Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gordon: The Lost Town On A Bankhead Highway Map ~ Twists and Turns Between Ranger & Fort Worth

The Bankhead Highway History Group has become very active on Facebook. It is open to anyone with an interest in this historic old highway. Some interesting topics have been posted lately.  One of them revolves the development of the Bankhead Highway around the area west of Fort Worth to about Ranger. Much of this area is in the rugged Palo Pinto Mountains. I found some old maps of the 1919-1922 era to show how the routes developed..

By 1920 Rand McNally had established themselves as one of the major road map publishers and their Auto Trails series were widely considered one of the best and most accurate. They were updated often.

Click to zoom
When the State Highway Commission finally set the routes and alternates for State Highway #1 in 1919 they also adopted the Bankhead Highway designation as well. For several reasons alternate routes were often established sometimes for political reasons as well as to offer choices when another route was impassible.

Click to zoom
The Bankhead Highway from Weatherford to Mineral Wells passed through Millsap at this time. Our 1922 map is one of the few to show the very rough northern alternate route which more of less followed the rails of the Weatherford, Mineral Wells and Northwestern railroad and passed through Garner and the Rock Creek mining community. If you will check the map legend above you will see that this route was part of the Dixie Overland Highway at this time.

On past Mineral Wells the terrain becomes very rough and the Bankhead became a challenge to build and later to drive. Here is where we find some surprise destinations on this map and the verification of an obscure mountain valley pass that the Bankhead Highway used for a short time.

Click to zoom
The Orange box shows that at this time, on  this map that instead of dropping south a few miles out of Strawn the highway went straight west following the T & P railroad into the rugged Wilde canyon then west to Tiffin before entering Ranger from the north.  Very few maps show this pass as part of the Bankhead  Highway but since Rand McNally was a respected map maker and motorists depended on them, we have to assume that the route was used as least for a short time at least.

Wilde Canyon West of Strawn ~ Click to zoom
The Red box brings another map surprise: After leaving the city of Palo Pinto, the Bankhead Highway is shown as dropping south to Gordon rather than continuing on west to Metcalf Gap and then down to Strawn as most maps of the period do.  There is almost no documentation of this Gordon route but it also shows it on the earlier 1921 Fort Worth Auto Club Texas Map below:

Click to zoom

Were these two maps showing the little town of Gordon as a destination on the Bankhead Highway a regrettable mistake on their part?  If so, why do two maps published 3 years apart still show the same route?  A map maker would certainly have changed it if it was reported as wrong, wouldn't they?

For now, it's a small mystery.  Perhaps someone on the Bankhead Highway History Group can come up with an answer....

No comments:

Post a Comment