Arkansas border and north of Vivian.

Rodessa was first called Frog Level, but the name changed to Rodessa after the Kansas City Southern Railroad came through in the 1890s.
Then, oil was discovered, and Rodessa became one of the largest towns in northwestern Louisiana - at one point, it had 15,000 people. A
horrible tornado that left dozens dead, and a declining oil yield, put the hurt on the town, and it has never recovered.

What's to see?
Downtown has several buildings still to look at, and across the tracks sits the Masonic Lodge. A fantastic mural on the wall of a ruin depicts
this boom-town's history. The mammoth high school, now abandoned, sits on LA 168 just east of downtown.


OK 36 southwest of Lawton.

Yet another railroad town, Faxon benefited from its proximity to the Wichita Mountains and the picturesque Cache Creek. Catering to
tourists and to the local farming community, Faxon's population gradually declined when the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway stopped
coming through.

What's to see?
You can visit a truss bridge along the old highway alignment. Along the newer road sits a very strange but fascinating hotel/gas station/
restaurant, with wagon wheels used for windows. The abandoned school, with a forlorn teeter totter, sits on 8th Street.
Faxon, Comanche County, Oklahoma
FM 198 northeast of Cooper.

Enloe is a rather recent ghost town. Founded in the 1880s, its growth was thanks to the Texas and Midland Railroad and the fact that it was
the biggest town in the area. However, larger cities like Greenville, Paris and Dallas lured Enloe-ians away. The school is closed, and even
the Enloe State Bank has shuttered its doors.

What's to see?
Rows of downtown buildings that face each other, and a very nice museum that is occasionally open.
Enloe, Delta County, Texas
LA 1 north of Natchitoches.

There's not much left of Powhattan, but at one point this little settlement, founded on the Texas & Pacific line and along the Jefferson
Highway, was a major draw for many residents and farmers.

What's to see:
Only a few commercial buildings, many falling in, exist on the original alignment of LA 1. Up the road sits Powhattan's restored railroad
station, nicely preserved by dedicated rail fans.
Powhattan, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
FM 1619 off US 287 north of Estelline.

Not much is left of Newlin at all, although at one point, it had a number of inhabitants thanks to the Fort Worth & Denver City Railway. The
Great Depression and the Dust Bowl swept the town away.

What's to see:
Just the old drug store, but it's very nice. A local farmer has fenced it in, however - hopefully to preserve it and not to simply make a land
grab.
Newlin, Hall County, Texas
One mile south of US 82 and a few miles west of Gainesville along FM 1198.

Myra, a railroad town, died not when the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway tore up its tracks, but when the highway was re-aligned one
mile to the north. Its hospital, electric company, lodge, general store, and even school closed.

What's to see:
Only one commerical building is left in downtown Myra - a nice playground now occupies the site of the other buildings. Myra even
demolished its old high school.
Myra, Cooke County, Texas
FM 51 northwest of Glen Rose.

Named after the nearby stream, Paluxy is an old town, having been found before the Civil War. Due to Indian raids, its population
fluctuated, but it retained a post office all the way until the 1990s.

What's to see:
The Paluxy River is full of white rock, which was used for building material throughout the area - it's what some people call "Austin Stone."
A few buildings, one of which may have been a store and the other a calaboose, sit off of the road amongst a few houses.
Paluxy, Hood County, Texas
OK 76 southwest of Ardmore.

Originally a part of the old Cloud Ranch, a Chickasaw antebellum cattle breeding operation, Leon grew as a way-station for early cattle
drives and a ferry crossing on the Red River. The Great Depression wasn't kind to Leon, and neither was modern encroachments like drugs
and the like - now Leon's pretty much a ghost town.

What's to see:
The downtown is pretty dilapidated, as is the school (which gave me a creepy vibe). The large cemetery is very interesting, however.
Leon, Love County, Oklahoma
US 75 northwest of Atoka.

After the Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad got permission from Congress to slice through the Choctaw Nation, speculators who worked for
the railroad found it very convenient to start mining coal, even though the coal belonged to the Choctaw Nation. This is how Lehigh was
established. Several thousand people came to Lehigh to find work, but when they began to unionize, the railroads simply shut the mines
down. Now the town, although it sits along the "King of Highways" trail (US 75), is a shadow of its former self.

What's to see:
You can see many abandoned gas stations and a general store along US 75, and you can visit the bank, the lone remain of Lehigh's
downtown.  
Lehigh, Coal County, Oklahoma
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
Peacock, Stonewall County, Texas
US 380 west of Aspermont

Peacock's colorful name comes from the post master's last name. Though the town never boasted more than 400 people, its relative
isolation on the prairie made it a market center. The railway line went out of business in the 1960, taking the town's school with it.

What's to see:
The strip of commercial buildings in the old downtown and a tabernacle that acts as a community center make for good photo
opportunities.
Elmer, Jackson County, Oklahoma
US 283 south of Altus

The Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient Railway went through Elmer, and though it never did reach Mexico, it moved plenty of cotton for the
farmers living around Elmer. The town's bank and hotel showed off its prominence, but the loss of the railway and school signaled the
town's demise.

What to see:
The bank is now the town's post office, and is in very good condition. During my visit, a little black dog kept following me and barking. If
you see her, tell her I won't say "hi."
Victory, Jackson County, Oklahoma
US 62 west of Altus

Though home to an air force base, Jackson County is also home to several ghost towns, like little Victory. The town was founded in 1892
while Jackson County was still Greer County,Texas, until a Supreme Court decision established the Texas/Oklahoma Territory border at
the Salt Fork of the Red River, and Victory became a town in the newly formed Jackson County. The town "took off" not because of its
commerce but because of its school, which opened in 1912 to become one of the premier public schools in Oklahoma. In 1940, a WPA
building provided state-of-the-art accommodations. Declining enrollments caused the school to close in 1956. After serving as a children's
home, the building was razed.

What's to see:
The school's gone, but its stone wall, corner stone, and some historical markers remain. By the railroad tracks sit a few commercial
buildings, including the remains of a gas station.
Cloutierville, Natchitoches Parish, Lousiana
LA 1 south of Natchitoches along the Cane River

Cloutierville is an old town, having been founded in the 1820s around the Cloutier plantation, which was once home to the famed author,
Kate Chopin, in the 1880s. Cloutierville has no town center. Instead, it hugs one side of the Cane River banks. Though a small elementary
school still serves students, Cloutierville's core can be considered a ghost town, albeit one with laid-back people. To wit: I once saw feral
hogs rooting around someone's front yard in the middle of the day.  

What's to see:
Cloutierville's cemetery is old and fascinating, with lots of French creole markers. The old Livingston grocery store is directly on the Cane
River. Catty corner from the grocery store is the old bank, now a private residence. Sadly, the Chopin plantation home became a victim of
arson in 2015.
Glenrio, Deaf Smith County, Texas
On Old US 66 at the Texas/New Mexico border, west of Amarillo

Although it sits on fabled US 66, Glenrio was built by the railroad in 1906 when the Rock Island placed a depot there. Route 66 grew the
town, however, until the interstate closed the old roadway and bypassed this little spot. Glenrio has lots of relics but hardly any residents
left.

What's to see:
An old motel and several closed
gas stations. Route 66 continues into New Mexico at Glenrio, albeit as a rocky county road.
Valdasta, Collin County, Texas


US 70 southwest of Vernon

For anyone who’s read Larry McMurty’s The Last Picture Show, he/she will recognize Thalia as the protagonist’s home town. I didn’t see any
theaters in Thalia, but I did encounter fascinating remains. Thalia, a farming and oil community, declined throughout the years as the
economy worsened. The school closed in the 1940s.

What’s to see?
Evidence of the past lingers all over Thalia. An abandoned Methodist Church, decaying Main Street, and the overgrown ruins of the high
school give this little town a surreal feel.
On the Melissa to Blue Ridge Road, aka FM 545, in northeastern Collin County off TX 121.

Valdasta has also been spelled Valdosta, and became an established settlement in 1886 when it got its post office. Apparently, the town
was started further back by Kentuckians who came to Texas. The town once had several churches, grocery stores, filling stations, a gin,
and a blacksmith shop, but it is now a small, unassuming hamlet at the outskirts of the ever-burgeoning DFW Metroplex.

What's to see:
The remains of a brick school house, which a 1938 newspaper article claimed to be "a high and commanding prominence. It has one of the
best and most spacious concrete underground storm-houses that we know of in the county." When I visited, a number of nosey cows
moseyed over to me and made me feel welcome, so Valdosta is a welcoming community.
Swenson, Stonewall County, Texas
On US 380 west of Aspermont and east of Jayton.

The town sounds Swedish, and it is. Swenson owes its name to a prominent local rancher from Sweden who invested in the railroad that
linked nearby Stamford in 1910. Ranching income declined, as did the population, and not much is left of the town.

What's to see:
The abandoned but sturdy bank is surrounding by cacti, which makes it also a very secure bank.