Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Bankhead Highway in Texas

The Bankhead Highway was an automobile route from Washington, D.C. to San Diego, mainly through southern states.  It was the second national cross-country highway and the first that could be used year-round. It was named for Alabama senator John Hollis Bankhead, a leader in the early national road building ("Good Roads") movement.  Work on the route began in 1916, and its about-850 miles across Texas run from Texarkana to Dallas, and then west more or less near the routes of Interstates 20 and 10 today.

Retired meteorologist Daniel L. Smith spoke to the Dick Smith Friends of the Library this past weekend about his book (pictured above), The Bankhead Highway in Texas.  In the second half of the book, Smith took the 1921 Authentic Roadmap and Tourist Guide of the Bankhead Highway  by Thomas A. Dunn, and marked its routing on 1936 county maps of Texas.  Those maps show roads that may no longer exist today, but even by 1936, a few parts of the 1921 Bankhead Highway no longer existed - or could not be definitively identified.  And of course, today the interstates and other highways have obliterated parts of the Bankhead.

One of the Bankhead routes in western Tarrant County went right down today's Camp Bowie Boulevard, past the location of today's Hickman Building of the Tarleton Southwest Metroplex Center in Fort Worth.  The route also went through downtown Weatherford in Parker County.  Much of the road through Eastland County was paved with red brick made in Thurber, and you can easily see these segments in Cisco and Ranger.

Old photos, ads, and postcard images of bridges, signage, hotels, tourist courts, service stations, and other businesses along the Bankhead route, and recent photos of remnants of the road, buildings, landmarks, and other features that remain today are available in a Bankhead Highway in Texas group on Flickr started by the Texas Historical Commission as part of its Bankhead Highway Project.

This book can be found in the General Stacks on the upper level, call number HE356 .B36 S65 2013.

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