Author Topic: U.S. 80 in Texas  (Read 8299 times)

Carnut

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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).

 

Parsa

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Re: U.S. 80 in Texas
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2008, 10:49:37 AM »
Carnut,

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.

Parsa


Carnut

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Re: U.S. 80 in Texas
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2008, 09:56:18 PM »
Carnut,

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.

Parsa



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.

Jim



 


Parsa

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Re: U.S. 80 in Texas
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2008, 06:04:43 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.

Carnut

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Re: U.S. 80 in Texas
« Reply #4 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.

Jim

Parsa

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Re: U.S. 80 in Texas
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2008, 06:41:46 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!

Carnut

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Re: U.S. 80 in Texas
« Reply #6 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.