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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36 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.

  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 breakfast.lol. 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.

      NOTHING.

      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!

Trackbacks

  1. George Strait Doesn’t Eat Here: Fine Dining in the Oil Field | Two Different Girls
  2. Loving County Part 1 – Crappy Places to Be From | Two Different Girls
  3. Adventure at the Buckhorn Bar & Grill | Two Different Girls
  4. Scenes Around Seagraves | Two Different Girls
  5. Pecos vs. Hillsborough: Crappy Places to Be From Smackdown! | Two Different Girls

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