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Author Topic: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75  (Read 9267 times)

Brian556

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Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« on: October 14, 2012, 08:15:14 PM »

I drove the old road between Ennis and Emhouse today. It is the strangest road that I have ever been on in my life. Two of my old maps show this being US 75. It looks like US 75 was moved to what is now the I-45 corridor between Ennis and Corsicana in the early 30's. The portion in Ellis county is called Ensign Rd, an is asphalt. The portion near the county line is gravel, and has a one-lane low water crossing of a major creek. The Portion in Navarro County, NW 1250, is one lane concrete, one lane gravel. There are 2 or 3 bridges that appear to be county built, but one that appars to have been state built. It is in bad shape, and the wing walls have failed. There is evidence of an even older alignemnt of this road to the west of the current road, near the tracks.

I'm wondering: Who paved it concrete? The state or the county? It is possible that the county did it because there are county roads that were paved with concrete in the early 30's. Why is only one lane concrete? Did both lanes used to be concrete, and one was demolished? Was this an incomplete paving job? It slopes off to one side, and based on other factors seen in the pics, it appears that it was not originally intended to be a one lane "sidewalk road" like parts of Route 66.

Maps:

Google Map: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=32.215125,-96.449661&spn=0.386904,0.802002&t=m&z=11





Pics:


Ensign Rd in Ellis County


Culvurt on Ensign Rd. Notice the silver paint. Guess that was an attemt to make it reflective. I've seen evidence of this on bridge ends on OLD US 81 in Ft Worth. I've never seen this on a low culvurt headwall before.

There is a "Gap" in the pavement, with a low water crossing. If this indeed was US 75, imagine encountering this "gap" when traveling between Dallas and Houston.



The road is gravel near the county line and Chambers Creek.


Low water crossing at Chambers Creek.


Looking south at the north end of the concrete, in Navarro County




County-style bridge. There are 2 or 3 of these.


State-style bridge. This is the only one of these.


Abanonded bridge from an older alignment of this road, west of the current road, beside the RR Tracks.


Looking north, leaving Emhouse.

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rte66man

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2012, 08:41:17 PM »

Don't know about the concrete, but I wonder if the 9 ft width was for the same reason that Oklahoma has the 9ft width near Miami.  Rather than paving a full width, they got twice the length for the same cost.

rte66man
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US81

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2012, 03:40:22 PM »

Loved these pics - thanks for posting.

I've been intending for years to go see old 75.  You inspire me to get out there.
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agentsteel53

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2012, 03:57:54 PM »

Don't know about the concrete, but I wonder if the 9 ft width was for the same reason that Oklahoma has the 9ft width near Miami.  Rather than paving a full width, they got twice the length for the same cost.

rte66man

how was Oklahoma set up?  I recall it being just 9 feet wide, and no grading or improvement done on either side - but that would imply that, for two cars to pass one another, they'd have to drive a bit on the grass.  is that the case?  (cars back then having hardier suspensions, etc)
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intelati49

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 04:48:12 PM »

Don't know about the concrete, but I wonder if the 9 ft width was for the same reason that Oklahoma has the 9ft width near Miami.  Rather than paving a full width, they got twice the length for the same cost.

rte66man

how was Oklahoma set up?  I recall it being just 9 feet wide, and no grading or improvement done on either side - but that would imply that, for two cars to pass one another, they'd have to drive a bit on the grass.  is that the case?  (cars back then having hardier suspensions, etc)
It was gravel on each side, so kind of. Better than grass, but not current State hwy criteria

Brian556

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2012, 08:37:57 PM »

It looks like there may have been a bridge at Chambers Creek, and it may have replaced with the low water crossing we have today.

The evidence that suggests this is on the Texas State Library website's 1939 and 1961 General County Highway Maps.
The 1939 maps show the road going straight through with a bridge, but the 1961 maps show the current alignment of the road at Chambers Creek.


Navarro County:
1939 https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/aris/maps/maplookup.php?mapnum=4960(You have to download the map to get the whole county due to an error on TSL's part.
1961: https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/aris/maps/maplookup.php?mapnum=5252
Deepening the mystery further, this soil map, which claims to be 1930, shows the older alignemt of this road closer to the tracks, and a straighter alignment with a brdge at Chambers Creek. Logically, I question the 1930 date on this map.http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth19694/?q=navarro%20county

Ellis County:
1939 https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/aris/maps/maplookup.php?mapnum=4852
1961: https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/aris/maps/maplookup.php?mapnum=5121
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Road Hog

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2012, 10:25:30 PM »

That concrete looks like it's in really good shape if it dates from the 30s. Even if the traffic count is very low, weathering and soil-shifting would have to take its toll.
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Brian556

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2012, 11:04:08 PM »

Quote
That concrete looks like it's in really good shape if it dates from the 30s. Even if the traffic count is very low, weathering and soil-shifting would have to take its toll.

Good point. Compare it to OLD US 81 in Hill County:





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US81

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2012, 12:44:04 PM »

OLD US 81 in Hill County

Is this near Abbott? 
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Brian556

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2012, 07:01:23 PM »

Quote
Is this near Abbott? 
No. That is Hill County Road 4281 between Hillsboro and Itasca.
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US81

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2012, 11:24:33 PM »

Quote
Is this near Abbott? 
No. That is Hill County Road 4281 between Hillsboro and Itasca.

Have not yet driven that segment, although I have driven the newer alignment - now TX 81.  Have driven Hill County 3102 between Hillsboro and West, (well except for one small segment just east of I-35 that just didn't look passable at the time - vaguely planning to come back with a bicycle) and also further south on "Old Dallas Highway" in the Waco area. Love tracing the old alignments. Thank you.
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paleocyclist

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2014, 05:24:14 PM »

Hello:

I have lived in Corsicana, Navarro County, for the most part since 1989. Before that, I Lived in Fairfield, Freestone County, for a time, but had grownup in Bryan/College Station.

I came across this forum when I was was trying to figure out if Ensign Road (NWCR 2250) had ever had a high bridge over Chambers Creek/Waxahachi Slough. When I look at satellite views while  mapping cycling routes on Map My Ride (Google Maps), I notice that there is a fence/tree line that runs between where the road turns eastward to the low water crossing. I have seen this line when driving the road, too. I have yet to go into the area where this line intersects the creek to see if I can find pilings, but I suspect that there are, or that this was where there was a high bridge at one time. But I have not really been able to get any definite answer from any old timer around--most of the ones who would have known are now dead.

There was a similar situation on SWCR 0030 (Love Bridge Road) in the 80s in south Navarro County. Love Bridge was a single lane wooden deck iron bridge that crossed Richland Creek northwest of Richland at the confluence of Richland and Pin Oak Creeks. An overweight vehicle damaged it beyond use (there is a quarry nearby), so the county cut a road to the east and put a low crossing in. The county has since built a concrete high bridge at the location of the older one, and the low water crossing has been abandoned. Why this was never done for Ensign Road, I do not know. Probably bickering between Navarro and Ellis County as this location is almost on the county line.

Concerning Navarro County's slab roads: I am still doing some research into this as to which agency/ies administered the program in the 30s, but what I learned when I first got to Corsicana was that they were paved as part of a relief program. And to save money, only one lane was paved--the lane that headed towards town. It was said, by old timers, this was so that farmers could bring produce, milk, stock and such into town without damaging it. The empty trucks could use the dirt half on the way back out.

Actually, common practice here, then and now, is for traffic of both directions to use the slab until there is a meet, then the vehicles revert to their proper lanes until all is clear.

I had always suspected that Ensign Road was part of the original US 75. It was a stopgap to use it as 75 until the final right-of-way was cut in the mid-to-late-30s. My grandfather (1899-1992) said he remembered some of the early US highways were just only bunker oil spread over graded earth.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 01:03:28 PM by paleocyclist »
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NE2

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2014, 06:22:48 PM »

Looks like the Ellis County portion was Ellis County Road District No. 2, created in 1910:
http://books.google.com/books?id=4kAEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA530
http://books.google.com/books?id=VChOAQAAIAAJ&q=%22That+Road+District+Number+2,+of+Ellis%22
http://books.google.com/books?id=VChOAQAAIAAJ&q=%22Ellis+County,+Texas,+passed+and+adopted+by+said+court+on+the+22d+day+of+April,%22

I can't find anything explicitly linking this to the paving, but the last entry here talks about surfacing SH 14 in both directions from Ennis and the Ennis-Rice Road. Evidence of other road districts doing similar work is here.

The 1962 topo shows that the road was higher quality in Ellis County.

I can't find anything similar in Navarro County, but a look through the county records may turn up something if you have a lot of free time.
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SquonkHunter

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2014, 06:28:25 PM »

I did quite a bit of tracing the old routes around North Texas back in the mid- to late-70s. Much of them have long since been obliterated or gone back to nature. A surprising amount of the old routes are still passable such as the ones pictured in this thread. How many people would know (or even care!) that I-35W between Burleson and Hillsboro is at least the third alignment of what was old US 81. Only a true road geek, of course.  :)   
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SquonkHunter

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2014, 06:32:07 PM »

Actually, common practice here, then and now, is for traffic of both directions to use the slab until there is a meet, then the vehicles revert to their proper lanes until all is clear.

They still use single-lane slabs with wide gravel shoulders in Australia for the less traveled rural routes in the Outback. Nothing new under the sun.
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US81

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2014, 06:41:27 PM »

I did quite a bit of tracing the old routes around North Texas back in the mid- to late-70s. Much of them have long since been obliterated or gone back to nature. A surprising amount of the old routes are still passable such as the ones pictured in this thread. How many people would know (or even care!) that I-35W between Burleson and Hillsboro is at least the third alignment of what was old US 81. Only a true road geek, of course.  :)   

Me, too. I have tried to revisit most of US 81, 77, 80, and 75 in the last ten years, and the interim changes usually surprise me.
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Brian556

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2014, 12:49:12 AM »

Quote from SquonkHunter:
Quote
I did quite a bit of tracing the old routes around North Texas back in the mid- to late-70s. Much of them have long since been obliterated or gone back to nature. A surprising amount of the old routes are still passable such as the ones pictured in this thread. How many people would know (or even care!) that I-35W between Burleson and Hillsboro is at least the third alignment of what was old US 81. Only a true road geek, of course.  :)   

The segment between Itasca and Hillsboro (now CR 4281) is really cool. I drove it a few years ago and took pics. It's amazing that it's technically still open to traffic despite the fact that it's overgrown in several areas.
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Brian556

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Re: Texas: One Lane Concrete, One Lane Gravel, Old US 75
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2014, 09:20:53 PM »

Just got the 1930 map that includes Navarro County. It shows SH 14 (/US 75) passing through Emhouse. The baffling thing about this map is that it shows the highway jogging to the west side of the tracks through Emhouse. That makes no sense, since in that area, the road had the same one lane concrete, one lane gravel configuration that it has up to the county line.

The other odd thing about his map is that it shows SH 14(/US 75) on the Emhouse alignment, but the 1930 map that includes Ellis County shows the road on the current alignment through Rice.



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