The West Houston Archives

Discover the history of West Houston from its many roads


   Before the city of Houston annexed many of the surrounding areas on the outskirts of town, Harris County was dotted with smaller, older towns that had their own identity.  Today, you see many of the names of these towns on street signs or maps, but the towns themselves have, in fact, been swallowed up by the omnipotent term "Greater Houston area".
   These towns were formed during the 19th century as foreign settlers from Europe made their way to the plains of Texas to build new lives.  Many of these settlers were German, which gave us so many of our town and street names that we see today in Houston, and all across Texas.  Places like Addicks, Klein, Spring, Cypress, Fairbanks, and Alief were all little towns on their own, separated by vast expanses of prairie, and linked only by crushed shell roads or railroad tracks.  They were the anchoring points from which the present day city of Houston grew.
   Today many of these historic town sites have been preserved, like central Spring (Old Town Spring) and Tomball.  Others have all but disappeared from existence, like Jeanetta, Louetta, and Clodine. 

Below is an alphabetical tapestry of various historic town sites I have identified on the western half of the Greater Houston area.  Bear in mind that this is by no means a complete index of towns, just the ones that stood out in particular to me personally as something on which to dig up history.  There are literally dozens and dozens of little town sites that sprung up, and some of them have just become too obscure to chase down.





(Above photo: Facing northwest from "downtown" Addicks toward the SH-6/ & Interstate 10 intersection. This was the relocation site following construction of the Addicks Reservoir.  The intersection in the photo is Grasshopper @ Grisbee, Jan. 2012.)

Addicks is a term that appears frequently throughout the west Houston area, primarily along the FM1960/SH-6 corridor.  Originally, Addicks began as a small German settlement in west Houston around the year 1850.  It was also once known by the names Bear Creek, Bear Hill, and Letitia, according to early maps of Harris County.
  The original town site of Addicks was located near present-day Bear Creek Pioneers Park, situated between SH-6 and Eldridge Parkway just north of Patterson Rd.  The town was named after Henry Addicks, the town's first postmaster, in 1884.  In 1879, the Bear Creek United Methodist church was founded, and conducted services in German until World War I.  During the 1890's, the town became a commercial hub for local farmers when the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad laid tracks near Addicks.  The town suffered through many hardships, primarily flooding in heavy rains, and much of the town was destroyed by the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.  The church was later moved to its present location, just south of the Addicks dam along SH-6, and the often flooded Hillendahl-Eggling cemetery was moved to its present location at the corner of Highway 6 and Patterson Rd.  Many of the graves contain the descendants of the original settlers.
   During the mid 1940's, construction had begun on the Addicks Reservoir, a flood control project orchestrated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect the city of Houston from downstream flooding of Buffalo Bayou.  The Barker Reservoir, which was south of the railroad, had already been built at this time.  The town of Addicks found itself sitting right in the middle of a flood control reservoir.  By 1947, some 40 homes and buildings had been relocated or destroyed, and residents were required to resettle the town to its current location at the corner of present-day Interstate 10 and SH-6.  The town was absorbed by the growth of Houston during the 20th century, but retains its identity as a town site, and the church, now Addicks United Methodist Church, still operates at its relocation site.

    The original settlement of Addicks today is little more than a bald spot in the trees just south of Bear Creek Pioneers Park, but the remains of the Hillendahl-Eggling cemetery are still present to this day, enclosed within a federally controlled chain-link fence.  During the 1950's, the cemetery site was a popular "parking" spot for young people, who were drawn to the area for its spooky reputation as being haunted.  The gravestones contained a mineral called Labradorite, which is known to cast an eerie blue glow under the right type of lighting.  This phenomenon caused local residents to nickname the place "Blue-Light Cemetery", believing the blue glows to be the ghosts of the original Addicks settlers.
   By the 1970's, most of the headstones had been defaced or stolen, and the area was barely recognizable, prompting federal officials to enclose the perimeter of the cemetery with a chain link fence.  However, curious visitors and ghost hunters still manage to find their way in, and several videos of the old cemetery appear on You Tube.   Many local residents confuse the Blue Light Cemetery for the newer cemetery at SH-6 and Patterson, but the actual location is along the southern rim of the bald spot in the forest, which can be accessed from Bear Creek Pioneers Park, or from the abandoned segment of Addicks-Fairbanks Road, which was once the main entry point to the old cemetery.
   One of the popular ghost stories of the area involves parking a car on one of the bridges on Patterson Rd. at night, and shutting off the engine.  People who have tested this theory claim to have heard tapping on the car windows but nobody standing outside the car.  One person who told me his story said that he tried it back in 1989 with a bunch of college friends.  They dismissed the first taps on the glass as the car's exhaust cooling down and making ping sounds, but then the taps got intense, and seemed to surround the car all at once.  The driver panicked, started the car, and drove off right in the midst of it all.
   As far as my own personal experiences, I've never seen anything extraordinary.  Back in the 1990's, my friends and I would go cruising around Bear Creek late at night, and would often park in the total darkness of Patterson Rd.  For some reason they never put street lights up, and it was fun to lay down on the asphalt in the pitch dark, in total silence, knowing it was unlikely we would have to get out of the way of a moving car.  We just sat there and let this spooky, ominous cloak of night surround us.  It was like the rest of the world didn't exist...just this eerie forest watching us.

The following photo links are from the present day Addicks town site, following the relocation.

Album 06 Pic 25.jpg : Addicks, as it looked in 2011, at the southeast corner of I-10 & SH-6. 06 Pic 26.jpg : Addicks, looking east along Grisbee Rd, 2011. 06 Pic 27.jpg : Watson's Pub, a popular bar in central Addicks, 2011. 06 Pic 29.jpg : This restaurant operated as "Charlie's Hamburgers" until the late 1990's. 06 Pic 44.jpg : The southeast corner of I-10 & SH-6 in 2005 before construction of the SH-6 overpass.  The Jack in the Box restaurant in this photo was demolished shortly after this photo was taken. 06 Pic 59.jpg : Addicks United Methodist Church in its current location near Park Row Dr., Jan. 2012. 06 Pic 58.jpg : The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addicks, formerly the Holiday Inn. Jan. 2012. 06 Pic 51.jpg : The new location of the Addicks cemetery at SH-6 & Patterson Rd, 2011. 06 Pic 48.jpg : Close-up of some of the graves at the new cemetery location. 005.jpg: Badly deteriorated Patterson Rd, near the original Addicks townsite, 2011.



(Above photo: A very old mid-century apartment building on the southern outskirts of Old Alief, May 2013)

The town of Alief was first settled in 1861 on Brays Bayou, on the south side of Alief-Clodine Rd. between Cook and Kirkwood.  Some of you may know the name Reynolds & Reynolds, who claimed some 1,250 acres of land near Brays Bayou at the time.
   In 1888, Jacamiah Seaman Daugherty purchased that land, and the following year granted right-of-way to the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad.  However, the plans did not pan out, and instead the land was sold to Francis Meston in 1893.  The town was given the name "Dairy" by county surveyors in 1894, but when the town applied for a post office, they were rejected for fear that the town might be confused with another town by a similar name.  On early maps of Harris County, the townsite is actually labeled as Dairy.  In 1895, the town re-applied for a post office under the name Alief, honoring the postmistress, Alief Ozella Magee.  Permission was granted, and the town was known thereafter as Alief.  The following year, the town reported a population of 25.
   In the year 1899, the town suffered heavy damage from floodwaters, and the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 virtually destroyed Alief, as the year's crop harvest had been ruined.  However, the town eventually regained its population, and maintained its identity to this day.  The main road from Alief to Houston, simply known as Alief-Houston Rd., eventually became Westpark Drive, a name more Houstonians may be familiar with.  The original railroad corridor that helped bring life to the town  was removed in 2004 to construct the Westpark Tollway, which was completed several years later.
   Today, the original town site of Alief, a grid shaped pattern of narrow streets on the east side of Alief ISD's stadium, is barely recognizable.  The streets are named in a series of letters and numbers, common with older towns, and there are some signs of early settling there, such as older homes, gigantic trees, and ghostly remnants of older infrastructure.  Aside from that, most of what you see in Old Alief is a poverty stricken mesh of small auto repair and used tire shops, and trailer park neighborhoods with yards full of junked lawnmowers and cars without engines.  There are no sidewalks, just narrow, asphalt streets with drainage ditches on both sides, and you'll be lucky to catch a smile or a friendly wave if you drive through there.  But Old Alief is a very interesting site today, because it is one of the few town sites that kept its original layout, despite all the growth around it.  If you look at older aerial photos on Google Earth, the grid pattern of Alief is discernible all the way back to the 1940's and earlier.

Interesting Fact:
Dairy-Ashford Road gets its name from the town of Alief.  In the early 20th century,  when Alief was still known to locals as "Dairy", the primary road linking the town with the northern town of Satsuma (originally known as Ashford or Thompson Switch) was Dairy-Ashford Rd.  Had the two towns held their present-day names at the time of the road's construction, the road very well may have been named Alief-Satsuma Rd. 

MAY 2013 2013a 146.jpg : Old Alief, the center of town, Alief-Clodine @ Cook Rd.  This is the southwest corner. 2013a 147.jpg : LeRoy Crump Stadium, right next door to Old Alief. 2013a 148.jpg : Old Alief, southeast corner of Alief-Clodine @ Cook Rd. 2013a 149.jpg : Alief-Clodine Rd. and the Westpark Tollway side by side (facing east from Cook Rd.) 2013a 150.jpg : Facing east along Alief-Clodine Rd. in the Old Alief area. 2013a 153.jpg : A boarded up old house in the grid of old streets in Old Alief. 2013a 156.jpg : A very old apartment building on the edge of Old Alief.  Looks to have been built in the mid 20th century. 2013a 157.jpg : Another view of the old apartment building. 2013a 158.jpg : Another view of the old apartment building. 2013a 164.jpg : A boarded up retail corner at Alief-Clodine on the northeast edge of Old Alief. 2013a 167.jpg : Magoo Tires on Old Alief, an older building with a fresh paint job that has probably been here a long time.



(Above photo: The intersection of FM 1960 and Kuykendahl, the original site of Bammel, facing the northeast corner, 2008.)

The town of Bammel, which has now been incorporated into the Greater Houston area, was once a small town unto itself, like many others.  It was founded in the early 20th century, centered near the intersection of present-day FM1960 and Kuykendahl Rd.  The town was named after Charles Bammel, a German settler who opened the town's first general store in 1915, the Bammel & Kuehnle Merchandise Store.  Bammel's business partner, Herman Kuehnle, was also the town's first postmaster, serving from 1916 to 1929.
   In 1920, a fire consumed Bammel's merchandise store, but it was later rebuilt to serve the newly formed Bammel Forest community.  At the time, the town had roughly 50 residents, and in 1938, oil was discovered. Five years later, the town's population had surged to 200, but it eventually began to decline.  By 1950, the population had dwindled to just a tenth of that number, and by the 1980's, the town of Bammel was just another spot on the map of Harris County.   The northeast corner where the general store used to be is now a giant retail complex that is all but vacant due to the recent decline of the area.  In Google Earth historical imagery, you can see a few photos when the corner store still existed, which was up into the 1970's if I have the right information. 13 Pic 24.jpg : The southwest corner of FM 1960 and Kuykendahl, March 2009. 13 Pic 25.jpg : The southeast corner in August 2008, showing the remains of an Exxon Express station.  During the late 1990's, Exxon began installing unmanned fuel stations around town but they never caught on.  This particular one was being used to store construction equipment during the excavation project to run Kuykendahl Rd. beneath FM 1960. 13 Pic 26.jpg : This view is facing north along Kuykendahl just south of FM 1960 in August 2008, when the intersection was being reconfigured. 13 Pic 28.jpg : The intersection of FM 1960 and Kuykendahl in August 2008, facing the northeast corner where the old general store once stood. 13 Pic 09.jpg : This February 2009 photo is facing north along Kuykendahl south of FM 1960, when they finally excavated the ground beneath FM 1960. 13 Pic 12.jpg : Ripley's Muffler Shop, operating since 1973 at the southeast corner of FM 1960 and Kuykendahl.  They have survived the construction overhaul as well as the general decline of the area by surviving on word of mouth reputation.  The building itself may have been built as an improvement, as HCAD records show it to have been built in 1983, but I don't have the full story on Ripley's history.

   Directly north of the FM 1960/Kuykendahl intersection is an older residential development known as Bammel Forest, and a smaller inclusion called Pecan Forest.  Originally this land was a cotton and sugar cane plantation in the late 19th century.  In the early 1900's, a retired judge named R.W. Hauck purchased some of the land and planted a pecan orchard, hauling each tree in by horse and buggy and eventually planting some 1800 trees on the land.  Mr. Hauck constructed a huge home in the center of the orchard on the land known as Pecan Forest today.
   The pecan orchard became a highly profitable business venture in the town of Bammel, and would employ large amounts of migrant workers to process the pecans for shipping to a Chicago candy manufacturer.  Eventually, R.W. Hauck passed away and the land was sold to John Jones, who moved into the large home built by Hauck to raise his three children, Michael, Clifford and Dale.  The land known as Pecan Forest was called Micliff Farms (a combination of his two sons names) up through the 1950's.  After a mysterious fire burned their home to the ground while the family was out of town, the family moved to Houston and the land was further developed as the Bammel Forest community that remains today.



Located along US Highway 90 (later known as Interstate 10) some 17 miles west of downtown Houston, the small town of Barker was a railroad stop along the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, which had laid tracks through the area during the 1890's.  Barker was just a hop, skip, and a jump from the town of Addicks, yet once had its own identity as a separate town.  The town was named after Ed Barker, the contractor for the railroad in that area.  In 1898, George Miller became the first postmaster of Barker, and built two houses there.  
   The first home, north of the railroad tracks, served as an inn, but was destroyed during the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The other, south of the tracks, was the town's general store, post office, and telephone operating center.
   Barker was largely a rice farming, dairying, and ranching town.  It gained fame during the early twentieth century as being one of the largest shippers of cattle by train.  It was also the home of the famous LH7 Ranch, one of the largest and best-known cattle ranches in Texas.


The LH7 Ranch was founded by Emil Henry Marks in 1907.  The son of Prussian immigrants, Marks was born in 1881 in neighboring Addicks, Texas, and at the age of 18 had registered the LH7 brand with Harris County.  In 1917, he began ranching in Barker, using some 640 acres of land south of the railroad along Barker-Clodine Road.
  Marks bred longhorn cattle, and provided the entire south with some of the best breeding stock known to man.  During the first World War, he also started a small roping and branding party that grew into an annual ranch rodeo that drew crowds for many years to follow.  The ranch suffered during the great depression, and in the 1940's when the Army Corps of Engineers began constructing the Barker and Addicks Reservoirs, Marks lost 450 acres of land to the US government, including the land on which the annual rodeo was held.  With his property and herd severely decimated, Marks discontinued the annual rodeo.  He later went on to ride in the first Salt Grass Trail Ride, which became an annual tradition in Houston each February during the Livestock Show & Rodeo.  Marks died in 1969 and left the ranch to his youngest daughter, who continues to run the LH7 brand out of Bandera, Tx.  In 1985, the LH7 Ranch was designated as an official historic landmark, but apparently that was not enough to save it forever.  In 2013, the property was sold and developed, and is no longer recognizable the way it is in these pictures, which I took in November 2011. 006.jpg : Main gate of the LH7 Ranch on Barker-Clodine Rd. 007.jpg : A very old surviving tree gracing the front gate of the LH7 Ranch. 008.jpg : Close-up of the LH7's Historical Landmark Plaque.



(Above photo: The Clodine General Store on the southeast corner of FM 1464 & Westpark Tollway, 2014)

Clodine was another railroad town, established in 1888 along the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad some 21 miles southwest of Houston.  Though there is some uncertainty as to the origins of the town's name, it is widely accepted that it was named for a railroad official named Clodine King.
   According to the Handbook of Texas Online, the town of Clodine had established a post office by 1893, and by 1896 had a general store, a Baptist Church, and some 50 residents.  During the 1930's, the Texas and New Orleans Railroad bought out the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad, and removed the train depot and section houses in Clodine.  
  Today, the town of Clodine is almost unrecognizable, but could best be centralized at the southeast corner of FM 1464 and the Westpark Tollway, just south of the Barker Dam.  The last surviving buildings were the old general store, pictured above, and a few small houses directly south of there.  By 2015 the general store and a hoard of abandoned vehicles behind it seemed to be the only things left.



                                (Above photo: The center of Cypress, Tx, located off Hempstead Rd. between Spring Cypress & Fry Rd., March 2005)

Cypress is one of most interesting of Harris County's perimeter towns, because it developed from a small railroad stop, as with many other towns like Barker and Clodine, but ended up becoming one of the most popular suburban settlements in West Houston during the early 21st century.  
   Though Cypress encompasses a large spread of land, it originates at the intersection of old Hempstead Highway and Spring Cypress Rd.  The earliest known settlers of the Cypress area were the Atakapan Indian tribes, but they began to disappear shortly after the appearance of German settlers in the 1840's.  Their immune systems were likely not prepared to handle the diseases introduced to the land by the flood of foreign immigrants, and they simply could not survive.  Some of the earliest German settlers in the area brought the names Hoffmeister and Telge, which are now major roads in the Cypress area.
INTERESTING FACT: It is recorded that General Sam Houston and his army camped in the Cypress area during March of 1836 on their way to Harrisburg, only days before the battle of San Jacinto.  -The Handbook of Texas Online

The center of Cypress, known as Cypress Top, was merely a post office in the early 1850's, but soon became a major railroad stop on the way to Houston when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad extended its tracks to Cypress Top.  The town featured many of the typical structures consistent with late 1800's towns. Two hotels, a livery stable, a grist mill, and a general store. In 1897, E.F. Juergen settled in Cypress, and became the postmaster of Cypress the following year.  In 1905, he married Mary Zahn, and the couple remained in Cypress for the rest of their lives.  They owned a home, the general store, the Juergen Dance Hall, and also operated the post office until 1930.
   The Humble Service Station, which appears to have been built during the 1950's, based on the architectural styling, was operated by E.F. Juergen's son Clarence until his death in 1984.  Clarence's nephew, Gene Zaboroski took over the service station, which operated until 2002.

Though the area surrounding downtown Cypress had begun to develop residential communities during the late 1970's and early 80's, the center of town had begun to show its age.  The main lanes of the US 290 freeway had not reached Cypress yet, and travelers heading between Houston, Waller, and Austin still had to pass through historic downtown Cypress.  By 1997, the new main lanes of the freeway had come, but they bypassed Cypress several blocks to the north, leaving Cypress Top to become a virtual ghost town.  The Juergen Dance Hall was still operating (in it's original location about a hundred yards back), but the other structures had fallen into disrepair.  
   In 2002, the new upscale Black Horse Ranch community had begun to build on the land immediately south of  the railroad tracks at Cypress Top, and the area now had an opportunity to revitalize itself as a historic district.  The community was built on land previously owned by L.M. Josey, Inc., bordered by House & Hahl Road.

   In 2005, Cypress Top was donated to Precinct 3 by the Zaboroski family, and eventually became Cypress Top Historic Park.  The Dance Hall was relocated to the forefront of Hempstead Highway/Business 290, and the buildings were gradually restored to their current status. 17 Pic 09.jpg : Cypress Top prior to restoration, Jan. 2006. 17 Pic 10.jpg : Humble Service Station, unrestored, Jan. 2006. 17 Pic 11.jpg : Juergen's General Store, unrestored, Jan. 2006. 17 Pic 12.jpg : Leon's Barber Shop, unrestored, Jan. 2006. 17 Pic 13.jpg : Abandoned truck & building on Spring Cypress Rd., Jan 2006. 17 Pic 06.jpg : Cypresstop Historic Park, unrestored, March 2005. 17 Pic 04.jpg : Business 290 & new section of Fry Rd., March 2005. 17 Pic 05.jpg : Old Prosperity Bank at Business 290 & Cypress Rosehill, March 2005. 17 Pic 88.jpg : Old frame for a lighted sign outside Juergen's store, August 2011. 17 Pic 91.jpg : Railroad tracks running through Cypress, August 2011.

   When Black Horse Ranch began building homes along House & Hahl Rd., this early 20th century rice drying structure was among the original establishments present on the land.  Though no longer functional, it was determined that it would make a rustic and welcoming entrance sign for the new community.  However, in 2008, the decision was made to tear it down, much to the disappointment of the residents and local historians.  In 2009, the structure was razed, leaving behind only a small concrete foundation. 17 Pic 02.jpg :Rice drier, March 2005. Note the Black Horse logo on the top. 17 Pic 21.jpg :Rice drier as seen from US 290 freeway, Jan. 2007. 17 Pic 30.jpg :Rice drier demolition, April 2009. (This image makes me very sad). 17 Pic 36.jpg :Demolition as seen from House & Hahl Rd, 4/22/2009. 17 Pic 25.jpg :Southwest corner of 290 and Fry, Jan. 2007, clearing the land. 17 Pic 26.jpg :Southwest corner of 290 and Fry, Jan. 2007, clearing the land. 17 Pic 64.jpg :Constructing the Cypress Station Grill next to Cypress Top, March 2008.




            (Above photo: Facing southeast along Hempstead Rd. from Sprite/Campbell, where the town of Fairbanks is centralized, year 2011).

   The town of Fairbanks was founded in 1893 as a stop along the Texas & New Orleans Railroad.  It was named after the town's founder, but was originally known by railroad workers as Gum Island because of the abundance of gum trees growing in the area between White Oak Bayou & Willow Creek. Very little of those trees remain today with all the development around 290 that took place during the 1990's.
   By 1900, Fairbanks had established a post office, as well as a general store and a saloon.  The town itself was centralized at the present-day intersection of Hempstead Road and W. Tidwell.  North of this intersection is a little triangle shaped section of land bordered by Stonington Rd. and Fairbanks-North Houston.  It is this tiny network of streets that made up the core of Fairbanks, and almost all of them were named after cars.  It has been said that the developer of the land had an affinity for cars, as he gave the streets names like Sprite, Kaiser, Singer, Packard, Reo, and Aston (Aston-Martin).

   Around 1951-52, when Fairbanks really began to expand on the map, the community of Carverdale was established just west of town along Gessner Rd.  It was intended to be a segregated black community (remember how civil rights were at the time), and though it is still largely black in demographics, there are also a lot of Hispanics living there now.  Carverdale is a mix of really nice and really bad houses.  One family will have a brand new construction home with a well manicured lawn, and right next door will be a boarded up old two room house from the 1950's with a hole in the roof and the entire structure sitting lopsided on stacked cinder blocks.

    The City of Houston annexed Fairbanks in 1956, incorporating it into what is now the Greater Houston area.   By 1962, Fairbanks had a population of more than a thousand people, and forty-five businesses.  Today, Fairbanks still  maintains somewhat of an identity, primarily when mentioned on traffic or weather reports, but it blends into the rest of the main drag of Hempstead Highway along with the rest of the aging structures in the area.  A small metal sign posted on the south side of the railroad tracks reading "Fairbanks" serves as a label for railroad conductors to identify the area as a recognized stop along the railroad corridor.  The past few times I've been down Hempstead Road, I have not seen the sign, so it could have been stolen or run down by a vehicle.

 If you look with the right kind of eyes, you can see how Fairbanks was once a little town.  All the roadside property along Hempstead Road is occupied by businesses, many of them quite old.  If you look at HCAD public property records, you will see a lot of the structures in that area were built in the late 1940's or early 1950's.  This includes some of the gas stations and auto repair garages. And if you venture through the little streets named after cars, the area does have a vintage charm still somewhat evident.  There are quaint little houses and yards with chain link fences, huge oak trees that are pushing up sidewalks and yards, an old cemetery, a central school, and all the roads are asphalt with open drainage and no curbs, just like the fictional town of Mayberry.

Some photos taken in October 2016 of the area: 2016a 044.JPG : Standing on an old road called Sommermeyer, on the south side of the train tracks, facing the intersection of Hempstead Rd. and Stonington. 2016a 045.JPG : D&E Auto Repair, and Branding Iron Hamburger, two old businesses in central Fairbanks on Hempstead Rd. 2016a 046.JPG : The intersection of Hempstead Rd. and Sprite, one of the old streets of Fairbanks.  Adjacent to the intersection is Campbell Rd., which runs south from here but shares the traffic signal with Sprite. 2016a 047.JPG : Facing east along Hempstead Rd. at the Campbell railroad crossing, facing some of the old vacated businesses along the highway. 2016a 048.JPG : This is the portion of Hempstead Rd. east of W. Tidwell, which is still a heavily clustered area of businesses. 2016a 049.JPG : A closer look at some of the businesses near Hempstead Rd. & Tidwell, including Eats Mesquite Grill, Motts Motel, Winkler's Auto Garage, and Fairbanks Tractor. 2016a 052.JPG : The intersection of Kaiser and Reo, part of that quaint Mayberry charm I was mentioning earlier. 2016a 054.JPG : Another little house tucked into the shade of a large tree, Kaiser St. in the foreground. 2016a 055.JPG : Following Kaiser St. south where it ends at Tidwell.  Originally, Tidwell Road was not present here.  It cut through town around the time 290 construction hit the area (mid-late 1970's). 2016a 056.JPG : Kaiser & Aston Dr., facing along Aston where it is truncated by Tidwell.



Having seen it written as both Howell and Howellville, I am not certain of the official name or significance of this town site, but it appeared to be more of a community than a centralized town.  It was first identified as a railroad stop on the San Antonio Aransas Pass Railroad in the early 1900's, and is shown to be located along Alief-Clodine Road between the towns of Clodine and Alief, some 0.6 miles east of present-day Highway 6.  The surrounding land was very useful in dairy and rice farming in the late 19th and early 20th century.
   There is nothing left to identify the site today, but the name lives on in two local roads that led to and from Howellville, which are Sugarland-Howell Rd., and Addicks-Howell Rd., which has mostly been overtaken by Highway 6 south.  The San Antonio Aransas Pass railroad was eventually paralleled by Westpark Drive, which itself vanished around 2003/2004 with the construction of the Westpark Tollway.



(Above photo: The newer FM 2978 overpass near Hufsmith Rd., facing south.)

Hufsmith (a possible typographical mutation of Huffsmith, as it is written on early maps), is located in the far northern reaches of Harris County.  It was founded in 1872 as a train station stop from the town of Spring to Navasota.  
   Hufsmith was primarily populated by African-Americans, mostly freed slaves who settled in the area in the years following the Civil War, one of the most notable being Anderson King, a former slave who donated some of his land for the implementation of a school.  By 1905, the school had fifty black students and one teacher.  The town's post office was established in 1902, and operated through the 1980's.  Hufsmith remained a relatively small town, with an average population of about 200-250 residents.  During the 1960's, the town featured two service stations, two churches, a cafe, a laundromat, a tavern, and a liquor store.  
   By the 1980's, the town had gradually been reduced to only a cemetery, an abandoned rail station, and a few random homes, but the population remained steady in the 200-250 range.  The town goes virtually unknown today, except for the heavily traveled Hufsmith-Kohrville Road (aka FM 2978), which links the two respective towns.



(Above photo: Jeanetta town site today, at the end of Osage on the south side of Westpark Tollway, facing east, July 2014.  The overgrown concrete patch in the field is something to do with Jeanetta, possibly a parking lot for the store that once existed here.)

  Jeanetta is little more today than an ambiguous mark along the Westpark Tollway near Fondren.  On the south side of the tollway is this patch of land pictured above, and on the north side of the tollway is a very old series of residential roads that are now home to palm readers and used appliance merchants.  You may have also seen the Jeanetta label appear randomly on the local morning news traffic map, but you'll find there isn't really anything notable there today.  It was never a large community, but once stood a chance at having its own identity, much like Addicks or Alief did.  

   Jeanetta began as a small community along the Texas-New Orleans railroad, which once ran through the area prior to construction of the Westpark Tollway in the early 2000's.  According to the Handbook of Texas online, the 1936 County Highway Map showed Jeanetta having two churches and a school near the community.  However, by the 1990's, there was nothing left of the town site but an abandoned railroad depot, which was also later done away with.  The center of the town could be pinpointed to what is now the corner of the Westpark Tollway and Fondren.  The original Westpark Drive, which pre-dated the tollway, ran parallel to the tracks that were originally in place.  Both the tracks and Westpark Drive were consumed by the construction of the tollway, and the intersection of Westpark and Osage was erased as well.  
   Today, Osage forms a cul-de-sac near the center of the Jeanetta town site, something that was implemented during the tollway construction, and there is the vacant remains of KQ Sundown Auto Storage, which closed around 2013.  There are no signs of the abandoned railroad depot, or any ghostly tracks in the field.  Just lots of grass, and lots of power line infrastructure overhead.  I drove out there in July 2014 to have a closer look, but found very little that I couldn't see on Google Maps. 2014a 007.JPG : Standing in the field where Osage once ran to Westpark Drive, facing west along tollway corridor. 2014a 008.JPG : Facing southwest at an old warehouse in the area. 2014a 009.JPG : Standing in the field facing east along tollway corridor from Osage. 2014a 010.JPG : Zoomed in along the fence from the KQ Sundown auto storage facility at Osage. 2014a 011.JPG : Vacant KQ Sundown Auto Storage on Osage near Jeanetta town site. 2014a 012.JPG : Facing south on Osage from the cul-de-sac towards Harwin. (Harwin is not a very old street by comparison.)



(Above photo: One of the many historic rice driers lining US Highway 90 in downtown Katy, Tx., Dec. 2011)

The town of Katy, Texas, is located on the far western border of Harris County at the junction of Fort Bend and Waller Counties along US Highway 90 (later superseded by Interstate 10).  The town, previously known as Cane Island, was founded during the 1890's as a railroad stop along the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad.  The area was primarily used for farming peanuts, corn, and cotton, but in 1901, William Eule introduced rice farming to the area, which later became the chief crop of Katy.  The town gets its name from the railroad.  The initials for the Kansas-Texas railroad corridor, or K.T., eventually just became "Katy".
   The town did not have a railroad station until the first depot was completed in 1898, and expanded in 1919, the same year Katy Independent School District was established.  One thing Katy was known for was having a widespread tract of one room schools scattered throughout the western edges of Harris County.  These schools, with names like Sills, South Mayde, Stockdick, and Dischner, are the origin behind many of the rural roads that make up Katy.  Stockdick School Road is one that I happen to pass from time to time when traveling through Katy.
Perhaps the biggest contribution of the city of Katy is a large natural gas reserve that was discovered in 1934.  The Humble Oil (now Exxon) Gas Condensate Plant was built in 1943 during the peak of World War II to extract liquid hydrocarbons from gas. The Katy Gas Field became the nation's most valuable reserve of natural gas during the war, with production reaching a peak of 13,000 barrels a day in 1945.  The success of the reserve led to a boom in population in the decades to come, and Katy had established itself as a viable town on the map.

Today, Katy maintains its own identity as a town separate from Houston, with its own small-town way of life, including strict speed limits and firm law enforcement.  Probably the most notable features of Katy are the antiquated rice driers that line the northern shoulder of US-90 beside the railroad tracks.  The town also retains many of the low-rise structures that were built in the early twentieth century.  The Missouri-Kansa-Texas train depot was sold to the city in 1977, and was converted into a museum during the early 1990's.  In 1994, a significant segment of the long-planned Grand Parkway (US-99) was opened between the Southwest Freeway (US-59) and IH-10.  Throughout 2012 and 2013, the Grand Parkway was completed north of I-10 all the way to US 290.
   During the later 1990's, more residential developments had continued to spring up along Fry and Mason Roads, and around 1999, Katy Mills Mall opened near I-10 and Pin Oak Road, anticipating further westward development of Katy. 2006 036.jpg : Intersection of US-90 and FM 359 North on the way from Katy through Brookshire, Nov. 2006 2006 049.jpg : Some of the old rice mills along US-90 in downtown Katy, Dec. 2006. 2011 033.jpg : US-90 running through Katy, facing east, Dec. 2011. 2011 034.jpg : US-90 running through Katy, with rice driers on the left, Dec. 2011. 2011 035.jpg : Rice driers along US-90 in Katy, Dec. 2011. 2011 036.jpg : Close up of the tallest rice drier in Katy, Dec. 2011. 2011 037.jpg : IH-10 at Pin Oak Rd., facing north towards central Katy, Dec. 2011.

Early photos of the northern terminus of Grand Parkway SH-99 just north of I-10 in Katy. 27 Pic 04.jpg : Construction of the IH-10 & US-99 exit ramp, Jul. 2011. 27 Pic 06.jpg : Looking west at IH-10 frontage road & US-99, Jul. 2011. 27 Pic 07.jpg : Looking north along US-99 & Mercantile Pkwy., Jul. 2011. 27 Pic 08.jpg : Looking north along US-99 & Colonial Pkwy., Jul. 2011. 27 Pic 10.jpg : Looking south along US-99 & Colonial Pkwy., Jul. 2011. 27 Pic 12.jpg : Shell Station, southeast corner of US-99 and Colonial Pkwy., Jul. 2011. 27 Pic 16.jpg : The northern terminus of US-99 at Franz Rd. as of Jul. 2011.



            (Above photo: An empty field near what would have been considered the epicenter of Klein, along Spring-Cypress Rd., Jan. 2012)

In 1854, Adam Klein and his wife Friedrika (Klenk), immigrants from Stuttgart, Germany, arrived in Texas, most likely at the ports of Galveston, and found a place to settle in a wooded area known as Big Cypress, a German agricultural community that had established itself along Cypress Creek.  Twenty years later, in 1874, Klein established the Trinity Lutheran Church along with the Bernshausen, Benfer, Brill, Kaiser, Lemm, Theiss, and Wunderlich families.  You may recognize some of these names as streets in the Spring/Cypress area today.  Those streets were named after the families that began this historic congregation.  The church was later joined by the Klenk & Strack families.  If you have ever heard of Strack Farms, this is where the namesake began its roots in the Houston area.
   The first post office was established in 1884 with the help of Adam Klein, in William Blackshear's General Store, which was once located on Spring-Cypress Rd, one of the oldest routes in the northern region of Harris County.  Spring Cypress Road began at Hempstead Road (which was once known as Old Washington), and zig-zagged its way through the countryside all the way to the railroad community of Spring.  This road would have been considered the "main drag" of its time, although the era I am referring to was the age of horse-drawn transit.  
   Today, Spring Cypress remains an active road through the upper region of Harris County, though it has undergone several re-alignments since the time of the horse drawn carriage.  Portions of the old Spring Cypress road remain today, east of Stuebner-Airline Dr. (see ABANDONED ROADS page).  
   In 1938, Klein Independent School District was established, and in 1977, Klein was designated to receive its own mail, as the 88 square mile boundary of Klein ISD had been operating without a post office since 1906, receiving its mail from Houston, Spring, and Tomball.   Today, Klein ISD remains one of the best school districts in the Greater Houston area, with schools that have been around for decades. 051.jpg : Trinity Lutheran Church, Spring Cypress at Klein Church Rd., Jan 2012. 052.jpg : Trinity Lutheran Church, Jan. 2012.



(Above photo: The historic cemetery in Kohrville, which spans both sides of Hufsmith-Kohrville Rd. south of Spring-Cypress Rd., Jan 2012)

Kohrville, also known as Korville or Pilotville, was once a small black community founded near West Montgomery Road (now known as SH-249) and Spring Cypress Rd., some 20 miles northwest of Houston.  The town was formed during the 1870's from freed Alabama slaves who worked at the nearby Louetta sawmill, or had purchased land on their own behalf.  
   Kohrville was named after Paul Kohrmann, a German immigrant who operated the post office in 1881.
Kohrville's post office closed in 1911, and the town's population never exceeded more than some fifty residents.  The town had a cotton gin, and a  general store run by Agnes Tautenhahn-Kohrmann. -Handbook of Texas Online.
Today, the town is just a small cluster of aging homes and businesses on the southern tip of Hufsmith-Kohrville Rd., and a historic cemetery split into two sections by the street, with no visible signs identifying it as Kohrville at all.  A few newer businesses and churches have built in the Kohrville area, but most appear to have been around for a minimum of several decades.  Many of the yards have broken down vehicles parked in the front yards with missing parts and terminal rust, while other properties appear to be completely abandoned. 30 Pic 03.jpg : The Pilgrim Branch Missionary Baptist Church, Jan. 2012. 30 Pic 01.jpg : The west side of the old cemetery, Jan. 2012. 30 Pic 02.jpg : The east side of the old cemetery, Jan. 2012. 30 Pic 07.jpg : Bimbo's, northeast corner of Hufsmith-Kohrville & Cossey Rd. 30 Pic 05.jpg : Abandoned house on Cossey Rd., overgrown with vines. 30 Pic 06.jpg : Another view of the same house from the east.



(Above photo: The apex of Old Louetta Rd. where the center of the Louetta town site once existed.)
 The town of Louetta was a small railroad community along the Burlington-Rock Island line near the present-day intersection of Louetta Rd. and Cutten Rd.  
It was mostly known for its two sawmills which employed many local residents of neighboring communities.  As the nearby community of Klein began to expand and develop, Louetta slowly declined, and had disappeared by 1946, except for a few tombstones.  Locating the actual town site today is difficult just driving by, as there are no signs of it having existed, aside from the original route through the area now known as Old Louetta.  
   I had to view old Zingery survey maps and historic aerial imagery to see what the original configuration of the town was.  Today's present Louetta Road bypasses the original town to the south, and the original route was re-named Old Louetta.  If you turn off the main road onto this street, it goes back into what is now the Memorial Chase subdivision, which was built around 1980. Old Louetta makes a few sharp turns before running parallel to the train tracks, and then crossing over the tracks with an old-fashioned "dog-leg" turn, something they don't build these days for safety reasons.  From there, Old Louetta Road continues north towards Spring-Cypress Rd.
   It is the zig-zag portion on the east side of the tracks that was apparently the hub of Louetta.  Old aerial imagery from circa 1944 shows a few structures (presumably sawmills) on the north side of Louetta Rd., and some plowed fields.  This is about the only developed land in the immediate area during this time period, except for neighboring Kohrville to the west.  The proximity of Kohrville and Louetta is a fairly good indication of just how small and clustered some of these old towns were.  Unlike major cities today which take an hour or more to traverse, these old towns were just short jogs away from each other, and though this area was primarily rural and remote in the early 20th century, there was no shortage of little outposts along the main roads.  Hockley and Waller are another good example.  

I made a trip out to the Louetta town site in early 2017 to get some photos finally, and to try and imagine what the area might have looked like before all the development occurred.  Before Louetta Road and the town site were bypassed.  Standing near the railroad crossing is probably the best way to orient yourself, as very little changes along heavily wooded railroad corridors.  You won't find a train depot, or any mysterious concrete slabs, or anything indicating the area as a former town.  But that is where it all began for Louetta, and where it all ended. Here are some photos I took along Old Louetta Rd. near the railroad tracks.



(Above Photo: The North Houston area, SH 249 at the intersection of Bammel-North Houston Rd. looking southeast.  The power line poles with the diagonally offset arms are the oldest ones, dating back to the postwar era.)

North Houston is located approximately 10 miles northwest of downtown Houston, centered southwest of State Highway 249 near the intersections of Bammel-North Houston, Fairbanks-North Houston, and North Houston-Rosslyn Roads.  The town originally began as a stop along the Burlington-Rock Island Railroad, and was known as Tomball, after Thomas Henry Ball, a key figure in the railroad development in the area.  The name Tomball would later be applied to another town further north along the railroad at the intersection of FM 2920. 
   In 1907, the town was renamed Scoville, and operated a post office for two years (1908-1909) under that name.  A hurricane destroyed much of the town, and flooded the area with mud.  Fearing imminent failure from an inability to rebuild, the town's residents asked the City of Houston for Scoville to be incorporated as a ward.  From 1910 on, the town was known as North Houston.  

   Though the community itself had dissolved by the late 20th century, the name North Houston continues to identify that area of town surrounding SH 249/Tomball Parkway inside Beltway 8.  Prior to 1988, Sh 249 was known as FM 149, which ran east/west from I-45 and merged with the old alignment of West Montgomery Road near the present day Acres Homes subdivision.  West Montgomery Road is quite possibly one of the oldest right-of-ways in the North Houston area, and is named so for being the main arterial link between Harris and Montgomery Counties.  In the mid 2000's, approval was granted for construction of the Tomball Parkway, which would overtake the old divided four-lane highway into Tomball.
   North of Tomball, the expansion known as the Aggie Expressway began to take shape.  Funding shortages halted the project in the economic recession of 2008, and as of 2012, the Tomball Parkway and Aggie Expressway remain separated by a segment of unfinished freeway between Northpointe Rd. and Magnolia.  Parts of the old four lane highway can still be seen in between the frontage roads.



(Above photo: One of the oldest recognizable structures in Rose Hill, along FM 2920. Appears to be a late 1800's feed or general store, Apr. 2013)

  Rose Hill is a small German settled town centered along Waller-Tomball Rd. and Cypress-Rosehill Rd. in northwest Harris County.  Though it is mostly regarded as a ghost town today, Rose Hill retains a small spot on the map of Harris County, and continues to operate it's own fire department, church, and a small assortment of local businesses.  The original community was known as Spring Creek, and was founded in 1836 by P.W. Rose.  The town would later be named Rose Hill, in his honor, in 1892.
   Rose Hill is home to one of the oldest Lutheran congregations is Texas, the Salem Lutheran Church, founded by local German resident Johann Heinrich Theisz in 1852.  Theisz moved to the Spring Creek community in 1846, arriving from Germany at the Port of Galveston, like most of the German settlers of Harris County.  Cotton was the primary crop in the area, and during the 1880's, the town flourished as it exported cotton via the Cypress Top Railroad station.  Cypress-Rosehill Rd. was the original road used by horse-drawn wagons to transport their crop to the railroad.  Today, Cypress-Rosehill Rd. still ends at Cypress Top, just a few yards east of where Fry Rd. cut through in 2004.
   The town began to decline in the 1920's and 1930's, and the last population was recorded at 100 residents in 1947.  -The Handbook of Texas Online.

Today, Rose Hill has a historic landmark placed on the church, located along none other than Rosehill Church Rd., and the main drag through town contains a few of the antique buildings that were erected during the early 20th century, but that's about all you will find if you are just passing through.  There is really some great history here, but you have to dig deeper to find it. 2013a 013.jpg : Another view of the Rose Hill store, Apr. 2013 2013a 014.jpg : Another view of the Rose Hill store, Apr. 2013 2013a 015.jpg : Another view of the Rose Hill store, Apr. 2013 2013a 016.jpg : Black & white (sepia) photo of same building, Apr. 2013 2014a 055.JPG : Rose Hill Fire Station #3, located on FM 2920 on the western outskirts of Rose Hill, June 2014.



(Above photo: A typical property seen in the surviving vestiges of Satsuma Estates, June 2016.  The mix of old derelict houses and aging industrial complexes paint a good picture of the communities making up Satsuma today.)

 Satsuma is an unincorporated area in northwest Harris County that has since been annexed by the City of Houston, but was once a potentially flourishing community in the very early 20th century.  It began as a small railroad stop known as Ashford Station/ Thompson Switch, south of Cypress along the Houston and Texas Central Railway, which parallels present day US 290.   The town was to be renamed Satsuma, after the groves of Satsuma orange trees that were intended to be planted in the area.   The original town site was surveyed and platted in 1909 by R.F Eller, and the plotted town site was filed with the county clerk in June of 1910 by J.T. Thompson, president of the Board of Trustees of the Satsuma Land and Loan Co.  The original subdivided plat was situated on the north side of the railroad on a 196 acre tract of land that shows on survey maps as part of the Gus Wortham Estate.   Today this area of land is occupied by the Northwest Station Park & Ride, Sam's Club, and several car dealerships. 

 In 1936, the Stanolind Oil & Gas Co. discovered oil in Satsuma, and the Humble Oil & Refining Co. (Exxon) built Satsuma Station, a large pumping station and oil tank farm located at the corner of Hempstead & Jackrabbit Rd.  Subsequently, the town began to flourish, and additional land was platted, on the south side of the railroad.  There were two tracts of land adjacent to each other, identified as Fairview Gardens, Hahl's Satsuma Subdivision, and then a third tract south of Spencer Rd. known as Satsuma Estates.  The Satsuma subdivision never fully materialized, but Fairview Gardens and Satsuma Estates were constructed, and still exist today, though more industrial than residential.  Here is the breakdown as I have come to understand it:

Hahl's Satsuma Subdivision
   This small rectangular subdivision was platted out as a subdivision but was never developed as such.  Currently the land on which it was platted is occupied by Cy-Ridge High School and the CFISD transportation center.  It consisted of about twelve planned streets named after trees. From north to south, the roads would be labeled as 1st St., Pecan, Oak, Pine, Burch, Maple, Beech, Cedar, Magnolia, Ash, Walnut and Willow.  Slightly to the south of the planned subdivision was a road named Beaumont Rd. that ran north from Spencer Rd. but appeared to vanish before it connected with the planned Satsuma Subdivision.  This road later became Mayard Rd.  Keep in mind this was before Eldridge Parkway was built north of FM 529. 2016a 005.JPG : This is a segment of Satsuma Rd., which comes to a dead end a few blocks north of FM 529.  This view is facing south across FM 529 into Satsuma Estates.  This segment of road would have led into Satsuma Subdivision, had it been built.  Today there is a National Oilwell Varco complex on the land north of the dead end. 2016a 006.jpg : Abandoned house at the end of Satsuma Rd. where the street ends. 2016a 007.jpg : A row of mailboxes for a small cluster of mobile homes on an offshoot road called Treichel. 2016a 008.jpg : This is Mayard Rd., north of FM 529, facing north.  The road was originally listed as Beaumont Rd., and would have bordered the Satsuma Subdivision to the west. 2016a 009.jpg : Facing south on Mayard Rd. across FM 529 into Satsuma Estates.

Fairview Gardens
   Fairview Gardens is situated just south of the Gulf Pacific Rice Dryer, which was originally named Moore Rice Dryer.  There is a grid of residential streets known as Taylor, Harms, Fairview, and Wright.  Harms Rd. was originally supposed to be called West Rd., as it was the westernmost road in the community, and Taylor Rd. was originally listed as Schleyer Rd.  I am not sure why the street names changed, but the Zingery Map of the community shows the old names.  Fairview and Wright Rd. are continuous all the way between FM 529 and Taylor, but Harms Rd. is broken up into several segments.  The area today is largely comprised of industrial complexes with a few residential homes and trailer parks scattered around.  Most of the homes are in disrepair or abandoned, and look to be from the 1940's or 1950's.  There are a lot of overgrown driveways and dead ends.  Fairview Rd. appears to be the "main drag" through the community, if there was one. 2013a 043.jpg : The Moore Rice Dryer (now Gulf Pacific) at the 290 entrance to Fairview Gardens, May 2013. 2013a 046.jpg : Sparkle Sign Co., another business at the north entrance to Fairview Gardens, May 2013.  This building has been here for many decades under various names. 2013a 047.jpg : The 290 frontage road passing through the Satsuma/Fairview Gardens area, May 2013. 2016a 002.jpg : An abandoned home at the corner of Taylor and Harms, which is the northwest corner of Fairview Gardens, June 2016. 2016a 003.jpg : Facing south along Harms Rd. from Taylor.  This is the road that would have been called West Rd., June 2016. 2016a 004.jpg : Facing east along Taylor Rd. from the corner of Harms Rd. 2016a 018.jpg : This is the main entrance into Fairview Gardens from FM 529, the Chevron station at Fairview Rd. and FM 529, June 2016.

Satsuma Estates
   This tract of land is situated on the southeast corner of FM 529 and Eldridge, and consists of several streets running north to south, named Mayard Rd. (originally listed as Beaumont Rd.), Satsuma, and Signat.  The tract was bordered on the south by Emmett Rd.
The land was eventually developed much like Fairview Gardens, a lot of industrial complexes and storage yards with some old houses sprinkled around.  Some of the homes here are in decent shape, but many of them are also badly deteriorated and overgrown.  There is a heavy presence of overgrowth and vines. 2016a 010.jpg : The corner of Emmett and Mayard ( aka Beaumont), facing north along Mayard. 2016a 011.jpg : Facing west along Mayard Rd. towards Eldridge.  Eldridge did exist here when the community was built, but under the name Addicks-Fairbanks Rd. prior to 1982. 2016a 012.jpg : Stop sign at the intersection of Mayard & Emmett Rds. 2016a 013.jpg : This is Signat Rd., which represents the eastern boundary of Satsuma Estates, facing north towards FM 529. 2016a 014.jpg : The same photo as the chapter header photo, showing a typical property within Satsuma Estates.  This is on Satsuma Rd. close to Emmett. 2016a 017.jpg : Another example of the typical residences seen in Satsuma Estates.

Other traces of Satsuma
   After doing some more research and getting a little help from another fellow historian, it seems that I may have stumbled onto the site of the old railroad station without even knowing it, back in 2012.  The station, according to old land survey plot points, was a 130'x130' structure with a nearby adjacent structure south of the railroad tracks that parallel US 290, a few blocks inbound from West Road.  This is also easily identified as the old entrance to Phobia Haunted House on 290, which has since closed.  Until early 2015, there was an old, dilapidated building across the tracks that looked to be a house from the early 20th century..  When the Phobia House operated nearby, they hung their entry sign on the front porch of this structure, presumably because it looked pretty freaking creepy sitting out in the overgrowth the way it did.
   Because of the size of the structure being considerably less than 130'x130', I believe this was a house that may have served alongside the railroad station when there still was one, but the original Ashford station is long gone, and would have likely been situated right at the driveway over the tracks.  The home appears on Google Earth images that go back as far as 1944, so it had been there a good while.  For some reason, the house was bulldozed in 2015, after Phobia Haunted House had moved out.  Today there is nothing but a sign post holding a power meter, and a driveway that was torn up to become a bed of crumbled concrete and dirt.  But this was the location of the old railroad station going back to the beginning of Satsuma.  It sits geographically due north of Fairview Gardens, which makes it right where one would expect a train station.  Here are some photos I took in 2012 of the old house.  

   The original platting for Fairview Gardens was done before 290 existed, and the only main road running through the area was Hempstead Highway, previously known as Old Washington Rd.  The plats were originally on both sides of the freeway, and while most of Fairview Gardens was developed industrially versus residentially, there were some properties on the north side of the Hempstead/290 corridor that were used as homes.  For a good long while, I have been curious about the two old houses on the westbound frontage road between Jones and Steepleway Drive.  They are located about where the upper east corner of the Fairview Gardens plat would be, forming a complete rectangle.  I am not sure because I have not been able to gather any information about these two houses, but I believe they (or at least the land lots) are part of the original Fairview Gardens plat.  The houses themselves are not currently occupied, and not even in that bad of shape compared to other vacant homes I've seen. 
   What is strange is that they are the only two houses lining 290 in that area.  Everything else is commercial or apartments.  My best guess is that the homes were abandoned when the area became too developed, and the land they sat on was purchased by a private interest looking to use the land or sell it one day.  The redevelopment of 290 would be an ideal time to sell roadside property, so if the land is sold, the homes will be bulldozed.  These are some photos of the houses taken in early June 2016. 2016a 019.jpg : The first of two homes alongside 290 between Jones & Steepleway. 2016a 021.jpg : Facing west along the frontage road to show the orientation of the houses. (This is still the old frontage lanes, the new ones were just being started.) 2016a 022.jpg : The second home, which looks to be in decent shape except for the patio overhang drooping down. 2016a 023.jpg : Another view of the house showing the front door.



(Above photo: Old Town Spring, as seen from the railroad crossing, Jan. 2012.)

The City of Spring is located in northern Harris County, and centered approximately a mile east of the intersection of I-45 and FM 2920 in a small, tightly knit cluster of antique buildings known as Old Town Spring.  Much like the town of Cypress, Spring has expanded drastically since its humble beginnings, and now has come to define itself as one of the larger incorporated areas of Harris County, While it could have easily slipped between the cracks like so many other small railroad towns of its kind, Spring has its own unique flavor, and a rich history.
   The land on which Spring was founded was originally occupied by Orcoquiza Indian tribes, and in the 1820's, some of Stephen F. Austin's colonists settled in the area. -The Handbook of Texas Online.

   By the year 1840, German settlers had begun to arrive in the area known as Spring, and they began farming; mostly cotton, sugar cane, and vegetables.  One of the most prominent settlers of early Spring was Carl Wunsche, who arrived in the year 1846 with his wife Jane.  Wunsche's son William and his three grandchildren would later go on to build the Wunsche Brothers Hotel & Saloon in 1902.  In 1871, the Houston & Great Northern Railroad built tracks through the town of Spring, and the place became a huge boom town by the late 19th century.  By 1902, Spring had defined itself as a major railroad town, now connected with Fort Worth via the International-Great Northern Railroad.  

  In 1902, Carl Wunsche's son William and his three grandsons, Charlie, Dell, and Willie, erected the two-story Wunsche Bros. Hotel & Saloon directly south of the railroad. This historic hotel would become one of the most popular places for railroad workers to gather at the end of the day for a few drinks, among other things.  In the 1920's, the railroad roundhouse was moved to Houston, and the town of Spring began to decline.  Most of the original wooden buildings were torn down and used for scrap lumber, but the Wunsche Bros. Hotel & Saloon remained intact as one of the oldest surviving original structures in the town.  In 1949, it was named the Spring Cafe, and was more of a diner or restaurant than a hotel/saloon.  The building had begun to fall into disrepair, and had ceased to function as a hotel.  In 1982, the building was sold & restored, and has since re-opened as the Wunsche Bros. Cafe.  The cafe, famous for its outstanding burgers and their own fresh made beer bread, was one of the main attractions of Old Town Spring until 2015 when an overnight fire in the kitchen area destroyed the newer addition to the building.  The original building survived but took on extensive smoke damage.  After several months in limbo, the property was put up for sale.  As of October 2015, the future of the building is uncertain.

   With the decline of Spring following the removal of the railroad roundhouse, the downtown area became a ghost town that motorists passed through on their way between towns like Cypress and Aldine.  However, the area did eventually grow with residential communities during the latter half of the 20th century, and Spring continued to maintain its identity as a town on the map, despite the decline of the historic downtown district.  In 1969, the Goodyear Blimp "America" built it's mooring station and hangar in Spring along the west side of I-45 near Holzwarth Rd.  
   The blimp found a spot in the hearts of Houstonians all over the city, and even I remember it well growing up.  As a child, I would often see the blimp passing over my neighborhood in Northwest Houston, or sometimes after a visit to Hanna-Barbera Land (now Splashtown USA), we would see the blimp arriving or departing from its hangar.  The blimp moved to another state in 1992.

  Around the year 1980, the name "Old Town Spring" began to appear as local historians and residents began to restore downtown Spring's older buildings, transforming the entire central area into a tourist attraction that included restaurants, gift shops, antiquities, and other businesses selling unique crafts & wares of all types.  The Wunsche Bros. Cafe expanded their building, and reopened during the early 1980's after extensive renovations following a period of total abandonment.  Every year, Spring holds its annual Crawfish & Music Festival, drawing in people from all over Texas.  

*AUTHOR'S NOTE: I vaguely remember visiting Old Town Spring for the first time around 1986 with my folks, during that year's crawfish festival.  There was a stage set up for bands to play on, and the Wunsche Bros. Cafe was in full swing.  At the time, their upstairs rooms had not been roped off, and housed a small variety of arcade games like Pac Man and Moon Patrol.  There were about fifteen kids running around upstairs including myself, totally wired on Dr. Pepper and funnel cakes.  The upstairs rooms have since been closed off, and several rumors circulate about the building being haunted. 019.jpg : The Goodyear Blimp departing the mooring station, 1984. 047.jpg : The Wunsche Bros. Cafe, at the corner of Midway. & Hardy St., Jan. 2012. 048.jpg : A cluster of shops across from Wunsche Bros. in Old Town Spring.  These buildings were moved here fairly recently.  Prior to the 2000's, this lot was occupied by a small gas station to the right where "Vamp Vintage Wear" sits, and a garden area surrounded by a picket fence on the left where the pink house now sits. 049.jpg : The railroad crossing near the core of Old Town Spring, Jan. 2012. 046.jpg : Looking north along the railroad tracks that run through Old Town Spring. 050.jpg : "The Loose Caboose", a real old-fashioned railroad caboose converted into a food stand, located along Midway Dr. 043.jpg : "Spring Across The Tracks" Icehouse, a venture that began in the late 1980's but has been abandoned since the 1990's. 042.jpg : This concrete foundation at the intersection of Spring School Rd. & Aldine-Westfield is reported to be the remains of the original Spring School back in the early 20th century.  I could not find any sources on the web to verify this, but it would certainly explain the name Spring School Rd. 2007 017.JPG : Splashtown USA, on I-45 near the FM 2920 intersection in Spring.  In 2014 it was renamed Wet & Wild Splashtown. Photo from Jan. 2007)

Photos of the Wunsche Bros. Cafe following a 2015 fire. 001.jpg : Interior fire damage (sourced from Wunsche Bros. Facebook page) 002.jpg : Interior fire damage (sourced from Wunsche Bros. Facebook page) 003.jpg : Interior fire damage (sourced from Wunsche Bros. Facebook page) 004.jpg : Interior fire damage (sourced from Wunsche Bros. Facebook page) 2015a 028.JPG : The Wunsche Cafe from across the street 2015a 030.JPG : The front entrance to the original building.  The windows are blacked out completely by the smoke stains. 2014a 031.JPG : Small spots where smoke began to drift out of the walls, indicating an extremely dense smoke presence inside the building. 2015a 032.JPG : Smoke stained windows on the east wall of the original hotel structure. 2015a 033.JPG : This kitchen equipment appears to have been on fire, but is not in the area where the fire began. 2015a 034.JPG : More smoke damage visible on the windows. 2015a 035.JPG : The back side of the newer addition to the Wunsche Cafe, visibly damaged by fire on the outside walls. 2015a 036.JPG : The back side of the original hotel structure, still intact and salvageable.




(Above photo: The restored Tomball train station, on the east side of Main St. in Old Town Tomball, January 2017)

The City of Tomball is Harris County's northernmost town, centered some 30 miles from downtown Houston along the Burlington-Rock Island Railroad near the present-day intersection of FM 2920..  The land on which it was built was granted to the heirs of William Hurd in 1838, and it prospered as a small farming community through the latter half of the 19th century.  In 1907, the town was named Peck, and was a major train station and agricultural trading post.  The station featured a freight terminal with a five-stall roundhouse.  A roundhouse is a circular building used for servicing locomotives and also for rotating them around for the return journey. (-Wikipedia).
   The name Peck came from a local engineer, but only lasted for about a year.  In December 1907, Peck was renamed Tomball, after Thomas Henry Ball, who helped bring the railroad to the community.  The name Tomball had previously been applied to another town that later adopted the name Scoville, and later became North Houston.  

   On May 27, 1933, oil was discovered on the land of J.F.W. Kobb, and in 1935, the Humble Oil & Refining Company (Exxon) negotiated a contract with the town of Tomball for drilling rights on the land.  The agreement stipulated that Humble Oil give free water & natural gas to its residents for the next 90 years.  Until the year 2025, residents of Tomball do not have to pay for either of those utilities if they are within city limits.

   Today, Tomball is experiencing a time of rapid growth, as upper middle class families migrate north of Houston to settle in this peaceful, quiet, and uncongested part of Harris County.  The main road through Tomball is FM 2920, which slows to a 30 mph speed limit through downtown Tomball.  The downtown district has retained much of its cultural history, including the original train depot, and a tract of small businesses that continue to prosper in a time of big box stores and retail strip malls.  
2007 23 Pic 08.jpg : Silverado 19 Movie Theater being constructed, 2007.
2014 2014a 065.JPG : Aerial photo of SH 249 under construction near FM 2920.  This is near central or downtown Tomball, facing south along SH 249, Jan. 2014. 2014a 067.JPG : Aerial photo of FM 2920 at the railroad crossing in historic downtown Tomball, Jan. 2014. 2014a 068.JPG : Aerial photo of the Baker Hughes office at FM 2920 and Hufsmith-Kohrville Rd. in Tomball, Jan. 2014. 2014a 069.JPG : Aerial photo of FM 2920 at Mahaffey Rd., during a road expansion project, Jan. 2014. 2014a 070.JPG : David Wayne Hooks Airport, at the junction of FM 2920, Stuebner-Airline Rd., and Boudreaux Rd., Jan. 2014. 2014a 071.JPG : Landing at Hooks Airport on runway 17, looking down at FM 2920 and Boudreaux Rd. before there was any Grand Parkway construction, Jan. 2014.
 The sign at the railroad crossing for Old Town Tomball.
 The Historical Marker for the City of Tomball.
 The Tomball Train Station.
 The Tomball Train Station (trackside boarding/unloading deck)
 An old relic from some ancient restaurant that used to be on this corner near Main St. & the railroad.
 Main Street Crossing, a business for local tourists who visit Tomball for its historical attributes.
 Old Town Tomball, facing West on Main St (FM 2920)
 Old Town Tomball, facing east on Main St. (FM 2920)




  In 1846, a German immigrant named Herman Tautenhahn erected a general store along a trail that crossed Cypress Creek in north Harris County, near the present day location of FM 1960 and the Hardy Toll Road.    Around 1870, the International-Great Northern Railroad ran tracks through the area on the way from Spring to Houston.  Tautenhahn relocated his store closer to the tracks several years later to increase business.  The community began to flourish, and was named Westfield, after Gate F. West, a local landowner who owned the property that the railroad would pass through.
   The town of Westfield was primarily cattle ranching, as well as a producer of cotton and lumber, all of which was shipped out along the railroad.  The town recorded a population of 200 residents in the year 1890, most of whom were also German settlers.  In the early 1900's, they experienced a boom time, but as cotton farming moved west, the town began to decline.  By the time the Great Depression began to sink in during the 1930's, the population had declined to about fifty residents.  
   During the 1950's, FM 1960 was built running north of Westfield, bypassing the old main drag, which was Bammel-Westfield Road, and the town began to lose its place on the map.  Tautenhahn's General Store was relocated to the corner of I-45 and FM 1960 and renamed Big T's Shopping Center.  In 1972, the Westfield Post Office closed, and by 1990, only one business was registered in the town.  The last apparent business to operate in the area was a sports bar known as Westfield by the Railroad.  The building was vacant when I made a trip out there in late January 2017.

  Today, the town site of Westfield is just a small cluster of structures that resemble sports bars or restaurants, and a tiny little shack that appears to have some historic significance, but no obvious signage.  The cluster sits alongside Hardy St. beside the railroad corridor at an intersection known as Westfield Loop Rd.  Today, Hardy runs further south, but originally, all traffic would have to turn down Westfield Loop Rd. to get back to Bammel Rd.