On the road


The Bankhead Highway was easily navigable through Dallas, Fort Worth, and out west, as it was paved with Thurber bricks. (Hardin Simmons Library)


In 1919, the U.S. government authorized a Military Motor Convoy to traverse the named, interstate roads that crossed the country so that, if there were to be another war, the army would not need to rely on railroads. The first Military Motor Convoy took place along the Lincoln Highway. In 1920, the second convoy took place. This time, the Bankhead Highway, through the American South and Southwest, was chosen to ascertain if the U.S. Army could use the road to travel across country if the need arose.


The Bankhead Convoy was led by Major John Franklin and the lead car was a Dodge, because the Dodge Brothers funded some of the journey (which ran at least ten days behind schedule due to lots of lots of mud in Arkansas).


The Bankhead Highway is today's U.S. 67 and, west of Dallas, U.S. 80 (east of Dallas, U.S. 80 is the Dixie Overland Highway). Most of these routes have been superseded by Interstates 30 and 20. It was named after a Senator from Alabama who advocated for the road and created a whole bunch of local committees to make the road a reality. Because if it hadn't been for local funding by taxpayers, none of these interstate roads would have existed.


I looked at my trusty Blue Book from 1920 (vol. 7), as I'm sure the convoy used this helpful guide to assist them in following the Bankhead Highway. The big question for them most likely was, how to travel from Texarkana to Dallas? According to the map, there was no direct road. Mount Pleasant, Sulphur Springs and Greenville all shouted, "Heck yes, we got a good road!" but it wasn't identified on the map. Therefore, the convoy took the route from Texarkana through Paris, Bonham, Sherman, Van Alstyne (where they camped) and McKinney instead. So technically, U.S. 82 in far north Texas can be considered the Bankhead Highway.


The Bankhead was a bit easier to follow west of Dallas because much of it had been bricked by this point with Thurber pavers.


The Bankhead Highway was were very, very important in establishing commerce and civic pride. Good for road trips, too! Portions of the road are still around, if you look at maps and figure out where the old parts are.


The convoy's map showed a big gap between Texarkana and Mount Pleasant in Texas along the Bankhead. Where should they do?


They chose to go over today's US 82, aka "The North Texas Road," instead. How do I know that?


Because the Galveston Daily News said so on July 11, 1920!



The U.S. Military Motor Convoy of 1920, which traversed the Bankhead Highway, started in Washington D.C. and ended in San Diego, California. This marker, located in front of the White House in Washington D.C., commemorates its start.


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