Friday, June 7, 2013

Thurber and the Smokestack

It was the largest town between Fort Worth and El Paso, yet it was owned by a single company. It was the most important mine site in Texas, a major manufacturer of paving bricks, and located near the oil field that helped make Texas a worldwide giant in petroleum production. It was one of the first cities in Texas to be totally electrified and one of the few towns in the country to be totally unionized.

It was Thurber, Texas, 75 miles west of Fort Worth.

The entire town of Thurber - every nail, shingle, and doorknob - was owned by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company. Residents lived in company houses, shopped at company stores, drank at company saloons, attended company schools, and worshipped in company owned church buildings. Many people traveled from far away countries including Italy, Poland, Ireland, and Russia to live and work in Thurber. Thurber was the state's major mine site for three decades. At its peak, Thurber produced 3,000 tons of coal everyday for the railroads in Texas and the surrounding states.

And by the 1930's, it was gone. In the midst of the Great Depression, Thurber was essentially a ghost town.

I ate in this ghost town.

My parents and I headed to West Texas for a family reunion and came across The Smokestack Restaurant in Thurber, TX. We simply stopped because my mom saw a billboard and it peaked her interest. I was a little leery considering Thurber now has a population of, wait for it....5. There were two state trooper cars there so we figured it had to be good. State Troopers always know the good places to eat.

According to their menu, their chicken fried steak was voted by Southern Living as the best chicken fry on I-20.

Well, we had to try it! There were two sizes - large and small. In true Dad fashion, he ordered the large. Oh my goodness! It was unbelievably massive.

I got the small too and it wasn't very small. Too much for me to finish for sure. And those mashed potatoes? Yum! This pregnant girl loved those.

They are also known for their chicken tenders so mom tried those and they too were delicious.

All of their food is homemade including those delicious looking homemade yeast rolls. I will go ahead and let you know that they were just that...delicious.

I'm sure if we were in the market for dessert it would have been great too, but after all that food, we were done. Stick a fork in us. Stuffed.

After we left the restaurant we drove down the road to check out the rest of Thurber, which didn't consist of much.

Love this old famous smokestack. And that old fire station.

We saw two houses in Thurber and this was one of them. Considering the population is only 5, what do you bet half of the town lives here? Such a cute, old, yellow house.

So, if you are ever traveling down Interstate 20 in Texas out of Fort Worth, be sure to make a stop in this old historic town. You won't be disappointed. And neither will your belly.

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