Kiowa County Ghost Towns

Some 60 small towns existed in early Kiowa County mostly between 1900 and 1918. They were scattered all over the county and a lot of residents still live near them. If you happen to count the Mexican or Indian villages, they would date back to the early 1600's before the Spanish Catholic Missions were established. It has long been speculated that Coronado's expedition in 1541 may have passed near or through Devil's Canyon. If so, perhaps the Mexican or Indian villages there could be the oldest Ghost Towns in Oklahoma.

Some are the plowed fields of present farms and ranches. Some were started, then abandoned for various reasons. Some were victims of time and progress, such as cars, which could carry the farmers farther and quicker than horse and buggy. A town that has lost 80% of it's residents is considered a Ghost Town.

Many of the small towns were a country store and post office, mostly in the same building, with the store-owner/postmaster's living quarters either behind the store or upstairs. If there was enough business, then a blacksmith shop, barbershop, wagon yards and lumberyards would join the store. They became meeting places for the locals, with a pot belly stove for warmth, and checkers or dominos in the winter, and front porches in the summer, with horseshoes and washers. A pot of coffee was always kept on the stove, and when sodas became available, they were there for a price. And of course, the story tellers in any season. I guess this would be the early "coffee shops" as they are still around, with people setting, talking and telling stories.

The country stores, forerunners of our 7-11 or Shop and Go convience stores, supplied the basic needs of most people, from coal oil to calico to home remedies, such as paragoric, epsom salts, and camphor. Mail was brought from larger towns and delivered to the post office two or three times a week. The store owners were family councelors, bankers and civic leaders.

Many of these small towns are dead or dying, some, only old foundations mark their existence, many have been moved or destroyed, some are under water. Some refuse to die and remain to haunt the generations, Some have left behind a small cemetery, mostly unkempt and forgotten. All that remains of the old mining camps is rock rubbish and old foundation of the Gold Bell Cyanide Mill........but, that's another story.

Take a look at some of the Ghost Towns that are a part of Kiowa County's history.

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Web Page March 23, 1999
Copyright 1999-2003
Background Courtesy Pat Calton

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