I took a couple of roadtrips this past weekend. My road trips are usually local – I don’t drive very far because I like to know where I am. I want to see the locations behind the history. Since I’m learning so much about the history of the Red River Valley, I guess that’s why I continue to explore that region.
My class had told me about a ghost town named Dexter in Cooke County, Texas. Dexter used to be close to Gainesville, TX in size, but it was slowly abandoned after the ferry stopped running and the railroad decided not to lay its tracks around Dexter (the topography is not really suitable for tracks, as just 15 miles south the terrain is much flatter). Ergo, Dexter is a town no longer.
I found the remains of the old downtown hidden behind trees, including a vault that stands amid the foundation of what used to be the bank. Its iron shutter doors, a form of fire saftey at the turn of the century, remain intact, though the vault itself is crumbling. In a few years’ time, the entire structure will cave in on itself (maybe with the help of a few people who desire some of the loose bricks).
Besides the vault, a church, and two cemeteries, an old store (?) school (?) is the only builidng left standing in this once busy town that hugged the Red River.
As usual, I started to contemplate the fragility of the human story in the American West. Far from being unique, ghost towns litter the landscape around here, testament to the many failures of the capitalistic experiment the West was to settlers, immigrants, and industry. Withits few ruins, Dexter symbolizes the tenuous hold that people had in this region, and the rapidity of development and progress – founded in 1873 (Post Office opening), the city of Dexter had outlived its purpose by1900.
I love to read these ruins, because I feel that when I do, I allow the story to continue.