by James Pratt
Kay and I love to travel. Not just to exotic locations, but to off the beaten path, out of the way places that typically are not visited by most travelers. If we are not traveling overseas along dirt roads in Australia, we are jumping on our dual sport motorcycles and wandering around the dirt roads of Oklahoma looking for the strange, unusual, or just interesting sites we see along the way.
Over the years we have discovered that other people like reading about these travels and are often inspired to visit these same locations. Many of our clients move to Oklahoma from other states and are not familiar with some of the more interesting aspects of the sooner state. Our goal is to highlight some of these interesting places and give our readers the tools and knowledge necessary to go out and find these on their own, and explore Oklahoma the way we do – Off the Beaten Path.
Ghost Towns of Oklahoma
We love exploring old buildings. They are frozen in time, with an often silent story behind the broken walls and caved in roofs. These old buildings were once bustling homes or businesses, with owners who had their own dreams, challenges, and passions that are now long past. We usually stumble upon these old buildings while out exploring or riding our bikes.
I was recently at Barnes and Noble and ran across the book “Ghost Towns of Oklahoma” written by John W. Morris and published by the University of Oklahoma Press. Published in 1978, it offers a wealth of information about towns in Oklahoma that have either disappeared, or have withered into a few old bricks and concrete. At the time of publishing, GPS was just an idea so the author provided written directions (that we found hard to follow precisely) and more useful township/range/section information. As Realtors, we found the township/range/section info much more useful. I used a computer search to find the section (640 acres) that contained the town, then cross referenced that with a GPS database that gave me the GPS coordinates at the center of the section. From there I looked on Google Maps and normally could find the remnants of the old town.
Over the summer we plan to travel to many of these Oklahoma ghost towns, see what is there, and report back to our followers on what we find. Stay tuned!
Autwine was originally called Virginia City and is located just west of present day Ponca City. It served as an agricultural hub for the region. The name was supposed to be Antwine but a spelling error left it with the name Autwine.
While technically not a ghost town, the Carbo Oil Company of Louisiana originally had a refinery located just north of Guthrie on Highway 77. Several old buildings, originally constructed in 1918, still stand and have recently been refurbished.
Denoya – also known as Whizbang by the locals – was a rough and wild oil boom town located east of Ponca City and Kaw Lake near the town of Shidler. It has quite a colorful history and remnants of the old town are clearly visible in the rubble.
Below is a Google Map of the ghost towns we plan to visit and some we have already visited. You can view these on Google Maps and download the GPS waypoints in a KML file, then load them into your own GPS. The waypoints should be close to the original ghost town or location, usually within a mile, and often right at the center of the old town.
Google Map of Ghost Towns of Oklahoma
View Off the Beaten Path in a larger map