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RICHLAND SPRINGS: I took photos looking both ways on the street, but it all looked the same. Deserted.

Okay, we found the town.  But where are all the people, cars, dogs and cats?   There wasn't even any trash along the streets. 
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY

Without a single car or person around, this place is about as close to a ghost town as you can find in these parts.  Actually, I figure folks moved everything out on the highway leaving the downtown area to its own devices.

[ I have been put on notice.  Twice. Most recently by the Junior Class of Richland Springs who want me to update my website. This article was written on September, 1996 and the downtown has improved considerably since then.  Even though I love old, wore-out, broke-down things I understand the folks of Richland Springs wanting to be recognized for all their fine efforts toward improving their community.  And I appreciate the update... ]

A.jpg (3415 bytes)t high noon we arrived at Richland Springs.  Now here is a town begging for new life.  The streets were devoid of traffic.  The storefronts were empty.  The old bank on the corner, with its magnificent stone edifice, had a sign soliciting funds for renovation.  The graffiti left by high school seniors on the boarded up windows stopped in 1992.  I reckon they figured no one would see it anyway. So why bother?
richlandsprings2.jpg (40305 bytes)       Even the city hall was tucked away in a building that had seen better days and far more use.  There must be more to Richland Springs that we missed.  I must say that, for myself, I found the downtown area elegant in its abandoned state.  Some of those Hollywood types ought to check it out for a movie location.   One thing's for certain, the director wouldn't have to yell "Quiet on the set", or get permission from the city fathers (and mothers) to hold back street traffic.
our way out of town on Hwy 190 we stopped for gas and a soda next to "El Rancho--Authentic Homestyle Mexican Cooking".   I found an RC Cola there and as we had gone down the road a piece I commented to Ms. Intrepid that it didn't taste as good as I  remembered.
       "You should have gotten a Moon Pie."
       "You're right.  And I bet they had them back there too."  The soda tasted better just thinking about the Moon Pie, which isn't a pie at all, but a chocolate, graham cracker, and sugar-cream-filled sandwich.
       As I get older--I'm fifty-five--I find myself wanting to revisit the places and things of the past.  And that's what I found so appealing about Richland Springs.  It wasn't all done over in sheet metal and plastic signs, fast food restaurants (isn't that what you call an oxymoron?), and chain stores.  I'd like to think that the place just quit, holding out for something better.
       After Richland Springs we turned off 190, south on County Road 137 toward Sloan.  On the way we stopped on the other side of a low water crossing at Brady Creek.  This "creek" had more water flowing in its veins than most rivers in Texas.  Sycamore trees hung thick over the creek forming a leafy tunnel.  It was another occasion to stop for photos before continuing on toward Sloan, the home of our favorite correspondent for the old San Saba News--Lemon Squeezer, a.k.a. Jym Sloan.
       On your standard Texas highway map you'll find Algerita marked, even though there is nothing there.  The same holds true for Sloan.   These placed don't have anything that resembles a post office, gas station, or even a yield sign.  But they have a dot and their name on the map.  In fact, looking on the standard highway map (not the Shearer map which notes everything) I notice several "communities" that have gone ghost towns one better by disappearing altogether.   But they still haunt major highway maps.
       Near the intersection where the map indicated Sloan we found another derelict building, the bottom half stone, the top wood frame.  It was a handsome, solid structure not long abandoned.  After I took another picture conforming with the theme that I had developed along the way--that of places dilapidated and going to ruin--we headed down a shortcut to Hwy 71. 
       Anytime I used the word "shortcut" Ms. Intrepid prepares herself for a long haul.  Anyway, somewhere near Sloan I took my eyes off of the Shearer map, and we missed a turn, or whatever.  We found ourselves way out yonder ( or, "ouchonder" as it is commonly pronounced) and paused in the road, while I looked down at the map, up the dirt road, back at the map, back down the dirt road, and finally laid the map aside.
     "There's enough caliche on this  car to pave a road," Ms. Intrepid mused as she  scanned the powdery white hood of her once-black car.
     "We're lost," I smiled.
     "This road must end up somewhere," Ms. Intrepid said without the least bit of concern.  "Let's find out where."
TurnA.jpg (4971 bytes)     "You never know where you are until you're lost," I said quoting myself once again.  One thing about Ms. Intrepid, she's no slacker when it comes to adventure.  And adventure begins where certainty flies out the window.      


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Hill Country Tours
Ira Kennedy, Publisher, Editor, Writer, Photographer and Web Designer

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