Clarkson, Milam County, Texas, U.S.A.

Population: 10 (1990)

Elevation: 380 ft.

Location: Latitude 30 deg 59'42" N, Longitude 096 deg 55' 29" W

Watershed: Lower Brazos-Little Brazos

Clarkson is a ghost town (commonly defined as a town which currently has no economic reason to exist), resting peacefully in the middle of north-central Texas farmland. Its post office operated from 1889 through 1906 when mail was moved to Rosebud, and in 1903 the local schools (one for 43 white students, one for 105 black students) had an enrollment of 148. During the 1950s, statewide consolidations resulted in the absorption of the local schools into the Cameron Independent School District. By the 1940s, the town of New Clarkson, 2 miles to the east, had replaced Clarkson as the local center, and Clarkson's population had dwindled to 50.

Today, Clarkson consists of a few scattered farmhouses still occupied, the old Clarkson Baptist Church in fair condition and new paint (although the rear wall is propped up by iron rails), the Clarkson Cemetery where the grass is neatly mowed, and the old schoolhouse down the road, which is falling into disrepair.

The remaining wooden schoolhouse has suffered almost no vandalism, save for a few broken windows. It still contains long tables, chalkboards, a Servel gas refrigerator, and a "Youngstown Kitchens" kitchenette manufactured by the Mullins company. In one corner of the main area is a raised stage, with tattered, embroidered yellow satin curtains hanging at its sides. Theatre must have been important to the students here.

As an aside, the bricks which form columns holding up the school's porch ceiling are incut with "Whiteselle / Cherry Reds / Corsicana". Further research reveals that the Whiteselle brickyard is on South 15th St. in Corsicana, Texas. In 1908, around the heyday of Clarkson, Whiteselle sold both bricks and lumber, so it's entirely possible that they supplied all the building materials for this schoolhouse. This is interesting, as Corsicana is 100 miles to the north on Highway 45, not far from Dallas.

Directions: To reach Clarkson, head to Rosebud on highway 77, then south on 77 to Farm Road 1445, where you'll turn to the east and head southeast for several miles. Avoid the route north from Cameron, east on 485 to Silver City, north to Clarkson on County Road 140; the 140 road is full of potholes and gravel. If heading from Cameron, it's better to go all the way north on Hwy 77, then turn right on 1445 and head back south.

My visit in 1/05
For more information on the area, look for the book: Lelia M. Batte, History of Milam County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956).

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