Highway 80 Tour Locate on map
In the days before divided, four-lane interstate highways, roads,
such as U.S. Highway 80, were the major thoroughfares between
towns. It crossed the southern sector of the United States from
Savannah to San Diego, passing through Ranger along the way.
Naturally when it was carrying many people right through town,
businesses (not restricted to motels, service stations, and
restaurants) lined its sides.
Climbing up Ranger Hill the first evidence of town would have
been the Ranger Hill Truck Stop, where a Texaco service station,
a cafe, stone-faced motel cabins, and the relatively new Ranger
Drive-in Movie Theater were all clustered.
Herbert Rapp was the owner and builder of the Ranger Drive-in
as well as the downtown Tower movie theater. On Tuesdays,
dollar-per-car night, the drive-in would be full. A special
attraction during intermission was the local teenaged boys'
band called the Teddie Bears, headed by lead singer Teddie
Neeley, who would climb up on the roof of the snack shack
and entertain. Another popular scene was the Old West town
built at the base of the screen, where kids could play.
One Dairy Queen-like establishment with its unique and probably
unintentionally humorous name was the Frigid Queen, known
affectionately by many teens as The Fridge. It was operated
by O.L. Justice for many years.
On north side of the highway and west of the Frigid Queen
was the Ranger Livestock Auction Barn.
The F & R Service Station on the corner of Tiffin Road may no
longer be well remembered, but it does call back a time when a
dollar was a dollar. Near the Tiffin Road turnoff as the highway
turned more in a southerly direction was Wheat’s Auto Parts on
the north side, a Sinclair service station adjacent to a car
dealership on the south side.
Across the road was a mainstay for young families, the Porkey Pig
in a small, steep-roofed building with an enlarged neon-outlined
image of the cartoon character. One could rely on friendly service
from the carhops for hamburgers, fries, and other essential food
Just before the intersection where a right turn would take the
driver onto Main Street was Ratliff’s Feed and Seed Store, where
Purina brand was sold. The block behind the feed store housed
Tom Hamilton's practical blacksmith shop, where much more than
horseshoeing could be done. Across the street was Matthews Oil
Field Supply. Back on the highway came another service station
(Morris Campbell, once under the banner of Humble). Predating
the traffic light at this juncture with the highway was a cluster
of businesses that included Swoveland’s Cafe. Then there was a
Gulf service station (Curtis Blackwell). Before Prairie Crossing
Chick Ussery built the first motel in Ranger.
Law's Premier Station was located near Blackwell Road on the old Hwy.
80. Next door was an auto repair shop, which later became a bait house.
Ogden’s Laundry was on the northeast corner of the intersection.
Through the years it would undergo a number of updates in machinery
and efficiency. Another service station was on the opposite corner.
To the west across the tracks was the new rodeo arena promoted by
the Ranger Jaycees and scene of Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned
events for many years.
Then on the east side was built the modern motel and cafe known as
Then came the welding shop and home of Max Jacoby. He had an oil field
supply business on Eastland Hill and later moved to this location. One
of his handyworks was the spinning metal top at the Ranger swimming pool.
Less than a block off the road was the old Cooper School, which
became the new home of Ranger Junior College. Lots of modifications
to the campus would take place in the next several years, including
the demolition of the Cooper building. With the passage of time
business would shift farther south to an exit on I-20 where a motel,
a Love’s Truck Stop, and a Dairy Queen ushered in a new era in Ranger
The drive around Ranger’s business district has passed by several
churches. Those not mentioned earlier included were St. Rita’s
Catholic, a red brick edifice with a round bell tower. Years ago
just south of the church was a white wooden building that served
as a school attended by a number of Ranger children. This building
was later moved to the college campus and used as a dormitory for
female students and named for Mary Frances Jameson. It no longer
Looking back over our shoulder toward what was often called the
hospital hill, we can see the large water tower overlooking the
town and just below its base the community hospital known as
Ranger General. It occupied a prominent spot in the life of
Ranger for a number of years. As it became somewhat dated, the
board decided to relocate and to build a new facility on Highway
80 near the city limits sometime in the 70's. This new hospital
would never accomplish its purpose and was eventually sold to
the junior college, who converted it into a combination dormitory/
training facility for the athletic department.
Other churches were the Church of the Nazarene (no longer standing)
a block east of Ratliff’s store and the Eastside Baptist Mission
(across from the Young School) that later became a separate
congregation. On the Caddo Highway (North Austin) stood the
Pentecostal church that had originally been in the country near
Bullock. The Church of Christ has stood at the corner of Rusk
and Mesquite for many years. In recent years a new Church of
Christ congregation formed, calling itself the Eastside Church
of Christ. It is located at the intersection of Young Street
and Strawn Road.
In the days prior to either big chain groceries or little chain
convenience stores, the concept of small neighborhood mom and pop
groceries were evident everywhere as well as Ranger. Among those
remembered in Ranger are Cowart’s on the edge of Hodges Oak Park
School on Lula Street and Powell’s on Pershing across from Young
School. Others included Woods’ on Young Street, McGowan’s on Hunt
Street, Tommie’s across from the livestock sale barn, the OK
Grocery on the corner of Main and Sue Street, Dempsey’s on the
Caddo Highway, and Blacklock Grocery on Blackwell Road.
Within the city limits are two cemeteries—Pioneer and Evergreen.
The former is just off Highway 80 on a dirt road across from the
Porky Pig and enclosed by a rock fence. The latter stands atop
the hill west of town.
END OF TOUR