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Reagan  County TX
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BEST, TEXAS

Texas Ghost Town
Reagan County, West Texas

31° 13' 29" N, 101° 37' 16" W (31.224722, -101.621111)
Highway 67
Between Big Lake (the county seat) and Rankin
S of Big Spring,
W of San Angelo
Population: 1 est. (according to the 2010 Official Map)

Best Texas Area Hotels › Big Lake Hotels
Best Texas - Former Jail
Former Jail in Best
Photo courtesy Dustin Martin, January 2018

History in a Pecan Shell

Named for an Englishman who was a shareholder in the railroad, Best was nothing but a switching point on the Orient Railroad. When oil was discovered in 1923, Best mushroomed as the regional supply center. The population grew to an estimated 3,500 in just two years. Best gained an instant reputation for being a wild town. Perhaps added by the irony of its name and a novel (The Big Fist) written in 1946 - set its bad reputation in stone.

The town's unofficial slogan was "the town with the Best name in the world and the Worst reputation." After the boom fizzled, only 300 people were left in the 1940s. A service station / post office was still in operation in the 80s and by the 1990 Census - only 25 people were left. It is now listed as 0001.

Best Today
Best Oifield
Best  Jail

Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, January 2010

See The Best Jail

Best Today

Photographer's Note:
Getting There
- As best I could figure out, Best was located at Hwy 67 and Best Lane, between the highway and the train tracks located about a block south. Best Lane turns north off of 67, and is called Lone Wolf Lane south of the highway. Santa Rita Road runs parallel with and between the highway and tracks, and goes to the Santa Rita No. 1 well in Texon.

The only structures that remain standing are a small blockhouse and Springston Ranch (see photos below). There were no signs of life at the ranch house other than an old pickup and a roof-mounted satellite dish. I did get there before sunrise, but there were no lights burning. After crossing the tracks, Lone Wolf turns back to the east; I did see what appeared to be the remains of some type of corrogated tin building across the road from the blockhouse, but it was totally collapsed. Traffic on the back roads was light, namely a couple of oil field types checking wells, I reckon. There was an active rig west of Best. Not much more than that. - George Shaffer, March 17, 2006

Best Oifield
Springston Ranch in Best, Texas
Springston Ranch on Santa Rita Road in Best
Photo courtesy George Shaffer, 2006
Best, Texas - Ruins Foundation
Foundation ruins
Photo courtesy Dustin Martin, January 2018
Best, Texas - Ruins Foundation
Photo courtesy Dustin Martin, January 2018
Best TX 1925 - McDermott Co.
"A picture of our office reportedly taken in Best, Texas in 1925. The company got its start building wooden oil derricks and Best was a small oil boom town back then. We’re now known as McDermott International, Inc. "
- Bill Soester, November 19, 2012
Texon oil field near Best, Texas
Texon oil field
Click on image to enlarge

Photo courtesy Brian R. Jack
Texon oil field and men, Texas old photo
Click on image to enlarge
Photo courtesy Brian R. Jack
Elmer Ellsworth Hartzell in Texon oil field
"The men on the right is my Grandfather, Elmer Ellsworth Hartzell"
- Brian R. Jack, February 25, 2007
Best, Texas jail
The Best Jail
Photo courtesy Anna Marie Adams, April 2011
Best, Texas jail
The Best Jail
Photo courtesy George Shaffer, 2006

Best, Reagan County, TX  post office into
Best, Reagan County, TX  1930 postmark
Cover canceled with Best,TX 1930 postmark
Courtesy The John J. Germann Collection

Best, Texas Forum

  • Subject: Wanting pictures of Best, Texas
    My husband, Charles Otha Dixon was born September 27, 1934 in Best Texas. His parents were Clarence Oliver Dixon & Ivy Sims Dixon. Wish I had pictures of that year. Anyone can contact me at this email: dixonc2@sbcglobal.net - Thanks, Marianne Dixon, Borger, Texas, May 30, 2012

  • Subject: Best, Texas
    My grandfather, Richard Baker Jr., was the District Attorney in Best about 1925. I still have his business card. He was getting ready to bust some "dishonest" oil guys about 1927, and they laid an ambush for him coming back from San Angelo. He managed to evade them but they caught him in the street the next day and broke his jaw.  My grandma, who was from Indiana and met him when he was chasing Pancho Villa, said she was done. They went to have his jaw fixed at Walter Reed in DC and they left Texas forever. Dad's great grandfather was a leading citizen in Crockett, Texas. It was a tough way to leave Texas. - Tom Baker, Kilmarnock, Virginia, January 28, 2009

  • Subject: Best, Texas
    I, Brian Ross Jack, was born in Best, Reagan County, Texas on 29 July 1928, to Marion Hugh & Helen Wanita Hartzell Jack. My grandfather also lived there: Marion Hale & Lucretia Montgomery Jack. They lived about 100 yards in front of our house. My father and grandfather both worked in the oilfields. My father also did welding and mechanics in his garage next to our house. It is my belief that most of the residents moved to Kermit, Texas. My mother, sister and I left Texas and moved to live with my grandfather, Elmer Elsworth & Lulu May Kahler Hartzell in Orting, Pierce County, Washington in 1935. God Bless. - Sincerely, Brian R. Jack, Fort Worth TX, May 06, 2006

  • Subject: Best, Texas
    My mother, Mary (Vandervort) Hensley, lived in Best as a girl. Her father worked in the oil fields. Her youngest sister, Rhea, was born in Best. My mother passed away on April 30 at the age of 91. I visited Best with my mom a few years ago, and the photos you have online are exactly what I saw then. I thought Mom told me that the stone structure was the jail. She pointed out the hill where the town's water tank once sat. My Mom's parents were Bonnie and Emmett Vandervort. My grandfather died of a heart attack while at work in the oil fields in the 40's and my grandmother eventually moved to Los Angeles. I've heard a few stories about the wild town that Best was. There was a newspaper article about the Wild West town of Best, but I have lost track of it. I've heard that my grandmother made bootleg alcohol and also ran a small grocery store for a time. Some of my mom's relatives still live in San Angelo and her oldest sister Vanatta was married in the old Cactus Hotel. Just sharing a few little tidbits that I recall. Thank you. - Charlene Hensley, May 11, 2006
  • Reagan County TX 1940s map
    Reagan County 1940s map showing Best,
    ghost towns Texon, Stiles, and Big Lake the county seat
    From Texas state map #4335
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office
    Best, Texas Area Towns:
    Big Lake the county seat
    Rankin | Sterling City | Midland | Big Spring | Ozona |
    San Angelo | Fort Stockton

    See Reagan County | West Texas

    Book Area Hotel:
    Big Lake Hotels
    Midland Hotels | Fort Stockton Hotels | San Angelo Hotels
    More Hotels
    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


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