Crappy Places to be From: Goldsmith Texas

English: Looking west toward a distant storm a...

Near Goldsmith, TX

In my glamorous job, I frequently get to travel to rather interesting places (for some definitions of the word “interesting”). For the most part, the great FSM did not put oil and gas in pretty places, which means some of the locations I go to give another meaning to the old John Wayne movie “Hellfighters“.

One place I spent a lot of time in, when I first got my engineering degree, was Goldsmith Texas, where I managed projects for a very large international that has since been swallowed up by a different very large international. I had interesting work and made many friends, and not having to actually LIVE in Goldsmith, I found it quaint, with some nice little country restaurants run by retired grandmothers. Thirty years later, and having gone through very dismal times, Goldsmith has significantly deteriorated but finds itself in the middle of a huge boom because of energy prices. All the little restaurants, and the convenience store that had a lunch counter, are gone. The only restaurant left in town is Lefty’s Grill.

Lefty's Grill

Goldsmith is not all bad. I mean, there is the Goldsmith Men’s Club. I couldn’t enter the grounds, but the club appears to be a covered patio with a picnic table and a grill.

Goldsmith Men's Club

Everything is painted with the Texas flag

For some reason, they have a painted pick-up truck adjacent to the grounds. It has been there at least 18 months, since I started on a new project in the area. It is not until you step back, that you really get the full effect. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t actually driven through the far reaches of West Texas will understand how bleak this area is.  I’ve read from historians that this area used to have stands of prairie grass as tall as a man, which is why the cattle drives from Mexico to Chicago passed through this area, notably on the Goodnight-Loving trail (Loving is the next county over). The cattle ate mesquite beans in the Mexican interior, and dropped them along the trails. Mesquite are water-thirsty, and grow taproots 30-70 feet into the ground, sucking up all the groundwater. They might make for some tasty barbeque, but they destroyed the native grasslands.

Why is this truck here? What is it for? What is the meaning of life?

That’s not even the best part of Goldsmith. The Buckhorn has been in town for several decades. I’ve never driven by except at midday when it is closed, but it’s a big biker hangout on weekends. Just…lovely.

The Buckhorn Biker Bar

Former downtown central shopping

At one time, Goldsmith had small stores, an elementary school, a gas station, and a couple hundred people living there, mostly people who worked in the surrounding oil field and gas processing plants, who did not want to drive 15 or 20 miles ‘into town’. Now, there is a handful of mobile homes, a small post office, and a very run-down convenience store that doesn’t even bother to replace the burned-out florescent bulbs in most of the place, but always has tobacco, beer, and Gatorade. In the 1960s, my grandfather was the lead electrician at this plant, formerly owned by Phillips 66 Natural Gas. Back then, it was shiny, new, and state-of-the-art, but a few years ago it was purchased by Duke Energy Field Services (now DCP Midstream), which has a reputation for letting plants become neglected and ugly, which is what you see below.

Old natural gas processing plant

Categories: Travel

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68 replies

  1. Reminds me of the story of the Vermont farmer who finally makes a trip to Texas. Quite possibly Goldsmith or maybe Loving County. A local is showing him around when a roadrunner scoots across the road. “What’s that odd bird?” asks the Vermonter. “We call that a Bird of Paradise” says the Texan. “Pretty far from home, ain’t he?” replies the Vermonter.

  2. Some girls may call Goldsmith “Crappy”; but some girls still think of it as home…

    • Yes, home is still home. I’m from a crappy little town, myself. And although I don’t live there any more, it’s still “home”. I have affection for Goldsmith, as I have worked for Amoco and Phillips and have been going there since 1982. My grandfather was the plant electrician.

      • Goddess, When did you work for Amoco? You might remember my mom Charlotte “Susie” Harrell She worked doing the IT I believe in the plant.

      • Jaimee, I sure do. She was a roustabout working for James Taylor when I started, and then was promoted up to electrician. I used to talk to her a lot, as I went to the same every week, and sometimes several times a week (anything to get out of the office!). I worked in Odessa, mostly for North Cowden, from 1982 to 1988. I was pretty close friend with James as well, but lost track of him after Amoco closed the Odessa office and everyone there scattered. I also know Bryce.

      • Cool, Mom passed away last year from Dementia. I worked there for awhile during Summers helping Wilbur and the welder Steve. Bryce is doing very good for himself and is doing his own thing now. He left Holloman Corporation last year to do his own thing. As far as the other brothers we all work for Holloman to this day. I often wonder about those folks and what has happened to them and how they are doing. Thanks for replying! I’m Jaimie it’s nice to meet you if I haven’t already at one point long ago.

      • I love this place. My first husband and I spent a lot of time in the late 60s and early 70s enjoying the nightlife of the fabulous authentic old Buckhorn Saloon. Some of the best years of my life.💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙

    • You’re not from here, Geek “goddess” so you have no right to call Goldsmith a crappy place. We had the best childhood here. You’re just part of the oilfield outsiders who ruined it.

  3. I lived in this Crappy little town. Back in 1962. I was in the first grade. My dad worked for Phillips at the gas plant. We lived in the camp. I loved it there. Fond memories. Lisa Noble

  4. I lived in the Phillips camp from the time I was born in 1952 until 1962. My Dad worked at the plant and managed little baseball teams. My mother would babysit camp kids to help feed four kids. Amazing how happy I was (but not my teenage sisters!).

  5. I lived in Goldsmith from 1953 until 1967, and it was a fine place to grow up! Our school classes were small, our recreational facilities were great, and we made lifetime friends. There were a couple of grocery stores, a variety store, a hardware store, a movie theatre, a pharmacy, and the Buckhorn, when I was a kid. I think your title is wrong – maybe it should have something more to do with mindsets than places. PS – the man who built the Men’s Club died last year. His name was Sam Fife and he was a damn fine fellow. RIP ol’ dear!

  6. I used to live there too. Went to school there, was the paper boy,swept out both bars in the morning, washed dishes in both cafes, racked balls at the pool hall, delivered wednesday circulars for both grocery stores (had to put those in the screen door handle of every house in town, pumped gas at all three gas stations, picked up trash cans for the cub scouts and took them to the dump and brought them back, got snakes from under people’s houses, mowed lawns and hauled off unwanted puppies, shot rabid dogs and skunks for the sheriff (that didn’t have a gun), got blamed for shooting out the windows at the Baptist church, but it wasn’t me. Yeah, I used to live there too…

  7. LOL, lived there from 1968 to 1985. Dad worked for EPNG. I went to grade school there, mowed lawns in town and in the camps. Rode the bus to High School (OHS) and worked at Gibsons in Odessa. Hard to sum up living there unless you were from there. Good memories, glad to have escaped, but still go back when work takes me there. I remember when we moved there, there was an Ice House, a Dry Goods store, a grocery, three or four gas stations, a boy scout meeting hall (in the old movie theater)…..and the community pool had the prettiest life guards ever!!!!!!

  8. I lived in Goldsmith in the 60’s. Made many life long friends. My step dad worked for Phillips for over 30 yrs, & we lived in the camp housing. My mother worked at the Steak House café. My brothers & I were bused to school “in town” Odessa. It was a perfect place to grow up. We kids were outside from daylight till after dark every day. If you acted up someone’s parent would call your mama. Everyone looked out for the kids, & no one ever got seriously hurt. It was just a safe, carefree time to be a kid. I wish my kids could have grown up there.

  9. I lived there from the time I was born 1969 to 1984. It was great, would’nt trade it for anything.
    Used to be alot more people there. The pool had the coldest water I have ever felt.

    • I remember this town.
      We moved from California and landed in Goldsmith 1971. Our house we rented was by the Goldsmith Jail. Played ball for the Cedar Inn cafe with Chief Roy as my coach. Love to chew the cigar. Pam Wilson homered on Tom Hecton from Gardendale and he sat down and cried.

      We moved on to Notrees, but still attended Goldsmith elementary. Chief and Neta would pick me and my brother up for church at the Church of Christ. Shame what the Cowdens/Wards did to chief when Paul Slater passed. Goldsmith with the best place to trick or treat.

      I remember going in the Oasis Bar and play pool. Ines was there. Her son David and I went to school.
      WOW 45 years ago…. But I can not remember what I had for Went on to CJHS, OHS, ASU and USAF.

      • I worked with Chief’s son-in-law, but I can’t remember his name! The Cedar Inn is long gone. It’s been several places since then, none of them as good. The Steak House is also long gone.

      • We probably went to school together. David Fanns parents lived up the street from us in the New Camp of El Paso. I grew up playing with him but I was a few years older than he was. Maybe three or four years I expect. I was born in 61 and lived in Goldsmith from 2nd grade through High School.

  10. I lived in Goldsmith from the time I was born in 1959 until we moved to “town” in 1964. My dad worked for Phillips and we lived in the camp. My grandparents also ran the ice house until my grandmother passed away around 1974 and my sisters and I spent time every summer with them. I was too little to know what it was like to live there but I do have memories of playing with the other kids in the camp. I also remember the neighbor killing a rattlesnake with a shovel next to our house during his lunch hour! My mother and older sister talk a lot about what it was like and it sounds like a very close-knit community. My mother was just talking today about how sad it was to see the condition of the remains of the camp. She said she thought there were around 800-900 people in the town at that time but wasn’t positive (she’s 81). The entire town has changed so much!

  11. No, he was Arlin “A.D.” Sides.

  12. These are the kinds of towns where, if you don’t believe in the good lord, then they don’t want ‘cha there lol. These little towns suck.

    • Yo, Rick, growing up in small town America is like growing up in Mayberry. It’s perfect for kids but boring for adults who want an interesting life. As a boy, there’s nothing like being able to step out your back door and shoot your .22 rifle or ride your dirtbike all over the place.


      Small town life or farm life . . . it’s the richest childhood a boy can have. It’s what America is all about.

  13. Nice to see a blog about Goldsmith. It certainly brought back some memories. After looking at the photos I was hoping to see the old county jail house. It was the city monument back in my day. I grew up there from 1978-1984. Went to Goldsmith Elementary and play baseball off Avenue H. It was a great town for a young kid during the 80’s. I could ride my bike to from town out to the camps, shoot rabbits, go swimming for .25 cents and eat hot dogs from the Mini Mart. My dad worked for Phillips and grandpa worked for El Paso Gas Co.

    • I have a picture of the jail, but didn’t include it. I’m actually in Goldsmith today, for work. My grandfather worked at the Phillips Plant for many, many years. I later did some projects there when I worked for Phillips, as well.

      • I think everyone worked for Phillips that lived there during my time. Did Duke Energy acquired most of the assets in that area? .

      • They merged with GPM and so acquired the old Goldsmith plant. They have all of the old Phillips/GPM plants, but one of my operators, who came from DCP, said several of them were shut down – Benedum, Spraberry, some others. I was the technical director at GPM in the early 90s, and have been to all of them!

      • Reading all these comments bring back memory’s. My dad worked for Phillips in 62-63 at the plant . We lived in a outlying camp by a compressor station. I remember turning off the main road and driving about a mile to five or six houses out in the meddle of no where! Some wonderful times for a 11-12 year old! I have worked in the Goldsmith area several times and tried to find it but can’t remember much about it. Any information would solve a long time search!

    • My name in the yearbook is Elizabeth Cooper. I went there in 1982. Kindergarten.

  14. I lived here when I was a little girl. My mom worked at the Cedar Inn and I went to Goldsmith Elementary. It was a very hot and ugly place to live. But I remember it well.

  15. My father grew up in Goldsmith and my Grandfather was on the management end of the oil industry in Goldsmith. Is your grandfather still living? I wonder if they knew each other.

  16. I lived in Goldsmith from 1944 to 1959, when we moved into Odessa. My dad Gene Bogard worked for the Gulf Oil Company. I went to school there as did my sister Rose and brother Bobby.

    • Did you perchance know Charles (aka Ron) Petty?

      • That name sounds familiar, but I can’t place it offhand.

      • Knew Margie & Buford’s family and the Woodsons to the left and the Whites to the right…Vaden, Messer, Morrel, McAdams, Seals,Guest, Kirshner, Corzine—-ahhhh Goldsmith in DooWop and Beach Boy car song times…

      • My dad knew Ron Petty.

        My grandfather owned/ran the Phillips station.

        And, my uncle lived there on S. Goldsmith st until he died last week.


        My dad knows all the people you mentioned and roomed with Rodney Mc and Ray Vaden at Texas Tech

    • Hi Jane,
      In the summer of 1944 I spent a few days in Goldsmith with my cousins, Billy, Mickie, Winkie, and Stanley Campbell. Your family must have lived nearby because I remember Rose and Bobby. I don’t recall, were you there then? The following fall our family moved from Ft. Worth to North Cowden, six miles east of Goldsmith. I finished elementary school at Goldsmith elementary and graduated with Rose in the OHS class of ‘55. It’s all been a long time ago.
      Richard Hutson

      • That’s the year my mother graduated from OHS.

      • Who was your mother? I was surely acquainted with her even though there were more that 400 in the OHS class of 1955.

        Cheers, Richard

      • Reba Hughes. My grandfather was transferred from Borger to Goldsmith right before her junior year.

      • I found your mother’s photo in my 1955 OHS yearbook The yearbook is old, but, believe it or not, it wasn’t chiseled in stone. I certainly remember her face, but don’t think we ever had occasion to interact. She probably wouldn’t recall my face.

        Along with each student’s photo is their wish for the future. Your mother’s was “To finish college”. I hope that her wish was fulfilled.

        I gather that you spend time in the oil patch. My dad was a pumper (I don’t recall what he more modern term is) for Conoco in North Cowden. I spent the summers after my freshman and sophomore college years in roustabouting out of the Pan American Petroleum camp in North Cowden. A close friend did the same out of PanAm’s Goldsmith camp. Our paths diverged after our Permian basin years. He ended up as a mechanical engineer for Hughes (the division that made tools for large core drilling and tunneling), and I ended up doing physics at the Los Alamos National Lab (medical applications, solid state physics, and accelerator physics).

      • No, Mom didn’t go to college. She got married the day after she graduated high school. My dad was career Air Force, so we lived all over the country. I ended up back in Odessa decades later because that’s where the best paying engineering jobs were when I graduated. My first position was as a plant and production engineer for Amoco at North Cowden, which is why I am familiar with Goldsmith. I’d run into people who remembered my grandfather. Thirty years later, I was head of engineering for a company that built, owned, and operated plants, and our second one was in…Goldsmith. It’s like I couldn’t get away from that place. My parents moved back to Odessa when they retired, to be close to my grandparents.

        My father passed from COVID this year, so if I say my prayers right, I’ll never go to Odessa again. Although, part of my staff works in Midland, so I do go out there every few weeks.

      • I wouldn’t recognize the North Cowden neighborhood now. When I was a kid (‘Lived in N. Cowden from 1944 until 1957) there was a post office (my mother was the postmistress), a cafe, a grocery store, and two service stations. I would estimate that there were as many as sixty homes (Cities Service, Conoco, Pan American, El Paso Natural Gas, Humble, and others) within about a mile of the “main” intersection, which was on the road to Goldsmith and five miles west of the Odessa to Andrews highway.

        There were enough teenage boys around to have our own baseball team

      • Nothing is there now. The Pan Am/Amoco plant was dismantled in the late 90s

  17. Live there for ten years my mom and dad worked for the school great places to live was home we live in Mississippi now my dad was dean adcox he past in 2010 no place like goldsmith everyone was freinds

  18. I grew up in Goldsmith.My father worked for Phillips, Cody Yates . Went to that elementary school, shopped in that grocery store, sat on the steps of the ice house and marveled at the lovely things that could be bought at the 5 and dime. It was running down then but was a great place to grow up.

  19. I have such fond memories working maintenance at the Phillips plant in 1975. Nothing beat the view up on a tower changing gauge glass at dawn. Nothing was worse than cleaning out the sewer lines at the facility housing. I have always been athletic but I was never more fit in my life from the hard, physical labor. It was a joy to have such wonderful, decent, and remarkable people in my life at that time.

    Working in Goldsmith was a major factor in my becoming a mechanical engineer. I ended up there after dropping out of UT Austin because I had no idea where I was headed in life. The guys I worked with found out and rode me hard about being an idiot (their language was more colorful). But they liked me because I was a hard worker. Unfortunately, I only remember a few names – Big Lou and Ernie. A sugar beet farm kid from Cody, Wyoming, named Glen French, and I would compete to see who could work the hardest, whether it was up in the air on the end of a five foot cheater bar or pushing a shovel in contaminated caliche under a tank. Our boss, Wild Bill Clay, really liked me. On my first day working, he was showing us how to depressurize a cooling tower acid tank (water softener) for maintenance. Something went wrong and acid sprayed him in the face and shoulders. But I was standing there with a running water hose at that exact moment. No chemical burn. They were a little weirded out when I told them I was having a déjà vu moment just before it happened and it seemed the thing to do. And it wasn’t the only déjà vu moment that prevented injuries. Weird. Anyway, with regard to dropping out of school, Bill told me something that really got through to me. He said, “You might really like this now, but just wait until you turn 40 and you hurt when you first wake up, not at the end of a hard day.” He also apparently gave me a great reference when I applied to be a computer operator/programmer at a publishing company back in Austin. It paved the way to my degree and a wonderful career. Oh, yeah. When I turned 40, I began to hurt when I woke up.

    • Good story. My grandfather was at that plant, Virgil Hughes. Later, when I was an engineer at Phillips, I did some work there upgrading the SRU, but that was pretty much it. I worked at the North Cowden plant down the road.

  20. Ask your grad dad if he knew Delbert Colton. He worked at that 66 plant up to 1959. I was around 6. Lived in Goldsmith. Dad used to drink in the Buck Horn. It was there back then.

      • I should have seen that above. sorry. Someone mentioned a Sam Fife, too. I went to 1st grade in Goldsmith with a Sam Fife. Also- used to stop in at the Pic and Pay grocery on the way to school and buy Fritos. A Luke Howell used to work at a gas station near that little post office. A kid named Robert Motley lived across the street from us. Those are about the only names I remember of anyone. There was a pump jack within a stone’s throw from our house that I remember.


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