Back to Borger: Birth of a Boomtown
September 27, 2022
Review: “A narrative nonfiction story that unmasks an unruly town during an unruly time, written with the spirit and power of a novel.”
Asa Borger knows a thing or two about boomtowns.
He’s built them.
He’s sold them.
He’s been run out of them.
He’s been rich.
He’s been broke.
He’s ready to try again on the vast Texas Panhandle.
Find an oil strike.
Find an oilfield.
The folks who work there need homes.
They need a town.
They need a place to spend their money.
Asa gives them one.
ASA BORGER QUICKLY establishes himself in the real estate business. He does not have to face any competition. He owns the land. He owns the town.
Buy from him because you can’t buy from anybody else. Borger is facing at least two puzzling problems.
How many people know about the oil strikes, and who has any idea where his new empire on the plains is located?
He immediately goes to work and shows off his brilliant acumen for promotion as well. Borger promptly drives the length and breadth of the Texas Panhandle, placing full-page advertisements in The Amarillo Globeand Amarillo Daily News, as well as in small weekly newspapers published in any little town within striking distance of Borger.
His message is bold and direct and as sensational as if he were shouting loud enough for all of Texas to hear :
YOUR OPPORTUNITY LIES IN BORGER! THE NEW TOWN OF THE PLAINS, LOCATED IN THE HEART OF THE PANHANDLE OILFIELDS, 27 MILES NORTH OF PANHANDLE, TEXAS, IN SECTION 19, BLOCK Y, HUTCHINSON COUNTY.
TERMS OF SALE: 30% DOWN; BALANCE IN 10 EQUAL PAYMENTS.
The Amarillo News reports that “the town had been surveyed and the streets had been marked. Everything is in readiness for the formal opening.”
Build it, Borger thinks.
Build it, and the masses will come.
He is mocked.
He is ridiculed.
He is laughed at.
He is scorned.
Borger doesn’t have a town, they say. All he has is a bunch of furrows cut into the earth, and a lot of wooden stakes hammered into the ground. And the townsites are all the way out in the middle of nowhere.
But Asa Borger remains undaunted.
EARLY ON THE morning of March 8, 1926, Asa Borger raises a big tent alongside his vision for Main Street and hangs out a sign that says simply: BORGER TOWNSITES.
He is selling lots for $1,500 apiece.
All it needs are a man’s signature on a legal document and a down payment of $450.
Don’t miss a payment.
Don’t get behind.
He just might have to sell your lot again.
A newspaper reporter writes: “As the sun rose into the heavens on that day – the day that Borger was to be born – wagons were seen on the horizon making their way across prairies unmarked by any road closer than an old wagon trail running in the direction of Panhandle and Amarillo.
“As a wagon would approach the flat piece of land surrounding the Townsite office, the driver would occasionally glance from left to right, sizing up the assets of the wind-whipped, sagebrush prairie. At last, the driver came nearer and spied the tent of Borger’s in the middle of the pasture.
“’Where’s your town?’ the driver might ask.
“The Town Builder in a confident and reassuring way would wave toward the two long furrows plowed north and south with fifty feet of sod and sagebrush between them. ‘That’s it.’
At the end of the day, Asa Borger has a hundred thousand dollars in his pocket.
Please click HERE to find Borger: Last Dance at Sundown on Amazon.