Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I stayed in Wichita Falls Texas last night at Scott and Lois’s place. His latest Tilting at Windmills ride report is over at:

Had fun catching up and left this morning headed down towards Big Bend National Park in West Texas. Rural Texas is HUGE! The state of Texas is 850 miles east to west and 800 miles north to south, so even though I’m driving all afternoon today, I’ll only be going halfway across Texas.

I turned the corner yesterday in the small town of Mineral Wells Texas and saw this towering old abandoned hotel. check out my truck in the lower right hand corner for scale.

This place is enormous. There are no signs around, not even anything saying no trespassing, so I had to explore. Imagine what a great haunted house this would make this weekend on Halloween! Here is the back with an arched bridge leading over to an abandoned olympic size swimming pool: It has a mad max post apocalyptic feel to it with boarded up entrance and some of the windows on the upper floors broken out. I had to know more about it so did a google search for Mineral Wells abandoned hotel and found this on wikipedia:

The story of the Baker Hotel begins in 1922, when citizens of Mineral Wells, concerned that non-citizens were profiting off of the growing fame of the community's mineral water, raised $150,000 in an effort to build a large hotel facility owned by local shareholders. They solicited the services of prominent Texas hotel magnate Theodore Brasher Baker, who gained fame by designing and building such grand hotels as the Baker Hotel in Dallas, the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, and managed the Connor Hotel in Joplin, Missouri.

Architect Wyatt C. Hedrick based the hotel design on the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which was known for its water and baths. Construction began on the hotel in 1926 but was stopped after Mr. Baker made a trip to California, where he visited a hotel with a swimming pool and decided the new Baker Hotel must have one in the front of the hotel. The swimming pool was placed on top of an already-completed basement, which was used as a work area for the hotel and a changing area for guests. An Olympic sized pool to be filled with the curing mineral waters, it was the first swimming pool built at a hotel in Texas.

Construction began the following year on the grand and opulent structure, which was described by Palo Pinto County historian John Winters as “Spanish Colonial Revival, Commercial Highrise." It would rise fourteen stories over Mineral Wells, house 450 guest rooms, two ballrooms, an in-house beauty shop, and other novelties such as a bowling alley, a gymnasium, and an outdoor swimming pool. Completed three years later with a cost in 1929 dollars of $1.2 million, the mammoth building instantly dominated the city skyline. It was the first skyscraper to be built outside a major metropolitan area.

It is currently early Wednesday afternoon and I stopped at the Anson Texas public library to find out what the deal was with this burned out part of town in Jacksboro Texas that I passed through: I was impressed with the fact that the fire melted the metal facade and roof and the stone perimeter wall was still standing with nothing more than some soot that needs cleaning off. A quick google search of Jacksboro fire turned up more pictures and the full story. Turns out the source of the fire is still under investigation whatever that means.

more later….

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