American Auto Trails > Bankhead Highway

Bankhead route in Arkansas

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This thread will be devoted to discussions of the route of the Bankhead Highway through the state of Arkansas. I'll be presenting sources, and working from east to west. I'll post map sections and guide book descriptions, and where relevant, things like aerial photos. Please feel free to post text, suggestions, or images. If you have no server space to link to, you can email me the images (see this page for my email address).


The Bankhead entered Arkansas on the Harahan Bridge. This was a railroad bridge, but upon the insistence of residents in Arkansas, the bridge had two cantilevered roadways on each side. This is shown in both the Dunn and Locke maps. The lock map labels the bridge's name, and says to "drive on right."
Wikipedia article.

Picture of the roadway support, from the Bridgehunter website:

Postcard from 1938 showing the eastbound traffic lane. The Frisco Bridge is on the left.

The traffic lanes have now been approved to be used as bike and walking lanes.

Locke's Good Road Maps of Local & Transcontinental Automobile Routes (1919), p. 287.
I'm a bit confused about this map. It shows "Patterson" half way between Marion and Forrest City. However, the town of Patterson is northwest of Forrest City on old US 64. This has got to be Arkansas State Route 218 linking up with the US 70 route. AR 218 is the "Old Military Road" which is a good clue to an old road predating the auto era. The Blackfish Lake crossing can only be near: 35.130752,-90.455925. The first rail crossing after Blackfish Lake must be near AR 149, and the "Patterson" RR crossing must be near AR 75.

The other, more southerly road, seems to be drawn in a rather rough fashion. I'm assuming it's the same road shown on the Dunn guide map, but it shows absolutely no detail. None of the curves and turns of the real road are shown, but I can see no alternate road that it could be.


In regards to Patterson... there's a Patterson School shown on the 1940 15-minute Whitmore topo map. It's right above Patterson Lake. This is not on US 70, but is still on the Old Military Road. Since the road on the Locke map bends northwest just to the west of Blackfish Lake, I'm assuming the road shown is following the Old Military Road west, not US 70. The school was approximately here: 35.150372,-90.557723. There are no old rail lines evident, however.

Here's an inset of a special 1925 topographic map. It's specifically of the Memphis area, but is not the standard 15-minute quad. In fact, later quads still use the old 1916 map and don't show much in the way of roads at all. This map says it was all survey in 1916, evidently to lay out the location of the new 1917 Harahan bridge and the proposed viaduct for the highway. I've inset the appropriate section from the Locke map. They seem to correspond almost exactly.


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