The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988

Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly

ful bibliography are additional features. As usual, Texas A&M Univer-
sity Press has produced a handsome book.
University of Texas at Arlington DOUGLAS W. RICHMOND
Ghost Towns of Texas. By T. Lindsay Baker. (Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press, 1986. Pp. xi+196. Preface, maps, photographs,
bibliography, index. $24.95-)
This book may well be taken for less than it is, or for more. It is by no
means a comprehensive listing of Texas ghost towns or a definitive trea-
tise on the socioeconomic trends that brought forth countless settle-
ments, then erased them from the map.
The number of such communities, which depends largely on defini-
tion, has been authoritatively estimated as high as ten thousand. In the
photographs and historical sketches that make up this book, T. Lindsay
Baker treats only eighty-eight. Yet, considering the time and travel re-
quired for his task, a remarkable effort must be conceded.
In early Texas, towns arose around seaports and along roads linking
them to inland trade centers; at river crossings and on the stagecoach
routes; around land developments promoted on the prospects for a
certain kind of crop; and adjacent to military posts. Some were born as
religious colonies; a few sprang from utopian dreams. Later, farming
villages centered on a cotton gin. Other communities grew around oil
and mining camps. Many flourished briefly, then fell victim to Indian
raids; natural disasters and fires; changing transportation modes and
routes; failures of water supply, soil, and climate; and dwindling re-
sources. Loss of the county seat and, more recently, school consolida-
tion also produced casualties.
Baker, however, makes no assessment of the trends that brought
life and death to his ghost towns. Curious readers may form their
own conclusions from the individual sketches, which are arranged
alphabetically.
In his preface (pp. vii-viii) the author sets forth the criteria used in
selecting the eighty-eight moribund settlements: (1) that the site offer
something tangible for visitors to see; (2) that it have public access; and
(3) that the selections be equally distributed geographically. The first
requirement is given a rather loose interpretation, for in several in-
stances there is nothing to see but a marker.
Many of the author's photographs have aesthetic or dramatic appeal;
some are of questionable value. These are supplemented by well-
chosen photos from various archival collections. Some of the word

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed October 31, 2014.