Just outside of Farmersville, Texas, an abandoned cottonseed mill sits just off the highway, hidden in the summer by dense brush, creeping vines, and spider-laden bushes. For years, Charlie and I drove past the mill’s silos and barns on our way to Greenville, and it caught my eye every single time. I so badly wanted to explore and photograph it!
Let’s Do It!
Finally, the time was right! It was a beautiful winter’s day, sunny yet comfortably chilly; all the brush was dead, the bushes were bare of their leaves, and the snakes and spiders were hiding…hopefully!
After he parked the car and I readied my camera gear, Charlie did a quick safety check. The place appeared free of vagrants, pot-smoking teenagers, and other random hoodlums.
Two barns and some silos awaited our exploration!
My heart was beating wildly as we headed into the first barn, and…
The barn was surprisingly clean and empty with only a couple tires scattered about. What a let-down! Watching for snakes, we pushed through some dried brush into the second barn.
While this barn was also pretty clean, abandoned mill equipment was still bolted to the floor, and a really cool old 1950’s Ford T-800 Big Job truck was rotting down at the far end of the barn. (More on the truck in just a minute!)
What I didn’t account for though was the total creepiness of the place!
Everything…the cement floor, the equipment, even the dust particles hanging in the air…looked strangely green thanks to old skylights mounted in the barn’s ceiling.
I kept hearing odd knocking sounds; while it must have been the wind making the metal sides of the barn creak, I kept thinking someone was moving around outside.
The place smelled like a toxic chemical experiment gone wrong. I tried not to breathe too deeply; I’ve already had cancer once, I certainly don’t want to get it again from breathing old chemicals!
Craving fresh air, Charlie and I headed out to the silos.
Trees crowded every spare inch of ground space and thick vines wound up the metal walls, creating a claustrophobia I tried hard to ignore. I wanted to see what was inside the silos! Pushing hard against the squeaking metal handles, I peeked inside a couple, only to find them empty and clean; in fact, the concrete floors almost looked swept!
By this point, my imagination was working overtime, and I was totally creeped out. I felt that someone – or some thing – was going to come up on us and do us harm, even with Charlie acting as my bodyguard. I admit, there was a point where I literally ran back to my car, ready to bail on the whole experience! (There may have been a bit of shrieking involved…)
Like I said, I’d make a terrible urban explorer!
The Rogers Delinted Cottonseed Mill was built in 1965 and operated until 1984 when it was abandoned.
In 2000, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality determined that the area was toxic and began the process of cleaning the land. The remediation was complete in 2006, and the land was deemed safe. You can find lots of details about the cleanup process here.
The Golden Nugget
So you’re probably wondering why I used a photo of the truck as my featured photo for this post, rather than perhaps a photo of the barns or the silos.
The 1950s Ford truck was my Golden Nugget…the best part…of the excursion!
Sitting at the end of the barn on deflating tires, this old flatbed truck was literally rotting in place. Through the open driver’s side door, which boasted a broken mirror, I could see that the interior was decaying and rusty. Parts of the dashboard were missing, the seats were crumbling, and old leaves scattered across the floorboard.
From the front, this old truck looked forlorn and forgotten, its days of performing “The Big Job” long past. I was thankful to be able to capture its character before time claimed it forever.