It’s been far too long since my last road trip article, so obviously that had to change. And this time, per y’all’s request, I’ve strayed away from the hill country to focus on the Old West – specifically, the forgotten ghost towns that most people don’t dare visit.
The first stop on our journey is Terlingua, by far the most famous ghost town in Texas - although calling it that nowadays is a bit of a stretch given how popular of a tourist destination it has become. Nevertheless, it's still a place every Texan should have on their bucket list. It was home to Native Americans and the Spanish and prospered from the Chisos Mining Company in the early 1900s. When the demand, and subsequently, the price, for the minerals plummeted after WWII, the workers had to relocate and Terlingua became a distant memory in the back of their minds.
In its glory days, Shafter was also a mining town and was granted a post office in 1885. The real boom occurred when a cavalry fort and army air field opened nearby. When both shut down after the war, the town's population shrunk to a mere 20. Shortly after, scenes from a movie entitled "The Andromeda Strain" were filmed there. Maybe you'll see forgotten remnants of the set...or perhaps you'll hear the footsteps of war-torn soldiers who are lost and confused.
Many have claimed that Toyah looks as if all its residents disappeared simultaneously while going about their normal lives. Abandoned cars line the streets, vacant homes and churches still stand. Even the swings in front of the schools sway to and fro in the wind...maybe you'll hear the sweet yet eerie sound of a child laughing as you pass by...
Irrigation was the name of this town's game, all thanks to a man named George Barstow. The population grew to over 1,000 until 1904 when the Pecos River Dam broke and droughts gave farming a fatal blow. Now, all that remains are unrealized dreams and false hope.
Stiles was meant to be a railroad town, but the tracks were built a bit too far south and ended up running through another town called Big Lake. As a result, Stiles never prospered while Big Lake boomed. The only things left are the haunting ruins of the would-be courthouse...what do you think could be lurking inside?
This town met the same fate as Stiles with a railroad town called Mertzon being established northwest of it. Sherwood has been described as hauntingly beautiful, mostly due to its magnificent early 20th century courthouse that's still fully intact.