Yates Hotel once for the rich and famous

The Yates Hotel is now a museum.  Photo by MacKenzie Prewozniak
The Yates Hotel is now a museum. Photo by MacKenzie Prewozniak

By Anna Sharp and Madison Clark

In the small town of Rankin, there used to be a luxury hotel that many rich and famous people stayed at. Rancher Ira Yates became an overnight millionaire and then built the Yates Hotel in the 1920s. Today it is now a museum. The museum now has all the original furniture, phone booth, and ceiling fans.
We spoke to Mrs. Donna Bell, one of the trustees of the museum, as well as Angela Luckie, who works at the museum.

They said the museum has three stories and 46 rooms. Mr. Yates kept a room upstairs to himself and played a bunch of poker in it; in fact, Mrs. Bell said that Mr. Yates taught all of this children and grandchildren to play poker because he thought it would make them good business people.

This hotel was the first fire-proof hotel between Fort Worth and El Paso. The hotel become a popular stopping place for east-west travelers; according to Mrs. Bell, the “Doodlebug” train would carry visitors from San Angelo just to stay at the hotel.

According to the website TexasEscapes.com, the rooms upstairs in the Yates Hotel were very unique in their own way. The north side of the building had rooms with no closets, but they cost less than the south side rooms. The south side rooms caught a better breeze and also had a door between rooms so that those rooms could also become a suite if needed. None of the rooms had bathrooms in them; all the guests had to walk down the hall to use the restroom.

Also right next to the Hotel there was the Rankin Beach; this is ironic because this part of the state has no waterfront access. Yates put in a giant concrete swimming hole, 60 feet wide and 120 feet long, and legend has it that he even had sand from the Texas coast trucked in.

According to TexasEscapes.com, supposedly Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, and Lawrencewelk all played live music at the Yates Hotel and the Rankin Beach. Rumors also have it that Theodore Roosevelt and the Wright Brothers stayed at the hotel, but Mrs. Luckie explained that if they did, there’s no proof of that now.

There are, however, some interesting stories Mrs. Bell tells about the history of the hotel.

“There’s a cute story about an old-maid (probably all of 25 to 30 years old) Home Extension agent from Austin who used to stay at the Yates in the ‘40s,” Mrs. Bell said. “She always washed her stockings at night and hung them in the bathroom to dry. One morning she came and found some man had washed his socks and hung them right next to her hose. She was scandalized.”

She also tells about a bullet hole the museum restoration has not been able to fix, and one of Mr. Yates’ descendents told her this story. One night a beautiful woman in town thought her husband was working in the oil field, so she went dancing with a male “friend.” However, that evening the husband showed up and pulled out a gun from his coveralls. His wife and that dancing partner booked it toward the hotel, followed by the husband firing shot after shot. As they entered the lobby, the bell hop ducked as the husband fired several shots at the man he’d caught with his wife. None of the bullets he fired hit the man, but they did leave some bad bullet holes in the wall.

At almost every old hotel, there is reported to be at least one spirit, and there was one woman who claims to have felt the presence of a lady apparition she called Gertrude on the hotel’s second floor. Mrs. Bell and Mrs. Luckie say that they have never heard anything or seen anything unusual at the Yates hotel other than the old bullet hole. Mrs. Bell laughed and said that if one spirit is hanging around at the hotel, it would be Mr. Yates because he spent a lot of time in his hotel until his death in 1939.

The story of Gertrude is one of those stories that you can believe or not believe. There was a team of ghost hunters came in and stayed at the museum two times and went through every room every night by snapping pictures and taking readings of the temperature in each room. They supposedly caught the sound of footsteps walking down the hall and even a faint whistle. Then they moved up to the third floor and did the same thing, scanning through the rooms and snapping pictures and checking the temperature. They captured more foot prints and even a door opening on the second floor, which was empty at that time. The next morning, they went through the pictures they had taken in the hallways and the garage, and you can see very clear orbs. Also in several other pictures you can see shadows which they believe is some kind of energy. Mrs. Bell said they even captured one image of the old fire truck donated by Dr. Gossett in which a German Shepard seems to be sitting in the passenger seat. Dr. Gossett raised German Shepards.

The Yates hotel closed in 1964 and remained vacant for a whole decade before the Rankin Museum Association turned it into a museum. The hotel was vandalized one year after it went out of business, so there is a lot of restoration to do. They have painted and redone the checkered floor. The Yates Hotel is now a Historical Marker.

Rankin was originally Upland, Texas

The old Upland Courthouse can still be found in 11 miles north of Rankin. Photo by Michaela Sawyers
The old Upland Courthouse can still be found in 11 miles north of Rankin.

By Michaela Sawyers

Going out eleven miles north from Rankin you would see a bowl shaped valley. That was once known as the town of Upland. Upland was a part of the Upton County, and they were actually the county seat because of the courthouse.

The area plot of what Rankin is today was actually F. E. Rankin’s ranch. That’s right; this whole area was just a ranch.

This ranch was built here mostly because of the Orient Railroad track that’s found down by the old Yates Motel. Upland residents decided that they wanted to live closer to the railroad to get more money.
So, some Upland folks went down to the Rankin’s ranch and asked if they could come live down there. The Rankins accepted, and everyone from Upland moved to the ranch. Since it was the Rankin’s land, they decided to take control and call the town Rankin. When they became Rankin and finished rebuilding, on March 20, 1921, they finally made Rankin the county seat.

Therefore, if the railroad were not there, Rankin wouldn’t have existed, and we would be called the Upland Red Devils.

Small town teenagers have always found ways to entertain themselves

railroad tracks

By Joseph Harris

In a small town like Rankin, teenagers sometimes get bored and find things to do that usually get them in trouble or get them hurt. For Example, according to my dad, Bill Harris, …

When he was young, my dad and his friend Roy Pippin were lifting a railroad track that was at least 100-150 lbs. My dad lifted it, but when he dropped it, he threw it forward and stepped back at the same time. Roy didn’t know to throw something ahead of you when you lift it and it’s heavy ,so he lifted it and then dropped it on his feet.

So Roy was dancing around holding his feet and then when he sat down trying to nurse his feet, he didn’t watch where he was about to sit and he sat in thorn bushes. Now he was nursing his feet and butt at the same time. Man, I can just imagine it.

Spooky cemetery has glowing tombstone

Some people tell spooky stories about Rankin's cemetery.
Some people tell spooky stories about Rankin’s cemetery.

By Nevaeh Watson

Rankin, Texas, is a small town where everybody knows everyone. However, some people have started to come to Rankin. Even the people who just moved here say that they knew people or had family here in Rankin.
Lately I have gone by the cemetery to visit loved ones. When I started to think more about the cemetery, I wanted to know more detailed information, so I had asked my parents about it.

My mother, Miriam Watson, who has lived in Rankin Texas since she was nine years old, said, “I like its location because it gives you privacy with your loved ones that you have lost.” The cemetery is located in the far south side of Rankin.

However, since her childhood, she has heard many different spooky stories about Rankin or somewhere in Rankin. My parents heard a story about the glowing tomb stone at the cemetery. They were told that you go to the cemetery, shine your vehicle lights at a certain tomb stone, then turn your lights off, and the tomb stone will start to glow.

My parents did not believe the story, so they thought they would go and give it a try. They thought they did not have anything to be worried about, but when they followed the instructions, it worked.
“I had never seen anything like it!” said my dad, Clarence Watson. They were not scared but shocked.

Apparently the cemetery seems very peaceful until the night comes.

Band and football used to mix

by Camryn Templeton

“Back then if you weren’t in the band you were nobody,” Bobbie Templeton said, “even the football players were in the band and most of the time they played with us at halftime!”

These events happened in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. At one football game against Grandfalls at Rankin Stadium, my father was running down field when he got knocked down from behind and hurt his ankle. The very next day there was a regional band competition in Odessa at the Ratliff Stadium. The band competed against Sanderson, Garden City, Wink, Grandfalls, and Buena Vista. The Wink, Grandfalls, and Rankin bands all got the okay to move on to the Area competition, where the bands all played in freezing weather.

The Rankin Band didn’t advance to State although some of the members thought they did better than the judges placed them. My father, Susan Titsworth, and Brady Kolb had the trio part for the trumpets, and my dad had to stand there on one foot and play while the crutch rested under one of his arms. He didn’t march along with the rest of the band.

Much changes in 40 years

A new restaurant, Sweet Nolas, recently opened, helping revitalize Main Street.
A new restaurant, Sweet Nolas, recently opened, helping revitalize Main Street.

By Cierra Watson

I have lived in Rankin my entire life and from just being here for almost 16 years, I myself have seen many changes. We used to have our “Town&Country” instead of what’s now Stripes. We also were as small as could be and just known as this big dust bowl. Now, we still are a big dust bowl, just more in it. We have newer looking homes being built, paved roads, updated football stadium, even a brand new school on the way!

My father, Clarence Watson, was born and raised in Rankin, America, as what we call it here. It all started for him in ’77. In 40 years, a lot can happen.

“A lot has changed from when I was in school [to] what you guys have now,” Mr. Watson expressed. “It’s getting so big now I can’t say I know everybody in Rankin anymore.”

He explained how different everything is, from the clothes to the technology.

“My basketball uniform was those really short shorts and socks all the way up to my knees. It is way different to the actual shorts you guys have,” Mr. Watson said. He even said how the style of basketball we play is different to the way we play now.

Mr. Watson also spoke about changes at the school. “You kids got lucky and can use computers and these fancy calculators to do your homework… I just made your mom do mine!

“It is crazy to even fathom the fact that the school I grew up in, is actually going away now. Hopefully this new school can measure up to how great it was growing up here in Rankin and in that High school,” he said.

Why are we the Red Devils?

By Allison Reid

From Purple and Gold Oilers to Red Dirt Devils and finally ending up with Maroon Rankin Red Devils, Rankin has gone through many mascot changes. There are many stories about how, when and why the mascot and the colors changed. However, the history always begins and ends the same.

At the very beginning of Rankin High School, the mascot was the Oilers, and the colors were purple and gold. There are even some artifacts at the Rankin Museum that have an Oilers logo on them. It is unknown when the mascot was changed, but that is when Rankin had a devil mascot.

How Rankin became the Devils is a mystery though. Some versions say the mascot was first the Red Dirt Devils since there are many dirt devils in the area and the soil is red. That may have even been where the “red” in Red Devils comes from. However, the Dirt Devil story ends, and RHS ended up becoming the Rankin Red Devils.

How the colors changed is also a cluster of different stories and theories. The colors were purple and gold, but it said that when the Great Depression hit that purple jerseys were too expensive, so they ordered maroon as a darker purple, and people liked it so it stuck.
Another version is that when the school ordered jerseys, they came back maroon and that it would have cost too much to send the jerseys back, so they used them and the color stuck. This story also goes with the Red Dirt Devil story. When they ordered red jerseys, they were too expensive and got maroon instead. Another theory is that there were too many red teams in the area so someone had to change, and there is even a rumor that RHS is maroon to distinguish from the actual Devil.

With the mascot being the Devil, this might bring some controversy. When Ms. Amy Marquez and some of the newer teachers were interveiwed, they thought that having a devil as a mascot was a little weird. “Coming into Rankin as a new set of eyes, it surprised me that it was okay to be cheering for the devil, but I have so much school spirit that after a few weeks, I was in the stands cheering and winning the spirit stick!” said Ms. Marquez.

Some of the older teachers and fauclty think that it’s perfectly normal for the mascot to be the Red Devil. “It’s just a mascot, and doesn’t bother me and shouldn’t greatly effect others or the opinion of the school. I mean if someones the Tigers, you don’t worship the Tigers, do you?” Mrs. Coach Tiffany Potts said.

“Being a Rankin Red Devil doesn’t bother me, but I can see why people look at us strange when we go to games.” Mrs. Carla Jackson stated.

After other teachers and faculty were interveiwed, there was a general conclusion that when new teachers, staff, and students come to town, it is a little strange to call yourself a Rankin Red Devil at first, but after a couple weeks of being a part of the Rankin community and student body, having a Red Devil as a mascot doesn’t bother most of the people and students at Rankin High School.