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Messages - Carnut

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Everyone is familiar with our highways often flanking rail lines and telephone/telegraph lines existing between them.  In Michigan, Virginia, and probably many states there are roads named "Telegraph Road."  Some of them later became U.S. Highways or parts of U.S. Highways.  An 1866 act of Congress granted telegraph companies access and easement across public lands and along Postal Roads however whether any of their construction and maintenance roads became any of the named seems to be without any specific mention.  It would be interesting to know just how many of those roads actually became a part of our highway system.

Highway 80 / Re: U.S. 80 in Texas
« on: May 18, 2008, 01:12:58 PM »
I also would say that people in other countires, especially in Europe and Japan, need to be made aware of how great all the old auto trail and US highway routes are. You really see nothing on the interstates if you are a tourist. They are very efficient for speedy travel of course, but definitely not for seeing America or meeting Americans. The old auto trails and the later US highways went right through Main street of all the towns and cities. If the road is the destination, the Interstates are definitely not the way to go. On one Route 66 trip I met some folks from a T-bird group "going down 66." However, almost every time I saw them, they were passing by on the interstate on the way to the next town, while I cruised down the real 66. I can understand not taking your car down La Bajada Hill, but at least go down the old cement highway for gosh sakes.

I would encourage every road geek, Chamber of Commerce, visitor bureau, and civic and business organization to form historic route associations in their town or county. That's how they were started in the beginning to promote travel through small towns, and it can be done again. We don't even have to do all the road building!

Many of the people that make Route 66 events have made the trek many times before.  They return annually for the events in the various towns and prefer not to get into the middle of a traffic jamb on the old two lane.  In a way that is good since it frees up the two lane for those making the trip for their first time.  I suppose what you witnessed is the downside of many car clubs making the same event year after year and often finding themselves over 50 miles from their motel to the various events. Of course if one is a hospitality provider you are just glad they keep returning year after year.

For whatever reason it seems the Scandinavians and Japanese are into 1950s and 1960s American car and travel culture big time.  The Scandinavians in particular have a thing about vintage American automobiles representative of those times.  Of course to look at the old two lanes using their eyes, they might well be disappointed in thinking what they will see today is like it was fifty years ago.  What they get to see for the most part is the affect the Interstate Highway system had on small towns that got by-passed so to speak.  Not too much exciting about aging vacant buildings, gas stations turned into other usages, and old motels often now very run down and housing migrant workers.  Tarnished glitter from times now long ago.    Those of us living here and having lived the times we have the luxury of our memories allowing us to mentally see those places again in our minds as they were.  Unfortunately, there is no possible way the things we cherished then can or will again return to those halcyon days. 

General U.S. Highway Topics / Historic Markers
« on: May 11, 2008, 10:13:03 AM »
Ever wonder what was on those Historic Markers you didn't have the time to stop and read?  There are tens of thousands of them along our much cherished two lane highways and thanks to a Historic Markers web site we can now look up that marker we missed.



Highway 6 / Great U.S. 6 Link
« on: May 10, 2008, 05:19:11 PM »
Discovered the U.S. 6 Tourist Association Site and those guys seem to really have their stuff together with respect to promotion, tourism, and preservation.  They seem to have a good model for any group to follow in promoting and preserving their favorite historic two lane highway.


Old Spanish Trail / Re: Is this really a historical named trail?
« on: May 10, 2008, 12:16:10 PM »
Of course you are correct that most named trails had some sort of commercial motivation involved and the nature of the motivation did indeed vary.  Of course all of those "named trails" were ultimately doomed to becoming non-existent simply because they did not necessarily follow what was the most direct route between points and depended more on the winds of local politics in their definition than having been previously a trail carrying pioneers Westward or from North to South.  With the 1926 passage of the bill creating a national highway system all named trails, with exception of what became U.S. 80 and U.S. 1, were hacked up into a system of numbered highways lacking uniformity from the definition of the original trails.  Of course the greatest indignity came from the requiring of all the old trail signs to be taken down in order to eliminate confusion with the new numbering system.  Fortunately from a historical perspective not all were.

Of all the industrialist approached to contribute to named trails efforts I think Henry Ford said it best:  "The public will never learn to fund good roads if private industry does it for them."  The refusal of Ford to be a contributor, along with many of his automotive industry cronies who followed his lead, probably did more to promote a true Federal Highway System than all the named trails efforts combined.

As near as I can tell none of the "named trails" associations formed between 1912 and 1925 survived beyond 1929.  The Old Spanish Trail Association being likely the last to dissolve.  There were indeed later merchant type association formed along many of the two lane highways to primarily promote tourism, but none had diddly to do with the original trails associations.  I've not seen a listing of all the known such associations anywhere, but we do know there was an Old Spanish Trail, Inc. organization of that type formed in the 1940s following World War II and it died sometime in the early 1960s.  I personally recall there was also a U.S. 287 association (Port Arthur, Texas to Yellowstone National Park) which existed into the 1960's.  Were there others?  I have often mused as to whether such associations could be revived again today among restaurants and motels along the remaining of prominent two lane highways of the 1930-1965 period.


Old Spanish Trail / Is this really a historical named trail?
« on: May 09, 2008, 02:13:52 PM »
Is this really a historical named trail? I raise the question on the basis that prior to 1915, or maybe more accurately 1926, there had been no previously known contiguous trail across this route, which was created for the most part from a patchwork of existing roads across eight states and being called "The Old Spanish Trail" by an association most specifically interested in creating commercial and tourism interests into their states.  Unlike other "named trails" the route in general was never used as a route of pioneers expanding civilization across the continent.  Yes, there are areas along this route which were indeed used by very early Spanish Explorers, and even for limited commercial purposes regionally, but never as a contiguous coast to coast route followed by early Spanish occupiers of the area,  pioneers, or merchants.  In other words, there were few, if any, wagon trains filled with settlers ever headed Westward across America on any part of this route.  No wagons Ho!  Barely Model A's Ho!

Highway 80 / Re: U.S. 80 in Texas
« on: May 09, 2008, 12:35:50 PM »
I guess I'm in the "more the merrier" camp. I would love to see lots of revived auto trail associations and US highway associations. I don't think of it as competition. Perhaps a business owner on one of the routes would, but tourists often visit multiple areas in their quest to see America and for old road nostalgia. To me US 80 and the OST east of Kent, Texas compliment each other nicely. As a tourist from either coast or from Europe, one could easily do a Dixie Overland Highway and Old Spanish Trail Loop. That's what Ed Fletcher's group did in 1926 for his race-against-time run from San Diego to Savannah. He took the Dixie Overland east, and the OST west. He was an officer on both associations (as well as on the Lee Highway Association and probably some others). To the folks on the Route 66 Federation, the 66 state associations, the California Historic Highway 80 board, the Lincoln and Yellowstone Highway associations, I say... more power to you.

I certainly agree with you on re-creation of "trail" and/or "highway" associations along the much traveled two lane routes of the 1930s through the mid 1960s.  It's really a hoot to just casually drive along taking in all there is to be seen.  Nothing much really enjoyable about speeding down the Interstates at 70 or more miles per hour looking for the next convenience store with gas, restrooms, and a fast food franchise.  Good grief, what have we come to anyway?

I would love to see trail or highway associations putting together annual driving events along many of those roads.  Getting the car clubs and motorcycle clubs out revisiting America is what I believe to be the key to insuring the old two lanes don't just fade away for lack of public awareness.


Highway 90 / Re: U.S. 90, the Eastern end of the OST
« on: May 09, 2008, 12:15:16 PM »
Yes, I have an Old Spanish Trail thread on the forum too, but a lot of these roads overlap. I'm not too worried if people cross-post. The OST was mostly US 90, 290 and 80. However, as I'm finding for the Lee Highway, the pre-1926 auto trails sometimes varied from what later became the US numbered highways. The associations later adopted US numbered routes.

In the case of the Old Spanish Trail Association, more or less formed in 1915, rather than adopt anything it just chose to dissolve itself upon the end of the 1929 motorcade from St. Augustine, Fl. to San Diego.  A later group known as Old Spanish Trail, Inc. came into being in the 1940s.  It was obviously a trade association formed in hopes of creating traveler awareness of the membership's existence along U.S. 90 and I suppose the then Western end of U.S. 80.  Considering U.S. 290 from San Antonio to roughly Junction, Tx had by that time been re-routed (actually in 1935) from Austin to Junction I don't know what they would they would have been using for identity of that section of what had been the OST.  That section of road basically reverted back to being Texas 27 and remains that today for the most part except were I-10 runs right over the original route of Texas 27.

Highway 80 / Information Resource on U.S. 80 through Texas
« on: May 07, 2008, 12:48:35 PM »
TxDot has a wonderful history resource for U.S. 80 going back to 1927. While it does not map individual small alignment changes it does give routing through towns and cities along with the mileage between the cities.  Alignment changes are indicated from the differences in mileage between towns over the years.  In some cases the exact street names through cities are specifically noted.  Enjoy!   

Highway 90 / U.S. 90, the Eastern end of the OST
« on: May 06, 2008, 10:20:39 PM »
Without repeating a lot of information on other sites concerning what was dubbed as the OST by the Old Spanish Trail Association of the 1915-1929 period I figured this discussion area deserved to give recognition to that organization and to tie U.S. 90 to the OST identification, though there is only limited evidence the Spanish ever had trails over much of what became U.S. 90 in 1926.


Highway 80 / Re: U.S. 80 in Texas
« on: May 06, 2008, 09:56:18 PM »

Thanks for the post. I'm looking forward to visiting this section of 80 soon.
I'm a big Woody Guthrie fan, so I look forward to visiting Longview and playing East Texas Red.

If you can find like-minded folks in Texas, perhaps you can form a Texas 80 Association.


As you know U.S. 80 in Texas gets a bit entangled with U.S. 90 and what was dubbed as the Old Spanish Trail between 1915 and 1929 in efforts to achieve an all weather coast to coast trail or highway.  At this moment I'm a bit entangled with getting a more wide spread public recognition of that route.  However, I do think U.S. 80 from coast to coast is no less important historically speaking and perhaps second only in commercial importance to Route 66. 

While our friends along the OST Eastward to Florida feel the need to get recognition for the OST, in my opinion as a coast to coast commercial artery it was a failure given the fact the most commercial traffic continued to flow on U.S. 80 once it reached the junction with U.S. 90.  I attribute this to the almost illogical routing of U.S. 90 from Van Horn, Texas to San Antionio, Texas more or less along the Rio Grande River, adding many, many unnecessary miles and deviating significantly from the route chosen by the OSTA in the 1920's.  The route oversight was corrected with the construction of I-10 basically following the OST route of the 1920's from San Antonio to Van Horn, curiously ending I-20 at almost the same point U.S. 90 was ended some thirty-five years before, but I'm not at all sure that correction greatly increased the commercial traffic on the Eastern end of I-10.  Seems it the most of it from the West still flows onward to Dallas where it can head Northward on I-30 (the old U.S. 67), I-35, or continue Eastward on I-20.

I suppose I should start posting OST related information in that topic area given I now live just a couple of miles South of the original alignment roughly 85 miles West of Houston.  I drive portions of that original OST alignment at least once a week, sometimes more often.  There are places nearby where the original 1920s concrete is still in service and has never been capped with asphalt.



Highway 80 / U.S. 80 in Texas
« on: December 18, 2007, 09:08:11 PM »
First, this is a wonderful site and a fine tribute to U.S. 80.  I may be one of the few non truck driver types which have made a coast to coast trip more than once on U.S. 80 and have seen first hand many of the changes made in the 1950's and early 1960's before the completion of I-20, I-10, and I-8 (took all three to replace U.S. 80).

I grew up in Longview, Texas, which is located on U.S. 80.  Unlike many U.S. Highways the stretch of U.S. 80 between Dallas and Longview are pretty much as it was in 1960, though I-20 has taken most of the through traffic from it.  Also unlike so many routes where an Interstate Highway by-passed smaller towns, most of the towns on this stretch of U.S. 80 seem to have survived without serious incident.  Perhaps this is because I-20 was routed close enough to them the affect on most local businesses was minimal, who knows.

Until the late 1950's this particular stretch of U.S. 80 was basically two lanes through somewhat hilly terrain and there was a number of terrible automobile wrecks every month along this 120 mile or so stretch.  Circa 1957 the Texas Highway Department (now Texas Dept. of Transportation) began a widening project that would widen the entire 120 miles to four lanes within existing right of way space.  Needless to say the completion of the widening project saved many lives.

Taking a trip from Dallas to Longview or visa-versa today is basically a blast to the past on a highway that is in wonderful shape.  Many of the motels that existed along the way in the 1950's are still there.  Some even maintained well enough to spend a night.  There are also a number of eateries that were there in the 1950's. (I particularly recommend Johnny Caces Steak an Seafood House in Longview - great food and nice atmosphere)  Of course there are also the invaders in the form of today's typical fast food chains (Ugh).


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