Month: April 2015

Scranton

Scranton Academy

Traveling from Tennessee in 1875 to seek better lives for their families, David C. Lane and brothers Joseph and Aaron Brown settled in the western part of Eastland County and established the community of Scranton – named after a surveyor employed by the Houston & Texas Central Railroad.  By 1880 the community had enough school-age children to build its own school.  That same year a cotton gin was constructed to help the local farmers prepare their crops for market.  Elisha E. Chunn, recently arrived from Alabama, opened Scranton’s first general store in 1891 – the same year that the town received a post office.

Scranton was prosperous enough after the turn of the 19th Century that the area’s farmers raised money through subscriptions to build a college preparatory school.  In 1903 Alabama educator, Orrin C. Britton helped open the Scranton Academy for high school students on a 12-acre site.  The academy included a two-story main building, separate boys and girls dormitories, a dining hall and athletic fields.  At its peak, the Scranton Academy had a student body of more than 350, with some students traveling from as far away as Fort Worth.  World War I devastated the school when its oldest male students enlisted in the military.  As a result, the school closed in 1917.

Meanwhile, as the town became a regional trade center during the 1910s, a dry goods store, hardware store, and two grocery stores opened in Scranton.  The Scranton Reporter started publication in 1911.  A boll weevil infestation in 1917 crippled the cotton industry, forcing most farmers to switch to peanuts as a cash crop.  Despite discovery of the Ranger oil field in 1917, the cumulative effects of the Great Depression sent most Scranton residents to the cities for jobs.  The population decline continued after World War II, effectively sealing Scranton’s fate.

Scranton School Gymnasium – This concrete-framed stone structure was built during the Depression with funding from the WPA.  Owned by the Scranton School District, it was the center of activity for the community.  The building was destroyed by fire in the 1960s.

Post

Santa Fe Railroad Depot

Where Post, Texas sits today was cereal manufacturer Charles W. Post’s second location for his proposed model town (see Close City).  It was the second only due to its geographical location near the center of Garza County – the state legislature’s preferred location for the seats of county government.  Post is situated just below the rim of the Caprock Escarpment of the Llano Estacado, which forms the southeastern boundary of the Great Plains.  This area of Texas had long been the buffalo-hunting grounds of the Plains Indian tribes.  The Indian’s removal by the U. S. Army in the 1870s allowed cattle ranchers to safely pasture their herds.  For thirty years after its creation by the state legislature, citizens in Garza County were vastly outnumbered by livestock.

In 1906 C. W. Post began purchasing ranches in Garza and Lynn counties, ultimately totaling 225,000 acres, most of which was subdivided into 160-acre parcels.  Post platted a townsite in 1907 and began construction his social experiment, the town of Post City.  He established the Double U. Company to manage construction of the town as well as its promotion and lot sales.  Part of the effort to attract land purchasers included lining the streets with trees and prohibiting alcoholic beverages and prostitution.  Post City’s first post office was housed in a tent, as were many of the town’s businesses while they waited for buildings to be completed. In addition to houses, the Double U. Company built the Algerita Hotel, cotton gin, and a textile manufacturing plant – Postex Cotton Mills.  By 1910, when the Santa Fe Railroad arrived, a bank and a school had been built and the town’s first newspaper had started publication – the Post City Post.

Another experimental effort of C. W. Post to increase the value of his land was rainmaking.  Explosives, attached to kites that were tethered to towers atop the escarpment, were detonated in the atmosphere at timed intervals.  And while rainfall frequently occurred after the explosions, it was never determined whether the explosions caused the rain or not.

The town of Post, Texas – with a population of 1,000 people – was incorporated in 1914, which was also the year that Charles W. Post died.  By 1916, after an extensive real estate campaign, Post and the surrounding area contained approximately 3,000 inhabitants and 14 private corporations which together held over 1.2 million dollars in capital stock.  That year the town, with financial support from Post’s estate, made an unsuccessful bid to become the site of West Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, which would later become Texas Tech University.  The town continued to grow, even through the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years.  Postex Cotton Mills was sold to Ely and Walker Dry Goods Company of St. Louis in 1945.  At the time of its sale, it employed 375 workers who produced over six million yards of cloth each year.  The mill, now owned by Burlington Industries, has remained the town’s largest employer.

Santa Fe Railroad Depot – This was one of four stations in Texas designed by Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss between 1909 and 1911.  Reinforced concrete was used for the structure and the architectural ornamentation.  The depot has been restored by the Post Chamber of Commerce.

REFERENCE:  Paul M. Lucko, “POST, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgp10), accessed April 06, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.