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Bennett, New Mexico

The 205 south of Jal is also known as Frying Pan Road. Who comes up with such names for desolate highways out in the middle of nowhere? I never knew Bennett existed and the only reason for my visit was to find a geocache. Lea County and I have a long past and I’ve spent far more time in that county both physically and in the pages of books than you may know. But I never knew of this place because, well, there’s nothing there but a geocache and some weeds, concrete, and pump jacks. Oh, and the smell of rotten eggs. Did I mention that this is southeastern New Mexico? This is Lea County, home of the single most important oil discovery in the history of the state of New Mexico. And Bennet is a ghost town.

I found some information on Bennett.
Vanished and Ghost Towns of Lea County, NMgenealogytrails.com › lea › history_vanishedtowns

According to the information in this geneological website, There was an oil boom during the 1930’s and the star player in the world of oil production was El Paso Natural Gas. Bennett (Bennettville) showed up on the map in the late 30’s to 1957. As with all towns, there must be a post office. The life of this post office started in 1940 and ended in 1957 due to falling population. Bennett’s post office opened in April of 1940 with Callie Marshall as postmaster. The post office was closed in March 1957 when the population dropped below 100 people, of those, the mail employer was still El Paso Natural Gas. More information found shows there were four post masters of the post office of this little oil town. There is is not much information found on this town so I’ll have to return to Jal or Eunice on my next trek to NM and explore the library, interview the oil people with histories. And there are a lot of them.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2020 in New Mexico, Uncategorized

 

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Terlingua

These pictures are only a few of this ghost town, mostly of the cemetery. If you google “Terlingua” you’ll find the town is known for being the Chili Capital of the World in 1967. There are all sorts of exaggerations and fabrications told in stories of this little town I call a scenic “pit stop” on the way to Big Bend National Park. You can look up all of that on your own time in your own library.

On my list of places-to-see/things-to-do, I did not expect Terlingua to be so populated. Maybe it was the lovely weather, but there was traffic like I did not expect. There is one Alon gas station in town on the highway 118 and it seems to be the only filling station in the area. The line was long. The morning was beautiful, not too hot, a perfect day to be under the Texas sun. There were several RV’s in front of me, a dozen or more motorbikes parked here and there either at gas pump or randomly placed in the large parking area in amongst any types of automobiles.

The sign on the door at Alon demanded there was a limit on how many people could be inside the store. pulled open the glass door and stepped in side. The heavy set clerk said, “your the last one”. I quickly turned to the right and walked to the back of the store, grabbed a couple large bottles of water out of the glass door cooler and then a Coconut Red Bull on the next refrigerator . There wasn’t much water left. I had enough gas to avoid the long line. Plus, Panther Junction has fuel in the Park.

I drove along the 170 west, turned off on Ivy Road and found the cemetery. So did many others. There was so much traffic. I had always imagined the cemetery, all of Terlingua, in fact, to be isolated out along a lonesome highway in the middle of the Texas desert. There is a Covid pandemic and people are packing in the restaurants and gathering areas.

The dead at the historic cemetery shared space with about six tourists, most standing around the signs at the entrance. One middle aged woman walked along the trails in the cemetery and could be heard on the other side talking to various people on her phone (speaker phone) and by the end of my visit, I knew where she’d been, where she was going and what she had for breakfast. The sky was brilliant blue, the air was still. Carrying my IR camera I explored the cemetery and the dilapidated structures to the West.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Shafter, Texas

When I couldn’t find a motel in Presidio, I looked north on my internet search and found Shafter and googled “lodging Shafter”. I had no idea this was a ghost town. In fact, I did not know what was there until I arrived while headed north on the 67. This was after I found my lodging on the north part of Presidio. What captured my attention of Shafter were the dilapidated structures on the east side of the road and then ahead a large church building.

Sacred Heart Catholic Mission Church is the church in this town of somewhere between 20 and 30 people. “No Trespassing” signs are found throughout the towns properties but you can park in front of the church. Did I mention the church is on “Church Road”?

Known as the “the richest acre in Texas”, Shafter was a silver mining town in the 1800’s. Much of what is left are stone and adobe ruins and a chain link fence or barbed wire to separate the curious from the ruins. There is a geocache here as well and I decided to drive deeper into town to find it at the cemetery. I watched as a couple appeared around the curve with their dog. They watched curiously as I sat in front of the cemetery in my car looking at the geocaching map. There as too much briar and weeds plus I knew I was being watched. I expect they were suspicious of my presence in this ghost town and feel the need to protect what is there. I moved slowly forward and headed back to the church. Their dog ran ahead of my car and I slowed as I turned left. I waved. They returned the greeting with a distrustful smile. Muggles, we call them in the geocache world. If Covid was absent, I probably would have stopped and talked with them.

Most of the houses I passed in town were boarded up with “No Trespassing” signs. There were a few that looked lived in. I know more live on the outskirts of town.

Headed North.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2020 in Texas

 

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Bulah, Texas

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Along FM 23 west of Rusk about 8 miles is what is left of a small community that’s been here since 1900 plus or minus a few years. I have not found a website for Bulah, nor much information other than what’s on The Handbook of Texas Online. There is no community store, post office, or cafe. It’s a ghost town. But there are residents scattered throughout the quiet area and I did not want to show up on someone’s porch unannounced with a questionnaire. Fortunately I pass through Rusk each time I travel to Lufkin so I must do some research while in Rusk or Alto on my next trip.

There is a class photo taken at the Bulah School sometime between 1930 and 1939. My picture was taken February 2017 and is still used today.

What do you know about Bulah? Share it in a comment.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2018 in Texas

 

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Picher, OK — 2011

Bulldozing started in February. Most of the weathered vacant homes are gone.  Lots lay empty with nothing more than cracked cement driveways, beat up mailboxes, and some weeds swaying along the road.  Tractors can be heard chugging along in the distance on lonely streets.  The chat piles remain. 

This town’s story won’t be rewritten here.  These are some links you may connect to for a brief story of Picher.  PBS                   LA Times
Last summer I found this ghost town while driving toward Baxter Springs and Galena, Kansas.  It was an odd feeling driving on the main street through town.  Rather surreal.  Perhaps it was the ticking of time that kept me from stopping to learn more of this unforgotten place that some refuse to leave. 

The phamacy remains.  In fact, the pharmacy opens at 11.  I know this because I drove around the block at 10:50 a.m. and observed 4 or 5 cars sitting on the north parking lot occupied by locals.  I came around one more time and it was just a few minutes before the hour and several were getting out of their cars and walking toward the door where the “Closed” sign had been flipped around.  

The Mining museum remains.  Perhaps it always will. 

The ball park is nothing more than a field of overgrown trees and weeds, fence posts leaning and the old scoreboard full of memories hidden by nature’s constant change. 

I did not return in time to explore the area.  This is all that I recorded that warm morning of July 26, 2011.  A track hoe turned onto West A Street while I watched a paper cup bounce along the pavement by the wind. 

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Black and White, Oklahoma, Photography

 

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