Old Spanish Trail history to be discussed at Dayton Historical Society meeting on June 24

The Old Spanish Trail Transcontinental Highway project was first conceived in 1915 to connect St. Augustine, Florida to New Orleans.  By 1919, the vision grew to include six centers of historical interest:  St. Augustine, New Orleans, San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson and San Diego, connecting the historic missions and forts built on the original Old Spanish Trail.  Initial funding was provided by the states and counties through which the OST was to pass. 

Road construction proceeded through Dayton with horses hitched to graders that were used to level the ground and it eventually was paved in 1928 or 29. 

In the brochure called Old Spanish Trail Travelog, distributed for 50 cents after the completion of the highway, information is given about each town through which the road passed. 

Dayton’s snippet reads:

     From San Diego:

  • 1774.6 miles;  From St. Augustine – 1042.4 miles
  • 14.8 mi.  (Construction 8.5 mi.; Shell 6.3 mi.)
  • Pop. 2527.  Elevation 81 ft.   Travel now follows the new grade kept in condition by the State maintenance forces.  To be paved.

Liberty’s piece reads:

      From San Diego:

  • 1779.8 miles;  From St. Augustine – 1037.2 miles
  • 5.2 mi.  (Construction.  Mileage according to new location) Pop. 1117.  Elevation 41 ft.  Country hotel.
  • Old road is used; in fair condition, 6.5 mi.  Heavy construction in progress across Trinity
  • River bottoms.  Great credit is due Liberty County for her large part in the road work across the county between Nome and Crosby.  From Orange to Houston the work is expensive and slow due to numerous river and drainage problems.

The highway was officially designated State Highway 3 upon completion, and became U.S. Highway 90 between 1931 and 1940. 

In 2015, an OST100 Commission was formed to celebrate this monumental road project achievement.  Their purpose is to revitalize and preserve the roadway, businesses, and historic sites of the original 1920s Old Spanish Trail as well as to encourage beautification projects.  Chairman of this Centennial Celebration is Charlotte Kahl of San Antonio who will give a power point program about the history of the building of the OST.  Kahl’s enthusiasm for this celebration is contagious and her program will be of great interest to all.

Kahl will be followed by Jeanette Frick who will tell about the Dayton High School Band’s 1938 trip to Florida for the tenth anniversary celebration of the completion of the OST.  Both presentations will be very interesting and informative and the public is invited to attend.  The meeting will take place at Parker Hall, located behind The Old School Museum (Houston Street), 6 p.m., on Monday, June 24.  

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