As the second-largest state in the US, there is also a wealth of abandoned places in Texas. And these hauntingly beautiful abandoned buildings and places have also piqued the interest of many who love to do urban exploration. There are hundreds of these vacant buildings and abandoned infrastructures that have now become favorite sites for architecture photography and of course, the charm of paranormal presence in these places.
To add to the eeriness, we’re listing here 13 abandoned places in Texas that you should definitely explore. It’s up to you whether you’d go in during the daytime, but if you don’t, make sure you have your flashlight with you and a friend who’s also game to explore these derelict buildings. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
1. Aldridge Sawmill in Zavalla
Aldridge Sawmill was once a flourishing facility named after Hal Aldridge and has over 500 employees producing 125,000 board feet of lumber per day. The facility, which was completed in 1905, soon became its own township complete with a post office, commissary, hotel, blacksmith, stores, saloons, employee housing, and even a train station.
But it was engulfed in three different fires. The first was in 1911, which razed the original wooden structure of the mill and was then replaced with reinforced concrete structures. The second fire happened three years after and Aldridge exited the lumber industry leaving his brother, who was also the vice-president back then, to be in charge. The third and final fire happened in 1919, and this ultimately drove Aldridge Sawmill out of business. Most of the community left when the mill closed, while some were absorbed into the Angelina National Forest in 1920.
Explore: There are four derelict structures still standing on the land with a pond that used to provide water to the mill’s boilers. You can reach the site via a 2.5 mile trail at Boykin Springs Recreation Area. Or you can head south on Highway 63 from Zavalla, then turn right to County Road 34.
2. Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells
Baker Hotel located just 1.5 hours west of Dallas, has been one of the major favorites in every abandoned place list in Texas and is considered as one of the most haunted abandoned hotels in Texas. One of the most famous stories was the owner’s mistress diving off the balcony after their affair was exposed, and she was reportedly occasionally revealing herself. The building has been closed for almost five decades now and stands as the largest building in town. The 14-story hotel was built in 1929, featuring therapeutic springs, bowling alley, ballrooms, spa, beauty shop, and 450 luxurious guest rooms, which undeniably attracted a lot of visitors.
But after the end of the World War in 1945, the population of the town started to decline significantly. And even with hosting conventions for the Texas Republican and Democratic Parties, the hospitality industry soon followed the decline. The hotel was forced to close in 1963. It was briefly resurrected by local investors, but the business still failed and closed for good in 1972.
Explore: Unfortunately, the structure was registered as a Historic Place, so it’s privately owned and you can be charged with trespassing if you try to explore it. Additionally, there was a recent announcement of a 3-year renovation plan reopening 157 guest rooms, so it might soon be out of the abandoned buildings list.
3. Bender Hotel in Laredo
The Bender Hotel was Laredo’s first hotel, built in 1913 with an impressive 50-room capacity and a grandiose balcony. It was situated within sight of the U.S.-Mexico border along the Rio Grande and right in the heart of old downtown Laredo. It’s near landmarks like the Laredo Community College, the Cathedral of San Agustin, and the Barrio Azteca Historical District.
But the hotel was neglected by its owners and was abandoned in the last decades of the 20th century. The abandoned hotel is now under the ownership of Jesus Martinez, who bought it in 2011. There are plans for a long-term renovation project for the hotel.
Explore: The Bender Hotel is popular for being haunted. The crew from the 2011 television show Paranormal Scene reported that workers (in the midst of renovations) heard unexplained knocks and thumps during the daytime.
4. Bexar County Juvenile Home in San Antonio
Paranormal hunters and organized ghost tours love this abandoned place, especially with its haunting history. The building was originally built in 1915 for the destitute residents of San Antonio, but it was converted to a Juvenile Home for the Boys a few years later. And this facility established a reputation of cruelty and abuse.
In 1925, a 14-year-old resident was sent to the hospital after being fed rat poison. And in 1933, the facility made headlines when a dairy farm worker was indicted for murdering a 14-year-old in its care and confessing that he had beaten the boy with an iron bar and dumped his body in a nearby creek. While there was no official closure date, the property has been abandoned for around 25 years.
Explore: There are four vacant and graffiti-covered buildings on site located at Southton and Farm Roads. Aside from its haunting history, the buildings are also reported to contain asbestos and rattlesnakes, so explore with the highest caution.
5. Branch Davidian Swimming Pool in Waco
If you’re looking for haunted abandoned places in Texas then this is one of your best options. In February 1993, Branch Davidian cult leader led his followers in a 51-day standoff with both state and federal law enforcement due to an attempt of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to search the compound for illegal weapons.
The issue was not resolved peacefully, which forced the government forces to employ tear gas and grenades to breach the area. During the siege, 76 members of the religious group lost their lives. In addition, most of the buildings were engulfed in the fire. A monument was erected with the names of those who died during that day.
Explore: All the buildings had been destroyed by the fire, and the lone structure that remained was an in-ground swimming pool which was used initially for recreation but was converted into a bunker during the standoff.
6. Chief Drive-in Movie Theater in Quanah
This drive-in movie theatre was founded in 1884 along the rail line between Denver and Fort Worth. It became a very popular place during that time until the mid-20th century when the theater was added during the peak of the drive-in movie trend. There was no official date of closure, but the screen remained intact until the 2000s and was damaged in 2008 after Hurricane Ike.
Explore: The screen had been torn from the wooden scaffolding, and the theater remains are likely to collapse, which was why there is always the possibility of demolition. If you want to visit this abandoned theatre, you should go while you still have a chance.
7. Mariscal Mine in Big Bend National Park
Mariscal Mine is considered one of the most interesting abandoned places in Texas. The once Mariscal Mine was a major cinnabar ore producer that provided nearly a fourth of the mercury in the US from 1900 to 1943. The mine employed Mexican immigrants who crossed the border to escape the chaos, but they only earned less than $2 per hour of work despite the hard labor.
The mine workers also suffered from lost teeth, respiratory illnesses, and even early death due to their constant exposure to mercury. The mine had been permanently closed in 1943, and most of its infrastructure were auctioned for cash which included the bricks from the furnace that contained mercury. A year after its closure, the Big Bend National Park was established.
Explore: There’s still potential exposure to mercury radiation, although the level is relatively harmless to visitors. If you want to fully explore the space, wear your best shoes for climbing all of the gravel and of course, bring sunscreen and water. Some structures can be reached through poor roads, so it’s recommended to have a four-wheeled car.
8. Ruins of St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Hondo
In every abandoned places list is a ruin of a church, and Texas has one very interesting church ruin which is St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Hondo. The Church was located in the town of D’Hanis, founded by Henri Castro, who was tasked by the Texas Congress to populate the desert with European immigrants.
As the town grew, the shacks were replaced by stone buildings and a post office, school, and church were established. But despite the growth, the town of D’Hanis was never included as a railroad stop which forced residents to move. The only thing left in town was the Catholic Church until it was ravaged by a fire in 1912.
Explore: There is little left of the church and what you can actually explore is the cemetery attached to it with grave markers in French-German style. The church and the cemetery are now part of the D’Hanis Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
9. Stewart Mansion in Galveston
Abandoned mansions usually have rich histories and the Stewart Mansion is not an exception to that. This place has been frequented by many who like the thrill of the haunted. The mansion is bare aside from the murals of sword-bearing pirates painted all over the house.
According to ghost tour organizations, the Stewart mansion was the former campsite of a cannibalistic tribe called Karankawa. This tribe was massacred by the pirate colony of Jean Lafitte during the 1800s. In 1926, industrialist George Sealy Jr. built the mansion and Maco Stewart purchased the estate in 1933. Then his wife later sold it to the University of Texas Medical Branch, who maintained the mansion until 1968. Then it fell into despair.
Explore: There were stories of Maco murdering his family and burying them in the mansion, but these were all verified as false. Nevertheless, the haunted stories of cannibalism and massacre, as well as the striking sight of pirates guarding the entrance, attracted many people.
10. The Rig Theatre in Premont
The Rig Theatre was one of the memories of high school kids during Friday nights in Premond. It opened in 1950 accommodating over 500 seats but after 30 years of service in town, the theatre closed. Now it’s an abandoned building with empty concession stands, decaying chairs, and eternally black screens.
Explore: There are the common ghost stories of kids laughing inside the building but in general, the place is just left empty in the hot and desolate town. It’s a brown brick building with a huge vertical sign that says “Rig.”
11. Toyah High School in Toyah
Toyah High School is one of the long-standing buildings in the many abandoned buildings in Toyah, which is now more like a ghost town with less than 100 residents. The town was founded in 1879 by merchant W.T. Youngblood which flourished in 1881 when the Texas & Pacific Railroad brought its tracks through Reeves County.
In 1910, the population rose over to a thousand with stores, banks, hotels, churches, lumber yards, and a drugstore serving the town. And two years later, a large red-brick schoolhouse was established for both elementary and high school students. But with the onset of the Great Depression during the 1930s, the population declined which led to the merging of the Toyah School District with Pecos leaving the schoolhouse vacant.
Explore: The harsh climate in West Texas further damaged a lot of abandoned buildings in Toyah. And in 2004, a storm overwhelmed the dike protecting Toyah flooding all of its existing structures. If you’re looking for a wealth of abandoned buildings, then this is the place.
12. Tundra Village in San Antonio
What’s even creepier than abandoned buildings is an abandoned neighborhood. Tundra Village was supposed to be a nice neighborhood, but plans for its development fell through after developer Mauro Padilla committed bank fraud using the money to pay for his mansion, fund his son’s wedding, and finance his brother’s car dealership business.
Aside from that, he also employed undocumented workers so that the costs for the development would be low. He did not pay them and even threatened to turn them into Immigration services. He is now serving a 12-year prison sentence.
Explore: This is one terrifying place to visit basically because of the amount of abandoned buildings, but there are rumors that the Tundra Village is in works to be restored.
13. Zedler’s Mill in Luling
The Zedler’s Mill is now part of a community park but there’s an undeniable eeriness when you visit the place. Since the mill was established long ago, the technology used here is also rudimentary, and many think that there were a few lost lives operating those machineries. Although nothing has been ever verified.
Explore: Since it’s part of a community park, you can actually go inside and explore the place. It’s one of the places to really indulge in rediscovering abandoned places in Texas.