Nick Zantop
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Adventure Travel: Ghosts of West Texas

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www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop

www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop

If you’re driving through the arid landscape of West Texas along Highway 285, heading toward New Mexico, the hot, dry air of the desert might put you into a driving-trance, one of those peculiar times when you last remember passing mile marker 20, but now somehow you’re passing mile marker 50 and have no real memories of the last half hour. Rejoin the world of the living along this stretch of road about halfway between Pecos, Texas and Carlsbad, New Mexico and you will find yourself passing by the ghost town of Orla, Texas.

For the last 50 years, the West Texas wind has been doing its best to blow the remnants of Orla away, but in a true show of Texan grit and determination, the small cluster of buildings at the intersection of 285 and Farm to Market Road 652 refuses to budge. Worn down from decades of abandonment, the eerie remnants of a grocery store, gas station, cafe, and house have been left to slowly return to the land.

Founded in 1890, Orla originally served as a section house for the newly built Pecos Valley Railroad, incorporated by the American Industrialist James John (J.J.) Hagerman to link Pecos, Texas with Eddy (now known as Carlsbad), New Mexico along the Pecos River. Hagerman wanted to connect his railway line with the Texas and Pacific Railway to better local access to larger markets.

www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop

www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop

www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop

www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop

www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop

www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantopwww.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick ZantopThe population of Orla remained tiny until World War II, when the town saw its first real growth spurt and the number of businesses increased to two to support a population of nearly 60 people. During the 1960′s oil, gas, and sulphur activity in the area helped to boost the population to an all time high of around 250 people. On the north side of FM652 was Hall Old’s store and grocery, next to the Orla Cafe. The Orla Cafe kept the oil, gas, and sulphur field workers fed daily, and across the street on the south side of the intersection was George Ashby’s Phillips 66 gas station. George’s wife Pearl Ashby ran a liquor store next to the gas station. 

Today, the old grocery store, cafe, and gas station sit unused, the wood and metal rotting and rusting their way back into the dry West Texas earth.

www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop

www.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantopwww.LetsBeWild.com - Adventure Travel: The Ghost Town of Orla, Texas - Nick Zantop

8 Responses to Adventure Travel: Ghosts of West Texas

  1. avatar
    Truels June 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Excellent series of great photos from this “dead” town, Orla.
    Thanks for finding and showing these amazing – and sad – photos.
    Btw: “Orla” is a common name (male) in Denmark ;-)

    Reply
  2. avatar
    Christian August 27, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Hey Nick

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and I’m enjoying taking a good look around your magazine.

    This Orla post has some fantastic shots, and just enough text to put it all into context. That must be the perfect climate for preserving human activity – it seems to be the opposite in SE Asia where I’ve been holidaying for the past few years – the speed at which nature claims back from man is stunning.

    Reply
  3. avatar
    Tom December 18, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Places like this had a profound effect on me when I lived in the SW some years back. I live in Scotland now but after enjoying your post this morning I swear I can hear the crickets again and a creaky old door gently banging the wind! Like your work. T

    Reply
  4. avatar
    Amy January 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Love these pictures! I am a West Texas girl and though I have never been to Orla, it is hauntingly familiar I may have to make a road trip this weekend!

    Reply
  5. avatar
    WILLIAM DEAN September 26, 2013 at 11:41 am

    The Phillips 66 Gas station was bought in the 60′s by my grandparents (Wesley and Johnnie Phillips) and operated until the late 80′s. We still own the land and buildings including the Long Branch cafe south of town.

    Reply
  6. avatar
    Judy February 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    I just read that Orla is considered to be on a “vortex” – ley lines cross at the intersection of Rt. 285 and Rt. 652. I guess the power didn’t keep it from turning into a deserted ghost town. Sad.

    Reply
  7. avatar
    Orla McBride March 7, 2014 at 9:14 am

    My name!!! Very popular irish name for “golden princess” i wonder if the place was named after an irish immigrant family or something

    Reply
  8. avatar
    Melissa McMahan April 4, 2014 at 1:52 am

    I have lived in Orla now for a year. Big population of 4 people. We have a post office, 2 trucking companies, Knox Oilfield Supply, RedTop cafe and Bar and a couple of day by day burrito vendors. Most people live on ranches or Red Bluff Lake. I honestly like it here. Wind and dust can get to you especially with no trees and having to haul water for household but we make the most of it. Pecos and Carlsbad 40 miles either way.

    Reply

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