The Culture

‘Lost, Texas’ Offers a Glimpse of Fading Small Towns

Lost Texas
Langtry was named in honor of George Langtry, an engineer and construction foreman during construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad. But Roy Bean, the local justice of the peace, claimed that he named the town after British actress Lillie Langtry, who he was enamored with. This view shows the sheriff's office in Langtry, now abandoned.

Bronson Dorsey

Texans are no strangers to long drives. Whether cruising from Mission to South Padre Island to spot great kiskadees, from Turkey to Lubbock while blasting Waylon Jennings, or catching the remote vistas from Marfa to Chinati Hot Springs, Texans often get to know our state by car—soaking in main streets, small towns, and local oddities from the driver’s seat window.

While driving east on U.S. 90 from Big Bend to Austin in 2009, photographer Bronson Dorsey noticed three run-down buildings near Langtry. He stopped, fascinated by the abandoned structures. “I kept thinking about how many times I had passed abandoned buildings along highways and the streets of rural towns without giving them a thought, much less a second glance,” writes Dorsey. “Thus began my search for Lost, Texas: for the images of vanished ways of life suggested by the buildings people have left behind.” Over the next eight years, he drove thousands of miles across the state, photographing buildings that once were homes, schools, and railroad depots in small towns. Dorsey showcases those images in his new book, Lost, Texas: Photographs of Forgotten Buildings, which came out May 11. See a selection of the photos below.

Tags: Architecture, Art, Books, Transportation, Travel, buildings, Cities


  • Victor Edwards

    As one who lived for a number of years in West Texas [1960s, early 70’s], and one who often traveled by car around West Texas, I find this article to be about one of the most interesting I have seen in a while. Now, living in Illinois, I wish to return to Texas and see some of these interesting places.