Looking over the handful of buildings left standing in Thurber today, it might be difficult to believe that it was once a thriving company town at the turn of the century and the most important mine site in Texas for 30 years. At one time a community of more than 10,000 residents, Thurber was the largest town between Fort Worth and El Paso. After getting electricity in 1895, it became one of the first towns in the world with complete electric service.
The discovery of oil signaled Thurber's decline. The last coal mine closed in 1921, and by 1936 the town had been abandoned, quickly become a ghost town. Today, only about six original buildings still stand, including the old mercantile building, original water treatment plant and the 128-foot-tall smokestack from the second electric power plant built in 1909. Now with a population of just eight, Thurber stands as a testament to the power of economics and technology to build and destroy communities.
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