Baird, Texas, of the old Southwest, part one

On Sunday, 29 July, we visited the small town of Baird, Texas.  This rather charming, small, old town is located off of Interstate 20, about 20 miles east of Abilene.  To do the history and feel (or spirit) of this town justice, we will offer our images in 2 parts of this photo essay.

 

 

Let me tell you, it was rather hot at midday this late July Sunday in this town.  We are looking to the east.

 

 

Might this painting on the side of an old building qualify as a “ghost sign”?

 

 

A road sign at a corner in old Baird’s “downtown”.

 

 

Let’s start at the beginning.  On our drive to Abilene from Stephenville (on Saturday, via Brownwood), we passed through several small towns along the highways we drove on.  Such places as Comanche, Bangs, Santa Anna, and Lawn we passed through without stopping.  Each little town had its own cemetery on the outskirts of town.  There is much history in this part of Texas as these small towns were really frontier towns when founded in the mid 19th century before and after the Civil War.  Those folks who lived back then must have been a hearty lot.  (As we left Comanche driving southwest, we saw a sign for the Comanche Christian Cowboy Church, which I found to be amusing for its alliteration.  This church does have a web page you can view online.)  Santa Anna, a town of only about 1,000 souls west of Brownwood, did have a visitor center and a public library among other businesses.  Perhaps, we should have stopped there.

We did stop in Baird (as we had planned to) and enjoyed the feel and nostalgic charm of this old town.  The posted population sign told of 1,496 residents.  Lucy, my wife, said “Oh no, Larry.  This is too small to consider for a retirement home.”  I think she is correct.

Here, we have parked the car on the main street of the business district.  We are in front of the municipal court and city council board room.  The red star on the window indicates the approximate position of Baird within the state of Texas.


 

We must be in Callahan County.

 

 

A look down the quiet, nearly deserted street in the direction of the old, railroad depot and museum.  The street did not remain deserted as many cars came along and parked for the restaurant and Sunday lunch.  The restaurant was one of the few businesses open that Sunday.

 

 

This painting was the length of the side of this old building and hearkens back to the time of steam power.

 

 

Here, in this closer shot, we see that this is an advertisement for, or a tribute to, the Texas and Pacific Railroad.

 

 

As we walk along in a westerly direction on the shady south side of the street, we glance to the northeast for this nearby scene.

 

 

In the shade of a building, Lucy poses for this photo.

 

 

There were many classic advertisements to be seen in store front windows along this main street.  Note: “Laughing required.”

 

 

In front of Stennett’s Taxidermy business, we see an oversized western boot.

 

 

A classic printed advertisement for Winchester, a maker of long guns (shot guns and rifles).

 

 

Now, we can see many recently parked cars for the restaurant across the street.

 

 

One cannot escape the presence of secret societies and associations even in a small Texas town.  Perhaps it is more like a social club for the locals.

 

 

A door for the American Hotel, which no doubt has seen better days.

 

 

We wonder what rare books might be found in this shop, but it was closed.  Why do they buy ammunition?  Or, could a shopper trade ammo for books in a barter type exchange?

 

 

Further along the street, we come to what was likely the county newspaper at one time.

 

 

We had to capture this image.  In California, where we currently live, $29 thousand would not buy you a small shed or out house if the land came with it.  I teased Lucy that we ought to buy this 2 building package and try to revitalize the downtown area.  Of course, she knows of my periodic flights of fancy, and gave me a wan smile.

 

 

At the next cross street, we took this picture.  Another “ghost sign”?  Coffins and hardware and leather furniture all in one business some time back.  Tobacco, too.

 

 

This building was vacant, but not in too bad a condition.

 

 

In this last image today, we see the stonework of the old building.

 

 

. . . . to be continued . . . .

copyright 2018 – larrysmusings.com

7 comments

    1. Hey Stephen,

      Good question. As we drove around the town and looked at properties that were for sale, we noticed a number of Christian churches. One of which (a Baptist church) had plenty of cars parked outside and likely still had a service going on. It may be that the crowd that flocked to the restaurant for lunch was coming from one of the nearby churches. I am sure that on a weekday there is more activity, but Baird seems to be somewhat in decline. There was no new construction that we could find. We noticed a burned out building made of stone that had not been rebuilt and it looked like the fire damage was not recent. The residents, most of them, must work in Abilene. It had some appeal for me because it was pretty quiet, but that is only one factor to consider.

  1. Great job reporting. I live in a county that borders Callahan, so I go through Baird often. You’re right–it is busier on the weekdays. Out here, towns are quiet on Sundays, especially before 12. From 12-1 or so the church goers fill the eating places, but after that it gets quiet again. There is a lot of history out here.

    1. Hey there Crimson,

      We just use my wife’s I-phone. I think it is an Apple product, not the most expensive but not the smallest or cheapest type phone either. Back in the 1990s, when we were younger, we would take along a Minolta or a Canon camera for still shots of scenery on our annual vacations or holidays. Those prints were really good, but now it is so much easier to use the new technology.

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