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The King of Trails from Kansas To Texas

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

From the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico

Cemente post with brass marker at a street corner next to an old grocery store.
A possible highway marker, city limit marker, or whatevs at the corner of Travis and Lake Streets in Sherman (Grayson County, Texas) along the King of Trails Highway.

In 1926 or thereabouts, a highway act bestowed federal highway numbers on interstate roads. These are not the interstates we think of today but rather, two lane "US highways" that snake along, not obliterate, the landscape, and that take drivers through towns instead of around them.

Before the federal highway numbering system, these roads were known by their names --- kind of like passenger trains having names. In the Red River Valley, the Jefferson Highway (from Pine to Palm!), the Bankhead Highway (from D.C. to San Diego), the Ozark Trail (later, Route 66!) all sought to bring the automobile tourist through town to relieve them of their money. Another one of these highways was the King of Trails, which took travelers from Kansas to the Gulf Coast of Texas.

In 1920, the King of Trails between Denison and Sherman (Grayson County, Texas) was a well-maintained and marked road, albeit a bit circuitous. But because it's still a road, even if not readily marked, I decided to test my direction-reading skills and try it myself. It was FUN.

First, I took my directions from the 1920 Automobile Blue Book for the American Southwest. Second, the directions given in the 1920 book are spot-on. Although more streets have been added since 1920 and some turns are a bit "what the heck?" I followed the directions with few problems. From Armstrong Street in Denison, I took Theresa Road beneath the overpass and followed it to a dirt road. The dirt road is now the main road for Readi-Mix Concrete, so this was the only portion that was a bit difficult to drive. Otherwise, the roads were good. They took me on Frisco Road behind Texoma Mall and then behind the location of the now-torn-down Sher-Den Mall. In Sherman, Broughton leads to College, then goes to Travis Street.

On the south end of Travis Street, I found a concrete marker that may have once designated the city limits, acted as a highway marker for the King of Trails, or may have been simply a marker for fire hydrants (the Sanborn maps designated the area as T.H., which means "triple hydrant.") Next to the concrete marker stands a former grocery store that served travelers on the King of Trails.

Nothing better than driving down historic roads!

Map of the King of Trails through Sherman, Grayson County, Texas.
The 1922 Sanborn map of Sherman (Grayson County, Texas) designates the King of Trails Highway. (Perry Casteneda Library). The trail paralleled the Frisco and MKT lines through parts of Sherman.
Low brick building with awning
A grocery store on Travis Street along the King of Trails Highway in Sherman (Grayson County, Texas) with the west sun obscuring a lot of detail.
Page from 1920 Automobile Blue book, Denison to Dallas, 79.7 miles.
The set of directions between Denison and Sherman (Grayson County, Texas) along the King of Trails highway from the 1920 Automobile Blue Book, Southwestern States.

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