Heritage, Volume 8, Number 4, Fall 1990 Page: 14
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and the Pacification of Texas
By Christopher S. Davies
he history of Texas' roads
remains largely unrecorded. Just
as television etched Route 66 into the
collective memory of the nation, so too the
IH-35s, IH-lOs, San Antonio's Harry
Wurtzbach Avenue, or the universal Main
Street of small-town Texas are similarly
carved into the amalgamated memory of
Texans. For today's road users the not-sodistant
past of mud roads and mule-drawn
wagons seems incomprehensible. Yet
photographic and other archival sources at
the State Department of Highways and
Public Transportation (SDHPT) formerly
the Texas Highway Department (THD) in
Austin show that this modern day travel
along the satin strips of Texas' highways is
a recent culmination of an immense
The cobwebbing of Texas by rail, road,
and air gradually extinguished Old World
Texas by shrinking travel time and making
Texas a much smaller place geographically.
Prior to this narrowing of time-space
14 HERITAGE * FALL 1990
Top: By 1872, the stagecoach between Austin and
San Antonio had reduced travel time to around
Above: Henderson County, mule-drawn surrey.
relationships, the isolation and seclusion
incurred by the vast expanse of rural Texas
tended to isolate people.
Every so often a change in transportation
technology alters the time-distance
relationship between locations. In 1847,
for example, the stagecoach was a major
transportation innovation introduced
along the Austin-San Antonio route. This
mode of transportation, like the train,
influenced the location of Texas towns. By
1872, the fast-line stagecoach between
these cities had reduced travel time to
around thirteen hours. Just as air travel was
to later reduce railway passenger service, so
the first established rail link between San
Antonio and Austin in 1881, which
reduced the journey to around three hours,
annihilated stagecoach service by 1882.
The San Antonio Daily Express of March
11, 1882 advertised passenger coaches for
sale. Although the railroad introduced
many changes, it still did not alter the basic
fabric of rural life.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 4, Fall 1990, periodical, Autumn 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45429/m1/14/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.