The drive to Jowell School Road will remind you of your place in the universe.

From Canyon, head south on US-87. Once you pull off the highway, you'll find yourself placing blind faith in the GPS directions while winding down a series of Farm-to-Market roads.

Sarah Clark/TSM
Sarah Clark/TSM

It is lonely. It is desolate. It is a sea of rolling farmlands and wide open prairie. And if you choose to go as the sun is falling down toward the horizon, you will find yourself thinking of how vast the Texas Panhandle truly is; of how people lived back then before technology connected us all.

The answer to that is exactly what the Jowell School once represented: community.

The Old Jowell School

The derelict remains of the Jowell School house sits on the intersection of FM 1705 and Jowell Rd, where dirt road meets blacktop.

Sarah Clark/TSM
Sarah Clark/TSM

I first heard about Jowell when I saw a blurry photo of the building in one of the many social media groups I'm part of. Several other group members commented a series of heartfelt statements and wistful memories involving the Jowell School house that stayed with me long after I put down my phone.

[I] went to many community events and meetings in that building. My dad went to school there. I cast my first vote there. Many, many other firsts took place there.
Statements like these were echoed by older group members, with the younger members citing family stories, rather than any personal knowledge.
We saw the change from perfectly preserved to a ruin. It's been a sad process.

Researching the Jowell School has proven tricky, but not impossible. Rather than county records and documents easily pulled from a database, the Jowell School's history is chronicled mostly by those who are connected to the community itself.

A Teeny Tiny School House On The Prairie

The Jowell school was built in 1901 when a Jerome Thomas Jowell donated the land for its use. The Jowell family moved to Hereford in 1905, but the Jowell name lived on.

The school programs and student plays were cornerstone for the community. Fundraisers and bake sales were held for any equipment the school needed. Religious sermons were hosted at the Jowell School house, as were book clubs and other groups.

It was in 1948 when the smaller rural schools were consolidated and all students began to attend school in Canyon. When this happened, the Jowell School took on a second life as the as a community center. Spearheaded by a man named Pete Leavitt, it continued to serve the tiny rural hamlet of Jowell for club meetings, social gatherings, political rallies--and more.

Texas Historical Commission, June 1, 1987
Texas Historical Commission, June 1, 1987

This photo was taken June 1, 1987 as part of a project with the Texas Historical Commission. From what I can gather, the Jowell school-cum-community center had been fully restored at one point. I suspect the photograph above was taken to document the restoration.

So, what happened to Jowell? What happened that reduced the beautiful, stout structure seen above into rubble?

By all secondhand accounts I can gather, the ruin of the Jowell School house came about when vandals set the building afire a decade ago.

Today, the Jowell School house sits in crumbling disrepair next to an enormous microwave tower on the northwest corner of FM 1705 and its namesake road.

There is no historical marker or official placard. Yet for those who know the history, the ghosts of Jowell School house remain.

The Abandoned School House Outside of Canyon, Texas

This was once the Jowell School. Built in 1901, the building was the cornerstone of the teeny tiny farming community of Jowell.

The building had been rebuilt and restored in the late '80s or 90s before vandals destroyed it in an act of arson. What remains of the Jowell School sits in a desolate part of rolling farmland between the small towns of Canyon and Happy, Texas.

Teeny Tiny Towns of the Texas Panhandle

Don't blink! You just might miss these TINY towns that are dotted around the Texas Panhandle.

Some of these are unincorporated communities and some of these are just plain ol' small!

Either way, these teensy weensy tiny towns and their populations will make you say "wow" (and maybe even squint and say "that's all!?"). Check them out:

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