Old U.S. Highway 70 at Camp Creek, Mannsville, OK

This section of old U.S. Highway 70 crosses Camp Creek south of the present U.S. Highway 177, just to the west of Mannsville.  The U.S. 177 designation replaced the U.S. 70 markings in 1984, when the current U.S. 70 was rerouted further south from Madill to Ardmore.  Predating the U.S. Highway 70 designation, this route was known as Oklahoma Highway 5, and before that the Bankhead Highway.

P1010599

Oklahoma1928

1928 Oklahoma Highway Map

As the Automobile Age progressed, the number of cars and trucks in the state grew from 15,000 in 1914 to 127,000 in 1918 to 500,000 in 1926. The activity of good-roads promoters, chambers of commerce, and legions of automobile owners and tourists ensured the development of intrastate and interstate thoroughfares. While state officials discussed methods of facilitating highway construction and worried about funding, private citizens agitated and organized to promote both state and federal action.

On a national scale, growing automobile tourism and the trucking industry needed well-marked, paved roads leading from state to state. Thirteen transcontinental highways were proposed, exemplary of which was the Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco via Philadelphia, Omaha, Denver, and Salt Lake City. Leadership in the movement was taken by Logan W. Page, head of the U.S. Office of Public Roads, and Sen. John H. Bankhead of Alabama, chair of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads.

In Oklahoma as well, citizens banded together, mapped out likely routes, and publicized their efforts in order to create a groundswell of public support. They also tried to secure federal and state designation for the routes. The Oklahoma Good Roads Association, under Suggs and later under Cyrus Avery of Tulsa, provided leadership, and from 1914 through 1918 it and other organizations promoted “named” highways crossing Oklahoma and connecting it to adjacent states. Cities and towns often vied for inclusion on the routes. Proposed north-south highways included the Ozark Trail, the Jefferson, the Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas (K-O-T), the Dallas-Canadian-Denver (D-C-D), the Meridian, and the Star. East-west highways included the Albert Pike, the Postal, and the Lee-Bankhead. After securing support from local chambers of commerce and county officials, if not always from state officials, advocates would place signs or concrete markers to guide travelers along the way, which often proceeded along the rough, occasionally impassable section-line roads.

A state highway system remained an unrealized dream until the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Aid Road Act in 1916. It provided one-to-one matching grants to states for roadways, bridges, and other structures on state highways that were considered eligible for inclusion in a nascent Oklahoma Federal Aid System. The law also required that each state have a legitimate, well-funded, professionally managed highway department. By 1919 Oklahoma’s legislature had appropriated funds to secure the federal match, and in September 1923 the U.S. secretary of agriculture approved Federal Aid Highways in Oklahoma. In 1923 the legislature passed a one-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline, becoming the thirty-eighth state to do so. The Highway Department and the counties shared in the revenue fund for construction and maintenance, but it proved not nearly enough. The tax was raised to 2.5 cents in 1924. In August 1924 the Ninth Legislature passed Senate Bill 44, creating the State Highway System, under the management of a three-member Highway Commission, and defined three kinds of roads: state highways, county highways, and township roads. The state system was to comprise intercounty and interstate highways and was to total at least five percent of each county’s roadways. The state and county roads were eligible for federal and state funds.

The commission designated state highways and numbered them 1 through 26. State Highway 2, the Meridian Highway, extended from Caldwell, Kansas, through Medford, Pond Creek, Enid, Kingfisher, El Reno, Chickasha, Marlow, Duncan, and Waurika to the Red River. The Jefferson Highway, designated as State Highway 6, extended from Chetopa, Kansas, through Vinita, Pryor, Wagoner, Muskogee, Checotah, Eufaula, McAlester, Atoka, and Durant to the Red River. State Highway 7, earlier promoted as the Ozark Trail, linked Baxter Springs, Kansas, Miami, Afton, Vinita, Claremore, Tulsa, Sapulpa, Bristow, Stroud, Chandler, Davenport, Oklahoma City, Newcastle, Chickasha, Lawton, and Altus. State Highway 4, the K-O-T, stretched from Newkirk through Ponca City, Perry, Guthrie, Oklahoma City, Norman, Ardmore, and Marietta to the Red River. East-west arteries included State Highway 11, the Albert Pike Highway, linking Siloam Springs, Kansas, Locust Grove, Chouteau, Tulsa, Skiatook, Pawhuska, Ponca City, Pond Creek, Cherokee, Alva, Buffalo, Hooker, and Boise City. State Highway 3, the Postal Highway, extended from Fort Smith through Poteau, Wilburton, McAlester, Holdenville, Wewoka, Shawnee, Oklahoma City, El Reno, Weatherford, Elk City, and Sayre, into Texas. State Highway 5, the Lee-Bankhead Highway, a transcontinental road, stretched from Ultima Thule, Arkansas, through Idabel, Hugo, Durant, Ardmore, and Waurika to Frederick and crossed the Red River at Davidson. All were completed by 1925, and in that year the state system comprised approximately five thousand miles, of which approximately three hundred were paved.[i]

[i] Highways; Oklahoma Historical Society; http://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=HI004c

1924 US 70

Forgotten Landmark-Musick Trading House, Hervey, Arkansas

Site of Musick’s Trading House (13.5 miles east  of U.S. 67 (Mandeville) on AR 296 to Hervey, 1.2 miles east on CR 379, 0.8 miles west, across First Old River Lake, on Local Road to end)

Approximately 500 yards northwest of this spot was the site of Musick’s Trading House.  South of the Great Bend of the Red River “were such worthies as Robert B. Musick—”Old Bob,” he was afterward called—who, having gone quite native, was content to bury a fine intellect in an Indian camp, solacing himself with whiskey and the embraces of a Delaware squaw; William Berry, of whom nothing good or bad has survived; and Morris May, who was represented by as reputable a person as Stephen F. Austin as being too closely connected with the traffic in stolen horses for his subsequent good name.”[i]

Robert B. Musick served as magistrate of the township of Ozan in 1828.  Musick was appointed Overseer of the Camden and Washington Road from Martin Parmer’s to the town of Washington.  From this court action in 1828 it appears that a pre-existing road, perhaps John Johnson’s road, and a newer road to the Musick place were being connected together as the Ecore Fabre to Washington Road and were being placed under the care of the persons who lived near them in the sparsely populated country.  Robert B. Musick had no land patents in this early period. On November 7th, 1828, Musick and his wife sold the West half of the Southwest Quarter of Section 33 of Township 11 South Range 24 West to Hardin Wilson. The deed was recorded on August 8th, 1829, in Deed Book B, page 311. This 80-acre tract sold for $400, suggesting by its price that a house and other substantial improvements were on the property. This tract which probably contained Musick’s house north of Hope, just to the east of present-day Hempstead County Road 217, now a paved road that has been in use for many years. Hempstead County Road 46, a gravel and dirt road, veers off of 217 and continues on into Washington on the northeast corner of Washington Corporation. It is marked in places by deep embankments and could well be part of the old Camden to Washington Road.[ii]

In 1829, Musick purchased the north half of the Peter Ellis Bean League of land six miles west of Alto in Cherokee County, Texas.  Robert died in 1830 and his wife Martha and their five children moved to the Texas land in 1835.[iii]

The Arkansas Territory Superior Court Records of 1835 mention Robert B. Musick as a defendant in a lawsuit in 1829 in Hempstead County:

“On the 24th day of January, 1829, Wilson, the plaintiff in error, recovered a judgment against Robert B. Musick, for the sum of eighty-three dollars debt, and five dollars and sixty cents damages, and the costs of the suit, and on the same day, Eads, the defendant in error, appeared before the justice and acknowledged himself jointly bound with Musick for the stay of execution.  On the 24th of July, the stay of execution having expired, Wilson caused execution to be issued against Musick and delivered it to the proper officer, who made return thereon, on the 19th day of August, 1829, in the following words: “No goods or chattels are found in my township to levy on, nor is the body of the defendant Robert B. Musick.”

 

Musick Trading House SiteMusick Trading House Map

 

[i] Strickland, Rex W.; Miller County, Arkansas Territory, The Frontier that Men Forgot—Chronicles of Oklahoma; Oklahoma Historical Society; Vol. 18, No. 1, Pg. 16; http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Chronicles/v018/v018p012.html

[ii] Arkansas Properties on the National Register of Historic Places: Camden to Washington Road — Rosston Segment, Nevada County; Arkansas Historic Preservation Program; http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/blog/arkansas-properties-on-the-national-register-of-historic-places-camden-to-washington-road-rosston-se; January 28th, 2015.

[iii] Cherokee County Historical Commission (Tex.). Cherokee County History, Book, 2001; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth354360/ : accessed December 06, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Cherokee County Historical Commission, Rusk, Texas.

Forgotten Landmark-Blue River Highway Bridge, Old U.S. 70, Blue, OK

Blue River Highway Bridge, Old U.S. Highway 70, southwest of Blue, Oklahoma

U.S. Highway 70 parallels the route of the St. Louis & San Francisco (Frisco Railroad).  Prior to the creation of the Federal Highway System in 1926, this route was referred to as the Bankhead Highway, a segment of the Rand McNally Auto Trails system.  The Bankhead Highway traversed the southern United States, beginning in Washington D.C. and traveling through Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and Phoenix to San Diego. West of Little Rock, Arkansas, the Bankhead Highway ran in two parallel routes.  The northerly route followed U.S. 70 from Little Rock to Roswell, New Mexico.

 

courtesy of www.americanroads.us

courtesy of www.americanroads.us

 

The highway bridge in the photos below is located along a portion of the old U.S. Highway 70, whose route travels south of the current route between Bokchito and Hugo.  This bridge was constructed in 1921 by the General Construction Company of St. Louis under the direction of the Federal Aid Project.  During 1921, 162 miles of highway were constructed by the state under the Federal Aid. and 32 miles were built by counties.  The total estimated cost was $4,847,000.

 

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

 

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

A similar bridge was constructed over Caddo Creek, east of the town of Blue (photos below).

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

American Trails Revisited–Texas’ Chisholm Trail (Spanish Fort)

Spanish Fort, TX

Spanish Fort Vicinity Today

Google Maps 7/26/2015

The present site of the community of Spanish Fort was the scene of one of the decisive battles of early Texas history. As early as 1700, the French were active along the Red River, and in 1719 Bernard de la Harpe established on the south bank of the river, on the site of the principal village of the Caddoes, an outpost which he called Fort St. Louis de Carlorette. It served as a traders’ and trappers’ supply station but was abandoned after a few years. In 1759 Colonel Diego Ortiz Parrilla, advancing from San Antonio and San Saba, came upon Indians entrenched behind a stout stockade, over which flew the French flag. His report described the fort as consisting of high oval-shaped structures, surrounded by a ditch and a log stockade. Armed by the French, the Indians soundly defeated Parilla and sent him back in hasty retreat. Under the treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762, the French ceded Louisiana Territory to Spain, and abandoned their western outpost. Spanish exploration parties and patrols visited the site from time to time until as late as 1800. Then all reports of the old post ceased until its ruins were found in 1859. The description of the ruins of that date correspond remarkably with the data of Parrilla 100 years before. Today, hardly discernible mounds are all that remain.

P1010441

Spanish Fort Vicinity

Railroad Map of Texas 1884

American Trails Revisited–Texas’ Chisholm Trail (Introduction)

The following is a portion from a new travel guide, Texas’ Chisholm Trail, in my American Trails Revisited series (available for the Amazon Kindle and other eBook formats).   In the coming months, I will post portions of this guide as I develop it for publication.

Background from Texas-A Guide to the Lone Star State (published in 1940 by the Federal Works Agency, Work Projects Administration, and Texas State Highway Commission):

“The first cattle known to have entered Texas were 500 cows brought by Coronado in 1541. Many of the explorers, fearing a food shortage in an unknown land, brought livestock. Some of these cattle escaped and wandered through the wilderness, to become the nucleus of vast wild herds. The Spanish colonists found a natural pasto, or pasture, covering southwest Texas. Reynosa, in 1757, with a population of 269, had 18,000 head of cattle. De Mezieres (1779) reported that a fat cow was worth only four pesos, yet the ranches flourished. Herds were driven to market in Louisiana by Spanish ranchers in defiance of customs laws. Thus, probably the first smuggling in the State was that of cattle. Owners marked their stock when possible, but most of the cattle were unbranded. The wild herds were not molested by the Indians, who preferred the meat of the buffalo.

It was in east Texas that modern ranching began. James Taylor White, the first real Anglo-American cattleman, established the first ranch of the modern type near Turtle Bayou in Chambers County.  Other ranchers followed White to east Texas. They drove their herds to New Orleans to market, using the Old Beef Trail and others. Hides and tallow still had more value than beef. The most important event to pioneer Texas cattlemen was the introduction of Brahma or Zebu cattle from India, a variety scientifically designated as Bos Indicus and differing radically from the European variety of Bos Taurus. It was not until after the Civil War that Brahmas were secured in large numbers. The first record of a successful crossing of these cattle with native stock was in 1874 when Captain Mifflin Kenedy experimented with his herds. Fever ticks had been a barrier to the introduction of Hereford, Shorthorn and other beef breeds in the coastal and southern area. The Brahmas and cattle produced by crossing them with other breeds proved to be immune from tick fever, and were also better beef cattle. As ticks have never been eradicated from some sections, Brahma blood is still essential to the State’s livestock industry.

By 1860, there were more than three million head of cattle in Texas. The Union blockade prevented the shipment of large herds to supply the Confederate army, and at the close of the Civil War the State was overrun with cattle, many of them wild. Longhorns were almost worthless in 1866. Range animals sold for $3 and $4 a head, although in the North butchers were paying from $30 to $40 a head for beeves. Everyone had cattle and nobody had wealth.

And in Texas, especially in the brush country, wild native stock had flourished. Here the Texas cowboy had emerged. There also were    (cowpunchers, from vaca, meaning cow), who were Mexicans. Both of these classes of cowboys had learned to pursue “strays” through the densest thickets. The term “maverick” had come into being as a synonym for unbranded cattle, and there were countless herds of longhorns, too valueless to be branded. Obviously, the thing to do was to drive the herds to shipping points. Yet the nearest railroads were in Kansas and Missouri, 1,000 to 1,500 miles distant.

A few adventurous spirits led the way across those untried miles to the railheads, in the late sixties. Trails, some of them bearing the names of the men who blazed them, came into being, such as the Chisholm Trail. Abilene, Kansas, became a roaring cowtown, followed by Dodge City and other shipping points that sprang up in the wake of the mighty movement of cattle. No other industry in the Southwest had such economic significance or such picturesque aspects. The driving of herds caused towns, customs, and a distinct type of people to grow up beside the trails. About five million Texas cattle were driven to market during the 15 years of trail driving, yet when the railroads reached Texas and the drives were no longer necessary, there were more cattle in the State than when the drives began.”

1873_Map_of_Chisholm_Trail_with_subsidiary_trails_in_Texas

Forgotten Landmark–Tracks of Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway, Mineral Well, TX

Tracks of Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway (NW 2nd Avenue, between NW 4th and NW 7th Streets)

misc179

 

The gasoline-powered “Dinky cars” of the Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway provided service from Mineral Wells to Lake Pinto. There were four cars used, including “Ben Hur” and “Esther”. This railway operated from 1905 until 1909. (Current track photos below text)

The Mineral Wells & Lakewood Park Railway was chartered on March 1st, 1907, and began operating on May 12th, 1907. The railway operated on 2.5 miles of track, with a gauge of 4 feet and 8 ½ inches, using electricity.

The Mineral Wells Electric System operated two electric street cars in the city of Mineral Wells from 1907 to 1913; one on Hubbard Street from NE 17th Avenue to SW 6th Avenue (later part of the Bankhead Highway), and one on Oak (now NW 2nd) Avenue from NE 17th Street to SE 11th Street, thence Southwest to Elmhurst Park. However, two gasoline-powered 70 passenger (all-passenger) motor cars were operated by the Weatherford, Mineral Wells and Northwestern Railroad (WMW&NW) between Graford, Mineral Wells, Ft. Worth and Dallas from 1912 to 1935. An electric interurban line was not built.

Streetcar Tracks at NW 7th Mineral Wells P1010306 P1010305

 

Forgotten Landmark-Taylor & Howard Building, Leigh, TX

P1010219 P1010220

Leigh (10.6 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134 at FM 1999)

Leigh, also known as Antioch, is on a site said to have been the location of a large Indian village. In the early 1840s, J. J. Webster built a plantation home, Mimosa Hall, a mile southwest of the site; Webster’s descendants occupied the house until 1984, when the property was sold. The community of Antioch, which had a predominantly black population, was founded before 1900 and was centered on the Antioch Baptist Church. In 1900, the forerunner of the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway was built through Antioch, and Reverend James Patterson built a restaurant and a general store on land adjoining the railroad. Residents of Blocker, three miles to the northeast, moved to the railroad community. Antioch was renamed Leigh in 1901, after the wife of John W. Furrh, who owned much of the land on the railroad, and that same year the Leigh post office opened. In 1904, Leigh had one school with five white students and four schools with 297 black students. By 1914, the community had a population of fifty, three general stores, two cotton gins, a drugstore, a blacksmith shop, and telephone service. After attaining a peak population of 126 in the 1920s, Leigh declined to 100 in 1930, when it had a church, two schools, and three businesses. The railroad was rerouted to the north in the 1950s. By 1978, Leigh had two churches (St. Paul’s Episcopal and Antioch Baptist), a community center, the Antioch Cemetery, and a number of dwellings.[i]

[i] Leigh, TX; Texas State Historical Association; https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll33

Taylor&HowardBldg_LeighTX

Point of Interest:

Mimosa Hall (9.4 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134) (Private)

Virginia-born John Johnston Webster (1796-1854) brought his family to the Republic of Texas, petitioning for land on which to establish a home in 1842.  Built in 1844, Mimosa Hall was part of a 3,000 acre plantation. The estate and one-hundred and fifty acres that went along with it was deeded to Douglas V. Blocker within a partition deed in 1932.  Blocker continued to own the property until 1984 when he sold it to Michael Howard. At some point, Michael Howard deeded the property to his son Nicholas Leon Howard III, who then deeded it to his mother, Virginia Dyke Hamilton in 1989.  Virginia sold the home in 1993 to the present owners, Andrew and Katherine Ann Hirsch. The Hirsch family have maintained the home and kept it in pristine condition. The front façade remains in its original state but the remainder of the home has had many changes throughout the years as well as a rear addition which was built on in 1932.[ii]

In 1844, Webster’s son-in-law, the Reverend George F. Heard, became the first person to be buried in the cemetery at Mimosa Hall Plantation. He was followed by Mrs. Mirriam (Brown) Webster. Other notable graves include those of the Reverend William Moore Steele and five Webster slaves or ex-slaves. Veterans of several wars also are interred here. The wall surrounding the oldest graves was constructed by plantation labor.  The cemetery is located southwest of the house on private land.

[ii] Mimosa Hall; Stephen F. Austin University Center for Regional Heritage Research; http://www.sfasu.edu/heritagecenter/4992.asp

Forgotten Landmark–Former Hotel de Ville and Museum,Dieppe, Normandy, France

Hotel de Ville and Museum4

 

 

Former Hotel de Ville and Museum (5-6 Boulevard de Verdun)

This structure housed paintings, local curiosities, and a collection of furniture, autographs, and sketches presented in 1889 by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921), the composer.

 

This post is the first in a series as we develop a new set of historic travel guides to northwestern France, based on earlier guides such as Muirhead’s North-Western France (1926) and Murray’s A Handbook for Travellers in France (1899)

 

 

 

 

Forgotten Landmark-Decatur Water Works, Decatur, GA

OldDecaturHistoricWaterWorksAerial

Decatur Water Works–Mason Mill Park, 1340 McConnell Drive, Decatur, GA.

Below is a record of the first development of the Decatur Water Works from the Atlanta Constitution (March 17th, 1907)

Atlanta firm gets contract — Walton & Mangum will install Decatur waterworks machinery

“At the called meeting of the town council of Decatur on Monday evening the contract was let to Walton & Mangum, at Atlanta, for the installation of the machinery for the waterworks, the building for the pumping plant and the laying of the pipe line at a cost of $10,000. The work is to be completed by October 1.”

Located in the southern end of Mason Mill Park, this site was certified as a historic location on Wednesday March 15th, 2006.  Although covered with extensive graffiti, a large part of the waterworks’ structure is still present.