Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Step Back in Time by Visiting This Texas Ghost Town

Bartlett, Texas, located only an hour north of Austin, is a ghost town in Central Texas. Bartlett doesn’t have much going for it now, but in its heyday, it was once a booming town due to the railroad nearby and the cotton industry. Now, Bartlett does currently have a couple thousand residents, but the town’s center is practically barren from commercial industry. However Bartlett, Texas is still a great place to escape the big city and view a true ghost town.

Bartlett Commercial Historic District
Credit: Bartlett Commercial Historic District by Renegomezphotography.com

The city of Bartlett was established in 1881, although settlers started living in the town as early as the 1850s. The town of Bartlett became a popular destination during this time due to the Katy Railroad. By the time the railroad reached the town in 1882, Bartlett already had two stores and a post office.

The railroad really put Bartlett on the map. Within two years, the town had already 300 residents and become a main shipping spot for cotton. By 1890, the town of Bartlett had a few banks, a hotel, meat market, four churches and two weekly newspapers. This was the busiest time Bartlett had ever seen. By 1914, Bartlet had more than 2,000 residents.

First Presbyterian Church of Bartlett, Texas, built 1899
Credit: First Presbyterian Church of Bartlett, Texas, built 1899 by Steven Polunsky

However there is always a reason why a ghost town forms, and Bartlett is no different. Cotton started to decline between the 1920s and the 1930s, and that lead the railroad to bankruptcy. Even after this, Bartlett stayed alive for as long as it could. In 1931, the town had almost 100 businesses. The Great Depression truly took a toll on Bartlett, however, when the town lost 25 percent of its businesses. This is when the population starting seeing a decline too.

St. John Lutheran Church
Credit: St. John Lutheran Church by QuesterMark

The town of Bartlett now is a shell of old buildings from the late 19th century and early 20th century.  For those wanting to visit the town of Bartlett, this ghost town comes alive once a year during the Old Town Festival usually held in the fall. The festival is a homage to yesteryear. Eat barbecue, watch the parade, and enjoy in the local vendors and family-fun activities. While you’re in town, you might as well stop by the Barrett House, a 19th century mansion that is now a beautiful destination for weddings and other events.

Bartlett Grammar School
Credit: Bartlett Grammar School by sbmeaper1

Every ghost town has a story, and Bartlett’s story is one of prosper and persistence. Although the town isn’t as successful as it once was back then, the ghost town of Bartlett, Texas still has historic charm and a friendly community.

Travel Deals

Holland America Cruises w/ $25 Deposit + Free Tips


20% Off + $250 Resort Credit at Atlantis Bahamas


Air & 10-Day Athens Tour w/ Greek Islands Cruise


7-Day Italy Guided Tour: Rome, Spoleto & Florence


Up to 50% Off 6 to 16-Day Norway Coastal Voyages


5-Nt Caribbean on Virgin Voyages w/ Drinks & Tips


10-Day Ireland Tour | Save $350


6-Day Iceland Tour w/ Northern Lights


9-Day France Tour w/ Daily Breakfast + 4 Dinners


Jamaica | Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall All-Inclusive Resort

$312+ pp/pn

20% Off + Drink Credit | 5-Nt Riviera Maya Luxury Cruise


Air & 8-Day Peruvian Dream Tour | Buy One Get One Free


7-Day Mediterranean Cruise | Pick Your Perk


8-Day Eastern Canada Tour w/ Excursion Choices


Cyber Monday | R/T Air + 5-Nt All-Incl. Fiji Resort Pkg