The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954

Book Reviews

eastern Apache throughout. This criticism is of minor importance,
however, for this is an excellent and interesting work.
J. GILBERT MCALLISTER
The University of Texas
Wagon Roads West; A Study of Federal Road Surveys and Con-
struction in the Trans-Mississippi West, 1846-1869. By W.
Turrentine Jackson. Berkeley and Los Angeles (University
of California Press), 1952. Pp. xvi+422. 21 maps. $5.00.
Americans of every generation have sought ways to the West
and have located routes and built roads in that direction. The
Mexican War stimulated this process greatly. Indeed, invading
American forces, such as Kearny's Dragoons and the Mormon
Battalion, laid out or marked roads that were followed later by
thousands of emigrants. In western Texas, with its long stretch of
frontier, and in the western territories Congress authorized
various road projects. The most common excuse for building
roads was that of defense, but for other reasons quite obvious
various groups and interests sought to have them built. During
the period covered by this study United States forces straightened
or otherwise improved three major wagon roads in Texas, spent
nearly half a million dollars on roads in the Territory of Minne-
sota, and laid out thousands of miles in the aggregate of roads
in the territories.
The greatest single project of the era was authorized in the
act of 1857 which appropriated $300,000 for a road over the
central route to the Pacific, $2oo,ooo for the southern route, and
$50,000 for the Fort Defiance-Colorado River road in New Mex-
ico. Keen interest in the projects grew from the belief that later
on railroads would follow these routes.
Both the United States Army and the Department of Interior
constructed roads, and there was always rivalry between these
two federal agencies.
Besides the account of the various road projects, set forth in
great detail, the author has supplied in this book interesting
features on roads and road building a century ago. With so much
to do with means so slender, construction standards could not be
high. For instance, William H. Nobles, who claimed to have
built a passable road 254 miles long with only $50,000, erected

409

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/. Accessed May 23, 2015.