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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Good Roads Movement & Highway 90 (the Old Spanish Trail)

I received a notice this week from the Old Spanish Trail Centennial Celebration Association announcing the first of a series of events commemorating the highway's big anniversary.  Some of you may not know this, but Highway 90 (and Highway 90A which is the alternate route that runs through Sugar Land) was originally known as the Old Spanish Trail. Commercial and governmental interests launched this highway project with an organizational meeting in Mobile, Alabama in 1915.  

Some of you may recall this undated photo I posted showing Highway 90A on the west side of Sugar Land long before it became a major route through the southern tier of the United States.  As you can see from the caption, it's described as a 'new' shell road. 

I can tell this photo was taken after 1903 because I can see the train depot and the refinery in the distance.  The camera is pointed eastward from a spot roughly where Nalco is today. In 1927, this road would become a paved 2-lane road with the designation, Highway 90A.  
(east of Sugar Land, I think)

Actually, Highway 90 grew out of the Good Roads movement which began in the late 19th century.  Click here to read a Wikipedia article on the movement's history.  Economic necessity and military preparedness spurred the association to launch the Old Spanish Trail project in Mobile 100-years ago. (Identical interests launched the interstate highway system during the Eisenhower administration 40-years later.)

As I mentioned above, our segment of Highway 90A didn't come to life until 1927.  I have documentation on that effort, which I'll post in the future.  Here are links to further information about the Old Spanish Trail's history, if you're interested:

Old Spanish Trail Centennial Celebration Association

Drive The Old Spanish Trail Highway