What Really Made Phillips, TX Suddenly Disappear?
Do you remember a town named Phillips, TX? It was in the Texas panhandle. I recently stumbled across some discussions regarding what actually happened there. There were several theories and versions of the truth tossed around, so I started digging.
I have to know, what really made Phillips, Texas suddenly disappear?
Where Did Phillips, Texas Come From?
If you're not from the Texas panhandle, I suppose you would be forgiven for not ever hearing about this town. It actually started out as two separate towns.
One town was named Whittenburg. The other was named Pantex. In 1938, though, the citizens all got together for a vote and they combined the two. They named the town Phillips, after the Phillips Petroleum Company.
It just so happens, that was the biggest employer in town at the time.
Blame The Highway For Beginning The End
It seems you can always find a railroad or highway to blame when it comes to the death of a small town. While this wasn't the nail in the coffin, so to speak, it did get the ball rolling on decreasing the population.
In the 1950s and 1960s, several businesses packed up shop and hightailed it over to Borger (which wasn't far). This was thanks to improved transportation and highways.
By 1980, the population of around 4,000 had fallen to around 2,500.
The Phillips Explosion Of 1980
In 1980, tragedy would strike in Phillips. This is also where some of the debate begins regarding what actually killed the town.
There was a hydrocarbon explosion that happened at the refinery in Phillips, Texas. The debate is around some of the stories surrounding the explosion.
Some say the explosion obliterated whole parts of the town, or just the whole town. Some say churches were leveled. Others say that it mostly just cracked or blew out windows across town.
In the middle is the truth. It didn't obliterate the entire town. There were injuries, and it was tragic. There was also damage done.
But that's not exactly why the town disappeared. It's what got the process started.
The explosion, as you would guess, caused some major issues. Eventually, Phillips closed the town off to residency. After some fighting back and forth over the land, they were able to push residents out.
The Legacy Of The Blackhawks Remains Alive And Well
Supposedly, homes that weren't moved got leveled. The ones that did wound up in places like Stinnett, Fritch, Borger, and some say even Amarillo.
All that's left behind, is what used to be a school.
There is an alumni association that keeps the legacy of Phillps alive and well. They still meet for class reunions and keep up a website devoted to all things Phillips, TX. You can see it here.