We make no secret about our love history here on CandysDirt.com and SecondShelters.com, although the bulk of our attention tends to skew toward the adored, restored, and lovingly preserved.
But earlier this year, Texas photographer Bronson Dorsey’s book, Lost, Texas: Photographs of Forgotten Buildings, brought to light another dimension of Texas history — the forgotten parts that were left to the march of time and elements.
“In many cases for the buildings and the towns in the book, the towns began to fail when younger people moved out for jobs in the city,” Dorsey told us during a phone chat. “And there was an economic base to support the businesses and towns in the beginning, thanks to the railroad often, but eventually, they got passed by the interstate.”
Dorsey’s book had its genesis in a drive from Big Bend to Austin in 2009, when he stopped in Langtry, Texas.
Langtry was once a bustling town that benefited from being along a rail line. Around the turn of the century, Judge Roy Bean’s schoolboy crush on British actress Lillie Langtry spurred a claim that the town was named after here — a claim that most of the town likely knew was pure balderdash, but brought the actress to the town briefly anyway in the early 1900s. But Bean, who died nearly a year before, would never get to meet the object of his affection.
But the town looked vastly different when Dorsey drove through, with abandoned buildings dotting the landscape.
That sent the retired architect and professional architecture photographer on an eight-year quest all over the state, taking pictures of the long-abandoned homes, buildings and railroad depots that created bustling small towns, only to be rendered obsolete as railway made way for highways, and highways made way for interstates.