Red River is now a ghost town - not even this much remains
Red River is now a ghost town – not even this much remains

Red River Station is a town which now exists only in the form of a couple of markers and a cemetery. It was once a settlement that had great importance because it was the last stop in Texas on the Chisholm Trail and the last place to buy supplies before Abilene. Even more importantly, close by there was a vital river crossing.

Red River Station was a frontier post between Texas and Indian Territory. Settlers tried to push into land beyond the Red River, but in 1863 a band of a couple of hundred Indians swept across the river at Red River Station and massacred several settler families before the Confederate soldiers chased them back again.

This wasn’t enough to discourage the community. It continued to thrive, reaching some 250 to 300 souls, and a decade after the Indian raid it applied to have a Post Office which at first was named Salt Creek and then changed to Red River Station.

Other businesses included Tom Pollard’s Saloon and Trading Post, W.S. Thurston’s General Mercantile and, as would be expected considering the origin of a large part of the town’s custom, several blacksmiths and leather repair shops. There was a school, which started out in the basement of someone’s house and then moved into a bespoke building. Religious services however continued to be held in various homes by the circuit preachers as there was no church.

Red River Station’s glory was to be short-lived. Three main factors were responsible for reducing it from a small but busy community to a ghost town.

The railroad gave cattle droving its life and it also brought about its death
The railroad gave cattle droving its life and it also brought about its death

Firstly the cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail diminished owing to the preference for sending cattle by rail along the new railway lines. Secondly there was a tornado in the 1880’s which destroyed much of the town physically. Finally the routing of the Western Railway south of Red River Station meant that no-one had the heart to rebuild their homes and businesses after the tornado but instead migrated to the new towns which were springing up along the railway. The only people to inhabit the town from then on were the dead.

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