Howard County, TX
SOASH, Texas is an interesting place to visit today. Long dead and nearly forgotten, the remains of the town are scant and hidden in the undergrowth at the east end of a well-tended field of some kind of green crop I didn’t recognize. A photograph of the massive concrete building shell on page 150 of T. Lindsay Baker’s classic 1986 book Ghost Towns of Texas led me on. Since this old town site was not too far off the route I was taking on my summer 2010 journey to a convention in Arlington, Texas, it became a scheduled stop. Despite the 100°+ heat, 95% humidity and screaming cicadas that intruded above my pervasive tinnitus, we muddled our way along muddy roads and a mucky path through sock-sticking, skin-poking weed seed pods to the site. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Alex had vented its fury on the Rio Grande Valley and the outer flow of thunderstorms and associated unpleasant weather (to this old Westerner used to the “DRY HEAT”) made for a day of ghost towning coupled with an eye to the sky to avoid getting caught off road in a Texas-style thunderstorm. Here one had recently departed as everything was still “damp.”
Soash as a destination did not disappoint as I didn’t arrive expecting some wonderfully classic Class C ghost town. Instead, it was what I expected, the hollow Class B shell of a long forgotten piece of Texas history. Soash is located just south of the Borden/Howard County line and a short distance east of the Martin/Howard county line, four AIR miles east of Ackerly and about 25 miles north of Big Spring, which is along I-20 at Exit 176. Soash can be reached by heading north of Big Spring on US 87, turning east on Farm to Market Road 1785. 2.1 miles east of that junction turn north on semi-paved county road CR 58 (Soash Road) for one mile. Where the road makes a big left turn and heads west is the townsite. On the southwest side of that big bend is a modern farm. Across the street and about 100 yards north of the bend and hidden in the trees is the site of Soash. I parked at the turn and walked to the site.
Part of the building peered out of the greenery so it was easy to find. Upon arrival, I noticed the large front fascia spanning between the east and west walls as shown in the 1984 photo in Baker’s book has since collapsed and the rubble lies at the south end of the building. The other three walls still stand intact, although there are some large cracks working their insidious magic on the concrete walls. The roof, and floor members are long gone, and all that remains is the crumbling concrete shell of the once-majestic structure that was the best building in town.
Soash was a failed real estate promotional town that burst on the scene and died in the short span of a couple years a century ago. Iowa native William P. Soash ran the promotion to attract folks from the Midwest. The land was owned by Christopher Columbus Slaughter as a part of his massive Long S Ranch. In early 1909, Soash signed the agreement with the rancher to sell the land, and promotion began in earnest. He platted the town, graded the roads and immodestly named it after himself. The large two-story Lorna Hotel was built, as were a large building for Soash’s real estate office and the Bank of Soash, a two-story school, large automobile garage to house the tourist coaches, an electrical generation plant and a waterworks. These were followed with a few additional businesses such as a barbershop, a couple general stores, a hardware store, machine shop and post office.
In March, the first trains carrying potential land investors arrived in Big Spring, where they were hauled the 25 rutted miles by automobile to the site. On Independence Day, 1909, some 2500 people celebrated the nation’s birthday with a major bash. Baseball, barbeque and vaudeville under electric lights capped off the day’s festivities. Sod was broken and the potential farmers could see how rich the soil was. BUT, nature did not cooperate. 1909 was the beginning of a major drought in the area and the few farms that had established failed. New recruits stopped coming and by the end of 1911, the town was pretty much abandoned. Soash held on until mid 1912 when the land came back under control of C.C. Slaughter’s Long S Ranch. W.P. Soash’s office/bank building remained as a monument to his failed enterprise.
As always, when you visit, please respect the rights of the property owners and always abide by the Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics.
This was our Ghost Town of the Month for August 2011.
· Elevation 2556’
· Latitude: 32.5218305
· Longitude: -101.6432977
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FIRST POSTED: July 03, 2011
LAST UPDATED: August 01, 2011
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