town site would have been located in Section 143 along the Texas & Pacific Railroad,
about five miles east of Barstow.
ghostliest of ghost towns are those
that existed only on paper as blocks and lots on a grid of never-graded streets
crisscrossing an un-realized dream. |
And surely one of the least known
was Quito, Texas, not to be confused with the city of 1.5-plus million that is
the capital of Ecuador.
scores of other Lone Star ghost towns,
Quito has no picturesque ruins. It doesn’t even have a bullet pock-marked historical
marker. All that remains of Quito is a piece of paper filed away in the deed records
of the Ward County clerk’s office in Monahans
and a scattering of purple glass fragments, china shards, rusty railroad spikes
and other detritus left at two long-gone railroad stops.
W.P. Luce, Fort
Worth entrepreneur and future oil man and Texas A&M University benefactor,
filed a plat map of Quito Town on May 8, 1911. According to the document, recently
unearthed by C.B. Wilson of Dallas,
the town site would have been located in Section 143 along the Texas & Pacific
Railroad, about five miles east of Barstow.
town plan showed 14 named streets running north to south (Wagner, Church, Railroad,
Plain, Dugas, Commerce, Main, Pecos, Roosevelt, Ward, Texas, Magnolia, Long and
South) and the same amount of numbered streets from east to west.
who owns the multi-section ranch that includes where Quito would have been, found
the plat while looking for more documentation on his family’s holdings. He hopes
the map can be restored for posterity’s sake, since it’s nearly a century old
and documents a town that never was.
Well, it sort of was. Quito
and Quito Wells (also shown on railroad maps as Quito Water Station)
were, respectively, a section house and water stop on the T&P when tracks came
through that part of West Texas in
1881. As recently as the 1950s, Quito continued as a flag stop for both passenger
trains and buses. But the railroad abandoned the facilities years ago and no structures
In the early days, however, the railroad
maintained points at regular intervals along its trackage for water stops (to
accommodate steam-powered trains) and workers who handled track maintenance along
their section, usually six miles of rail. By the T&P’s reckoning, Quito Water
Station lay 630.69 miles west of Texarkana,
the point where the line entered Texas, and the Quito
town site was 3.6 miles west of the wells.
why would anyone want a town that then and even now is miles from anywhere?
The answer is what could be found another 2.3 miles west of Quito – a quarry developed
by the railroad to capitalize on an outcropping of Santa Rosa sandstone more popularly
known as Pecos red sandstone. That long-abandoned quarry, once 70 feet deep but
now partially filled with sediment from a rare torrential rain, produced stone
that built courthouses and business buildings across the state. One of the better
known of the surviving structures is the ornate Ellis
County courthouse in Waxahachie.
paper, Quito covered a full section, 640 acres, with some 6,000 lots. In examining
the deed records, Wilson found that 325 people purchased lots between May 1911
and January 1915. Of those, 266 persons bought individual lots, with the others
buying multiple lots. Harry D. Woodward of Denver, who if nothing else must have
been an eternal optimist, bought 1100 lots for $18,000 – big money back then.
Wilson did not recognize any Pecos,
Barstow or Pyote
family names among the buyers, noting no sales to anyone from Ward or Reeves counties.
“It seems pretty clear that the sales were to far away places and hyped
on some level because the locals were not participating,” Wilson said.
on other town site promotions Wilson has seen in old newspapers, Luce had salesman
operating on commission who did road shows touting the investment virtues of Quito.
The farther from Ward County, the better the sales. W.F. McCool of Sedgwick County
in Kansas bought 60 lots.
Prices ranged from a low of $5.50 a lot to $100
a lot. The quarry west of Quito soon ceased operations and the planned town went
nowhere. While Luce and his agents made have made some money on the deal, the
various buyers did not. Eventually, Wilson’s grandfather acquired the section
and added it to his ranch holdings.
Why the railroad chose Quito as a place
name remains a matter of speculation. Quito is Spanish for “remove,” “take off,”
“take away” and other variants. Maybe someone came up with that name in relation
to the quarry and the ongoing removal of sandstone from it. No matter, it’s a
fitting name for a development that saw a lot of people’s money “quito-ed.”
"Texas Tales" April
2 , 2009 column
Related Topics: Texas
Ghost Towns | Texas Towns | Texas
More on Texas | TE
Online Magazine | Features | Columns
| || |
A definitive history
Books by Mike Cox - Order Here|
| || |