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2017-12-14

Ready to roll? ... Just say “road trip”

By Carol Wier

Just say “Road Trip” and most people are ready to go. That's why it might surprise you to learn that State Highway 16 which passes through Bandera used to be the main thoroughfare across Texas! To me, it’s always been a “sleepy” — yet scenic— highway. Especially for those of you who don't use paper maps anymore, I’ve included a picture of a map of Texas with Highway 16 marked where you can really get a good visual. The highway runs all the way from Zapata, on the Mexican border, to just south of Wichita Falls in North Texas. Who knew!? In a time long before Interstate highways, state highways were the main way to travel. In 1969, Texas Monthly magazine reported, “Texas Highway 16 is an odds-and-ends highway seemingly cobbled together from bits and pieces of preexisting roads.” That's a pretty good description!
State Highway 16 was one of the original 26 state highways proposed in 1917, overlaying what used to be known as the Fort Worth-Oklahoma Highway and various other routes. It was built in 1926 and is the longest state highway in Texas at almost 542 miles. (It's the ninth longest highway in the state.) Along its path are numerous picturesque turns and scenery that many love to drive even for the history along the way. Although the route has changed somewhat over the years, traveling along Hwy. 16 is like traveling through time, to see things the way they used to be!
The Texas Hill Country stretch of highway — especially through Bandera and Medina counties — is consistently rated in the Top 5 by Ride Texas magazine's reader's polls. It has beautiful sweeping turns along the Medina River and “twisties” around Medina that rival anything in the country, according to the Ride Texas magazine bloggers.
Historical stops along the SH16 route include “Old Zapata” at one end (now buried in Falcon Lake) to Loving on the other end, named for Oliver Loving of the Goodnight-Loving Trail. In between are the Warren Wagon Trail massacre site, Fort Belknap as a close side-trip, and the ghost town of Thurber. Comanche, Texas, is where John Wesley Hardin killed Brown County Deputy Sheriff Charlie Webb. Llano, a favorite of hunters and of historians of Indian encounters. Then there is Fredericksburg with it's WWII history museum, vineyards and wineries, peach and berry orchards, German-American culture and architecture, and Enchanted Rock. The Kerrville area includes the YO Ranch and of course Bandera and it's cowboy history. South it goes through San Antonio, Poteet, Tilden, and Freer. Take a road trip! You won't be disappointed!