What Really Happened To This Now Missing Texas Town On Route 66?
When you're coming into Texas from western Oklahoma on I-40 or Route 66, the last you see of Oklahoma is Texoma. Just a hop, skip, and a jump west and you once would find yourself in Benonine.
Now, there's nothing that remains to suggest that it ever even existed.
Welcome To Benonine...If You Can Find It
Look on Google maps and you'll see it marked. It's right there on I-40. Benonine, Texas rests just on the Texas side of the Texas/Oklahoma line.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, a man by the name of G.W. Burrow built the first homestead in the area around 1900. The town was later platted by C.B. Herbert in 1909.
That's when the railroad came through.
Judging from what I've been able to dig up, the expectation was for Benonine to be around for quite a while and to grow into a sizeable community.
So why can't you seem to find a single remnant of the town, anywhere?
Theory Number One: Blame Shamrock
According to the TSHA, the town was doing fine until Shamrock decided to come along and be awesome. Shamrock growing basically meant that Benonine didn't.
The TSHA has it that in 1918 the post office closed and mail was routed to Texola. By 1920, the bank and everything else in town closed up shop and moved away.
That can't be all there is to it though. There was a school. The town had a trading post. It even had a pretty nice gas station as you came into Texas. Where did all the buildings go? Did they tear all the buildings down on their way out?
Was it really just Shamrock "winning" so much that destroyed Benonine?
Theory Number Two: It Was Arson
This one seems a bit far fetched, and I can't find much to verify this theory. Still, it's more interesting than "people just liked Shamrock better."
According to a social media post online, Benonine fell victim to an act of arson. Supposedly, the whole town burned to the ground.
What would make someone do such a thing? According to this legend it was an individual from Texola that was jealous. The town was set ablaze, and they never rebuilt it. No date given. No sources given.
Maybe they're thinking of somewhere else? I haven't been able to find record of any major fire in Benonine. It's hard enough finding proof that it really existed.
Theory Three: Maybe It's All Of The Above, With A Dash Of Progress
Perhaps it's all of above. Maybe there was an act of arson that decimated parts of the town. Shamrock thriving probably didn't help matters much either.
By the time I-40 was being built, Benonine was done. Remember, according to TSHA, Benonine was pretty much a ghost town in 1920. I-40 wasn't built until the 1950s.
This video details more about Benonine, and even shows where some buildings were supposedly demolished to make room for the interstate highway.
There isn't much, if anything, left behind today. I can't find a single trace. Even using satellite photos. It's almost as if it never existed at all.