Bridging the Past and Present: Cultural Resources Highlights
Learn more about Texas' history and archeology as we share stories from the road.
March 21, 2016 - A Balancing Act: Building Roads While Preserving Native American Archeological Sites
More than 10 years ago, TxDOT archeologists began the arduous process of identifying archeological sites along a 14-mile project for U.S. Highway 175 in Anderson County in northeast Texas.
It is just one step in the environmental review process.
This project took nearly a decade to complete as TxDOT waited for access to the right of way and funding for it.
Talking with local historians, researching archived maps and files, and surveying the field, TxDOT archeologists discovered a few rare archeological sites affiliated with the Caddo Indians who were indigenous to the area at the time of European settlement.
TxDOT identified sites dating back to the 1300s – 1600s and earlier, including Caddo farmsteads, villages and two Caddo mounds.
The built-up earthen mounds were used for ceremonial purposes and are a rare and special discovery even in Northeast Texas, which is rich in Caddo history and archeology.
Read more about the long road to this unique discovery.
March 14, 2016 - Work Alongside TxDOT Historians and Archeologists
Interested in historic preservation?
Much of Texas’ heritage is found in the buildings, bridges and other structures, but our roads themselves sometimes contain stories that are windows to the first peoples and their descendants who have inhabited this land for tens of thousands of years.
Before we begin construction on roads and bridges, TxDOT examines how each project impacts this human environment. If you value the places that reflect your community’s history, you can participate in this historic preservation process as a consulting party.
You should be able to provide valuable information about your community’s history and resources as you work alongside TxDOT’s historians and archeologists during the cultural resources management process.
The Texas Historical Commission, Tribal nations, and other preservation groups, including County Historical Commissions (CHCs), are typical partners – consulting parties – in our transportation process. TxDOT values the feedback and encourages anyone with an interest or stake with a historic resource to request consulting party status.
Find more information about the historic preservation process and consulting parties in the Citizen’s Guide.
March 8, 2016 - 800 Miles of Texas History
Envisioned in 1911 as a major north-south connection between Canada and Mexico, the Meridian Highway stretched along the Sixth Principal Meridian and covered approximately 800 miles in Texas.
Today, few parts of the historic highway remain, so TxDOT and the Texas Historical Commission are preserving the history of this highway and its engineering and roadside architectural features.
The historic route’s roadside features include 521 gas stations, 210 hotels/motels, 158 restaurants, 150 auto dealerships, 280 road segments and four metal truss bridges.
While most of these Meridian-associated resources remain in private ownership, many historic engineering features occupy TxDOT right of way, such as a 9-mile segment of present-day FM 4281 between Itasca and Hillsboro.
Historians also documented 1,800 Meridian-associated resources along the historic alignments of the highway. These alignments roughly parallel modern-day I-35 West, with a major lateral along SH 6/US 290 connecting Waco to Galveston.
So next time you are driving on I-35 West or US 9, history is just under your wheels.
Soon, you will be able to explore more about resources like the c.1920 Magnolia Gas Station in Itasca. The Meridian Highway project will publish an interactive map in May 2016. The interactive map will be similar to one created as part of earlier joint efforts along the east-west Bankhead Highway.
Cultural Resources Highlights
Director of Cultural Resources Management