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Kelso, in west central Deaf Smith County, was a hoax set up by George G. Wright, a Kansas City land promoter, as a means of selling land in the early 1900s. The land was from the 80,000-acre Kelso Block of the XIT Ranch land, twenty-five miles northwest of Hereford. There Wright built a stage-set town, complete with a hotel, a general store, and a schoolhouse, that was never occupied except when carloads of tenderfeet were brought out from Hereford in the real estate men's Winton automobiles and given the illusion that the area was well populated. The hotel was occupied solely by these prospective newcomers, the school was never actually used, and customers were seen at the store loading merchandise they had purchased when buyers were around, only to return the goods to the shelves when they had left. There was also a large red barn filled with ears of corn shipped in from Iowa. For a brief time (1907–08) Kelso had a post office. Often Wright and his associates sold land at prices from $8 to $40 an acre after misrepresenting its quality and value, distance from a town, and stage of development. No one from the immediate area was permitted to ride the specials from Kansas City, nor did anyone on the trains and Winton cars have a chance to mingle with the local people. Many purchasers, dryland farmers, realized too late that the town was a fake and that deep-well irrigation was necessary to raise crops of kafir corn, millet, and wheat in this semiarid environment. Isolation and the lack of a church in the area discouraged some of them. By late 1907 the entire Kelso tract had been sold as farming acreage. After proposed railroad schemes fell through, the "town" of Kelso soon disappeared.

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H. Allen Anderson | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Kelso is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Kelso is classified as a Town

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated