Visit the Texas Heritage Trail Regions and see where it all happened

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.


***2016 Bankhead Highway Calendar of Events***

Just in time for spring and summer, Texas communities along the Bankhead Highway developed events and experiences to commemorate this centennial year of the Bankhead Highway. Click on the following link to view the 2016 Bankhead Highway Calendar of Events document, and take it with you on your Bankhead Highway roadtrip!


***The Faces and Places of the Bankhead Highway Video Contest***

In celebration of this centennial year of the Historic Bankhead Highway, The Faces and Places of the Bankhead Highway video contest aims to promote the cultural and architectural heritage of the Historic Bankhead Highway in Texas. We invite filmmakers—from the novice to the seasoned professional—to adventure along the route of the Bankhead Highway across Texas and capture travel experiences that embody Texas’ earliest infatuation with car culture and the romance of the open road.

To learn more about contest prizes, rules, and the entry submission process, visit Film Freeway:


Plan your Historic Bankhead Highway adventure with the following Texas Historical Commission resources:

  • 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 Bankhead Highway brochure and mobile tour. 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.
  • 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. Download the app directly to your iOS or Android device. (NOTE: If you are opening the mobile tour on a desktop, narrow your browser window to resemble mobile screen proportions for a better view of the content and options.)


Watch our Historic Bankhead Highway video series to learn more about the development of the Bankhead Highway in Texas and its impact on Texas industries and communities. These videos were produced for use in our Historic Bankhead Highway mobile tour.

Listen to Road Trip!

A songwriting competition among friends—with talent! Jim Cleveland and son John Cleveland of Mount Vernon, along with good friend Jeff Prince of Fort Worth decided the Bankhead Highway needed to be honored in song. The three talented musicians, singers, and songwriters approached the task as a friendly competition, selecting Jeff Prince’s arrangement as the winner. "Road Trip" will have all Bankhead travelers singing to the same tune!

Map of Theme

= Site  = City  = THC State Historic Site