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

From Canyon, head south on US-87. Once you get off the freeway, you’ll find yourself relying on GPS directions as you navigate a series of roads from farm to market.

It’s lonely. It’s sorry. It is a sea of ​​rolling farmland and vast open meadows. And if you choose to go there as the sun is setting toward the horizon, you’ll find yourself thinking how vast the Texas Panhandle really is; of the way people lived back then before technology connected us all.

The answer to this question is exactly what the Jowell School once stood for: community.

The old school Jowell

The abandoned remains of the Jowell School House can be found at the intersection of FM 1705 and Jowell Rd, where the dirt road meets the asphalt.

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

[I] went to many community events and meetings in this building. My father went to school there. I voted there for the first time. Many, many other premieres have taken place there.

Statements like these were echoed by the older members of the group, with the younger ones citing family histories rather than personal acquaintances.

We have seen the change from perfectly preserved to a ruin. It has been a sad process.

The research for the Jowell School has been tricky, but not impossible. Rather than easily pulled county records and documents from a database, the history of Jowell School is mostly told by those connected to the community itself.

A small school house in the meadow

The Jowell School was built in 1901 when a certain Jerome Thomas Jowell donated the land for his use. The Jowell family moved to Hereford in 1905, but Jowell’s name has survived.

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

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

Texas Historical Commission, June 1, 1987

This photo was taken on June 1, 1987 as part of a project with the Texas Historical Commission. From what I can understand, the Jowell School and Community Center had been fully restored at one point. I suspect the photo above was taken to document the restoration.

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

From all the accounts I can understand, the ruin of the Jowell School house occurred when vandals set the building ablaze ten years ago.

Today the Jowell School house sits in ruins next to a huge microwave tower on the northwest corner of FM 1705 and its namesake road.

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

Abandoned school outside Canyon, Texas

It used to be the Jowell School. Built in 1901, the building was the cornerstone of Jowell’s tiny farming community.

The building had been rebuilt and restored in the late 1980s or 1990s before vandals destroyed it in an arson attack. What remains of Jowell School is in a desolate stretch of rolling farmland between the small towns of Canyon and Happy, Texas.

Teeny Tiny Towns from Texas Panhandle

Don’t blink! You might miss those small towns that dot the Texas Panhandle.

Some of them are unincorporated communities and some of them are just ol ‘ small!

Either way, those tiny tiny towns and their populations will make you say “wow” (and maybe even squint and say “that’s it!”). Check them:

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