Bushland & Wildorado
- Skeletons on the Staked Plains
Fourteen miles west of
is the old settlement of
established as a station on the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway. Named for Chicago real estate baron, William Henry Bush, who owned the
Frying Pan Ranch, Bush donated the land for the town site and the
railroad right-of-way. The town site was dedicated by Bush and
an associate named S. H. Smiser on July 3, 1908 and the settlement was
named Bush Stop. On January, 1909, the post office opened soon a
few farmers and ranchers began to settle there.
A couple of years
after its beginning, William Bush’s wife determined that the town’s
name did not properly represent the family and soon talked the train
station master into repainting the west walls of the depot with the
Bushland never became the booming farming community that Bush had
envisioned, it built a church in 1917 that continues to conduct
services today. By the 1920s the population had grown to
approximately 175 and the town supported four businesses and an
elementary school. By the 1960s the town’s population had
dropped to about 130, a number which it continues to maintain.
Few remnants of the old
can still be spied in this small town.
Wildorado, some 23 miles west of
Amarillo on old
Route 66, was named for nearby Wildorado Creek
in 1900. Located along the old cattle trail from Tascosa to Canyon
City, Wildorado was born when the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad
marked it as a shipping point on the new line.
The town was first settled by Eugene
Binford and John R. Goodman, who was already ranching in the area. When the post office was established in 1904, Goodman became its first
postmaster. In 1908, the railroad was completed and a town site was
laid out. An enterprising man, Goodman soon organized the Wildorado State Bank and built
the Wildorado Hotel. The town’s
first newspaper the Wildorado Progress began publication in 1909.
As the town began to grow many small ranchers and farmers
were attracted to the area and by 1915, Wildorado had telephone
connections, a grocer, a general store, a lumber company, a blacksmith, a
hardware store, a school, two churches, and a population of 100.
the dustbowl days of the late 1920s and early 1930s, Wildorado suffered along with the
rest of the Midwest as crops were ruined by drought and many a pioneer
gave up and headed West to escape the blinding dust storms. Along
with numerous refugees from
these desperate folks loaded up their belongings seeking a better life and
headed down the newly founded
make matters worse during this time, the state bank, the grain elevator,
and the mercantile store were robbed and burglarized several times by even
more desperate men from nearby Borger,
got so bad that on January 29, 1928, it made national headlines when the
Syracuse Herald in New York ran a headline stating: "Wildorado --
Texas Town Plundered So Many Times That Six Shooters No Longer Terrorize."
The articled continued to say that the Wildorado State Bank "has been
robbed eight times in the last three years, and the general store next
door has been visited by bandits so frequently that the proprietors have
lost count of the number of times they have looked down revolver barrels."
By 1936, the one time
settlement with a bright future had been reduced to seven businesses and a
population of just a little more than 50. However, after
World War II when travel became a popular past time, Wildorado responded with services
Mother Road and its population grew to more than 200 by the late
Seemingly doomed, Wildorado suffered another blow
when I-40 barreled through town and all of the businesses on the south side of
old Route 66
were destroyed to make way for the superhighway. These businesses
included: Wildorado Bank, Rodeo Café, Pop Well’s Station & Café, Dee
McDade’s Texaco, Davis Mercantile/Post Office, A.F. Moore’s 66 Dealership,
and Tapscott Mobil Station. However, the Royal Inn
Motel remained open for travelers until late December, 2015, when most of
the original structure burned in an apparent electrical fire. It is one of the last original
businesses in Wildorado.
Today the town hangs on as a Feedlot
settlement with its accompanying aroma, and farm trucks rolling through
its old streets. About 180 people continue to live in this town, that still retains some picturesque glimpses
of the once busy
On Old Route 66,
it doesn't take long for things to change.
Jesse's Cafe appears to be fully operational in 2004,
photo by Kathy Weiser.
In 2008, Jesse's Cafe seems to morf into Suzi's Que
Care, and Jesse is "losing his name". Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.
This image available for photo prints & editorial
Appears Jesse is gone, and the cafe is no longer operating today.. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, January 2015.
This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads
A lonely windmill sits along the
available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.
of America, updated March, 2015.
Handbook of Texas
Hinkley, Jim; The Encyclopedia of Route 66; Voyager Press, 2012.
Oldham County Chamber of Commerce
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