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Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!


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Everything posted by Starfire

  1. Never heard of this trail until now either. Looks like it would make one heck of a fun excursion. Too many neat trips to make........ Too little time to make them....... Darn!
  2. Wow, is that not going to workout well! The idiot Metro Transit System in Houston has done the same thing with light rail down the middle of a number of streets. What it gets is a constant stream of accidents between the trains, automobiles, and even pedestrians and bicyclists. Light rail is a great idea if done on the order used in Dallas which has no unprotected rails running down the middle of the streets. Light rail in the middle of streets is a good example of foggy headed thinking taking a good idea and making a mess of it.
  3. Somehow I managed to miss this thread, but what the heck it's never too late to get in on something as important as defining the best car for cruising. I have six cars that are used or will be used for nostalgic cruising. Those include '56 Cadillac Eldorado Seville, '57 Cadillac Eldorado Seville, '58 Mercury Montclair, two '62 Oldsmobile Starfires, and a '76 Lincoln Mark IV. The '50s cars get a lot of attention, ride fairly well, but are the epitome of a gas hog (especially the Caddys at around 8 mpg). The Starfires are great all the way around one of the best cars ever put on the road. But my all time favorite road car has to be the '76 Lincoln Mark IV. Big, roomy, floats down the road in quiet comfort and believe it or not gets 20+ mpg with the cruise set at 70 though it weighs a hefty 6,000 lbs with a full fuel tank.
  4. In spite of the fact parts of Texas have become highly populated since the end of WW II, much of Texas is pretty much as it was 80 years ago with the exception of Interstate Highways having replaced many of the old 2 lane highways. At the time the OST was in the planning stages the entire population of the State was little more than half the current population of metropolitan Houston or metropolitan Dallas/Ft.Worth. Even though I'm physically located more or less midway between San Antonio and Houston little has changed around here during the passage of those 80 years. That's one of the reasons we are here after over forty years of Dallas and Houston. To give an idea of how little things have changed, it is not at all uncommon to see guys in local restaurants wearing spurs, though they may have arrived from the ranch in a new F250 pickup. We're so unchanged out here we still have mountain lions (cougars) roaming the area along with the deer, wild hogs, coyotes, and a wolf or two from time to time. If going to the more remote areas of our property, I always wear a side arm and probably have a rifle in my truck. Nope things haven't changed much over the last 80 years around here. Yes the Hotel Alcalde is still alive and very well in Gonzales. As somewhat historic hotels go, it might be considered a bit of a Johnny come lately in comparison with a number of other yet operating hotels to be found in Texas. The Alcalde was built in either 1925 or 1926. The oldest continuously operating hotel in the State of Texas is the Stage Coach Inn in Salado (just a bit South of Temple) which dates back to pre Civil War days. The site of the home of the OST in San Antonio has actually had an operating hotel since the 1840s, but the original was replaced by the current occupant the Gunter Hotel circa 1860, and is now owned operated by the Sheraton chain. Two of the most grand and elegant of old hotels are San Antonio's St. Anthony and Austin's Driskill, both more than worth a visit. Jim
  5. Jim, Well come on, Texas awaits........ But I do understand the problem of distance, and certainly these days the cost of going very far without a bank loan to buy gasoline. Too many interesting two lane highways, too little time! I'll taunt you, and maybe everyone else, a bit with a clue about a little mentioned two lane highway. U.S. 287 which starts more or less at Port Arthur, Texas (Beaumont) runs a bit of a North, Northwest diagonal across Texas and through the Texas Panhandle on its way to its terminus at Yellowstone park. U.S. 287 may be the last, certainly one of the last, 2 lane highways to have an organized tourist promotional association, which existed into the early 1970s. Somewhere I think I still have a wooden nickel from that association which was good for a cup of coffee at any association member eatery along 287's entire length. Closer to you is an interesting 2 lane highway in the form of U.S. 67. U.S. 67 which runs from Davenport, Iowa Southward through St. Louis, Little Rock, Texarkana, Dallas, and on to it's Southern terminus at Presidio, Texas on the Mexican border. Unfortunately much of U.S. 67's alignment through Missouri, Arkansas, and even Northern Texas became I-30.
  6. Dave, To the best of my knowledge there was only one map of the OST created by the original OST Association. You can find images of it on three web sites. One is drivetheost.com, another is oldspanishtrailcentennial.com, the third is a site at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, which is a repository along with the University of Texas for much of the history of the OST. The St. Mary's site can be accessed from the centennial site links. The last partial official guide to the OST was published by the Association in 1929 if memory serves me correctly and it displays the original mapping of the OST. To answer your question the route of the OST was agreed to by association members prior to the passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1926. Unlike the people pushing Route 66 there doesn't seem to have been any truly successful effort on the part of the OST Association to establish a working relationship with the Federal Government following the passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1926. While the designation of various portions of the OST as U.S. 90 were made subsequent to the passage of the act not all of what was designated under the act as U.S. 90 followed the OST map. At least that is the way it was in Texas. Hopefully that explanation will be a bit clearer than mud..... Jim
  7. eBay has made it a lot easier to be a collector of just about everything. Almost makes flea markets and swap meets totally obsolete. I know it has certainly made the business of finding parts to restore vintage automobiles much easier. Jim
  8. Dave - Thanks for the offers but I'm pretty well covered when it comes to Texas maps from before 1926 and the creation of the Federal Highway system. I got into my current research because of the OST and what I consider extreme deviation from what the OST Association routed verses what actually became designated as U.S. 90. This lead me to more than a bunch of errata which exists between different maps from different sources. Some of that errata I chalk up to virtually all map publishers making intentional errors in order to support their copyright claims. Being a bit of a nut case when it comes to looking for old alignments of roads I have set about attempting to identify all of the original alignment of what was initially designated as U.S. 90 between Houston and San Antonio. This is somewhat easy as I live about half way between the two cities about 1-1/2 miles South of both the current alignment and portions of the original alignment, the latter now being a county maintained road. To my knowledge no one has recently documented this portion of original route, some of which is now designated as U.S. 90A with other portions being county roads. I don't think any of the original alignment has been totally abandoned. Improved as part of the current alignment with bridges having been replaced and right of way widened, but none totally abandoned. In some places the original alignment has been interrupted or broken by I-10, but is otherwise still there. Going Westward passed San Antonio what became designated as U.S. 90 was never a part of the OST until U.S. 90 reached the town of Van Horn, though what was considered an alternate routing of the proposed OST was designated as U.S. 90, and remains so today. When the OST left San Antonio it was a bit like heading into never, never land. Some of the route was barely improved road even as late as 1940 and none of it between San Antonio and Junction was ever designated as a U.S. Highway save for a portion between San Antonio and Boerne being later designated as U.S. 87. Ironically, I-10 Westward of San Antonio to its intersection with I-20 follows almost exactly the OST described route of 1923, a part of which was U.S. 290 from a point a few miles East of the town of Junction. Jim
  9. No doubt Rand-McNally and Gousha were the largest publishers of oil company giveaway maps, particularly in the 1950s and into the 1970s after which free maps began getting mighty scarce. However, there were several other publishers of road maps in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Addressing Rand-McNally they apparently had several levels of product they marketed to the oil companies ranging from the very detailed purchased by Texaco to the not very detailed distributed by many of the smaller oil regional companies like American Petro Fina, Premier, Cities Service, etc. And though I was a bit critical of AAA maps I received one today that kinda blew me away. I had purchased it on ebay the description being it was a 1936 South Central Map from the Chicago AAA. When I examined it I came to realize it was of a much earlier time. Probably between 1927 and 1930, though there was no copyright date to be found. I make the assumption based upon the alignments of Route 66 and U.S. 90 when compared to maps known to be of the '27 to '30 time period. A number of segments of Route 66 are shown to be dirt while one section in New Mexico is omitted entirely as if it just hadn't been determined. The neat thing is it depicts what I think may well be the only correct initial alignment of U.S. 90 East of San Antonio to Houston I've seen. Ain't old maps a lotta fun? Jim
  10. Naah, dotted lines represent improved pig path...... Seriously, the Texaco maps of old do show even dirt roads (indicated with parallel lines, no dots) in many cases. I discovered this in the early 1970s when running around the old gold and silver mining districts of Colorado. Some of the "roads" shown on the Texaco maps even of that time were very crude in nature, some almost impassible with anything other than a 4WD vehicle. The Texaco maps were even far better than those from the State of Colorado and ten times better than anything AAA published, at least in the mind of this history buff.
  11. Been a while since anyone posted to this topic but I thought a fact I discovered years ago might be of value to anyone looking to collect old maps and atlases for the purpose of discovering older alignments of the old two lane highways. For whatever reason the free maps and Atlases from Texaco well into the 1970's have much more detail of lesser roads than most. Though Texaco maps were done by Rand-McNally I rarely run across maps from other sources, including those which were sold directly by Rand-McNally, which get down almost to pig path level. Makes it real easy to figure out where old alignments ran or might have ran, particularly when comparing to more recent maps of the same highways. Can make exploring the old highways a lot more fun.
  12. Great site......... Thanks for the link. It's nice to see some of our tax dollars are going to something everyone can enjoy.
  13. Really neat stuff Alex. Brought back some memories of my being stationed with the Marine Corps Detachment at the Naval Air Station in Millington in the 1960's. I even recall having seen the motel in West Memphis. The flood waters reminded me of mammoth flooding along the Mississippi in the 1950's when tens of thousands, if not millions, of acres of land and many towns were flooded for weeks and weeks from weather occurrences not too unlike those experienced on the upper watershed this year. To put it in perspective I recall seeing flood waters lapping at the shoulders of U.S. 67 South of St. Louis on a section of highway built up at least 30 feet, maybe more, above the normal level of the Mississippi. A bit scary to say the least when one thinks about only a couple of feet are between you and your car and being in 30 or more feet of moving water.
  14. Yes, what appears to be a North frontage road for I-10 at that point is indeed the last and current alignment of U.S. 90. Where CR 217 intersects with U.S. 90 is the location of the Borden General Store, which by the way is now basically an eatery. I'm not absolutely certain at this time from the point of that intersection just exactly what the original alignment followed. I'm hoping to find an old county road map that will clear that up in my mind. If that quest fails a copy of the 1920 something Texas Almanac will have a shrunken version of the county map of the time. There are several points to the West of the CR 217, U.S. 90 intersection that look as if they might have been part of the old original alignment. The original alignment of U.S. 90 in the next county to the West is going to be quite interesting. I have found an old bridge on a little used county road there that leads me to believe it was part of the original alignment. If I'm correct I have located the original alignment between the towns of Weimar and Schulenburg. Digging this out is a lot like a scavenger hunt.
  15. This past weekend I took a few minutes to visit some of the original alignment of U.S. 90 in Colorado County, Texas. I found and actually drove on around three miles of the original concrete highway from the very early 1920s. That segment of the old highway is maintained by the county and is signed "Old Highway 90." Further to the West in the town of Columbus, Texas a portion of the original alignment is used as a city street and runs parallel to the U.S. 90 alignment of 1932 or 1939 vintage (still working on the date with some bridges dated 1932 and others to the west dated 1939). Further to the West of the town of Columbus is another portion of the original alignment now signed as County Road 217, which extends several miles to the Borden Community and the location of a General Store that goes back to the days of Gail Borden (Borden Milk) having lived in the area. As a side note: Gail Borden was a surveyor who was responsible for having surveyed a great deal of South Central Texas before moving to New York to found the Borden Milk Company. Due to health reasons many of his last days were spent in the community bearing his name.
  16. Certainly an interesting post which spurred me into familiarizing myself a bit with the PPOO. Lots of stuff on the web concerning it, and it appears from its initial beginnings in 1914 there was a constant problem with the Association figuring out just exactly what was the route from one year to the next so to speak. I'm sure you are familiar with the main web site but for those who aren't it can be found at: Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway
  17. Yes, I'll be sure to include any of the old 1930's photos applicable to U.S. 90 with the newer ones. Actually there are more than just dozens of old photos taken during trips my parents made in the mid to late 1930's. There is a pretty good size storage container full of them. The are inclusive as I recall of trips beginning near St. Louis to Yellowstone, Pikes Peak, a loop through Texas, including the Rio Grande Valley. As I recall many of the U.S. designated highways depicted in those photos were gravel. Gonna have to do some digging and sorting. Guess the old scanner is finally going to get enough use to justify having it... Yeah, those old Kodaks were pretty rugged. While I haven't gone looking for any of all the film types required by old cameras I have I suspect some are getting hard to come by and not something anyone would find these days in their local Walgreen's or Wal-Mart.
  18. Good point Denny. It seems in advance of the Federal Highway Act of 1926 there were many "non official" highway promotion groups which organized in realization something needed to be done with the nation's road system to promote the better movement of goods and materials, as well as to allow the budding automotive tourist industry to grow. Those groups were attempting to connect as many regional commerce centers and communities as possible which often resulted in their initial routes being somewhat of a mess compared to that which ended up being designated as a U.S. Highway. Even before there were real designated Federal highways no one wanted to be by-passed. I guess the thing that baffles me about U.S. 90 and the info published by the OST group or commission is the group continued to hang on to their routing concept even after various aspects of the route was designated differently by the State and Federal Government. I suspect that is one mystery which may never be figured out. In addition to the photos I'll be taking, I have several dozen road trip photos from the mid 1930's taken by my parents which may well include segments of U.S. 90 as it was then. I even have the Kodak camera that they used to take the photos, still works.
  19. Thanks for the welcome. Yes, I'll be filling in with a lot of photos as the present alignment of U.S. 90 through Luling verses at least two earlier alignments has prompted me to dig into the discrepancies between those alignments and those of the original OST Commission in 1923. Somethin' just ain't quite right. Check out my comments in the OST/US 80/US 90 topic area.
  20. Because of the vast number of discrepancies I have found between brochures issued by the original OST group between 1923 and 1930 and road maps of the same period and into the mid 1930's I have spent the better part of the afternoon attempting to resolve the differing routes and alignments. As a result, I have concluded the route designated as U.S. 90 from Houston to Van Horn, Texas fell out of lock step with the route recognized by the OST group at different points in time between 1926 and 1930. I can come up with no explanation as to why the OST group would have held on to one set of routes when the State and/or Federal Government recognized another, as so published by more than one map company. However, I must note there are also significant discrepancies between map company products regarding the alignment of U.S. 290, the route of which is shown on the OST group's maps as being a part of the OST going West from San Antonio; something I believe to be totally in error with respect to official U.S. Highway designation. It is interesting to note that particular routing is almost identical to the routing of I-10 West from San Antonio. These discrepancies tend to spur me on to give very close examination and photographically record what is actually on the ground with respect to the various alignments of U.S. 90 between Houston and San Antonio and most particularly the portion(s) lying between Eagle Lake, Texas and Seguin, Texas. Fortunately, I am very familiar with the locations of these conflicting routes and alignments. Significant portions of all are still in existence and are still in use as County Roads or State Highways.
  21. Denny you are correct in your speculation of the site I didn't mention. After reading your comment I became very curious as to how the Murphy's would have come up with the routing and a little investigation gave me the answer. The confusion, if one wants to call it that, comes from the brochure released in April, 1923 by the OST Headquarters in the Gunther Hotel in San Antonio. Basically, the brochure contained a number of routes (alignment proposals) that were in some cases never adopted as the official route of U.S. 90. My statement on U.S. 90 never having followed in whole or part of what is shown on some maps as U.S. 290 is correct when I compare with Rand McNally Maps of 1927 and National Map Company's 1928 Maps. (The routing of U.S. 290 having ever touched San Antonio is of serious question though shown on some maps as having done so, but that is another investigation, many maps show U.S 87 being what is indicated as the initial leg of that shown as U.S. 290 West from San Antonio on some maps). In the brochure it is quite apparent there were a number of proposed routes for various legs of the OST in Texas in the specific case the one shown as option number 4 is the one which was ultimately officially adopted. There are also discrepancies in what is in the brochure for East of San Antonio routings verses what was actually adopted. I have to say giving that brochure a serious examination was truly most interesting for me as many of the names of those described as "Councilors" for various local communities and the names of some of the businesses were quite familiar to me. In some cases I actually have met the individuals or their sons and daughters. In years past I have spent the night in the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio on more than one occasion, as it was a favorite of my Father when in San Antonio on business. In general comment, the population of Texas in 1930 was a whole rip snorting 4.5 million (about half of Metro Houston's population today) and in the days of trying to determine the route for the OST both travel and communications would have been a bear. A great part of the State had no electrical service, no telephone service, and many roads were absolutely abysmal making automobile travel impossible in certain places during rainy periods. Mexican bandits on horseback were still frequently a problem on the U.S. side of the Texas - Mexican border in the 1920's.
  22. No problem Denny I'm obviously still familiarizing myself with the features of the forum software. Having a bit of trouble with the link I just resorted to using script commands to get the job done. Not real neat, but worked. There is a privately maintained web site out of St. Augustine, Florida devoted solely to the OST, but unfortunately I found a number of terrible errors in it regarding early alignments, so I didn't link it. The most glaring error being the idea that U.S. 90 back in the 1920's followed what is now U.S. 290 going West to a junction with U.S. 80. Never did! Always went from San Antonio to Uvalde, to Del Rio, to Alpine to Van Horn. That stretch of U.S. 90 is like turning back the clock in many respects. Once on the outskirts of Uvalde heading toward Del Rio one used to be greeted with a sign stating "No Gas for the next 70 miles." Actually it should have said "No nothing for the next 70 miles" though there are two small communities (virtually ghost towns) and two roadside picnic areas. There is an ample population of rattle snakes, coyotes, and wild javelina hogs (nasty creatures) however. Del Rio is where Wolfman Jack first blared across the AM radio airwaves from studios in Texas, and a 100,000 watt transmitter located across the river in Mexico. I've often wondered how he got from New York to a pretty much God Forsaken border town in the middle of the Texas-Mexican desert. Talk about culture shock! Jim
  23. I hope I didn't wound anyone. The styling of the Corvair was pretty advanced for it's time as was the "pancake" opposed cylinders engine. Not a darn thing wrong with it as a collectible, but not something I'd personally recommend for a first time vintage car buyer. Even before Ralph Nader had bad things to say about it, the Corvair had maintenance issues. As cars to be picked upon went, the Corvair was far less dangerous from a fire standpoint than the Mustang which had one of the most stupid gas tank arrangements ever used in an automobile. I love the Mustang, even had the first 2+2 delivered in the State of Texas, so please no flames on that comment. Yup, the Mercury Comet was the same car as the Falcon beneath the sheet metal.
  24. Probably one of the most gargantuan highway celebrations ever undertaken is in the works for the Centennial of The Old Spanish Trail, i.e.; U.S. 90 from St. Augustine, Florida to Van Horn, Texas and U.S. 80 from that point to San Diego, California. The decade of celebration is from 2019 through 2029. The headquarters for the Celebration is in San Antonio, Texas as was the original routing effort in the 1920s. The organization's site can be found at OldSpanishTrailCentennial The site contains a huge amount of information on the OST, including original routing maps. I found the original alignment between Houston and San Antonio to be quite interesting as I live just about 2 miles South of part of that route and have traveled part of the original portions some of which is now designated as U.S. 90A and some of which is now county roads having been decommissioned with alignment changes. In the very near future I'll begin posting details and photos of both the original alignments (where they can be found) as well as the present alignment between Houston, Texas and Seguin, Texas. This will represent adding some 90 miles of what is now U.S. 90A to the project I had described as from Columbus, Texas to Seguin, Texas. Stay Tuned.......... Edited to fix link.
  25. Denny the real gas hogs are really not driven that much these days. Usually their trips are limited to no more than 100 miles one way, typically less. Usually just to local car nut gatherings (aka Cruise-ins). If a long distance trip to a classic car event were to be on the schedule, they make the trip on a trailer. You might as well jump into getting that vintage automobile as the water is fine. Just be careful and give whatever you decide upon a really close inspection or have a qualified vintage car appraiser give it a serious look (can be money well spent). Even a 30 year old car can be full of unwanted surprises though it might look fantastic or the seller is claiming some sort of restoration. In all the years I've been messing with vintage cars I have yet to see a single one that was represented as being restored that didn't have hidden issues. One even has to watch those supposedly professionally restored. There is no watchdog over that industry and there are many who hold themselves out as being professional restorers that I wouldn't let touch a lawn mower, much less a car. That's the main reason I do my own restorations. Not only is it much cheaper, but you know exactly what the status of the vehicle is when finished. In the bygone years of two lane highways we traveled from coast to coast in cars which by today's engineering standards would be considered totally unsafe, and many were. However, most vehicles made after World War II have no problem with being driven anywhere anytime in relative safety and comfort once properly restored. I'd stay away from the Corvair simply because they can be a bag of maintenance worms and parts can be hard to come by. Although many of them were basically "fugly" to look at styling wise, a Valiant with a Slant 6 engine is not a bad choice. That engine was/is one tough rascal. But then you can't make a bad mistake with a Falcon of the period. Parts are readily available and cheap. The Falcon could almost be considered a resurrection of the Model T concept. A simple, easy to repair, economical vehicle, which makes it a good choice even today. I would recommend one with a 221 c.i. or 260 c.i. V8 over the six. While a great engine the little 170 c.i. six really has no top end performance and is not really fuel efficient at speeds above 55-60 mph. The six cylinder engine was originally designed to power military tracked personnel carriers in Artic climates and optimum torque, not horsepower or top end fuel efficiency, was the goal. Last, you might want to take a close look at 1963 Ford Fairlane 500 Sport Coupes. Basically the same car as a Falcon but with a more frills and a better ride. Jim
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