From the green woodlands of Texarkana to the sandy desert of El Paso, the beauty of Texas changes with each passing mile. And when you’re traveling by car, roadside parks and rest areas can be the difference between an enjoyable road trip and hours—or days—of boredom and misery.
For the most part, Texans agreed that the economic impact of the Bankhead Highway was a good thing. But whether or not it was aesthetically pleasing was another matter entirely. Long, straight stretches of road were soon broken up with roadside parks that gave tired motorists a place to rest, relieve, and refresh themselves. But it was apparent that more than barren stopping points were needed. And in 1925, the Bankhead National Highway Association created a women’s commission to spiff them up and the ladies of Texas stepped up to the task.
Prominent and influential women across the state planted trees, shrubs, and flowers. In the 30s, working with the Texas Highway Department, they help place more than 260 historical markers around the state as part of the Texas Centennial—celebrating a hundred years of statehood.
In addition, the Texas State Parks Board and Texas Highway Department continued to add state parks and rest areas. Often, roadside parks were built to resemble a romantic and stylized view of Old Texas complete with teepees, oil derricks, or log picnic tables.
Through the Bankhead Highway Association’s Women’s commission, garden clubs, and state and local agencies, Texans invited highway visitors to stop a while, look around, and see more than the road.
And it worked.