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 Texas : Towns A-Z / Panhandle / Central Texas North : Megargel

MEGARGEL, TEXAS

Archer County, Panhandle / North Central Texas
Far SW corner of the county
Junction of Hwy 114 & FM 210
20 miles SW of Archer City
63 miles SW of Wichita Falls

Population: 248 (2000)

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Megargel Tx Church
Megargel Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
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History in a Pecan Shell

Named after the railroad president, Roy Megargel, this is a case where the town might seriously consider a name change. It's not a name that is easily pronounced and therefore the town tends to be forgotten.

The town dates from 1910. There is one main street with many brick buildings, some of which have been destroyed by fire.

Megargel sprang up overnight, since large discounts were given to people who developed their lots within 60 days. The town had 23 stores, a bank, hotel and post office within 90 days of its founding.

Oil was discovered in the 1920s, but the boom wasn't nearly as big as other towns. The high school is said to have the first high school band in the State, for what that is worth. It began its decline in 1930 and the bank folded in 1941.

According to The Handbook of Texas, the Class of 1960 consisted of five students, the same as 1918.

According to Sammy Tise's Texas County Sheriffs - The Archer County Sheriff was killed in a shootout close to Megargel in August of 1925. His name was E. Harrison Ikard and his wife Maude was appointed to take his place after his death.

The town is not without charm, and it is a shame that the main street storefronts are mostly closed.


A Drive Around Megargel - "A very photogenic town." - Barclay Gibson
Megargel Texas Historical Marker
Megargel High School Gym - Another Megargel Landmark -
by Jamo C. Powell
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A Drive Around Megargel

Megargel Tx Closed High School
The closed 1927 Megargel High School
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Tx Closed High School entrance
Megargel High School entrance
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Tx Closed School
The closed Megargel school
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
More Texas Schoolhouses | Texas Town
Megargel Tx brick building
Megargel brick building
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Tx brick building
More brick building
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Tx Closed brick gas station
Closed Megargel gas station
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Tx Closed gas station
More closed gas station
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
More Texas Gas Stations | Texas Town
Megargel Tx 1927 Bluebird Band Marker
1927 Megargel Bluebird Band Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Tx historical marker
Megargel Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Tx Closed Garage
A closed garage
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Tx Mill
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Tx Church CornerStone
Megargel Church cornerstone
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
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ANOTHER MEGARGEL LANDMARK

Megargel High School Gym
by Jamo C. Powell, Colonel (Ret.) US Army,
Sarasota, Florida



Someone recently sent me an article written by Gwen Cook and published in the Houston Chronicle October 18, 1997. Gwen, a former Megargelite, wrote a wonderful article about the old Megargel watertower. Like Gwen, I wish I could have been there to see it on that last day when it was finally brought down. I only lived in Megargel during my high school years, but that watertower with MEGARGEL written in black, block letters across its silver colored tank is a lasting memory of mine.

The relatively flat topography of the area enabled one to see the watertower from miles away and from just about any direction. I particularly remember being able to see it while riding the schoolbus. We could see and "home in" on the watertower for almost the entire four mile bus ride. No question about it, the watertower was Megargel's most prominent landmark (the highest, certainly) and one I assumed would always be there. Now, some 45 years later, I marvel that it remained a faithful beacon as long as it did.

When I first read Gwen Cook's article around Christmas time, it made me think of another venerable Megargel landmark; one that had a very sizable impact on me and virtually every other Megargel Mustang for almost half a century. I toyed with the idea of writing about it, but kept putting it off. Then, a week or so ago, I happened to see a rerun of the movie "Hoosiers". This is a movie about Basketball, folks -- and I mean basketball with a capital B. Indiana takes its high school basketball very seriously and the movie did a great job of presenting the hard work, pain and, if you win, elation inherent to the game at that level.

As an aside, the fellow who played the high school principal in the movie was Sheb Wooley. Sheb is best known for his hit song "The Purple People Eater" and marrying a Megargel girl (whose name I can't recall, unfortunately).

So, Gwen's fine article about the old watertower, reinforced by a strong dose of "Hoosiers", has inspired me to write a few words about another important Megargel landmark -- the Megargel High School Gym.

When I first came to Megargel in 1950, the gym was only a couple of years old. I have to admit, from the outside, it looked an awful lot like a big tin barn (and still does). But inside that barnlike exterior was the best looking and best playing basketball court for at least 50 miles in any direction. Pete Peterson, our wonderful coach, kept the floor polished to perfection and woe be to anyone careless enough to walk on it in street shoes. We were proud of our gym and when other teams came to play in it for the first time, they were obviously impressed. Most of them had to play in little crackerbox gyms where the out-of-bounds lines were so close to the walls you could barely find room to stand when you threw the ball in-bounds. Yes, we were truly blessed.

About 1950 Megargel stopped playing football. With our small student body, it was just too difficult to field a competitive 11 man football team. In recent years the Mustangs have returned to the gridiron via the 6 man football route. I don't remember that being an option in the early '50s. At any rate, in the absence of football, basketball became our primary sports interest (for both boys and girls) and we spent a great deal of our spare time in the gym "shooting baskets."

Even during the summer and on weekends you would usually find a few cars or pickups parked outside the gym and a "pick-up" game going on inside. All of this extracurricular practice, plus the fact that, without football, we could start practicing basketball seriously as soon as school started resulted in some pretty successful seasons in the early '50s. Indeed, just like the kids in the "Hoosiers" movie, we experienced a taste of elation a few times ourselves.. Most notable of which was regularly beating Woodson (a particular nemesis of ours) and winning District one year.

Let me hasten to add here that I was not one of our better players. But even as a "sub", I took away some very rewarding and lasting memories of Megargel High School basketball, my coach and teammates, and our gym when I graduated in 1953.

We always had outstanding support from our families and other Megargel residents; the gym was filled to capacity at every home game. Without question the gym was the center of community activity and spirit during basketball season. When you consider that literally thousands of students and local residents have made use of this building since its erection, you begin to realize just how important it has been to Megargel. I have no idea what the future holds for this grand old gym, but I hope it will continue to be around for a long time to serve the needs of the school and community.

Every five years, I return to Megargel for our High School Reunion. It is really a great day for all of us -- former students, parents and our own children and grandchildren. We include five graduating classes in our particular reunion. For example, the classes of 1950 thru 1955. Since our classes were so small (average size about 16 or 17), everybody knows everybody else at the reunion. I imagine we all dread the day a little bit, wondering how well others will think we've held up over the past five years. But, once there, that's all forgotten. It's almost like going back in time as we see classmates and rekindle old friendships once again.

One thing I always do sometime during that day is wander off toward that old tin barn of a gym. I go inside and just stand there for awhile thinking about other days. I notice that a lot of other reunion attendees do also. It still looks pretty much the same inside. It's got glass backboards now and the paint scheme is a little different, but the floor is still polished brightly and looks as good as it did nearly 50 years ago. And I still take off my shoes before I shoot a basket or two because even after so many years, I certainly wouldn't want Coach Peterson (now deceased) to catch me with my shoes on.

June, 2002
Jamo C. Powell

Originally published in the Olney Enterprise on April 9, 1998.


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Megargel Tx city limit population sign
Entering Megargel
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
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I'll always remember Megargel for the friendly wave I got driving down the former main street. That doesn't happen as often as one would think. And now I know that a resident is a Megargelite. - Editor, 6/24/02

My high school years in Megargel were a watershed experience for me. I didn't move there unitl my sophomore year and had been a "city kid" prior to that time. I had to adjust to living and working on my father's ranch, going to a small school, and not having many outlets for recreation (except basketball). What I remember most fondly is the friendliness and congeniality of the people -- all 300 of them at the time. They were independent, no-nonsense hard workers who would give you the shirt off their backs if they thought you needed it. They still are.

Whenever I go back to Megargel (and next door neighbor Olney) it's a little like stepping back in time to the '50s. Everything looks pretty much the same. The people still dress the same, still talk the same, and still have the weather as the major topic of conversation (as well they should because the weather is probably the biggest factor in their success or failure as wheat farmers and ranchers). Nostalgia smacks me right in the face whenever I return.

Megargelite? Well, I think that's the accurate term. I believe that's what they still refer to themselves as.

By the way, if you look hard enough in James Mitchener's TEXAS, you'll see Megargel mentioned in a couple of sentences -- something about the population sign on the outskirts of town. I can't recall the exact verbage. - Jamo C. Powell, Colonel (Ret.) US Army, Sarasota, Florida, 6/24/02

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