Sunday, March 10, 2013

1917: Pre-Bankhead Highway Roads in West Tarrant County

Recently I have been working on a 1917 Tarrant County map that is posted on the Portal to Texas History and is a part of the UTA Library Special Collections. On the Bankhead Highway History Group we tend to spend a lot of time on the 1919 and later period when the Bankhead began to become a reality.

Clip From A 1917 Tarrant County Map <Click to Zoom>
However, it is equally important to know what came before the Bankhead Highway. It all began with the with the advent of the automobile in the very early 1900's. A "Good Roads" movement began which was echoed in the other larger Texas counties as well. The Bankhead, the Meridian and other early interstate highways were the result.

In 1913 the Tarrant County precinct commissioners went to war with each other over which roads would be declared the main or "Cardinal" roads.  The biggest fight was over whether the old Stove Foundry/Benbrook/Weatherford road would continue to get the improvement and money or whether the shorter and dryer connection off of Arlington Heights Blvd. (Camp Bowie Blvd.) would be selected. After a lawsuit and a lot of harsh words, the Arlington Heights Blvd. connection into downtown Fort Worth was selected.  This was three or four years before World War I and the Camp Bowie base establishment.

This map was created about a year before the Great War over a standard Tarrant County landowners map by the well-known Tarrant County Surveyor John H. Darter.  On the map he overlaid many of the more important county roads including the still-new "Cardinal Roads". The map exists in blueprint form, but for clarity I have inverted it to bring out the detail so that it is more readable.

The clip above shows a part of Precinct #1 from about Benbrook north to White Settlement Road with the red box focusing on the points where Arlington Heights Blvd connects with what will later be the Kuteman Cutoff headed straight west for Weatherford with a connection at the Parker County line. Also the north-south road at the same junction that drops down toward Benbrook and intersects Stove Foundry Road and finally, the Stove Foundry Road itself that follows the T&P railroad tracks from downtown Fort Worth to Benbrook.

1917 map legend

For the past several years there has been a question as to the exact way that the Arlington Heights connection headed west across Mary's Creek and on to Parker County. It's a niggling detail in the overall picture but no definitive answer has yet appeared in a County or Highway Department map. This map offers a few more clues.

The Cardinal road which we know as Chapin Road today connected with Arlington Heights Blvd just about where the traffic circle is today, although the circle was far in the future. It headed west, jogging a little at section lines until it slanted northwest just before Mary's Creek, then turned west again, crossed the stream and continued to the county line.  Chapin Road, which does not go all the way west anymore, is still titled as the "Benbrook Cardinal Road" on current Tarrant County maps. Some of the abandoned right-of-way which became Bankhead Highway for a while is still visible on aerial maps.  We are sill looking for a picture of this early bridge across Mary's Creek.

This 1917 map adds a little more to what we know about the early roads in this part of Tarrant County.  The entire map has a number of other interesting features including some "lost" roads which will be covered in later posts...


  1. Is was the current Vickery Blvd formerly known as Stove Foundry Rd.?

  2. looking at google maps maybe chapin road connected with chapin-old weatherford road and stayed north of mary's creek.