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. Or maybe she did!
I heard she's pretty cool.

The Red River Valley of the Southwest is full of towns that
history has long passed by. Discovering them is not only a
great way to spend a day, but it's also a way to appreciate
this area of the world. Let me take you on a journey.

Interested in discovering them yourself? Find out where
they are what's to see in Red River Historian's book,
Traveling History among the Ghosts. Click to buy!

All photos, unless otherwise noted, were taken by Red River Historian.

Fulton, Hempstead County, Arkansas
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.

Ringgold, Montague County, Texas
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.
Gotebo, Kiowa County, Oklahoma

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!


Faxon, Comanche County, Oklahoma

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.
Thalia, Foard County, Texas

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..
Red River Ghost Towns
A beautiful sky surrounds the former school, built 1938, at Cloud Chief in Washita
County, Oklahoma. Cloud Chief was once known as Tacola and served as the
county seat. It's an Oklahoma Land Run town.
Dundee, Archer County, TX

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.
Loveland, Tillman County,
Oklahoma

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.
Medicine Mound, Hardeman
County, Texas

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.
Tatums, Carter County,
Oklahoma

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. 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 (bottom photo),
and school, which was built
with matching grant funds from
the Rosenwald Foundation (top
photo). 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.
Garland, Miller County, Arkansas

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.
Dougherty, Murray County,
Oklahoma

Dougherty' was 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 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.
Bonita, Montague County, Texas

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.
Dexter, Cooke County, Texas

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.
Rosser, Kaufman County, Texas

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
railroad came throuh, the post
master reapplied for a post
office, and the town was
renamed Rosser. The town grew
ever larger for several decades
until World War II, when many
residents moved to larger cities
to find work.
Headrick, Jackson County,
Oklahoma

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.
Fulton, Hempstead County,
Arkansas

Founded in 1819,
Fulton served
as a border city between the
United States and Mexico. Stores
catered 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. Interstate 30
bypassed it, making the
once-thriving port a city a sleepy
but fascinating little village.
Ringgold, Montague County,
Texas

Ringgold was once a thriving
town, as it was situated at the
intersections of two highways
and two railroads. However, after
the railroads ceased operations
and pulled their 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.
Byars, McClain County,
Oklahoma

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.
Gotebo, Kiowa County, Oklahoma

Gotebo 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.
Faxon, Comanche County,
Oklahoma

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.
Thalia, Foard County, Texas

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..
Odell, Wilbarger County, Texas

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.
Vinson, Harmon County,
Oklahoma

Vinson 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.
Jean, Young County, Texas

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.
Rodessa, Caddo Parish,
Louisiana

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.
Enloe, Delta County, Texas

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.
Powhattan, Natchitoches
Parish, Louisiana

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.
Newlin, Hall County, Texas
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.
Myra, Cooke County, Texas

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.
Paluxy, Hood County, Texas

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.
Leon, Love County, Oklahoma

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.
Lehigh, Coal County, Okalhoma

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.
Peacock, Stonewall County,
Texas

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.
Victory, Jackson County,
Oklahoma

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.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.  
Declining enrollments caused
the school to close in 1956.
Elmer, Jackson County,
Oklahoma

Elmer served the farmers
living in southern Jackson
County at the turn of the 20th
century. The loss of the
railway and school signaled
the town's demise. 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."
Cloutierville, Natchitoches
Parish, Louisiana

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.
Its school closed in 2019.
Glenrio, Deaf Smith County,
Texas

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.
Swenson, Stonewall County,
Texas

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.
Buffalo Springs, Clay County,
Texas

Founded prior to the Civil
War, Buffalo Springs was
going to be the location of a
military fort to ward against
Comanche raids, but a lack of
rain made the nearby buffalo
wallow go dry, so the U.S.
government chose to build
Fort Richardson in Jack
County instead. Population
grew when a train was
supposed to come through,
then declined.