If you’re going to talk about Texas, you’ve got to talk about oil. The booms and the busts, the cars and the roads, the past and the future.
When the oil booms of the early 1900s started in Texas, the soon-to-be called Bankhead Highway provided important access to the oilfields, both for labor and supplies. Trucks that needed oil and gas transported men to work the derricks. The fruit of their labor was hauled back to refineries that turned it back into gas for those same trucks.
But the huge number of workers and their vehicles strained the infrastructure of the roads. Soon towns like Eastland, Ranger, and Cisco were growing astronomically along the Bankhead Highway. And it all came to a screeching halt … any day rain turned the dusty dirt roads into muddy disasters.
What would you do if your town were enjoying an oil boom and the roads jeopardized the “liquid gold” that flowed from your fields?
You’d likely do what a lot of Texas boom towns did: Invest in the Bankhead Highway. Pave the road, build embankments, and improve the bridges.
And the investment paid off. Hotels, service stations, and restaurants—sprouted up along the route adding to the local coffers. They paid particular attention to the needs of the oil industry, aligning the route to make travel between the oil fields and their impressive, in-town office buildings as convenient as possible.
The Bankhead Highway made it easier for ambitious men to make money and make it fast. Boom. And when the oil dried up and the supporting businesses were no longer needed? A bust. A cycle that continues.
But the roads remain. And today, they still bring people and prosperity to Texas boomtowns.