The ghost town just outside of Brenham, Texas

I left Brenham early on Sunday morning after crashing in a tiny roadside motel. The motel was pretty sketchy, but sometimes I like that style of drive-up-to-the-door, ditch my camera stuff in the room, crash for 6 hours, then leave in haste to catch the sunrise. Sunday morning turned out to be rainy and freezing… pretty horrible for a lot of outside photography. So I ate in downtown, read a few chapters of Ananthem, drank a lot of coffee, chatted with a waitress who was an aspiring photography student and gave her some golden nuggets of truth, then drove on to Houston.

Several miles outside of Brenham, I saw this strange collection of houses and stores that were all brightly colored but recently abandoned. It was still raining, so I put it on my list to hit on the way back later in the evening. Luckily, the weather was dark and moody when I returned. I spent about an hour walking around this old abandoned place, shooting a bunch of cool and creepy things. I have no idea why everything was boarded up and empty… there might have been some squatters in one distant house, but I was kind of freaked out by some strange music coming out through some of the boarded-up windows, so I decided it was time to leave…

I’ll post more shots of this place later… it was very strange… reminded me a little of a mid-80’s Texas version of my visit to Pripyat (the little town right by Chernobyl that was also abandoned).

The ghost town just outside of Brenham, Texas (by Stuck in Customs)

  • Hey Trey, just thought I would let you know thta I bought Photomatix tonight because of you. For the record, I am happy I did. THanks for the inspiration.

  • Hey great – I hope you have fun with it!

  • Pat

    Not a real ghost town. Think this was something built in the 70’s to look like one as part of an amusement park or something.

  • Dr. Electro

    It was used as a movie set by Tommy Lee Jones. He likes filming locations in Odessa, Crane and McCamey, Brenham and around Palestine. Not necessarily in that order. He especially likes Ratliff Stadium in Odessa.

  • reminds me of that movie – Fried Green Tomatoes.

  • I think for the mood you described the pic is too colorful to me. I’d like to see it more the way you described it. So I am looking forward to see more of your others pics from the town. (This really makes me want to go and shoot the castles in the Black Forest – just to get this creepy atmosphere….)

  • Gail

    Well, Trey, at least now you know the story behind the town thanks to Dr. Electro. I see Dr. Electro on American Idol posts, also. Very wise person!!! Anyway, the picture is colorful. Maybe your other ones will convey the gloomy atmosphere. I enjoyed this one!! There are a lot of ghost towns in Montana, also. Mostly mining towns. We have visited two, Bannack and Garnate. They both are suppose to have ghosts!! Wish I had the ability to sense such things!! Anyway, looking forward to more of your pictures, keep up the great work!!

  • Thanks all. Well, it actually WAS a colorful place. There were a few unpainted buildings that have that old-town gloomy feel. I did capture many of those too, to post on another day! 🙂

  • DEE

    What am I doing wrong that it doesn’t show on page when I write comment?

  • Taylor

    I immediately saw the Lone Star in the picture – an incredible compositon of shadows! I am surprised no one else commented on this – but being from Texas you should be proud.

  • charlette

    I’m from the brenham/somerville area…that abandoned town was never a real town…in the 1980’s a gentleman and his business partners brought all those buildings together..planning to have a place for shops and saloons…entertainment to bring in some money…the dancehall, Jezebels’ was the only place that flew for a little while…we had some great times there…but, nothing lasts….

  • Oooh, I like this picture quite a lot. Wonderful color and mood. Did you happen to notice the Christmas lights hanging off the eaves on the house on the right? Someone is living there!

  • Susan L

    I was born in Brenham. Do you remember what small town was closest to where this was taken? My family still owns property and lives in Industry which is just outside of Brenham. Photo is great and really looking forward to seeing more!

  • …did I ever mention that story about the time I was cutting across the Lone Star state (towards Houston) when I rolled through a town that reminded me COMPLETELY like Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Somewhere between San Antonio and Houston. I’ll never forget it…and it wasn’t nearly as colorful as this picture…which spoke 1,000 words plus in itself.

  • Oli

    I think I know exactly how you felt. There is nothing more scary than being by yourself around ghost houses and hearing weird sounds.

  • Love these little local trips you are taking. Sounds like fun 🙂

  • Dang that mud puddle is awesome!

  • Awesome shot. I love the reflection of the buildings inside the water, and of course colors of the buildings are unique!

  • Susan

    The more I look at this shot the more I love it Trey! It keeps sticking in my mind of an artist I used to love who did primitives – oh well, old age is settling in and I can’t remember his name!

  • Thanks all! 🙂

    DEE – I am not sure why you had trouble with posting comments – let me know if you are still having trouble.

    charlette – this town is about 5 miles south of Brenham on the way to Houston, I think.

  • Would love to make a jigsaw puzzle out of this picture, but I don’t know how.

    Like pictures of buildings, sheds, barns and etc.

  • so excited to have discovered your photographs! first saw the amazing photo of duomo cathedral on an architecture website then stumbled upon it again on a graphic design site. keep up the great work!!

  • tim keller

    it is kind of creepy maby you should turn down the brightness andwhite content on the next one seems like it would help

  • kinsel

    This establishment was a failed tourist attraction called “Winkelmann, TX,” named after its developer. The idea was a couple of restaurants, some antique shops, gift shops, etc. that would attract Houston residents who visit Brenham for the small-town experience. It never really got of the ground and has just rotted over the years. I think that people may be living in part of the “village” now.

  • tim keller

    srry was vague on the last content i ment it might get that spookier lok you think of when you see a ghost town

  • Sonny Ray

    This is the true story of how your alleged “ghost town” came to be … It is a conglomeration of old buildings moved to the current spot in the late 1970s/early 1980s by a man who was originally doing the project in Chappell Hill, Texas up the road. However, he hacked off the citizens of the small town and they ran him out … For a time, these buildings were the site of hippies and would-be shops and a restaurant that folded soon after opening … It sits down in a hole and is not in the best of spots for a tourist attraction. The person that began the project died and is buried in Brenham. The bank took over the property and it has sat abandoned for years. It NEVER was a town and is not a ghost town. It is just a compilation of buildings that the owner tried to make into a tourist attraction and failed. To be honest, it was and is a joke for the locals. They love to see gawkers pull over and wonder about this “old Texas ghost town”!

  • StarlightGigglez

    This town is actually called winkleman, it was ” the smallest town in texas” and you used to be a popular tourist destination.

  • Ms. Moni

    It’s a few buildings placed on the side of 290.. IT’S NOT REAL.

  • James

    You might want to do a little more digging into the man that had the “idea”. His personal life.
    Could add some extra details in why if flopped. Especially in small stuck up town like Brenham.

    Also dig into the history of that large house a little further down the road. Set way back off the
    road with the long drive. All those building have a history too. Might need a Dolly Parton
    remake of a movie. Course not in goody too shoe’s Brenham now.

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