Want to buy a West Texas ghost town? Now’s your chance


83 points | by lode 15 days ago


  • mikeshafer 15 days ago
    I just came from Lobo a few days ago, checking it out. The owner is very nice and very German, the land has plenty of electricity and now a working well + pump, but if you wanted to actually build anything here, it's going to be a massive amount of work. There are also lots of bees to avoid!

    The biggest issue for me, other than the massive amount of work and capital required to build something here, is that you are RIGHT on the highway. It's not a freeway, but there is enough traffic on that Big Bend route to Marfa that every minute or two during the day, you'll have some truck hauling it at 75mph past you.

    I think you could demo most of the land and turn it into some fun outdoor concert venue with food trucks and bathrooms, but you won't be able to draw more than 100-200 people max because you would have to eat up so much of the land for parking.

    I really can't think of any killer use case for Lobo, which is unfortunate because it's actually quite gorgeous there. You can see the mountainous border with Mexico in the distance and I'm sure it's stunningly beautiful at night.

    • chasd00 15 days ago
      you could possibly build a star watching destination. I've been the McDonald observatory a few times and their star parties are very popular. Maybe something like an overnight thing with telescopes here or there for visitors to use. The teepee's in Terlinqua are done very well.


      • simlevesque 15 days ago
        > you could possibly build a star watching destination.

        Next to an highway ? With headlights and road lights it seems like a bad place for that.

        • chasd00 15 days ago
          I would be surprised if there were any lights in Lobo at all. There would indeed be headlights every so often but it still gets ridiculously dark there. After around 9 pm traffic dies down to virtually nothing.
    • fakedang 15 days ago
      I remember reading about some Indian Indian guy building a motel on such a location, that does pretty well because it's on a spot that really required a motel. The rest of the space could probably be used for any extra income like you mentioned.
    • nine_k 15 days ago
      Aren't multi-story parkings a thing in Texas? They can massively increase the parking lot efficiency while costing relatively little (mostly steel and concrete for pillars and floors, almost zero walls).

      Closeness to a highway could be beneficial for a factory, too.

      • patmorgan23 15 days ago
        Parking structures are very expensive to build. Concrete and steel are expensive and you need a lot of it to hold up the weight of all the vehicles (and the dynamic loads while they are driving around)
    • lostmsu 8 days ago
      How's the Internet situation there? Any chance for fiber?
    • tomcam 14 days ago
      Great assessment, thanks.
  • slillibri 15 days ago
    There is an entire YouTube channel about someone who bought a ghost town in California (Cerro Gordo) - https://www.youtube.com/@GhostTownLiving. Pretty interesting stuff.
    • car 15 days ago
      I stayed in Cerro Gordo before it was sold. There was a caretaker who let us crash in the bunkhouse for a small donation. This was in early spring, with snow on the ground and temps of -15C/5F. We eventually ran out of firewood at 1am, but it was a memorable experience.

      A friend went back to CG after the sale and told me that everything there is now off limits. In a video from the YT channel I saw a sign that said 'private property - trespassers will be prosecuted' [0]. It's sad and lame, and I'm getting douchy vibes when I watch the guys videos. But hey, good luck to him.

      EDIT: I just watched the hilarious and insightful Maggie Mae Fish video[1] linked by Spellmann. I retract what I said before. The guy is a full on douche and fuck him.



      • UniverseHacker 14 days ago
        What you’re saying isn’t true, I was up there a few weeks ago and they were super friendly, and let me explore the whole town on my own, except for the building with the main mine shaft and the ones that were active living quarters for people working there.

        I also think the video you linked is nonsense and totally unfair. If you look at the history of CG and how big the town used to be, it would have been losing several buildings a year on average consistently for the last century! Losing only one in the last 3 years is incredible luck, and this frames it as fraud with zero evidence.

        • UniverseHacker 14 days ago
          Also, the “why didn’t he have fire insurance” is silly. There is no way anyone will insure a dilapidated ghost town with no running water, and only 4x4 trails straight up a mountain for access. It’s hard to even get fire insurance on a regular house in California if you’re on a hill or far from a fire hydrant. He also probably has no mortgage on this place. That’s why he had to get his wealthy friends to loan him money as “investors.” The whole place cost less than a regular 2 bedroom house in the Bay Area.
    • agentofoblivion 15 days ago
      I watched a few of these a long time ago. Looking at the list of videos, it's funny that nearly half of them are basically, "I've lived here X months now!" I guess not much happens in ghost towns.
    • itake 15 days ago
      I haven't kept up with it recently, but my understanding is this project has been a big loss leader for him. He needs "volunteers" and donations to support the project and he hasn't been able to find a sustainable business model.
      • codalan 15 days ago
        I know this guy. He's kind of a dirtbag. I'm friends with someone who worked at his hostel in Austin; he was in charge of various events and hanging out with the visitors, along with all the other hostel duties. After a few years of working for less than minimum wage (there was lots of unpaid overtime), he was denied a raise. This was in spite of the hostel turning a very healthy profit every year. He wised up and ended up getting a much better paying gig elsewhere.

        He could probably get away with this at the hostel (which is in a popular city), but hiring people for minimum wage in the middle of nowhere is a different story.

      • Spellman 15 days ago
        He even gets featured in this video as basically always asking for more money. Turns out it's really hard to get construction supplies out to the middle of nowhere and he's progressively selling off more and more of the resources.


        • notabee 15 days ago
          I came here to post the same video! Very entertaining, but also depressing about how so many things are just a shallow grift these days.
    • mschuster91 15 days ago
      Fellow YouTuber HeavyDSparks has a ton of videos detailing the logistics of that as well: https://youtu.be/A8AnEtbd2YA
      • bombcar 14 days ago
        Some of those were a bit devalued when I saw how easily they got a box truck up the road hehehe
    • reducesuffering 15 days ago
      Living next to "the largest human-caused source of dangerous PM10 emissions" in the US with who knows how much heavy metals in the air. Good luck
      • d136o 15 days ago
        At the beginning of the pandemic I obsessed over large land listings on Redfin/Zillow. I thought I’d finally found the bargain when I saw something near a Clearlake here in CA. It was something like 80 acres for less than $400k…

        Well it turns out Clearlake was heavily contaminated with mercury when there was an active mine right on the lake…

        Buyer beware!

        • reducesuffering 15 days ago
          Ya the mercury contributes to the cheapness but it's also a very mountainous region with no nearby industry, tourism, or university. Both of those cheapen it to a point where you get more crime and worse education, all leading to the price you see today.
          • bliteben 15 days ago
            Many mountain towns have insane valuations and are not near a university, and many have high radon levels. I think it really comes down to it isn't valuable because no one else thinks it is.
            • reducesuffering 15 days ago
              That's why I said it doesn't have tourism. Clearlake area is lower elevation mountains that get no snow for winter tourism like skiing. That makes it a very different atmosphere than Lake Tahoe for good reason. One drive around each lake will very much tell you it's not about "no one else thinks it is." But there is truth in small starting differences being catalysts for positive feedback loop. What starts out a small difference can lead to wealthier people inhabiting the area, becomes even nicer, becomes even wealthier, and vice versa.
          • autoexec 15 days ago
            Heavy metal poisoning is only going to drive up the crime too.
        • quickthrower2 14 days ago
          And 80 acres for $400k doesn’t even sound cheap

          But yeah lots of gotchas when buying land. Floods, fires etc.

    • bombcar 15 days ago
      This is highly worth a watch if you're interested or ever thought about it, because he's also the definition of Murphy's law, heheheh.
  • grumple 15 days ago
    This seems like a terrible idea for anyone.

    I own a decently sized house in a major city. It's about 100 years old but in above average condition. It still requires considerable time and maintenence. Fortunately I have water, gas, electric hookups from the city. They pick up the trash and maintain the roads too (not well, but they do it).

    Now imagine you have to do all your regular maintenence, but on 30 buildings. And there are no contractors willing to come out. And the nearest hardware store is 100 miles away. That sounds like several full time jobs. Now let's make it worse. You also need to manage the electricity, water, gas, trash, road maintenence, and anything else that comes up. Awful. Another couple of full time jobs. Only all these jobs you now have produce no income.

    Want a place to throw weird parties? Get a field somewhere with water and electricity and build a small structure for bathrooms and storage. Don't plague yourself with endless maintenence of ancient buildings.

    • rticesterp 15 days ago
      This! I have a cabin rental in a semi rural area. 90 miles from an expensive major metro area. 20 miles from a small city (15K). It's impossible to get anyone out there and I need to pay them their rates during their drive. I can't imagine how that would work 100 miles away. HVAC outage goes form a $200 service call to a $1600 service call.
      • bombcar 14 days ago
        You have to learn how to do a bunch of things yourself and you spend a lot of time driving.
    • mschuster91 15 days ago
      Well, it's not that terrible if you're a collective like the current owners are.

      Artists, religious cults, left-wing activists, right-wing/sovereign citizen activists, preppers, eco activists - all these groups tend to like such opportunities, because the heavy lifting (initial infrastructure construction, road access, legal issues and general paperwork) has all been sorted out already.

      The biggest issues for them tend to be Internet access (although Starlink changes the equation seriously here) and access to essential services - you can/have to self-organize a volunteer firefighter corps and basic shops, in the US you can even run your own police force (although it raises serious ethical concerns), but medical services and mail is a massive hurdle.

  • adamredwoods 15 days ago
    It needs so much work that you are better off buying land and building your own ghost town.
  • keiferski 15 days ago
    Site made by the sellers: https://property.lobo-texas.com/forsale/doku.php/start

    It's only about 50 miles north of Marfa, which has a lot of art world stuff going on.

    • __derek__ 15 days ago
      This is my favorite bit:

      > Jeff Bazo’s Blue Origin spaceport is 40 miles north of Lobo.

      I'm not sure which is funnier: honest mistake or intentional dig.

  • chasd00 15 days ago
    I've been there, my wife and I have a real affinity for that region of Texas. We were married in Marathon and make the trip out there from Dallas a few times a year. Sometimes Marfa sometimes Marathon sometimes Alpine etc.

    It's definitely a unique area, the people who live there either have lived there for generations or live there because they don't want to be found (for various reasons). Marfa gets especially strange because it's full of rich people, artists, and grad students but also literal cowboys and bandits.

    • vogt 14 days ago
      We loved it so much we moved out here. Couldn’t be happier. Weather is great, people are friendly. No Uber Eats but in the long run that is a net positive I think. this part of Texas is certainly the best in my eyes and one of the best parts of the whole country.
  • sklarsa 15 days ago
    This is literally the plot of the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre... no thanks.
    • bryanrasmussen 15 days ago
      ever since my first stepdad took me to the see the original at a drive in when I was 11 I've always had a wonderful dream of someday killing that jerk Leatherface.
  • jdwithit 15 days ago
    I know it's a different company, but after SpaceX's most recent launch spewed debris 10+ miles, I wouldn't be thrilled about being in close proximity to a Blue Origin launch site.
    • vogt 14 days ago
      I live out here. 10 miles may as well be an inch. It is VAST.

      All of the towns around here have a population of 2000 or less, save for Alpine at a whopping 20k. Personally, I have zero concerns about being in the radius of any of all that.

    • chrisco255 15 days ago
      This is 750 miles from Boca Chica.
      • thecosas 15 days ago
        From the article: "...Van Horn, fifteen miles to Lobo’s north, the town that houses Blue Origin’s launch site."
        • chrisco255 12 days ago
          Ah, didn't catch the Blue Origin vs Space X mention. Strange that they're launching rockets so far inland.
  • koolba 15 days ago
    If I buy this can I issue my own tax free municipal bonds?
    • mikestew 15 days ago
      I'll leave the question of "legally allowed" to the lawyers, because I think the elephant in the room is: who's going to buy your bonds if your ghost town has no tax revenue?
      • all2 15 days ago
        If he issues them as NFTs and concurrently releases GTC (ghost town coin), he might make a little cash on the side.
        • jfghi 15 days ago
          Just needs a “good faith constructive” conversation with regulators. /s
      • bumby 15 days ago
        Depending on the map you're referencing this is in the Permian Basin. Maybe there's some taxable revenue from oil/gas.
        • brudgers 15 days ago
          If there was oil, it probably would not be for sale…and there are few if any oil wells along that stretch of US90.

          I don’t think it’s over the Permian Basin.

    • bell-cot 15 days ago
      I don't think it works that way. IANAL...but Lobo does not have its own government. Nor any annual tax revenue, which might be pledged to make the payments on bonds.
  • friend_and_foe 15 days ago
    It's great to see someone selling with some consideration of the intentions of the purchaser rather than just to the highest bidder, there's not enough of that going on in America. I know it's not exactly prime real estate, but still.
  • jmspring 15 days ago
    Seneca, a ghost town originating in the gold rush, was for sale a decade or so ago here in Plumas County - https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-northern-califo...

    That said, I haven't been in awhile and I hear it was impacted by the recent fires.

  • beautifulfreak 15 days ago
    DailyMail says the asking price is $100,000. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12081261/West-Texas...
  • qwertox 15 days ago
  • zdms 15 days ago
    I'm going to be driving through that area on Memorial Day weekend. The article mentions there is going to be an event - anyone know what time/day that's going to happen?
  • BeetleB 15 days ago
    > Lobo, Texas, has gone through more transformations than Madonna.

    If there is a museum of bad writing, this belongs there.

  • expertentipp 15 days ago
    Cunning marketing! Ain't no one buying a piece of desert though.
  • Rebelgecko 15 days ago
    It'd be convenient for launching expeditions to the clock
  • wolverine876 15 days ago
    Musk is selling already?
    • expertentipp 15 days ago
      No, Musk in turn buys German deserts and builds his car assemblies there.
  • 0zemp2c 15 days ago
    that general region has lots of land for sale and its CHEAP

    there is at least one county out there that doesn't have ANY building codes...you can build whatever you want

    forewarned, it is expensive to get anything done in the middle of nowhere

    • jeffbee 15 days ago
      There are a lot of land scams online and West Texas has plenty of them. You can buy loads of cheap land in Hudspeth County and there's no mention anywhere in the marketing materials that said land used to be the dumping site of New Jersey sewage trains. Basically there is no land worth a damn that needs to be marketed online. If it was good for anything it would change hands immediately.
    • chasd00 15 days ago
      you're also very very alone in that area. If you're off the main roads and get hurt or bit by something, even if you manage to get through to 911 dispatch, its going to be a while. And that's assuming they find you.
    • nonethewiser 15 days ago
      Does it have water?