Pontotoc – A Ghost Town in Texas

Pontotoc

Pontotoc is a ghost town in Texas, USA which was abandoned in 1947. The state of Texas is home to a number of ghost towns, once bustling during the days of the old west but since forgotten as the cowboys became a thing of the past. Many of these towns, such as Bodie in California and Barkerville in Canada, can still be seen, some even preserved in a state similar to what they were during the days of the Wild West, while some such as this one are mainly just ruins, although surprisingly, some people still live there.

Pioneertown

Pioneertown in California was actually built in 1946 as a live-in movie set representing a Wild West town in the 1880s. Although not the real thing, it’s quite accurate in its representation.

The ghost town of Pontotoc is located of the Texas 71 highway in Mason County, about an hour north of Fredericksburg. Austin is the nearest major city. At one stage it was on the cusp of being a Texas boom town but through a number of unfortunate events, it became deserted. The town was established in 1878, although was first settled in 1859. M. Robert Kidd opened the first general store and gave the town its name. He was originally from Pontotoc, Mississippi.

The San Fernando Academy opened in 1882. At its peak, it had 200 students but went out of business in 1889. The academy became a public school thereafter and eventually shut in 1927. The closing of the academy affected the local economy and was a factor in the decline of the population.

San Fernando Academy

A historic marker at the San Fernando Academy.

Pontotoc was home to a hotel, general stores, mills and businesses supporting the trade of horses, cotton and pecans. It relied mainly on agriculture in the surrounding areas. It had a local newspaper in 1906 and a mica mine opened in 1941.

In 1987, most of the town was wiped out by typhoid. The epidemic was so severe that a second cemetery was built. The resulting loss of students as a result of typhoid was part of the reason for the San Fernando Academy going out of business. The town never really recovered after the outbreak.

A sign for Pontotoc, Texas

The planned railroads never materialised and a fire which began in the theatre in 1947 destroyed most of the buildings. The town lay nearly abandoned for years, with only a small population remaining. Today, the burnt out shells of some of the original buildings remain. A small rural community has developed in its place.

In 2003, the farmhouse was purchased by Carl Money and since then he’s bought most of the abandoned town. He purchased what remained of a post office, theatre, store and barbershop among other buildings. His plan is to open the ghost town to tourists with its own vineyard and winery. He wanted to turn the old San Fernando Academy into a space for special events however it collapsed in a storm in 2016. Already he has planted a 4 acre vineyard and restored both the farmhouse and exterior of the strip centre buildings. The winery is now located in what was once the old general store that was built in 1902 and opened as Pontotoc Vineyard. Work will begin on the theatre after that. Two other wineries, Dotson-Cervantes and Akashic, have opened in Pontotoc.

Location: Pontotoc, Texas

Abandoned: 1947

A wall of a building in Pontotoc

A cactus grows in a hole in the wall of a building.

The remains of a building in Pontotoc

The remains of an abandoned building. The fire of 1947 left many of the buildings structurally damaged.

A ruined building in Pontotoc

The remains of a building.

4 thoughts on “Pontotoc – A Ghost Town in Texas”

  1. Oh for clarity, the building I’m referring to that was destroyed is the building in the first 43 seconds of the youtube video linked to on this article, and seen again from 1:13 to the end of the video.

  2. Yes, a tornado knocked the old school down, sadly. I live a few blocks away from it, and I remember hearing it fall down during the storm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *