a Pecan Shell
The region had
been known as "Goldenrod Prairie" prior to development. Provident
City started as a land development scheme in 1909 when the Provident
Land Company of Kansas City recruited families from the Midwest to
move here and buy five-to-ten-acre tracts (sight unseen) for farming,
despite that the soil was quite poor. Provident City was off to a
good start - which may have surprised the developers. In October of
1910, 500 people assembled to witness a ground-breaking for the promised
A large hotel was built to woo buyers and welcome the newcomers. A
post office opened in 1910, and the town had all essential businesses
including a mortuary, a cannery (for future crops), and even a jeweler.
But when reality reared its head - and the promised railroad failed
to appear, many of the families moved to less isolated parts of Texas
- or returned home. By 1914 there were only 150 people left.
In 1915 there were enough people left to report a saloon-keeper for
staying open during a school board election - an event that made the
The town was almost destroyed by a prairie
fire in 1917. The fire, which had been burning for two days was
put out by the Herculean efforts of school principal C.K. Kuykendall
and every student who was able to beat at the fire with a wet burlap
sack. The hotel, church and school were all saved as well as other
World War I brought economic
opportunities for the men of Provident City and many more farms were
simply abandoned. The Great Depression simply worsened the situation
and after WWII
there were only thirty people residing here - served by a single business.
The post office closed in 1953.
Most of the land is now owned by the Hancock Oil Company who runs
cattle on the property. The old hotel is still standing - the last
relic of the failed venture.
"It is the last vestige of an ambitiously conceived and momentarily
thriving land promotion. Because it is in the Colorado County panhandle,
far removed from anywhere, my friend and I made it our last stop
in the county. The locale is not terribly scenic and the only access
to it is by miles and miles of a gravel road that is straight as
an arrow because it is the remnants of a graded bed for a railroad
which never came. While we were there gawking at the fabulous hotel,
as out of place as any building could probably be, one of the owners
happened to drive up. He was kind enough to give us a little history
of the place, and he even offered to take us inside. The building
and its grounds are in superb condition, thanks to the attention
lavished upon it by the Hancock Oil Company;. Some of the funds
needed to maintain it come from rentals for special occasions. It
is a remarkable testimony to unbounded aspiration and devoted preservation."
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