An accident recently brought history closer home than I anticipated. An automobile crashed into the house at the corner of Bankhead Highway and Center Point Road causing considerable damage to the building and injuring its occupants.

This wasn’t just any building. It is one of the last remaining remnants of structures along the Bankhead Highway. A photograph of the once gas station was among the travel materials featured recently in the Weatherford Public Library display window just inside the entrance.

Filling stations were an important part of the developing transcontinental roadways. Automobiles had not been around very long when the Bankhead was built to handle the needs of a rapidly growing traveling public. There are not many reminders of the first trail blazing across the south and very few are left in Parker County, which has the longest stretch of road still bearing the Bankhead name. The last tourist court was torn down several years ago.

I have had more than just a passing interest in the Bankhead since I was a kid. I can remember following the route to the “big city” and I now live just off the Bankhead on a cul de sac. The tree shaded highway always seemed idyllic and still has some of that nostalgia remaining in spite of the fact that many of the trees planted by the gardening ladies have been removed.

Also, the Bankhead is the topic I had chosen for my April class at the Doss. I will discuss the background of the need for drivable roads, the invention of the automobile and then the development of a road system. Also, we will talk about the travel industry that followed the invention of the automobile and the traveling public that followed that.

I feel this is a good time to pause in our busy schedules and review what has happened in the past 100 years. Yes, 2020 marks the century that the road really changed everything. Our vision may not be quite 2020 today, but a look back will prove quite informative.

Since April has five Thursdays this year, we will have a little more time for reflection. The class will begin each Thursday evening at 5:30 in the Vandagriff Classroom at the Doss on Texas Street. Participants can come from work and still have time to get supper at home. Additional information can be secured on the Doss web site.

Vandagriff is a retired daily newspaper editor and college history professor emeritus who still writes, teaches and speaks. Contact: jvan222@sbcglobal.net or 817-341-3719.

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