Focus on the Backroads » Photo Journeys

FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS: ROADS

ROAD: a thoroughfare, route, or way by land between two places that has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by foot or some form of conveyance , including a motor vehicle, cart, bicycle, or horse.

The first roads (pathways) originated from man following animal trails. Many believe that humans and animals both chose to use the same natural line. The oldest paved road was constructed in Egypt around 2200 BC. Most roads had been built out of wood and brick. During the 8th century AD in Baghdad tar was first used to pave roadways.

Guadalupe Mountains

The early roads in Texas were developed from Indian trails and the trails of the early Spanish explorers. The first know Texas roads were built because of a necessity for travel from Mexico to San Antonio, Goliad, and East Texas missions. The oldest highway was the Old San Antonio Road. Two of the other earlier roads were the La Bahia Road, and in East Texas Trammel’s Trace. Early Texas law called for the establishment of roads between county seats. These roads were forty foot cleared paths. Stumps that were less than eight inches in diameter were cut off at the ground, stumps any larger were rounded off so that wagon wheels could roll over them. Secondary roads were thirty feet wide and third-class roads were twenty feet wide. All able body men between the age of eighteen to forty-five were required to volunteer several days a year to work on the roads.

With the increase popularity of the automobile in the early Twentieth century the need for improved roads was obvious. Texas citizens began organizing “good road” associations throughout the state to promote better roads. By 1903 there were calls to establish a bureau of highways in Texas. The State Highway Department was established in 1917 by the Thirty-fifth Legislature. The Departments responsibility was granting financial aid to counties for highway construction and maintenance. At the time there were 194,720 automobiles registered. In 1921 the Federal Aid Road Act was amended to offer matching federal funds to states.

Early Ford

Today Texas has over 80,000 miles of of roads made up of over 29,000 miles of U.S and state highways, 3,400 miles of interstate, over 7,000 miles of frontage road, over 350 miles of park roads, and over 42,000 miles of farm-to-market and ranch-to-ranch roads (which we prefer to call the (LONESTAR BACKROADS).

Present day there are many miles of Texas Backroads that have long been forgotten by most. These roads are used by landowners, families out enjoying a casual country drive, and guys like me with camera equipment stowed in their trunks looking for a reason to stop and capture a special moment or visit a special small Texas town. Not to forget to view a spectacular sunrise or sunset.

On the Backroads of Texas:

Discover Texas and visit a backroad. See y’all there!

“I did stories about unexpected encounters, back roads, small towns and ordinary folk, sometimes doing something a little extraordinary” Charles Kuralt

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