TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1800 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP : : SEARCH SITE
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
 Texas : Towns A-Z / Ghost Towns / Panhandle / West Texas : Belle Plain

BELLE PLAIN, TEXAS

Texas Ghost Town
Callahan County, Panhandle / West Texas
AKA Phantom U
6 miles SE of Baird
27 miles SE of Abilene
31 miles SW of Eastland
On Private Property
On county roads off of Highway 283

Population: 0

Visiting Belle Plain, Texas? Book Your Area Hotel Here & Save:
Abilene Hotels | Eastland Hotels

Belle Plaine College ruins night view, Belle Plain Texas
The deteriorating home of the dean of Belle Plain college, the ruins of which still stand some 200 yards behind this structure. - Photo courtesy Noel Kerns, September 2007
History in a Pecan Shell

Named after the first first child born here (Katie Belle Magee) the town was established on state school land in 1876. A man named Nelson Smith platted the town carefully, even designating a commercial district. Smith and others had great hopes for Belle Plain's future - which probably doomed it from the start.

After Callahan County was organized in 1877, Belle Plain won the election for county seat - essentially dooming its rival - Callahan City.

Belle Plain was on a roll. New arrivals as well as deserting Callahan City swelled the population. The towns hopes were underlined with numerous permanent stone structures - including the Belle Plain College - the ruins of which still stand.
Belle Plain College
Belle Plain College
Photo courtesy Erik Whetstone, 2001
Belle Plain Texas, Belle Plain College Dean's house
The former Dean's residence at Belle Plain College
Photo courtesy Erik Whetstone, 2001
Belle Plain  College Dean's residence in ruins, Belle Plain Texas
Belle Plain College ruins
Photo courtesy Lexie Nichols & Jordan Gibson, January 2009
Belle Plaine College ruins, Belle Plain Texas
Belle Plain College ruins
Photo courtesy Lexie Nichols & Jordan Gibson, January 2009
Belle Plaine College view from the  road, Belle Plain Texas
Belle Plain College as viewed from the road
Photo courtesy Lexie Nichols & Jordan Gibson, January 2009
"Site of Belle Plaine College" Marker , Belle Plain Texas
"Site of Belle Plaine College" Marker
Photo courtesy Lexie Nichols & Jordan Gibson, January 2009
Belle Plain College, 1881-1888
Belle Plain College, 1881-1888
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
In 1879 the town got it's own newspaper and success was all but assured. The population reached a respectable 400 people by 1884, according to the Handbook of Texas.

Along came the Texas and Pacific railroad. It built through Baird - essentially doing the same to Belle Plain as Belle Plain did to Callahan City. Baird became the county seat in1883.
Callahan County Texas old  jail in Baird
The old Callahan County Jails originally in Belle Plain, now in Baird
Photo courtesy Charlene Beatty Beauchamp
The newspaper moved to Baird and even the stone jail was dismantled (to be remantled in Baird where it eventually became a Boy Scout meeting place.

The region then went through a hard winter in 1884-85 immediately followed by a drought. Somehow the college managed to hold on until 1892.

By 1897 only a store and a few diehards were left to keep the post office open until 1909 when it too closed.

The detailed county map of Callahan County shows a cemetery marked Belle Plain.
John Troesser
Ruins of 1877 First Callahan County Courthouse, Belle Plain Texas 1930s photo
Ruins of the First (1877) Callahan County Courthouse in Belle Plain.
1930s photo courtesy TXDoT
Belle Plain, Texas Centennial Marker
Belle Plain, Texas Centennial Marker
Photo courtesy Lexie Nichols & Jordan Gibson, January 2009
More Texas Towns | Ghost Towns |
Photographer's Note:
We did not get pictures of the Belle Plain cemetery, it was about a mile south of the location of the College. The pictures we got were the main college building and what I believe is remnants of the Dean's house. - Lexie Nichols & Jordan Gibson, February 09, 2009

See
Callahan County Seat - Baird
Callahan County Courthouses

Visiting Belle Plain, Texas? Book Your Area Hotel Here & Save:
Abilene Hotels | Eastland Hotels | More Hotels

Belle Plain Texas Forum

  • Ancestors Graves in Belle Plain
    Dear TE, I ran across [your magazine] as I was googling Belle Plain, Texas and thought I would share a story about that ghost town.

    My great grandfather was born in Belle Plain in September of 1887 at the height of BP's success. His name was Burney Lafayette (Bun) Gist.

    Burney's grandfather/mother - my ggg-grandparents are buried in the Belle Plain cemetery. Both of their headstones are still standing to this day. Their names as engraved on the stones are: D.H. Gist (David Hamilton Gist d. 1894) and Pamela Gist d. 1893. They came to Belle Plain from Kentucky between 1870-1880. DH was a saddler and a farmer in Belle Plain and the kids and grandkids worked on farms there too as I understand it. DH and Pam Gist had many children that they also brought to BP including my gg-grandfather and Burney's father Nathaniel Lafayette Gist.

    After Belle Plain died, Nathaniel took his family including Burney (Belle Plain native) and moved to the Red River area mainly Vernon and Quanah. Burney's son, my grandfather was born in Vernon. His name was Burney Lafayette Gist Jr. or B.L. as he known by. Anyway, their are still many Gist's in the Abilene, Texas area that are descendants of DH Gist from Belle Plain (who are no doubt all kin to me).

    Anyway, the reason I wrote y'all was that I have direct ties to Belle Plain and appreciate the photos you all have placed on the web. They are a glimpse of my family history and I wanted to say thank you! I have been trying to get a free weekend so I can drive out there and see my ggg grandparents graves and clean their headstones, etc. Just thought y'all would appreciate my little story about Belle Plain, Texas. - Benton Gist, Kennedale, Texas, January 11, 2008

  • Subject: Baird & Belle Plain, New Jail
    I recently reviewed your site and was very interested in the information about the New Jail in Baird. My mother (Nora A. Reed Bridges) was born in that jail in 1897. Also, two brothers were born there. My maternal grandfather, J.M. Reed was the jailer and my grandmother cooked for the inmates. They moved from there to the Haskell area where my grandfather was a blacksmith and deputy sheriff. - James R Bridges, June 04, 2005


    More Places, Stories & Photos:
    Texas | Online Magazine | Towns | Ghost Towns | Panhandle | West Texas |

    Visiting Belle Plain, Texas? Book Your Area Hotel Here & Save:
    Abilene Hotels | Eastland Hotels | More Hotels
  • Belle Plain is one of the major ghost towns included in T. Lindsay Baker's first ghost town book Ghost Towns of Texas (1986). The second volume was published in 2003. Both are from University of Oklahoma Press.
     
    HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | TEXAS HOTELS
    TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

    Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
    TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

    TEXAS FEATURES
    Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books
    COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

    TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
    Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
    Vintage Photos

    TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | HOTELS | USA | MEXICO

    Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
    Website Content Copyright 1998-2008. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
    This page last modified: March 12, 2009