Is There a Ghost Town Under Lake Travis?




No, there is not a ghost town under Lake Travis – but there is an underwater ghost town in Lake Buchanan about 63 miles by road and 20 miles as the crow flies northwest of Lake Travis.

Bluffton was one of the first towns in the famous Texas Hill Country and now an underwater ghost town which was inundated by Lake Buchanan. Bluffton was near several crossings on the Colorado River between Burnet, Texas, and to other western destinations. Bluffton was a lively town supporting many businesses with hotels, saloons, and a cotton gin.

Read the story of Old Bluffton, Texas, on our Lake Buchanan site.

Where is Nameless, Texas?

Not too far north of Lake Travis sits Lago Vista, Texas, which is 14 miles from the old town with no name that is not there anymore, Nameless, Texas, in Travis County. Nameless, Texas, remains today only as Nameless Road and Nameless Ranch Road with a restored schoolhouse and graveyard. Yet Nameless is still on the official maps. Why?

Nameless, Texas, acquired its name in the name of the United States Postal Service’s bureaucracy. The restored Nameless schoolhouse was the last one-room schoolhouse in Travis County. Leading up to the restored schoolhouse are the steps that were used at the Nameless Post Office once upon a time. The Nameless Post Office was on Lindeman Lane in Nameless.

Travis County lies almost totally within the Colorado River watershed and covers 989 square miles on the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau. The Balcones Escarpment divides the county. The terrain is comprised of limestone, scenic hills, caves, rocky bluffs, aquifers, springs, lakes, creeks, streams, and is rich in water pools with waterfalls. Nameless, Texas, was founded on Big Sandy Creek.

Big Sandy Creek begins two miles northeast of the Round Mountain community in northwestern Travis County and runs south for twelve miles to its mouth on Lake Travis, just east of Jonestown. It cuts through areas of steep slopes and benches with shallow clay loam surfaces where juniper, live oak, and mesquite trees grow surrounded by native grasses and the famous Texas wild flowers.

Well-established groups of the Tonkawa and Lipan Apache tribes inhabited this area by the 14th century. By the 18th Century, Comanche and Kiowa tribes called the region their home. When settlers came to Nameless in 1869, they called it Fairview, Texas. By 1884 the small community had built a church, a district school, a general store, and boasted 50 residents. Fair view exported cotton, cedar posts, and rails and imported food and other necessities. But Fairview did not have a post office.

How Nameless, Texas, Became Nameless

When you look at the topographical map of the region where Nameless lies, you can see that it was extremely rough riding in a buckboard wagon or on horseback to get your mail in another town. The people of Fairview petitioned the United States Postal Service (USPS) for a post office. The USPS had no problem with establishing a post office in Fairview, but the name “Fairview Post Office” was already taken. 

The process of establishing the Fairview Post Office commenced sometime before 1880. The Fairview community was also known as Cross Creek. In 1880, postmasters, groups of citizens, or city authorities could petition the Post Office Department for free delivery service. In 1880, 2,628 letter carriers served 104 U.S. cities. (1)

Historically, prospective postmasters or citizens could suggest Post Office names, which were subject to the approval of the Post Office Department. Most of the time, a name proposed for a post office would reflect the name of the community it was to serve. Local or famous people, distant places, and nearby geographic or man-made features were typically sources of names for newly established post offices. (1)

The earliest instructions discovered in USPS history on the selection of a post office name was mandated in 1840:

“The name of the candidate for postmaster should not be applied as the name of a post office. It is preferable to have some LOCAL or PERMANENT name, which must not be the name of any other office in the State; and you should aim to select a name not appropriated to any office in the United States.” (2)

It is noteworthy to say that the USPS had not invented zip codes at this time. The residents of Fairview, Texas, submitted a name for their post office, which the USPS rejected. They submitted a second name, then a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth name, all of which incurred the same fate as their fist submitted name from the postmaster general’s office—REJECTION!

It is likely that the first two names submitted to the USPs were Cross Creek and Fairview. There is no record of the next four submitted names. Upon receiving the sixth rejection from the USPS, Fairview citizens wrote back to the USPS bureaucrats in dire frustration, "Let the post office be Nameless and be damned!"

The Postmaster General wrote back, “Accepted.” So, in 1880, the USPS established the Nameless Post Office. Nameless, Texas, failed to succeed on the progressive track of growth. The Nameless Post Office operated only until 1890. Nameless residents were then forced to travel to Leander, Texas, to get their mail.

By 1940, two churches, a business, and a few scattered houses still existed, and the community was marked on county highway maps. Today Nameless, Texas, is still officially on the map. I would love to think it is still on the map because of its great story. But in truth, Nameless, Texas, is still on the map because of the hard work of The Friends of Nameless School which organized to preserve the only remaining structure of the community.

Nameless, Texas, earned a Texas Historical Marker which reads,

​First surveyed in the 1850s, this area attracted numerous settlers by 1868. A community grew up, and in 1880 townspeople applied for a post office. After postal authorities rejected six names, the citizens replied in disgust, "Let the post office be Nameless and be d--d". the implied "name" was accepted. Besides the post office (1880-90), town had store, meat market, and school, which also served as a church, the present school was erected in 1909; classes were discontinued in 1945. Today only school, cemetery, and ruins mark site of once-active community. (1970)

From The Friends of Nameless School:

“The only building that remains is the old Nameless school house. It was constructed in 1909 on a site that was used for a school going back to the 1870's. It continued to serve classes up through 1945. The schoolhouse also served as a church and polling location in the past. It serves as the only architectural reminder of the town without a name, that name being Nameless.”

The Friends of Nameless School meet on the second Monday of every month. Their dedication to preserve their schoolhouse donned with the steps built for its Nameless  Post Office is proof of that famous Texas pride that has given Texas international fame and well-deserved jealousy from other western heritage U.S. states because their international anonymity lacked the attention Texas received in Hollywood. Texans struggled and sacrificed their lives throughout Texas history in order to preserve the freedom and institution given to Texas citizens by the Texas Constitution to preserve our freedom. Remember the Alamo! San Jacinto Day is April 21st every year since 1836—The day Texas became a sovereign nation for nine years as The Republic of Texas. 

The Friends of Nameless School Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofNamelessSchool/

Pictures

  1. Topographic map of the Nameless, Texas, region.
  2. Nameless School House Front View With Post Office Steps
  3. Side View of Nameless School House
  4. Nameless Historical Marker
  5. Official Recognition of Nameless, Texas, on Google Maps.
  6. Nameless Road Sign

Sources

  1. https://about.usps.com/publications/pub100.pdf
  2. https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/post-office-names.pdf




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