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Texas Ghost Towns

GHOST TOWNS 101

or
How to Survive a Ghost Town Visit


by Rusty Hinge

Thurber cemetery
Thurber cemetery
TE photo

While we're all sitting around waiting for the 2000 Census figures, we thought it might be a good time to visit a few places where the inhabitants are few and easy to count (although sometimes hard to see). Before we visit our latest towns, let us warn you that Texas ghost towns may not fit the image in your mind's eye.

Tumbleweeds are in short supply, so if you're a purist, you might want to bring your own. Stop by your local nursery and get a few of their drought victims. They're cheap and you can lash them to the top of your vehicle. You may also want to bring a can of WD 40 to quiet those signs that always swing from half broken chains. Real ghost towns underwent a slow, usually agonizing decline, so don't expect to find still-warm coffee cups and half-eaten meals.


ghost courthouse in Stiles Texas
Ghost courthouse in Stiles
TE photo

Special note: If a kindly couple offers you lodging for the night (and you accept), leave a silver dollar on the coffee table so you can find it in the burned out building the next day when you return with the skeptical people from the diner where you had breakfast and mentioned you had spent the night with the kindly old couple in the house on the hill that had died in a fire 40 years before.

In other words: Follow the script.

Make sure you have had a recent tetanus shot and bring some pliers to pull those pesky nails from the soles of your feet. We'd recommend bringing some food, so you won't be competing with local coyotes. We also recommend some extra water, and an unopened bottle of hot sauce. A can of Spook-be-Gone would be comforting insurance. What you don't use on this trip can be employed against trick-or-treaters for Halloween. The hot sauce does double-duty as both an antiseptic and a condiment.

Not all ghost towns are uninhabited. If you come across people who live in the area, try to get them to approach your car and see if you can see their reflection in any of your car's mirrors. If you can't, then tell them you left a roast in your oven and get the hell out of there. If you can see their reflection, do not, under any circumstances, tell them Texas Escapes sent you.

Buy some of those self adhesive convention nametags that say "Hello, my name is _____." Fill in your name and add the following: "My blood type is_____." Then fill in your appropriate blood type. If the ghost town you're visiting was founded by Transylvanian-Texans, then don't add your blood type. Let's not ask for trouble.


Morris Ranch stable
Morris Ranch
TE photo

Following these simple guidelines should bring you back to your loved ones with some nice memories and a few good stories. Be sure to come back with everyone you left with and if you don't come back, be sure to offer future visitors "lodging for the night." It's in the script.


John Troesser

See - Texas Ghost Towns List »


Attention: Before taking a ghost town trip, please read Readers' Comments & Warning below. - Editor


Readers' Comments (and warnings) :

  • On 6/1/02, on the way to Langtry, we stopped to visit Pumpville having just read about it on your website. I would like to pass along a word of warning to others who might be interested in "poking" around old railroad ghost towns ... be extremely careful!

    Be aware of the possibility of encountering illegal immigrants. These sometimes desperate fellows ride the rails that pass through these towns, unaware that the nearest highway may be miles away. [After encountering a group of men] and with stories of the recent "Railroad Killer" still fresh in our minds, we cut our adventure in Pumpville short. .... - Ralph Kepp, Horizon City, Texas, June 2, 2002


  • I went to Doole on Saturday, July 28. ..... I visited the bleachers and was welcomed with shots from a rifle. No, I don't think they were shooting at me, but they sure didn't stop! Everytime I walked away from my car, the shots were more frequent and when I stepped back inside, I could hear the rifle being reloaded. Wild! Needless to say, I left there rather quickly! - Lisa, July 29, 2001

    See - Texas Ghost Towns List »

  • Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact us.


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