I don’t know how I ended up here. A motel postcard, perhaps. A matchbook. Whatever it was, it's gone now. The remains - or ruins - of Bruceton aren't like the sprawling wrecks of Detroit or deindustrialized East Coast cities; they're not as bare and flat as the ruins of small-town Texas.

It's Tennessee. So it's pretty.



There's a little star logo painted on the faded sign. I don't know if that's meant to refer to the Broadway of America road; doesn't matter.

New concrete sidewalk curb cuts, so that's nice.




One thousand five hundred souls. The city’s Chamber of Commerce says:

The area that is now Bruceton was first known as Hollow Rock Junction and was known as so until 1921 when railroad officials chose Hollow Rock Junction as the central location for terminals in Lexington, Paducah and Martin. The Post Office was established on July 7, 1922 with Sarah M. Boyd as the first Postmaster.

Oh, but there's more!

In order to give the post office a name, it was dubbed New One and operated under than name until January 15, 1923 when the name was changed to Junction City due to Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway's presence. In 1928, a group of citizens that wanted to honor W.P. Bruce, then an official of the railroad and a tremendous contributor to the community's developmental progress, requested and received a charter that incorporated the town as Bruceton.

That's the only history I can find.

And no, that's not the 1922 Post Office. That's your classic small-town post-war piece of modernism. Or maybe they were just cheap.


Hard night, pal? You look like you could use some coffee and an icepack.


The door looks new. Or at least possibly from this century.

The loss of the railroad hit the town hard in the 30s. From the Chamber of Commerce site:

During the time of the depression, many railroad jobs were terminated which was a serious blow to the economic health of Bruceton. The railroad was the town's only source of financial gain at the time which meant that the people needed to develop an alternate source. The citizens raised enough money to build a factory with the hopes of luring industry into town.

The town would not accept just anyone; the new owner would have to agree to use local labor. Henry I. Siegel Company purchased the building in the 1930's and replenished the town's economic stamina by becoming the largest employer in Bruceton and Carroll County and one of the top ten employers in all of west Tennessee.

Doing what, though?

It's a good thing the Google cameras blur out facial features, or we might find this guy and harrass him.


"Templeton Park. 1938."

So this is Mr. Templeton? No.



It's a memorial to Sam Siegel, mayor from 1958 to 1974. No doubt related to the previous Savior Siegel. The motto below says "There is no limit to the good a man can do as long as he doesn't care who gets the credit."



The haste with which the boards were put up, and the obvious age of the work, makes you think that this place gave up on a commercial district a long time ago. Maybe Sam just took the town's spirit with him.


Maybe Sam just took the town's spirit with him.

I find a lot of these towns, and often there's just a few pieces of remnant ruins, hardly enough to justify a full visit in this feature.



The trees look like they're watching and waiting; the interlopers will be gone soon enough, and then the trees can return.


The old blind man was led around by his precious niece:



Even before they bricked up the windows, they didn't match. Didn't that bother anyone?


Ahhhh. Here's why I stopped in Bruceton. The Howard Theater.


Not even Cinema Treasures can tell us much about it. Operated from 1940 to 1964: that's it.

That's all we know?



Good Lord, what's in there?


Finally, there's this beautiful thing:



I'll bet it was a car dealership.

Wouldn't be surprised if a Siegel ran that for a while, until it made no sense to keep it open.

Chamber of Commerce site, again:

 In early 1925, a concrete roundhouse was constructed to replace it. Although it has been abandoned for quite some time, the roundhouse remains a gigantic presence that stands as a reminder of times past.

I think they have reminders enough.