Small industrial city of Thurber, Texas now a ghost town

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Texas and Pacific Coal Company's mine shaft No. 7 in 1901 in Thurber, Texas, now a ghost town. Without ready miners, founders brought in thousands of workers from other parts of the United States, as well as Italy, Poland, Britain, Ireland, Mexico, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Sweden and Russia. And, yes, young boys worked in the dirty, dangerous coal mines.

THURBER — What if a once prosperous place turned into a ghost town almost overnight?

Texas leads the country in the number of ghost towns — 511 — according to the research group Geotab. 

Few of them, however, were ever as large as this former company town — a small city really — once home to 10,000 people along with booming coal, brick and oil industries.

Thurber boasted churches, schools, large parks, two swimming holes and competitive sports teams, as well as an ice factory, electrical plant, 650-seat opera house, 200-room hotel and the only public library in Erath County, according to the Handbook of Texas.

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At one point, it might have been the most unionized city in America, too, since almost everyone who worked there either labored for what became the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, or other unionized trades such as carpentering, butchering, clerking or bartending.

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