The ghost towns of Texas: 5 abandoned Texas towns to check out on your next road trip

Terlingua (Pixabay)

Whether these less-than-bustling locales are your ultimate destination or merely a pit stop on your Texas road trip, here’s a look at five of the state’s ghost towns.


Location: Brewster County

Area: 11 mi²

Population: 58 (2010)

Fast facts: 1) Its name from Terlinagua Creek (three tongues) nearby was coined by Mexican cowherders. 2) Terlingua became famous for its annual chili cook-off and in 1967 was named the “Chili Capitol of the World” by the Chili Appreciation Society. 3) In 1922, 40 percent of the quicksilver mined in the United States came from Terlingua.

About: Located near Big Bend, Terlingua is a census-designated place in southwestern Brewster County. In it’s heyday Terlingua was a bustling mining town where some 2,000 inhabitants, give or take, enjoyed access to modern facilities including a company-owned commissary and hotel, a school, telephone service (albeit erratic), a dependable water supply, a company doctor, and three-times-a-week mail delivery. Founded by Chicago industrialist Howard E. Perry, The Chisos Mining Company, was established at Terlingua in 1903. Over the next several decades the company prospered, becoming one of the nation’s leading producers of quicksilver. Quicksilver production peaked during World War I and by 1922, 40 percent of the quicksilver mined in the United States came from Terlingua. But production began to decline steadily during the 1930s and on October 1, 1942, the Chisos Mining Company filed for bankruptcy. A successor firm ceased operations at the end of World War II when most of the population dispersed, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Nowadays, visitors to Terlingua will find Terlingua Trading Company Gift Shop, lodging options including Big Bend Holiday Hotel, and a handful of restaurants and bars including the Starlight Theatre.

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