By JUDY SHERIDAN
Parker County residents travel Bankhead Highway daily, thinking little, if ever, about its origins.
But the road has an auspicious past — as a part of the nation’s second transcontinental route — that is now being uncovered by the Texas Historical Commission.
Funded by TxDOT and the Texas Legislature and headed up by the Austin firm of Hardy-Heck-Moore Inc., a two-year project is progressing to document the road’s history in Texas, as well as the landmarks along its path.
Coincidentally, it is also the topic of a new book by Fort Worth author Dan Smith, who was captivated by the road — marked “Old Bankhead Highway” — as he biked through Aledo some 20 years ago.
The book, entitled “Texas Highway No. 1, The Bankhead Highway in Texas,” has been available on Amazon for about a month, Smith said, and its first printing is almost sold out.
Aledo city officials learned of Bankhead’s historic status a few years ago as they argued against a waste transfer station that would have increased truck traffic on the road.
Now, after conversations with the THC and Smith, they have decided to seek a Texas Historical Marker.
“We are in the process of acquiring a historic marker to put at the intersection of Bankhead and 1187, which I think is really exciting,” Mayor Kit Marshall announced during a past council session.
If the marker can be secured — a lengthy process according to Smith — it would define the part of the route that might prove to be the longest intact portion in the state, and possibly the nation.
“The stretch from 1187 north of Aledo all the way toward and through Weatherford called Old Bankhead Highway is the longest stretch still called Old Bankhead Highway in Texas — and probably in America,” Smith said. “I guess it’s about 20 miles.”
According to the THC — which completed field surveys and a series of public outreach meetings in 10 Texas cities this month — the Bankhead Highway got its start in 1916.
Named for U.S. senator and supporter John H. Bankhead of Alabama, it crossed 850 miles of Texas between Washington, D.C., and San Diego, Calif., roughly following U.S. 67 and U.S. 80 as it passed Arlington, Fort Worth, Weatherford, Mineral Wells, Eastland and others.
Marshall and Mayor Pro Tem Bill McLeRoy participated in one of the public outreach meetings in Mineral Wells in October, where the two met author Dan Smith.
Later, McLeRoy purchased a metal road sign Smith created, donating it to the city with instructions to display it in a useful location.
The sign now hangs on an interior wall in an employee workspace area.
“I’ve been peddling these across the state like Johnny Appleseed,” Smith said later. “There are several on ranch gates across Parker County.
“The amazing thing about Bankhead in Texas is that most of that 1,000 miles is still there. Some is buried under the interstate, but much is hidden on ranch land — in plain sight.”
McLeRoy is happy to see the road getting some attention.
“As a former history professor involved in archeology, I’m delighted to see Bankhead recognized as one of our nation’s early twentieth century transcontinental routes,” he said, “right here in our own backyard!”
The project will be finished in July of 2014.
City of Aledo seeking Texas Historical Marker
By JUDY SHERIDAN
- Aledo ExtrA
Suspicious house fire under investigation
The Weatherford fire marshal says a fire that damaged a house and killed two puppies Wednesday night is being investigated as a suspicious fire and a suspect is in jail on unrelated charges.
Parker County Attorney John Forrest will ask county commissioners for additional funds as county budget discussions begin this year; he hopes to hire another attorney to help with an increase in Child Protective Services cases.
Firefighter arrested on child sex assault charges
A volunteer Hudson Oaks firefighter is in the Parker County Jail on charges he repeatedly sexually assaulted two young relatives over a several year period.
Richard Frederick Adams Sr., 62, arrested Monday, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.
Developer withdraws site plan
ANNETTA —A controversial 34-home subdivision proposed for a 41-acre tract on Duncan Road will not go forward as planned, according to action taken by both the proposed developer and the Annetta Town Council after a public hearing Thursday night.
Aledo City Council to meet July 24
The Aledo City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 24, in the Aledo Community Center, 104 Robinson Court, Aledo.
Fires damage business, home
Two separate fires around 2 p.m. July 15 damaged a Willow Park business and destroyed the home of a Weatherford family.
Letter to the Editor
Thursday night, July 17, I was present for a surprisingly interesting experience when State Representative candidate Matthew Britt addressed a small group of supporters, followed by a question and answer session.
ESD 1, Annetta South close on fire station site
Parker County Emergency Services District No. 1 and Annetta South officials said Tuesday that the ESD is homing in on a site for a new fire station to serve residents in the Annettas and surrounding areas. Annetta South is expected to consider a zoning change to accommodate a new station next month.
Registration has begun for Aledo ISD
Aledo ISD enrollment for the 2014-15 school year began yesterday, July 21, and students new to the district need to register before school begins, Monday, Aug. 25.
County scrambling to fill elections post
Former Parker County Assistant Elections Administrator Laura Watkins, who sought, but was not appointed to the post of Parker County Elections Administrator after Robert Parten retired, last week began work as assistant elections administrator for Palo Pinto County, Palo Pinto County Elections Administrator Judith Evans has confirmed.
- More Aledo ExtrA Headlines
- Suspicious house fire under investigation