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Texas drought reveals ghost town of old Bluffton

Bluffton is the ghost town that keeps being resurrected. Built as a small trading post on the banks of the Colorado river in 1852, it survived just 30 years before being burned down by a rowdy group of cowboys. Photos below.

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The townspeople moved a few miles away and their community continued to thrive until 1937, when authorities flooded the area to build a dam and Bluffton became a mere memory at the bottom of Lake Buchanan. Until now. Thanks to the drought that’s been devastating the state of Texas, water levels in the lake have reached an all-time low, and the town’s former shop-filled streets have reappeared.

Unique
Tim Mohan is a guide to the local area: “It’s quite unique. We’re fortunate enough to have quite a bit of history, there’s a lot of old history from old buggies to pieces of pottery, and there’s a lot of history from the people who once lived here.”

Visitors who take this trip down memory lane can see the foundations of the former Bluffton hotel as well as an old blacksmith shop and a community well. The pecan trees that lined the old Highway 29 are also clearly visible for the first time in years, and remarkably the trunks are still largely intact.

Negative impact

Tim Mohan says locals have reacted with excitement to the site. The families of some of Bluffton’s original residents have kayaked across Lake Buchanan to reach the ruins and some have camped out there for a few days in their ancestral home.

But the drought is also having a negative impact on local business. Lake Buchanan is receiving just a tenth of its normal water supply and the water level is down by 32 feet. Resorts lining the banks are suffering hard and tourists are staying away from the area.

Slow recovery
Meteorologists don’t expect the situation to improve before 2012 and even then it will take a long time for Lake Buchanan to recover. Tim Mohan’s confident it will happen in his lifetime: “It will be a relief to say goodbye again, for numerous reasons. If Bluffton goes back underwater it means there’s water flowing back down the Colorado River... When it rains it will be sad to see the town go, but it will help the whole community substantially.”

Taken from Goodbye - from Earth Beat.

With thanks to Tim Mohan from Vanishing Texas River Cruises.

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011 Dutch government’s decided to cut funding and shift RNW in 2013 from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW’s current activities can be found at http://www.rnw.org/about-rnw