At the dusty intersection of U.S. 67 and Texas 163, across from a rail line, stands tiny Barnhart, Texas—an outpost on the fringes of the southern Midland Basin.

Beyond closed storefronts, a jumble of machinery and a windmill, a horse trailer is covered by Mars red rust.

This is Irion County, Texas’ southwest corner, which opens up to a big and empty West Texas prairieland. Barnhart arguably lacks probable cause to still exist. It was first a last-gasp railroad town in the 1910s, and later, an oil town besieged by a bust in the mid-2010s.

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