Looking for something safe and socially distant to do this summer? Take a road trip to one of Texas’ great ghost towns where you can escape the crowds and discover new parts of the state you may have never known existed.
Each of the ghost towns below has its own fascinating history, and they all make for a great road trip from Houston.
Not far from Big Bend, Terlingua might be the state’s most famous ghost town. It was first home to Native Americans, and then to Spanish and Americans. The town boomed in the early 1900s as a mining town and used to have schools, a hotel, mail delivery, and everything else you’d expect from a small town. However, mineral prices plummeted after World War II and the end to the area’s financial prosperity led to the town’s demise.
Today, Terlingua is a ghost town tourists visit on a trip to the nearby Big Bend National Park.
Lobo is a much more modern ghost town than others on this list as it wasn’t abandoned until the late 1960s and the years after. It’s located in Culberson County, Texas in the Trans-Pecos area of West Texas. The area was known for cotton farming and as the only reliable source of water for many miles, and it was a thriving desert town for decades. But as the cost of agriculture became too expensive, the town slipped into a sharp decline. Efforts to save and revive Lobo were abandoned in 1991, and today,
Today, Lobo is a private property and “not intended for settlement.”
Known as one of the more picturesque ghost towns in the state, Sherwoodused to be the county seat in Irion County. It had a post office, courthouse, and other amenities. However, when the railroads were built, they bypassed the town of Sherwood to a new railroad town called Mertzon, and later a new state highway was also established through Mertzon. As a result, Sherwood lost its county seat to Mertzon and eventually the town became a tiny rural community. However, the beautiful courthouse that features a false clock with its hands set to the hour of Abraham Lincoln’s death still stands.
Glenrio was once a thriving town located along the popular Route 66 near the Texas and New Mexico border. It was established in the early 1900s and grew over the years until Interstate 40 was built during the 1950s. A town that once had thousands of travelers come through withered away, and by the mid-80s, only 2 residents remained. An abandoned gas station and a few other buildings still stand today.
This port city on Matagorda Bay was founded in 1844 and was originally seen as a possible future competitor to Galveston and New Orleans. The population reached more than 5,000 people in the 1870s, but the town was brutalized by hurricanes in 1875 and 1886. The town was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1963. Although the old city is gone, there’s still a lot to see, including a granite monument dedicated to the French explorer La Salle.
6. The Grove
The Grove was founded in the 1850s and named after a grove of beautiful oak trees growing in the area. It’s located about 16 miles southeast of Gatesville and not far from Temple, Texas. Soon after its founding, it had two general stores, a cotton gin, and a church. The church still exists today. The Grove had a population of about 400 people at its peak, but today it’s a ghost town and is listed by The Smithsonian Institute as a historic Texas town.
Today, there are plenty of great photo opportunities around this little town.
The town of Independence, located near Brenham, was the former home of Baylor University, but when the city began to decline after railroad tracks bypassed the town, the university moved to its current home in Waco. Sam Houston also used to call the area home, and the town was actually quite wealthy at one point. You can visit Independence and see Old Baylor Park, pioneer homes, old churches, and more artifacts of Texas history.
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Have you been to any of these or other Texas ghost towns? Share your experiences by commenting below.