This is the first article of the ghost town series. More articles can be found below:
- Ghost Towns of the Concho Valley: Coke and Sterling County
- Ghost Towns of the Concho Valley: Concho and Schleicher County
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: Mason County
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: Kimble County
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: Crockett and Sutton County
- Ghost towns of the Concho Valley: McCulloch County
SAN ANGELO, Texas – The Lonestar State is known for many things from our love of football to our Buc-ee’s gas stations and simply just knowing everything is bigger and better in Texas. Besides these things, Texas is also known for having the most ghost towns, 511 to be exact.
Tom Green County claims four of the 511 ghost towns in the great state of Texas.
Ben Ficklin, Texas
An article from the Texas State Historical Association states Major Benjamin F. Ficklin bought 640 acres just five miles south of Fort Concho from a man named John O. Meusebach in 1868. This land located east of the South Concho River was used as a headquarters for Ficklin’s San Antonio-El Paso Mail line.
Ficklin suddenly passed on March 10, 1871, in Washington D.C.
Francis Corbett Taylor, a friend of Ficklin’s who ran the mail line, joined with William Stephen Kelly and Charles B. Metcalfe to lay out a town a mile up the river in 1873. The three called this town Ben Ficklin, in honor of their friend.
In January of 1875, Taylor and Kelly led a very successful campaign against San Angela (current-day San Angelo) to make Ben Ficklin the county seat of Tom Green County.
With the support of Fort Concho officers, stage lien employees, the growing businesses and area ranchers Ben Ficklin earned the county seat. By 1879 nearly 600 people were living in the town with three stores, a court house donated by Taylor and Sheriff James Spears and a hotel. In 1882 a two-story stone courthouse was complete.
However, heavy rains began on the night of August 23, 1882, causing the rise of Spring Creek, Dove Creek, the South Concho and the Middle Concho River. By mid-morning, on August 24th the entire town was destroyed.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, 56 people lost their lives in the flood. Only the jail, courthouse and two houses remained standing on the flat. The school house and fifteen houses also remained on a hill of the town.
Following the flood, the post office and county offices were relocated to the new San Angelo.
Many families moved to San Angelo or Sherwood after the flood. Only two families remained.
Lone Wolf, Texas
This rather odd little town was located off the south bank of the Concho River, just east of Fort Concho. Although this town which was formed in 1870 was once a potential site for the county courthouse many say the town was never platted according to the Texas State Historical Association.
It is believed that the town was most likely squatters.
A bridge stayed standing at the water crossing at the Concho River in 1980.
The town site is no longer named on the county highway map according to the Texas State Historical Association.
Just eight miles south of San Angelo the town of Scherz once sat. The Texas State Historical Assocation believes the town was named after a resident, William Scherz who settled near Lipan Springs on Lipan Flats.
In 1931 one local teacher was at the school. In 1933, 35 students attended the school. Although the state highway maps showed the school and the town in 1936, by 1980 the school was abandoned and the community of Scherz disappeared.
The town of Turnerdale is located South of U.S. Highway 87. The Texas State Historical Assocation says that the town was founded on the Colorado, Gulf and Santa Fe Railway.
William Turner settled on the south bank of the North Concho River in 1884 with their family. Turner reportedly brought parts of his thirteenth-century England stone house to reassemble on his property.
All that remains of the town is an abandoned railroad station that was mislabeled as the town on the county highway map in 1936.