Texas Plains Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Bankhead Highway


The birth of auto trails meant the birth of the road trip. Chances are you've driven on the Bankhead Highway without even knowing it. This historic route, established in 1919 and considered the first paved transcontinental highway, connected Washington, D.C. with San Diego as part of the National Auto Trail system. The Texas segment was pieced together county by county, entering from the east at Texarkana swinging down to Dallas and making its way across Texas to exit at El Paso. Counties and towns competed heartily for the right to install the first paved automobile road and the economic boost that would arrive across those bricks and cement. Over the years, the route has changed, segments have been abandoned, and today Interstate Highways 30 and 20 approximate some of the original route. Vestiges of the historic road remain on the landscape today while hotels, diners, and downtown buildings of the roaring 20s remind us of the modern spirit and commerce of the times. You don't need to be a gumshoe to drive segments of the road—take the jalopy to places like Mount Vernon, Garland, Weatherford, Cisco, and Abilene. It will be the Bee's Knees.

Explore the Historic Bankhead Highway with the following Texas Historical Commission travel resources:

Bankhead Highway brochure and mobile tour.

  • Mobile Tour – Go mobile with the Historic Bankhead Highway mobile tour, featuring a rich blend of images, videos, first-person interviews, maps, and useful visitor information for exploring historical sites across Texas.
  • Website – Visit the Texas Historical Commission’s Bankhead Highway web page, where you will find a history of the highway, an interactive map of the highway route featuring places of interest, a searchable photo database of historic sites along the Bankhead, and links to a public photo-sharing Flickr group featuring user-submitted photos of Bankhead sites.
  • Brochure – Download the Bankhead Highway: The Broadway of America brochure (PDF) or request it in print.
  • Watch our Historic Bankhead Highway video series to explore the development of the Bankhead Highway in Texas and its impact on Texas industries and communities. 

Map of Theme

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