It was hard to resist exiting the Interstate to cruise the still drivable portions of Route 66 -- The Mother Road. We left the throng of modern travelers and entered the world of Green Globe Gasoline, Do-Drop Inn, and Mom’s Cafe signs painted on the sides of now crumbling buildings. Dreams of driving down the dusty main streets of dying agricultural towns and dead roadside travel stops drew the Speck family like storm surf draws coinshooters to the beach.
It was at EXIT 53, about 13 miles west of
On the southwest corner of old US 66 and SH 44, just north of the freeway, an old combination gas station/bar molders in the deep shade of a huge cottonwood tree that is growing out of the sidewalk. Kobel’s Place died about the time that US 66 was abandoned in favor of I-40. Foss itself is just to the north, on the other side of Turkey Creek.
Downtown Foss looks nothing at all like the photographs in John
W. Morris’ book Ghost Towns of Oklahoma. In its prime, the town had dozens of
businesses spread a block north and south on
Foundation outlines of the old buildings still remain visible, along
with weedy sidewalks eerily lining the town’s vacant blocks. West of Broadway, which is today’s SH 44, a
large, beige two-story residence that was also a former hotel, sits opposite
the red-rock “
Foss began as a railroad station and post office in 1900. Settlers had established a small town along
Turkey Creek and called it MAHARG, which was “GRAHAM”
reversed. They wanted Graham, but the
Post Office Department wouldn’t allow it since there already was a Graham in
By 1905 nearly 1000 people lived here, packing the four-block square business district. The town had three cotton gins, and two banks, which was very unusual at that time. In the 1920s the town began to decline, but in 1930, 524 people still called Foss home. The Depression and Dust Bowl hit Foss hard, and the town rapidly depopulated. During the 1950s and 1960s there was some re-growth, but when a nearby Air Force installation closed, Foss folded. The bank hung on until September 1977.
In 1970 only 150 folks remained, a figure nearly unchanged in the 1990 census, which found 148 people. Today, even that number appears way to high.
Foss is one of those places that is deceiving. Unless you see photos and maps of downtown, it is difficult to imagine what Foss looked like at its peak. But today, that imagination is all we have to use when viewing this one-time boomtown.
of the other states in the Midwest,
This was our GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH for April 2001.
This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.
· Latitude: 35.4544942 / 35° 27’ 16” N
· Longitude: -99.1698099 / 99° 10’ 11” W
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FIRST POSTED: April 01, 2001
LAST UPDATED: February 02, 2010
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