Visit These 9 Creepy Ghost Towns In Texas

Texas is often associated with the Wild West frontier seen in the frozen-in-time facades and gold mining in the Rockies, followed by abandonment of the town upon depletion of the valuable mineral resource. With 511 ghost towns, the most in the United States, the Lone Star State has a fair share of creepy in its arsenal, with many unexplained events happening to this day, and these towns are the creepiest of the creepy.  


Terlingua, Texas
View of ghost town of Terlingua in Texas.

Considered the most famous ghost town in the state has made Terlingua a popular tourist destination, which goes against the stereotypically abandoned towns on the creepy list. Inhabited by Native Americans, then the Spanish, the town prospered with the discovery of quicksilver in the late 1800s and the Chisos Mining Company in the early 1900s until the industry plummeted after WWII forcing the workers to relocate. Nestled in a lowland desert in between two national state parks, Terlingua today is a smattering of motels, restaurants, shops, and outfitters on the streets once traversed by the struggling miners. There is also the recently restored mansion built by the wealthy businessmen back in the day overlooking the town, along with stacked-rock structures that miners called home, while the saloons, eateries, and small shops occupy the original mining buildings.


Named after George Barstow, the town thrived through irrigation industry with a population of over 1,000 until the Pecos River's breakage in 1904. Droughts demolished all crops, causing a blow to the farms and Barstow's economy. Today the town exists only as a memory, while the air at the site is heavy with unrealized dreams and false hope among the dilapidated buildings. There's also a dark legend of a robed group of specters floating just above the ground about the dead town. Spotted hovering around the surrounding fields and soundlessly communicating, no one knows who or what they are or what they want, with theories varying from heavenly bodies to cult members. 


Indianola, Texas
A barricade warning of a washed out road after hurricane Harvey in Indianola, Texas.

A thriving, bustling port city in the 1800s that could compete with Galveston and New Orleans in terms of success, Indianola had everything going for continuous prosperity, but its unfortunate location. Two massive hurricanes in 1875 and 1886 wiped most of the coastal town from the map and any foreseeable future. A horrific fire burned away everything that wasn't already in ruins while the German immigrant survivors moved up the coastline, leaving only the essence of a once-great town behind. Locals tell legends of the long-dead ghosts who lost their lives in the three consecutive tragedies leading to the downfall of Indianola, haunting the area today. According to them, the dead still walk the ancient wreckage as if living their everyday lives, while others claim to hear whispers of the doomed over the rocky shores of Indianola.


Named by the first settlers to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, its most notable resident was Sam Houston, calling the town his home from 1853 to 1858. Despite its inspiring name and early folks' patriotism to grow a successful homestead, Independence struggled economically. This prevented the full construction of Baylor University, with part of the Baylor Female Building ruins still sitting today, while the college eventually moved to Waco, Texas. The poorly planned railroad tracks also worked against prosperity, making families and businesses give up moving elsewhere. The many abandoned homes, a neglected hotel, and the cemetery give the town a creepy vibe. Locals believe that Independence's location at the convergence of electromagnetic fields led to the town's demise while causing many malaises such as sleeplessness, headaches, and even hallucinations, including visions of long-dead relatives. 


The Gazebo on Otstott Park in Jefferson, Texas, US
The Gazebo on Otstott Park in Jefferson, Texas.

Jefferson has gotten its fame to claim as one of the most haunted small towns in Texas for its Jefferson Hotel, built in the 1890s. Guests have heard whispers from nowhere, knocks on walls and headboards, children laughing, the smell of cigar smoke, and faucets turning on the water by themselves. The hotel is considered the bed of paranormal activity, with the most haunted rooms being numbered 5, 19, 20, 21, 23, and 24. The creepy factor attracts the ghost hunters and the curious to visit the town and stay at the Jefferson Hotel, which still welcomes guests.


Set in the northwest of Texas, the town was abandoned while its fully liveable structures still stand, with the death of Paducah remaining a mystery. There's a clear feeling in the air and evidence of the cafes, pharmacies, a movie theatre, some department stores, and a grand hotel that the small town was just bustling. Then, in a single moment, the entire population got up and left or eerily vanished, as it appears. A recently visiting student says that she followed a tall figure around the corner up the street wanting an interview. Upon getting closer, she realized that the figure hooded in darkness was taller and thinner than humanly possible, as if death itself. Now, some say that the town's immediate abandonment is associated with the time when the sinister visitor first arrived. 


Marfa, Texas
Plywood tribute to the 1956 film "Giant," erected by artist John Cerne. Editorial credit: magraphy /

Famed as one of the creepiest towns in the nation, Marfa is known for its most unusual paranormal light displays in the country. Having been witnessed by many, there's no reasonable explanation other than a natural phenomenon. While some believe it to be the UFO, other baffled locals commonly stick to the other-worldly concept saying that the lights are spirits of the dead from the past. This legend is only made stronger by Marfa's authentic ghost town look. As the eerie and strangely beautifully forgotten town, it is uncommon to see any human movement on the streets, despite the few businesses, a courthouse, and a small town square. Whether the residents are in-hiding or used a low-key lifestyle, the lights, representing the nuance of the state, have been called "completely real and terrifying."


Toyah is another creepy town where it appears as if the residents disappeared in a shear moment while going about their normal lives. The swings in front of the schools sway from the wind like in a scary movie. The cars, furniture-filled homes, a bank, a grocery store, a towering high school, and churches fully intact also emanate the essence of the suddenly-gone people. Many come to the ghost town to photograph the abandoned anomaly, forwarding their own theories. Many equate the total abandonment to a mysterious glowing orb they have seen hovering at night through the streets. Even creepier is that several of those who have seen the bizarre sphere has immediately developed health issues.

Wichita Falls

Wichita Falls
A four-tiered waterfall in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Wichita Falls is famous for its few creepy sights, including a burned-down mansion and a former asylum. Only a site known as the "Witch's Gate" with a ghost story remains from a former mansion that allegedly burned down in 1970. It claims that the widowed wife of a patriarch turned to witchcraft, went wild, and burned down the house with her two sons inside. Some change the story's ending to a thief who robbed the two brothers and burned down the house along with the two boys. Both versions conclude that the ghosts of the two brothers are still haunting the site today. Originally built as a mental hospital in 1926 and closed as a facility in the 1950s, the White Sanatorium is a private residence today. Sightings of a creepy-looking woman in white traversing the grounds, flickering lights inside when the electricity is turned off, and a group of strange men sitting playing cards around the table at night comprise some of the recent reports. 

While many towns fall to abandonment from gold or oil depletion, destruction by the Dust Bowl or hurricanes, or the economic downturns of the 1930s, the creepiest ones above come with no explanation. The mysterious sightings of orbs, figures, witchcraft and other mysterious events signal paranormal activity haunting the Lone Star State.