What is a Museum Ghost Town?
Its an abandoned town that has been lovingly restored to what it was in its heydey. Welcome to the museum town of The Grove. Its been closed down for many years as it waited for a new owner to hopefully one day open it back up to the public. As of now, its a museum piece as much as it was once a museum.
The Grove was established sometime around 1859. Its name came from a grove of Live Oak trees near the center of the town. By the 1870’s the town boasted a post office, 2 general stores, a saloon, blacksmith shop and a sheriff’s office.
When a major highway came through, The Grove was bypassed and by the late 1940’s. Several farmers were also forced to leave the surrounding farms due to the building of an Army training center at Fort Hood. This caused the population to further decline to the point where the post office was shut down. in 1946, The Grove owners, W. J. and Martha Dube (DOO-bee) sold the town to a man named John Graham who owned it until 1972, when Moody Anderson an antiques dealer, came to town one day and asked if it was for sale. Graham didn’t like the idea, but it was Graham’s daughter who talked him into selling it. For the next 38 years, Anderson packed the little town with antiques.
Moody Anderson had so many antiques that he ended up leasing them to several film production companies and even to the movie Lonesome Dove.
As of 2010, the 82 year old Anderson placed the town up for sale at an auction. The town was sold to the granddaughter of W. J. and Martha Dube, Fran Moyer, of San Jose, California for $200,000.00 in 2010. Her plan so far is to not do anything with it other than preserve it. There is talk that the town will be open to concerts. The town has been closed for many years since it became a museum town back in the 1970’s and is designated as a historical town by the Smithsonian Institute. The town was highlighted by Forbes magazine in a 2008 cover story.
Here is a gallery of the above images:
If you go, please be respectful of the town and the residents who live near it. Its a really quiet and beautiful place in the hill country of Texas.
“We are not ghosts!”
The lady said as she was walking toward me. “Do I look like a ghost?” She asked. I said “No you look real to me. Wait, let me take a photo to make sure.” I snapped a quick photo and looked in my viewfinder and sure enough she was there. She was only kidding of course, but she told me it’s frustrating that Keeler is considered a ghost town when in fact it still has residents. Some are even descendants of the original settlers in the area. She told me about 30peope still live there full time.
I have passed through this area many times on my way to Death Valley and decided that it needed to be explored and documented. Owens lake is now a dry lake bed, but unlike many of the lakes in the area that have been dry for thousands of years, Owens Lake actually had water in it up until 1924, when the Owens River was diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. This area around the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range proved to be an excellent location for processing ore from the nearby mines. The lake and the river also provided a way for shipping and before long the towns of Lone Pine and Keeler sprang up to meet the needs of the mining operations.
The Carson and Colorado Railroad Company built two sets of tracks on either side of the river to meet the demand for ore processing. A train depot and large mill were constructed near the lake in Keeler.
There are no services in Keeler! Apparently people have stopped at the abandoned gas station before and asked for gas and even if there was a place to stay! If you go, be respectful of the remaining residents and no, they are not ghosts!
Near the town of Blanco Texas is the ghost town of Peyton Colony. Save for the church, its completely abandoned. The settlement was founded around 1865 by Peyton Roberts who acquired the land by preemption. According to the Preemption Act of 1841 just about anyone could obtain federal land and claim it.
The Colony is unique in that it was built solely by black freed men at the end of the civil war. Between 1872 and 1874 Peyton Colony built its first church on land donated by a man named Jim Upshear, who came with his wife to Peyton on a wagon train from Virginia. Around that same time a schoolhouse was built. Peyton Colony existed well up into the 1990s and many of the residents at that time were descendants of the original settlers.
Here are some interior shots of the school. I was able to gain access to the inside. Really serene spot on a small bluff overlooking the hill country.
All that is left in Peyton Colony is the school and the church and some overgrown foundations. Its definitely worth a trip out to see it.
I was out visiting the family for a week this past Christmas and decided to see what I could find around the area. Two places popped up: Shamrock and Kendrick Oklahoma. Shamrock was an oil boom town in the early part of the 20th century thanks to the nearby town of Cushing, which at one point, contained one of the largest oil reserves to date. After the oil boom came and went, so did Shamrock. There isn’t much there and what you see here is about all that is left of the place. It was a bit eery being here. Its sort of like people came and built the town and then left abruptly. I really wish I could have gotten inside the Gymnasium here, but the doors were locked and overgrown with trees and weeds.
Down the road from Shamrock is the old town of Kendrick. There is not much to this little town, but it does have a nice general store.
I spotted this old house on the way to Kendrick. Pretty cool and well preserved.
Terlingua Texas is really a misnomer, as the name has been applied to 3 different settlements.
Located in Brewster County near Big Bend National Park, Terlingua began life as a mining town. The mountains and valleys around this area are rich with Cinnabar (Mercury), also known as quicksilver.
Native Americans prized the Cinnabar’s brilliant red color for body pigment. Old journals dictate that various Mexican and American prospectors reportedly found cinnabar at Terlingua in the 1880s, but the remoteness and hostile Indians deterred mining.
A man named Jack Dawson discovered and produced the first mercury from Terlingua in 1888, but the area got off to a slow start. It was not until the mid-1890s that the Terlingua finds began to be publicized in newspapers and mining industry magazines. By 1900, there were four mining companies operating at Terlingua
The original site was a Mexican Village on Terlingua Creek 3 miles above the Rio Grande River that separates Mexico from the United States. With the discovery of quicksilver in the mid-1880s, the Marfa and Mariposa mining camp became known as Terlingua. The camp grew quickly and three years later the population increased to 1,000 inhabitants. When the Marfa and Mariposa mine closed in May of 1910, the Post office, established in 1899, was moved 10 miles away to the Chisos Mining Company camp. The name Terlingua was retained. By 1913, the town had a hotel, company owned commissary, a doctor, terrible phone service, good water supply, and mail delivery three times a week.
By 1930 the town built a public school called the Perry School. Terlingua was segregated; Whites lived east of the Chisos commissary and Mexicans lived on the west side of town dominated by Chisos mine owner, Howard E. Perry’s mansion, which was erected sometime before 1910.
Cinnabar production peaked during the First World War and by 1922, 40 percent of all Cinnabar came from Terlingua. By the 1930’s Cinnabar production began a steady decline and by 1942, at the start of the Second World War, the Chisos Mining Company filed for bankruptcy. A successor mining company bought out the Chisos Company, but by the end of World War II most of the population had vanished.
Terlingua, mostly abandoned by this point, became a ghost town. During the 1960’s and 1970’s Terlingua had a bit of a revival as tourism breathed new life into the area. In 1967 Terlingua was christened the “Chili Capital of the World” By the chili appreciation society. The old country store was reopened as a gift shop and a dinner theatre now occupies the old motion picture theatre.
In the 2000 census, Terlingua reported a population of 267 year round residents. There are many old settlements around Terlingua. Most are abandoned. One of my favorites is a settlement called “248” which is the mine number. Most of these settlements are named after their proximity to the nearby mines.
Because of the plentiful supply of white rock in the area, most of the houses have stood the test of time.
248 is abandoned, with the exception of a few squatters who live in some of the rock houses. Many of the settlements have cemeteries with rocks covering the graves.
If you decide to trek to Terlingua and 248, be sure and wear protective clothing and a rain suit as the weather changes often. This is a beautiful part of my home state of Texas and one that I will surely always return too.