While in Erick, be sure to visit the 100th Meridian Museum, situated in the former First National Bank Building, which is filled with artifacts from prehistoric times to present. Just one block south of Route 66 is the old City Meat Market, Erick’s oldest building, which now houses the Sandhill Curiosity Shop, a must stop as you travel through! Nothings for sale, but Harley Russell will entertain and let you look at thousands of memorabilia. Afterward, sate your appetite at the Rafter T Restaurant, formerly known as Cal’s Country Kitchen and serving up customers since 1946.
Many of the original Route 66 business are now gone or have been converted to other uses. However, many of these old places still stand a make for great photo opportunities.
Five blocks west of the town’s main intersection, the West Winds Motel occupied the north side of Route 66, a location with the commercial advantage of visibility for the westbound traveler. A neon sign flashed the name of the motel beneath a painting of a bucking bronco. Faded today, the sign with its head-down-heels-up horse and his tenacious rider is still visible. Motor courts like the West Winds Motel generally consisted of individual guest cottages or multiple-unit guest buildings with continuous facades, often with attached garages; an office and owner-residence building; and perhaps a coffee house; arranged around a central open space. At the West Winds, an office and two multi-unit buildings set at right angles form the courtyard. A gravel loop once outlined the U-shaped central public space, giving the motel two street entrances. Until 2002, a rusting children’s swing set, evidence of the prosperous post-war years when families stayed at the West Winds, still stood windblown and creaking in the courtyard.
The West Wind’s stone-and-stucco construction, linear buildings, courtyard, and Mission style invoke a Spanish hacienda. The motel’s name ties it to a time in history when the West had captured the imagination of much of the United States. Because of its historic significance, the National Park Service listed the motel in the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Some efforts have been made to restore the property, but, it remains closed to visitors today. The old motel is located at 623 Roger Miller Blvd.
Just down the block was yet another popular tourist court, complete with garages — the old Elm Motel. The Elm was opened in the 1940’s by Richard and Mini Glover. They didn’t keep it long, and sold it 1948 to Howard and Louise Kinsington, who added a swimming pool and miniature golf course to encourage longer stays. The ‘Elm Motel’ closed when Erick was bypassed by I-40. It is located at 823 W Roger Miller Blvd.
Between Erick and the nearby ghost town of Texola, the prairie stretches out beyond the old Mother Road that is beginning to get overgrown from its lack of use.
Texola was born in 1901 and sits near the 100th Meridian. For this reason, the town has been surveyed eight different times over the years and many of its residents have lived in both Oklahoma and Texas over the years, without ever having moved. In its earliest days, the people of the town had a hard time figuring out what to call it, changing the name from Texokla, to Texoma, and Texola. Finally, a town election chose its permanent name when the post office was established in December, 1901. Originally, Texola was located in northern Greer County before Beckham County was created at 1907 statehood. Texola developed along the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad line built through the town in 1902. That same year, a newspaper was established called the Texola Herald which would continue to be published until about 1921.
By 1909 the local agricultural area supported Texola’s two cotton gins and its corn and grist mill. The economy sustained a bank, several general stores, a hardware store, a meat market, a blacksmith shop, a livery, three hotels and two restaurants. Residents of the community had also organized three churches. In 1910, the town supported some 361 people; however, ten years later, in 1920, the population had dropped to 298.
In 1930, Texola’s population peaked at 581 and during this decade, cotton production increased and two more cotton gins were built. The town also built a large auditorium which would seat up to 300 people. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl; however, began to drive people away, and the population declined. In 1940, Texola was called home to just 337 people. By 1990, it had just 45 people, and, today, the number is in the single digits.
Texola is clearly a ghost town today, as evidenced by its lack of business and abandoned buildings. However, there are numerous photo opportunities in this old town, such as the restored Magnolia Service Station, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, the old territorial jail built in 1910, several abandoned businesses, and an interesting old bar on the western edge of town that boldly makes the statement on the side of its building, “There’s no other place like this place anywhere near this place so this must be the place.”
Texola is situated on old Route 66, one mile east of the Oklahoma-Texas border.
Continue your journey onto the staked plains of the Texas Panhandle.
Hinckley, Jim; Ghost Towns of Route 66; Voyager Press, Minneapolis, MN; 2011.
Warnick, Ron; Route 66 News, 2013.