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.
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.
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.
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, nice preserved by dedicated railfans.
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