Sunday, March 27, 2011

Went to (see) The Wizard! ~ A Sunday Scout To A Place That Might Have Been

A gray Sunday morning but the itch was on me.  I had recently picked up an interesting 1958 Jack County Texas Highway Department map. It got me thinking about some almost hidden places in the Cross Timbers, so I decided to snoop around a little. After Springtown, SH 199 begins to get pretty and the clutter is a little less noticeable.  The real beauty begins as you climb the hill east of Agnes and then pass the little store.  On through a little bit of Wise and then into Jack County and then a turn to the north on FM 1156 at Joplin.  Still gray and a little chilly, but even so this little run up to Vineyard is pretty.  With the old Rock Island ROW on the left, the US 380 intersection brings us to a stop. This is the area on the old map that interests me today.

1958 THD Jack County ~ Click to enlarge

If you enlarge this 1958 map you will see that US 380 from Bridgeport to Jacksboro did not exist at that time. Nor did its predecessor SH 24, until 1968.  There was no road at all on the section between Vineyard to about ten miles east of Jacksboro which I show in red. This means then that Wizard Wells was on the main road (FM 1156) between Jacksboro and Vineyard and then to Bridgeport as late as 1968. I crossed US 380 and headed for Wizard Wells about 2 miles further north.

On the outskirts I passed Jim Ned Road on the right. I have no idea what if any, historical significance is attached to this road.

Click to enlarge image
I passed a number of mostly well kept mobile homes as I turned to the east and then at the main corner, the remains of a small brick store showed up.  This is what happens when you lose a main road through your community.  

Wizard Wells Retreat~ Click image to enlarge
The main building which is now a Holistic retreat, is in excellent shape and there were a number of cars around it.  It is built of brick tile with an entry on the second floor. It stands in stark comparison to the rest of its surroundings.

Click to enlarge image
I drove around in back of the main building and turned up some interesting rubble and remnants from the time when Wizard Wells was a popular place to come and get healed or at least get away for awhile.

Click to enlarge image

Here's the old well and a very good historical marker that tells the whole story.

I decided to nose north on a gravel road and came across the Wizard Wells Cemetery which is very well kept and lays next to a small creek in a pretty setting.  I left the Wells heading west on FM 1156 which was very scenic and showed signs of being a much more important road in the past than it is now.

The loss of a major highway through the town is not the first event that has hurt this little resort.  In the late 1890's the Rock Island railroad built from Bridgeport to Jacksboro and on to Graham. Because of the difficult terrain, they elected to go through Vineyard, thus cutting vital public access to the Wells. The railroad was abandoned in the early 1970's and is shown on the map clip.

Maryetta Store & Station

Maryetta School ~ Click to enlarge image
After a barbecue sandwich at the Dairyland in Jacksboro I decided to head back by the northern route on SH 59 which was the original main road between Jacksboro and Bridgeport. Just north of the bridge across the West Fork of the Trinity, I came to the crossroads that was Maryetta and added a couple to the collection.  

The Square at Chico 
The final stop was at Chico.  Although this is a dusty, depressing little town that spawns the gravel trucks that clot SH 114 and SH 199, the little town square has some interestingly old buildings and the area is well kept.  Absolutely deserted on this day. 

It was spitting a little rain and getting chillier so I headed down to Bridgeport, picked up SH 114 and beat it for home. 

All images from The Electric Books Collection

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