Redwater, Texas, the first town a Bankhead Highway traveler will pass through heading east out of Texarkana.
Redwater, Texas, is located in Bowie County with a population of sub-one thousand residents, small yet still more prominent than it was when founded in the mid -1870’s.
Redwater was initially named after the great oratorial expert, friend to the rich and powerful, and the “OG” Agnostic, Robert Green Ingersoll, reported by the Washington Post in 2012 as, “the most famous American you never heard of”.
Riding the Old Redwater Road – out of Texarkana.
Ingersoll’s legacy was short-lived in the town that would eventually become Redwater, Texas. A revival was held one night in Ingersoll, and the Spirit was in attendance. The evening resulted in over 100 people finding the Lord.
Quickly enough, the citizens felt that their highly spiritual town should not be named after “The Great Agnostic” and began searching for a new name. They settled on Redwater a homage to the tint of the water in the wells and springs.
Ted Stiger, by accident, created an iconic roadside oasis in the desert. The Buckhorn Baths in Mesa, Arizona, a mecca that denounced segregation, lured Hollywood stars, played host to the political elite, and arguably developed the Cactus League. Ted’s relationship with baseball ushered in the spring training of Americans favorite pastime to the East Valley – and all he did was dig a well.
Arizona was a no-mans-land for centuries, an arid desert, a harsh environment that few called home until the Granite Reef Dam’s construction. Completed in 1908, this early 20th-century engineering marvel on the Salt River diverted water via irrigation canals to Phoenix, allowing growth and development. Soon after, in 1911, the Roosevelt Dam was constructed, providing the valley with affordable electricity.
While Phoenix thrived with its new wealth of utilities, America was on the move. The pursuit of mapping all-season and all-weather roads was in full swing. Routes such as the Bankhead Highway, Dixie Overland Highway, Old Spanish Trail, and U.S. Highway 80 trudged west, each claiming the title coast-to-coast.
Soon travelers filled the roadways. Cars needed gas, passengers needed groceries, resulting in mom and pop shops popping up all along the newly formed transcontinental routes. In 1936, Ted and Alice Sliger purchased a parcel of property just east of Phoenix in Mesa, Arizona, a purchase that would set in motion a series of events that would culminate into the development of the Buckhorn Baths. Initially, the couple’s space was occupied by a store, a gas station; in addition to these, Ted found space to display his extensive taxidermy collection.
By 1938 business was good, but there was a problem. Ted had to have water delivered, and with an increase in traffic and patrons, this was becoming impractical. Ted set out to dig a well to find some water beneath his feet. Ted did find water, but not water worth drinking; Ted opened a 120 degrees mineral-rich water well. Water that, at the time, was believed to have healing powers. Understanding the unique opportunity flowing under their feet, the two built a 27 stone tub bathhouse that could serve 75 guests per day, added cottages, and ultimately employed a staff of 25.
The Cactus League Bill Veeck, who owned a ranch in Arizona, purchased the Cleveland Indians in 1946. Veeck also intended to introduce African American players to his roster. This would be problematic during spring training in Florida, where Jim Crow Laws still subjected African Americans to sever discrimination; he chose to move spring training to Arizona. The big issue with this move was that there would be no other teams to play during spring training; Cleveland needed another Arizona team during the spring. Horace Stoneham, the hands-on owner of the New York Giants, also wintered in Arizona. And as legend has it moved the Giants spring training to Arizona the day he discovered the Buckhorn Baths and the healing waters. The Giants would call the Buckhorn Baths home each spring for the next 25 years. Legends such as Ty Cobb and Willie Mays would soak in the mineral baths, wander the grounds, and enjoy the mild desert winters.
During a time of racial inequality, The Buckhorn welcomed all players of all colors, allowing the team to stay together on site, something that was not allowed in Florida.
Today, fifteen professional baseball teams call the Phoenix area home during the Cactus League’s season.
Ted passed away in 1984; although it had been decades since the Buckhorn was the Giants’ home base, the baths were still opened and operated along with the motel and the museum, by his wife, Alice.
With Alice at the helm, she drew the last bath in 1999. The motel and museum shuttered around 2005. On November 10, 2010, Alice passed away at 103 years of age.
Today the Buckhorn Baths stand abandoned but well preserved. The mineral-rich still flows through the pipes. A roadside gem. A collection of Americana history.
“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
-Ursula K. Le Guin
Over a century ago, The Bankhead Highway brought together communities, political figures, and economic forces to make Manifest Destiny possible for every person in America. It created the first all-weather, all-season route from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Days ago, the Machine and I set out to find what was left of the Bankhead Highway in Texas.
A forgotten road.
A lost road.
A dead road?
Past Pecos, The Bankhead is now the service road for Interstate 20. We glide along the side of the big road and less than highway speeds. We are in no hurry.
Toyah, Texas, a haunting ghost town. Remembered for acts of violence, an expressively spooky abandoned schoolhouse, and the temporary home of Amelia Earhart.
Toyah is also where the original Bankhead Highway bridge that crossed the Pecos River currently resides.
Today the bridge is located on private land but can be seen from the road.
Soon the Davis Mountains will appear. First soft, with a purple hue, against the southern horizon. Gradually the flat land begins to roll. Foothills introduce me to a change in elevation and the Mountains grow taller with each passing mile.
Decay exist all along the road, such as The Joker Coffee Shop.
The Joker harkens back to the day of classic midcentury America.
A time when colorful comradery would cumulate between patrons and waitresses. Inappropriate comments would linger in the air, mixing with the blue smoke of Marlboros and Winstons.
Vinyl booth cushions – thick with dirt and grime. Broken springs. Thick duct tape repairing the rips and tears.
A place of curious locals. Investigating out of state license plates with due suspicions.
Depraved ethos and morals from America’s greatest generation – I love it!
Below, an abandoned stretch of the road – slowing being reclaimed by Mother Nature in this harsh and arid climate.
Van Horn, Texas, at the crossroads of multiple National Parks.
A town who owes its life to the Texas and Pacific Railroad, my traveling buddy.
Van Horn is full of friendly folks, vintage lodging, and Chuy’s Restaurant home of the John Madden “Haul” of Fame.
The Historic El Capitan Hotel is located in Van Horn. The El Capitan’s sister property, The Hotel Paisano in Marfa, hosted the stars of the Hollywood production of Giant. The guests included Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean.
Lindsey’s Cafe was also in a movie.
The location was used in the 2005 film, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” starring Tommy Lee Jones. The iconic Sands sign has since been removed, but some memorabilia still exists inside.
Van Horn is a bit of an artsy town. Random sculptures and quirky art can be found all along Broadway, the Bankhead’s original route.
The Taylor Motel is one of several early 20th century courts. Serving the traveler with budget-friendly clean rooms with an attached garage.
West of Van Horn segments of the road appear – headed west on private property.
I take a moment to park and walk the road.
The dry morning air fills my lungs, easy to breathe. A cool north breeze creates a comfortable balance with the warm summer sun.
Desert grasses and yucca surround me, a world away from the pine trees, wild ferns, and assorted deciduous trees of East Texas.
Long stretches of pavement abandoned for decades, curving around the landscape, rising and falling with the topography of the earth.
Soon my path will drop into the Rio Grande Valley. Fertile lands where orchards thrive and produce an abundance of fruits.
I stop at the modern rest area. I view vast vistas of Texas, a view that has not changed in hundreds of years.
I pause to appreciate the determination of my forefathers.
In a time before service stations, cell phones, or bottled water, they would venture out into hostile and dangerous environments. Exploring, pathfinding, and creating, what would become one of the greatest system of roads the world has ever seen.
The Mountain Time Zone adds an hour to my life, I stop to spend it in Sierra Blanca, Texas.
The town is a collection of decay.
Random relicts, soon to be rubble, front the old Bankhead town’s Mainstreet.
The town is not Pop Star friendly.
Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Nelly, and Fiona Apple have all been arrested in the town of fewer than 600 residents.
Their crime, drug possession.
The “Sister Gift Shop and Rocks” is open and I decide to pay the store a visit. Inside I find a collection of random rocks and jewelry, trinkets and novelties, dusty odds, and broken ends.
I meet the shop’s owner, Rosenda.
We talk like long lost friends.
Two individuals in a lonely place, removed from time and existing within something greater. Something not of our making. Something we respond to. A world that we must respect. An entity we must exist in humbly, for it is too large and powerful to respond, or bow to us.
We chat about where we are going and where we have been. In only minutes I learn about her life, children, challenges, and successes. We ponder the changes that are inevitable and what lies ahead.
I wander out into the afternoon heat and she continues her business within her shop.
Sierra Blanca is a romantic West Texas ghost town.
Allamoore, Texas, in the 1988-89 school year had a total of three students – the smallest enrollment in Texas.
Below is a photo of the remnants of the Allamoore public school.
As close as I can get to the old road without being on private property is the service road. This allows me to adjust my pace and scan the roadside for the old road. I make frequent stops to enjoy the big sky and gorgeous views of the mountains that surround the huge valleys.
The services are few and far between. Many stops have limited services such as non-working gas pumps, empty shelves, and refrigerators void of beverages.
I turn south at Fort Hancock and head toward the border.
I will be on Texas Highway 20 all the way into El Paso. Within an arms reach of Mexican dirt and traveling through the most beautiful orchards in Texas, I meander in and out of Mexican culture and Texas agriculture, a balance that has existed for years.
Today green and white border patrol vehicles are perched along the road. Keeping an eye out of ner-do-wells.
El Paso. An international Texas city. An independent. Wild. Claimed by only those who live within its boundaries.
So here I am at Rosa Cantina. Over 900 hundred miles I have traveled. Changes in culture and climate, scenery and society, economics, and the environment.
An eclectic mix of people and places that all exist in Texas.
That cool morning days ago outside of Texarkana, Texas has brought me to this warm afternoon in El Paso.
Emotion hits me that my journey is over and I recall the first quote I borrowed from Henri Frederic Amiel – “The best path through life is the highway”. I asked if the best path through Texas the Bankhead?
Today, I declare that if you are not in a hurry to end your journey. If life is too short to rush through. If you think you could find a friend in an unfamiliar place.Iif there are things hidden in the trees that you would like to see. If the world is a large place that still has things to discover. Then yes, The Bankhead is the best path.
Thank you to all who experienced this journey with me. I hope that this will encourage you to set out on your own adventure to experience something new.
“Don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens – The Main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”
West Texas is big!
Wind turbines are everywhere. Their uniformity is eerie. I wish they would paint them like pinwheels, giant pinwheels planted by Goliath in the Big Sky Country.
Or it could be that I suffer from Megalophobia.
Since Texarkana, the railroad tracks have been a constant companion. I can’t tell if I am chasing the engines or if they are chasing me. A game of cat and mouse across Texas.
Those rails witnessed the birth of the Bankhead nearly 100 years ago. At that time the tracks were operated by the Texas and Pacific Railroad.
Abilene, Texas, owes its existence to the Texas and Pacific Railroad.
In 1881 cattlemen began using the location to stockpile cattle awaiting shipment to market via the T and P. They name the town Abilene after Abilene, Kansas, the terminus of the Chisholm Trail.
My traveling companion is the reason Abilene exists.
Following my partner’s tracks into downtown I discover the historic Hotel Grace.
The Grace was built in 1909 and served the needs of travelers riding on the Texas and Pacific Line. The Grace was renamed The Drake in 1946.
As passenger-train travel waned the hotel began to decline and in 1973 it shuttered for good.
Today the building has been brought back to life and houses a downtown museum.
Abilene’s downtown has been restored with preservation in mind. Theaters and museums all conditioned to the standards of today, while utilizing the character of design and construction to make them interesting.
I head west down the Bankhead and pull in to Burro Alley for some lunch.
Sitting right on, what was, the Bankhead the Burro Alley’s courtyard is a hidden gem only a few feet off the road.
The path to the restaurant, shops, and courtyard is very Santa Fe -ish.
Surrounded by a collection of stores and a restaurant this oasis in Abilene is a must stop.
The food is great.
I find little history on Burro Alley but an old postcard shows that La Posada, as opposed to El Fenix, was the original restaurant.
Comparing the Ponca today to early 20th-century linen postcards, little has changed. Still operational and welcoming guests along the Bankhead Highway.
Several other Bankhead era properties can be found in Abilene, including the Abilene Courts.
The town deserves more time than I can give. I push on.
Merkel, Texas. My favorite town on the Bankhead Highway.
The Merkel Restaurant’s fabulous roof.
Abandoned with everything left inside, the restaurant has become a roost for pigeons. Hundreds of these feathered squatters are gathered in the cafe. Giving a real Alfred Hitchcock feel to the place.
While in Merkel, be sure to check out the Merkel Museum and learn about the Hollywood movie shot in Merkel titled “Independence Day”.
Yes, Independence Day was filmed in Merkel, Texas.
On to Sweetwater.
Again, the West Texas Music Hall of Fame is closed. I peer through the window and see a collection of music memorabilia. Maybe someday I will get to go inside, until then I will have to just look at the website.
The Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium has hosted performances from Fred Astaire, Roy Acuff, Eddie Arnold, and the King himself, Elvis. Elvis visited Sweetwater in June and December of 1955 to put on a show.
A pendulum hangs motionless, without purpose, over the old Bankhead route in Sweetwater.
During World War II the majority of male pilots were actively engaged in combat overseas. This resulted in a shortage of pilots.
A need arose to shuttle planes to bases across America. With a lack of male pilots, the solution was to train females to fly, thus The Women Airforce Service Pilots (W.A.S.P) was formed.
“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”
The Bankhead Highway route out of Mineral Wells is the gateway to the Palo Pinto Mountains – well hills. A beautiful country where springs fed creeks that flow into the Brazos River, supplying life to the balanced collection of arid and semiarid flora throughout the region.
This was Native American land. Kiowa and Comanche roamed this section of Texas for centuries. Many nations tried to tame Comancharia and many failed.
Today the area is calm. Ranchers have staked and claimed the land, posting up the consequences for being on the wrong side of the fence.
Palo Pinto is named after a tree, a tree with spots. It is also the county seat of Palo Pinto County. Aside from the courthouse and other government offices are a few remnants of the old Bankhead Highway such as this Sinclair Station.
A number of Bankhead bridges still can be found in Palo Pinto, many with original glass marbles embedded in the cement. These were used as reflectors in the early 1920s.
On to Strawn, Texas. Home of the “world’s best” chicken-fried steak.
The Bankhead Hotel was built in the early 1920s on the Bankhead Highway in Strawn, Texas.
A 1924 photo can be found at the Strawn community museum of the bricks being hand-laid in front of the hotel.
Bob Stogsdill recently repainted the Bankhead Hotel sign. I found Bob in the museum and we spoke about the history of Strawn.
Many of these Bankhead Highway towns’ histories are kept in the minds of residents. When one of these little museums are open, they are worth a stop. The simple experience of sharing experiences is worth the time spent.
The Machine. Sitting pretty on 96-year-old road.
Now about that, “World’s Best Chicken-fried Steak”.
Mary’s has made that claim and by the number of cars and motorcycles in the parking lot – she might be right.
Ranger, Texas, is coming up next.
I have made a decision to travel about ten miles of interstate and check out a roadside rest area that is also a bit of a Bankhead Highway Museum.
Before I get there I see progress, or more precisely the evolution, of the Bankhead Highway. If you look to the right you see a little road “snaking” to the right side of the hill, which is the original Bankhead Highway.
As we created larger machines to make greater cuts, the four-lane grey road just next to the old route was built. For years this hill of I-20 caused headaches for tractor-trailers as they struggled up the incline.
Today, man and machine have all but flattened the hill. On the left is the new road: quicker, faster, safer.
At the top, I find the roadside rest area I am looking for. A section of original pavement along with the appropriate markers makes an ideal spot to let fido do his business. Watch your step – rattlesnakes and dog dung may be in the area.
Inside the rest area is a great group of exhibits discussing the Bankhead Highway.
On to Ranger, Texas, to ride some vintage brick pavement.
These bricks were laid for a reason. Ranger was an oil boomtown. Fortunes were made overnight and with the wealth came the population.
Ranger was busy with oil field workers running up and down the dirt streets around the clock. Soon Ranger, Texas, was stuck in the mud.
No fear. Thurber, Texas, now a ghost town, and a stones throw from Ranger, had 800 workers producing 80,000 bricks per day. The decision was easy to build those streets with brick.
Today the Machine is riding on some of those brick.
I make my way into Eastland and find that the town is supporting the old highway with some Bankhead Banners around the courthouse square.
Within the walls of that courthouse, one will find Eastland’s claim to fame, Old Rip. The zombie horned toad that visited the White House. Today his body “Lies in State” within the walls of the local government building.
In a more modest and traditional postmortem plot, one will find Josiah Gordon “Doc” Scurlock. A cowboy and gunfighter, he is remembered as a founding member of the Regulators.
Scurlock rode with Billy the Kid during the Lincoln County Wars in New Mexico.
Scurlock died in 1929 at the age of 80 and is buried in the Eastland City Cemetery.
A vintage stop sign on the courthouse square.
Tons of brick roads, I am not tired of them yet.
In downtown Cisco, I pull into the Mobley Hotel. This hotel was Conrad Hilton’s first hotel. Today it serves as the Chamber of Commerce, although there are period correct rooms to view, it does not provide accommodations for today’s travelers.
Santa Clause robbed a bank on Christmas in Cisco. Google it. Very interesting story.
The bank and the historical marker.
West of Cisco, I take FM 2945, not sure if it is the right road. Quickly, I find that it is.
Again, the Bankhead Bridges don’t change.
This viaduct reassured me that I was on the right route. This rise in the road is to allow the train to pass without interference in travel.
Originally it would have the Texas and Pacific Rail Road running beneath the Bankhead route. We will get into more of that in the days to come.
The next town is Baird, Texas.
Crispy Cold Fruits and Vegetables. A vintage grocers’ prized possession, today scrap.
Couldn’t find that discount beer either. Deceptive.
I take Finley Road out of Baird. A mixture of pavement, dirt, and rock. The Machine stays under 20 miles per hour and in second gear.
I begin to wonder if I have made a mistake taking this section of Bankhead’s alignment.
This road pays off big.
We have stumbled upon a worn and weathered, beat and broken, severed and shattered, cracked and crumbling, beautiful bridge.
Rebar rise from the torn towers of the railing like exposed nerves. Hunks of the structure lay below in the shallow creek.
Still firm it stands, serving the purpose it was built to do, take travelers west down the Bankhead Highway.
The all-weather, all-season, all condition road.
I will end Across the State in Eight (part 5) – A Bankhead Highway motorcycle adventure with a pour, again, from Cisco’s own Red Gap Brewing “1878 Lager”.
Stay tuned for part 6 of the Bankhead adventure. Please like and share the Facebook posts.
About halfway there.
Please join us on our ride. Feel free to follow on Instagram and Facebook – links on this page. Thanks.
“There’s something about arriving in new cities, wandering empty streets with no destination. I will never lose the love for the arriving, but I’m born to leave.”
– Charlotte Eriksson
I stay as true to the original route as possible through Dallas, Fort Worth, and all the cities in between. Honestly, this is a tough part of the ride.
Start. Stop. Red light, green light.
Green, Yellow, Stop.
The knuckles of my clutch hand have had enough, the phalanges have become fused together and my thumb is stuck in an action figure pose.
Soon I am on the west side of Fort Worth heading down Camp Bowie Blvd.
A brick road, a wonderful brick road.
Camp Bowie Blvd. takes its name from the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division camp that was located in the area from 1917 to 1919. Camp Bowie was named after James Bowie, the Alamo defender.
Today Camp Bowie Blvd thrives with trendy shops and upscale properties.
Some mid-century motels remain in certain sections. While the signs might seem as fresh as ever, most of the properties provide lodging to long term rentals and a blind eye to shady behaviors.
The historic Ridglea Theater stands on the location where the Cottage City tourist camp once served Bankhead Highway No. 1 travelers. At the time the tourist camp was five miles outside of the city of Fort Worth.
Times have changed. Today, the icon seems to be in the middle of town.
On to Weatherford, Texas.
Miles of great Bankhead exist between Fort Worth and Weatherford. Curving and weaving, dipping and rising, among tilled fields, pastures, and those master-planned communities.
Some like this section seem hidden. Blind curves would have created dangerous travel in the early 20th century.
These Bankhead segments are not abandoned. Still utilized by locals for local business. Again, I am in awe that these roads have held up so well with little to no maintenance.
Weatherford, Texas, is home to the Vintage Car Museum that is right off the town’s square and right on the old Bankhead route.
I get a quick photo of the Machine in front of the pumps before I make my way inside.
The Vintage runs off donations and has several unique and rare rides.
This is a 1939 Alvis, it was manufactured by an English company until the factory was destroyed by a bomb during World War II. Check out the odd “new” induction system – it looks like it has a pre-war turbo.
Ready to find some more of that Bankhead Highway, I bid farewell to Weatherford and search out more forgotten pieces of the old road.
Soon a sign appears. A Bankhead sign.
They seem to be everywhere now. No need for me to get on the interstate when I have this seasoned blacktop headed in the same direction. More character and soul than an interstate could ever have.
Mineral Wells is my next stop. While the Baker Hotel is the big draw to the town, I select someplace a bit different, unique, and honest.
The Laumdronat – Washing Machine Museum.
How fun is this. Wash clothes and learn about the history of washing clothes.
It is not just antique washers on display, cases line the walls with trinkets and wonders of the washateria, including this hanger dispenser.
A quick stop at the Crazy Well for a drink of water infused with lithium and I am ready to roll.
And a photo with the recreation of the Crazy sign.
Bringing national acts into Greenville, Texas, The Texan is not just a renovated movie palace from the past – it is a world class entertainment venue.
The Bankhead is calling. I stretch my legs with a quick walk and mount the Machine for our next stretch of the Bankhead.
The next section of the Bankhead is now labeled as Texas 66, aka Route 66.
Texas 66, a wonderful section of road. A mishmash of farmland and masterplans.
The road has changed. The environment has changed. Texas has changed.
Only a few miles ago, dense trees and swampy lowlands surrounded me. Today the horizon has opened up. I can see farther than ever before. Heading west to the Big Sky Country. Soon the city.
The beautiful Bankhead town of Rockwall, Texas, respecting the old route with a great sign. The towns of Rockwall, Rowlett, and Garland have all done, due diligence in honoring the Bankhead Highway.
I plan to repay them with a stop at the Bankhead Brewery. Before that, there is one thing I have to see.
Yes, that is an original 1922 Bankhead Highway build. Today Main street east bound terminus is the lake, where the original Bankhead bridge rails peak out of the water, like snorkels. Never die.
This road IS alive.
I break at the Bankhead Brewery only a couple of miles down Main Street. I am pleased that this establishment that has borrowed the name that gives credit to the road.
Unique art embellishes the walls of the Bankhead Brewery like this barbed-wire map of the route.
Continuing on Texas 66 into Garland, I find the historical marker celebrating the old road. I position the Machine for a photo. Take a walk around the square and continue on into the city of Dallas, Texas.
I turn off 66 onto 76 and begin my descent into the city. Grand homes and gardens flank me while the sky line of Dallas presents itself grand against the blue sky. I enter into town beside Fair Park and find that the old Bankhead route travels through Deep Ellum, Dallas’ entertainment district.
I continue through the “Big D” staying true to the Bankhead route. I turn south on Jefferson Ave to find a way across the Trinity River and an original Bankhead bridge.
Before I cross the river, the historical “sixth floor” lingers over my shoulder.
Goodbye to Dallas. The west is ahead of me and the Machine.
I will end, Across the State in Eight (part 3) – A Bankhead Highway motorcycle adventure with a pour from Rowlett’s own Bankhead Brewery’s limited run brew.
Stay tuned for part 4 of the Bankhead adventure that will take us further west – into the Big Sky country of Texas.
“The best path through life is the highway.” – Henri Frederic Amiel
Is the best path through Texas the Bankhead Highway?
Today the journey begins and maybe, when complete, I can answer that question.
A chilly morning in Texarkana, Texas, and I attempt to get some shots of the Machine in downtown.
Texarkana is still asleep and I decide not to wake her.
Texarkana is a town on the brink of rebirth. A resurgence can be felt all around. The discovery of something old and interesting by the heritage tourist and urban explorers.
Effort all around the community excite the aging stone and iron, stirring the soul of the town that produced “The Father of Ragtime”, Scott Joplin.
Revitalization, no longer lip service, as crews, scaffolds, and engineers rework, redesigned, and reward a downtown that had fallen on hard times.
I drop by the Harley Davidson dealer and they are busy jockeying bikes. I discuss my trip’s plans with an interested employee. Before the conversation turns to bike purchasing I decide to get on my way.
Today will be a short day in the mileage sense. The point is not to get from A to B, it is to find a lost highway, The Bankhead Highway.
I have no plans to continue any further than Sulphur Springs, Texas, during today’s ride. This entire journey will be a slow ride, visiting towns, looking, listening, an attempt to find the pulse of the Bankhead Highway.
I know it exists, I know this road is alive.
Quickly outside of Texarkana I pick up “Old Redwater Road”
Old Redwater Road is original Bankhead Highway alignment. The road’s purpose today is to service a handful of homes and shade the motorcycle traveler with a canopy of trees.
As I travel toward Maud, Texas, I begin to see the old original Bankhead hidden in the trees only feet from the current pavement of Hwy 67.
Century old bridges and asphalt partially hidden in plain sight. I scout for a way to access the old road. Soon I find the spot.
The condition of the abandoned roadway is a testament to the longevity of the skilled craftsmen’s construction.
Maud’s main street still carries the name Broadway. An homage to the Bankhead Highway’s nickname, The Broadway of America.
From Maud, I turn south on Texas 8 toward Douglassville.
Deep in the trees of East Texas I pause to appreciate the colors of spring. A mixture of pine and oak crowd but do not overtake the needed space, nutrients, or sunlight from one another, while clusters of wildflower collectively create colorful roadside tussie-mussie.
I roll into Naples, Texas, nestle the Machine up next to a curb and look for a place to grab a cup of coffee. Unsure that I will find success in this small Bankhead town, I am pleased when I stumble upon Chartier’s Wine and Coffee Bar.
Chartier’s proprietors, Dennis and Connie Chartier, have built a comfortable cafe that was an unexpected surprise to find in Athens. While I enjoyed the coffee, I was able to learn more about the Bankhead Highway, a subject in which the Chartiers are well versed.
From Athens I find more original Bankhead Highway. One can tell the Bankhead by the bridges. The same style of bridge was used all the way across Texas. In the upcoming days the Machine and I will cross many original Bankhead bridges.
The old Bankhead route is incredibly, and surprisingly, smooth. A very relaxing ride.
Mount Pleasant and Mount Vernon, come quickly. I make my way to the historical museum in Mount Vernon, Texas.
Mount Vernon was home to Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Don Meredith. The museum has an excellent exhibit with many personal items from the Dallas Cowboy’s legend.
The museum also has a permanent exhibit of bird eggs. A unique collection that contains eggs from extinct birds.
While picking up some “road” food I found the local convenience store celebrating both Meredith and the Bankhead Highway.
I will end Across the State in Eight (part 2) – A Bankhead Highway motorcycle adventure with a pour for Sulphur Springs own Backstory Brewery’s “Blonde Blood Orange”.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Bankhead adventure that will take us into Sulphur Springs, Texas, a dynamic East Texas community. We will visit a micro brewery and unique attractions before continuing on into Greenville and the big cities of Dallas and Fort Worth.
Warm and cold air mixed last night. The sky wrote messages of love as the electrons and protons showed their attraction to each other. Air rose and fell, uplift, downdraft, strong, weak, hot and cold. Energy.
Today the air is cool and a strong north wind will keep my machine dancing all over the road as we begin our adventure down the Bankhead Highway.
Before this journey can begin we, the machine and I, must get to the starting point. In Texas the Bankhead starting point is Texarkana, Texas.
Today will be spent quickly, and safely, navigating space between tractors and trailers, UPS and FedEx, vans, parents, pets and wildlife.
Texarkana, emotional mile marker one for the machine and I. In the upcoming days we will cover almost 900 miles, four regions of climate and geographic change, revitalization, decomposition, long tall tales, colorful characters, myth and legend.
Our guide is Dan Smith book Texas Highway No. 1 – The Bankhead Highway in Texas. I will attempt to follow the maps as close as possible, staying true to the actual “original” route.
Tomorrow is a big day. The start of an epic journey across the State of Texas. A toast to the unknown with a pour of Texarkana’s own Pecan Point brewery’s “State Line Blonde”.