Crossing at Doan's
If you counted yourself among the fashionable pioneer set, a MUST-DO was to cross into Indian Territory by way of the Doan's Store. Although the settlement of Doans flourished around the trading post for a bit, today only the adobe structure, built in 1879, remains.C. F. Doan explained the settlement this way:
"The first house at Doan's was made of pickets with a dirt roof and floor of the same material. The first winter we had no door but a buffalo robe did service against the northers. The store which had consisted mainly of ammunition and a few groceries occupied one end and the family lived in the other. A huge fireplace around which Indians, buffalo hunters and the family sat, proved very comforting. The warmest seat was reserved for the one who held the baby and this proved to be a very much coveted job. Furniture made with an ax and a saw adorned the humble dwelling... Later the store and dwelling were divorced. An adobe store which gave way to a frame building was built. Two log cabins for the families were erected. In 1881 our present home was built, the year the county was organized. This dwelling I still occupy. Governors, English Lords, bankers, lawyers, tramps and people from every walk in life have found sanctuary within its walls. And if these walls could speak many a tale of border warfare would echo from its gray shadows" (Trail Drivers of Texas by J. Marvin Hunter).
The little town really saw its hey-day with the cattle drives coming through. The Great Western Trail, which supplanted the Chisholm Trail in the 1880s, passed here on its way to Dodge City. The old trading post is accessible, though it's privately owned, so make sure to take pictures only! And watch out for snakes, black widows, hornets, and some overly friendly dogs, too.
Doan's store is prominently featured in a promotional map of Wilbarger County, drawn by a local surveyor in 1897 and now in the Texas General Land Office. Notice the trail that runs through the settlement - it's not labled as the Western Trail as blazed by John Lytle, but rather the "Vernon Road." Also, the two springs help to explain why the location was chosen for the store and settlement (Texas GLO).
Doan's Store in the winter.
Doan's Store near the Great Western Trail.
Doan's Store when it wasn't a closed relic yet.
Doan's Store during a summer heatwave.
As I was wandering around the old adobe store, I was looking down onto the ground, checking for snakes. I didn't feel the need to look up until I heard an angry buzzing. Sure enough, I followed the noise and saw a wasp's nest. But the wasp wasn't angry at me - it was fighting for its life against a black widow, who had strung her web beneath the overhang where a wasp nest was situated, just waiting on unsuspecting wasps to fall into her trap. Stepping back, I discovered that almost every single eave held a black widow and, apparently, the ghastly remains of her assorted husbands.
Discover more ghost towns in my book!