A visit to any one of these haunting ghost towns in Texas will provide you with an unforgettable adventure unlike any other! Get away from the crowds and explore new regions of the state that you might not have been aware of. When you travel to these Texas ghost towns, you will not only get a glimpse of some amazing architecture but also of the state’s extensive history, which is simply asking to be studied.
It’s always intriguing to find out what happened to these deserted towns in Texas, who used to live there, and what events occurred that converted the place into one of the well-known ghost cities in Texas. In Texas, there are a number of popular ghost cities.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in HoustonOnTheCheap.com. Content has been modified for Austinot readers.
Ghost Towns in Texas – 10 Abandoned Places
Throughout the course of the history of the state, these towns were subjected to the growth and unpredictability of a variety of businesses, including the oil industry, mining, agriculture, and others. As a result, lots of deserted and eerie Texas ghost towns were left behind.
Regardless, these ghost towns on the map of Texas have become a destination for travelers of all kinds, including Texans themselves. Some of these communities have even been maintained so that tourists can continue to learn about their fascinating histories. When planning your next vacation from Austin, be sure to consult both this list and this map of Texas ghost towns.
Some of these can be covered in a day and are right here in Central Texas, others may need a weekend, and some others are way across the other side of Texas and therefore will require a loooong drive!
Ghost Towns in Texas – Under 6 hours drive from Austin
Location: Texas 76941
Drive time from Austin: ~ 4 hours
Known as one of the more picturesque ghost towns in the state, Sherwood used 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.
Location: Texas 77979
Drive time from Austin: ~ 3 hours
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.
3. The Grove
Location: 453 The Grove Ln, Gatesville, TX 76528
Drive time from Austin: ~1.5 hours
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 ghost town in Texas.
Location: Texas 78836
Drive time from Austin: ~ 3 hours
The town of Catarina was founded as a railroad junction. According to legend, it was named after a woman who was killed in the area, when a standoff occurred during the 1700s. The town had a post office, schools, and a thriving population. Unfortunately, the town’s economic decline is due to a shortage of water and a generally bad economy. There are still residents in the area, but there are just less than a hundred, making it one of Texas’ semi-ghost towns.
Location: Bluffton, Texas 78607
Drive time from Austin: ~ 1 hour and 15 minutes
The Buchanan Dam is a massive and majestic construction built in Hill Country. It effectively sifts the waters of the Colorado River, and when most communities perished because of a lack of water, Bluffton had plenty. However, the abundance led to the town drowning due to rising seas and flooding. When the water levels start to dry up after a few years, the remaining vestiges of the settlement were unearthed. What once was a lively town has now become a place known for driving four-wheelers or going birdwatching.
Have you been to any of these or other ghost towns in Texas? Share your experiences by commenting below.
Ghost Towns in Texas – Over 6 hours of drive from Austin
Location: Texas 79852
Drive time from Austin: ~7.5 hours
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 of 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.
Location: Texas 79855
Drive time from Austin: ~7 hours
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 private property and “not intended for settlement.”
Location: Texas 79045
Drive time from Austin: ~9 hours
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.
Drive time from Austin: ~6.5 hours
Small town Toyah, Texas boasted a population of 90 people after the 2010 census. Toyah finds its inception as a trading post for large local ranchers, however, before long Toyah had a post office. After that, Toyah became a major cattle shipping destination and even had a population of 771 in 1910. Unfortunately, the Great Depression knocked out the majority of Toyah’s thriving population and the town has yet to recover. This Texas Ghost town is a living history of what that difficult time in American history did to many.
Location: Texas 79719
Drive time from Austin: ~6 hours
Barstow, founded in the 1800s got its name from George E. Barstow. He was a pioneer in the irrigation sector. He was recognized for his agricultural prowess with grapes and was even honored during the 1904 World Fair. The town enjoyed a brief period of fame before becoming one of the ghost towns in Texas. This happened when a dam in a nearby area collapsed, flooding everything in its path. Several government buildings, homes, schools, and a few private enterprises were left standing.
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