Old Spanish Trail (auto trail)

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Old Spanish Trail.svg
Old Spanish Trail
Southern Borderland Trunkline
The Highway of the Southern Borderlands
Major junctions
West endSan Diego, California
East endSt. Augustine, Florida
StatesCalifornia, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida
Highway system
Auto Trails

The Old Spanish Trail (the OST) was an auto trail that once spanned the United States with almost 2,750 miles (4,430 km) of roadway from ocean to ocean. It crossed eight states and 67 counties along the southern border of the United States. Work on the auto highway began in 1915 at a meeting held at the Battle House Hotel in Mobile, Alabama; and, by the 1920s, the trail linked St. Augustine, Florida, to San Diego, California, with its center and headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. The work at San Antonio, and indeed nationally, was overseen by an executive committee consisting of prominent San Antonio businessmen which met at the Gunter Hotel weekly.[1]

Promoters of the Old Spanish Trail claimed that it followed the route used by "Spanish Conquistadors" 400 years earlier, but there was no continuous trail from Florida to California in Spanish times.[2]


The archives of the Old Spanish Trail Association are now held in the Special Collections of the Louis J. Blume Library at St. Mary's University in San Antonio.[3] Smaller archives are held at the St. Augustine Historical Society, Jacksonville University, and other archives along the original route.[citation needed]


A decade-long centennial celebration was planned to begin in 2019 and end with a 2029 motorcade from St. Augustine to San Diego. The volunteer Old Spanish Trail Centennial Celebration Association (OST100) is collecting oral histories, travel logs and news articles related to the Old Spanish Trail to conserve the roadways, businesses and historic sites of the original auto highway.[4]

The current work of revitalization, historic preservation, public/private partnerships, restoration, and road enhancements, follows the example of the original promoters of the Old Spanish Trail, who involved diverse business and private interests in building and beautifying the original roadway.[4]


The Old Spanish Trail largely follows what became, in 1927, U.S. Highway 90 in the east and U.S. Highway 80 in the west.

Texas Route[edit]

In eastern Texas the Old Spanish Trail can still be seen in many places. The trail runs alongside Interstate 10 through Orange and Vidor; when the trail reaches the Neches River, it merges with Interstate 10 crossing the Purple Heart Bridge, then detours through Downtown Beaumont. While in downtown the trail meets College Street and goes directly west from there to Liberty.

The trail enters Houston on Navigation and turns down Main Street, exiting the city as U.S. Route 90 Alternate.[5][6] On the way, it passes Rice University, University of Houston, and the Astrodome. "Old Spanish Trail" is the official name for the street that follows the route from Interstate 45 south of downtown Houston until it merges with South Main Street in the Texas Medical Center.[7]

A portion of the trail remains as a segment of U.S. Route 290 west of Ozona, Texas in Crockett and Pecos Counties. This scenic loop includes the descent of Lancaster Hill, a crossing of the Pecos River at an old iron bridge, and passes through the small community of Sheffield before rejoining Interstate 10.[8]

Louisiana Route[edit]

The Louisiana section of the trail opened in 1929. It includes the Huey P. Long Bridge and various other historical sites along a path that roughly follows U.S. Route 90 in Louisiana.[9]

Florida Route[edit]

Throughout the Florida panhandle, the Old Spanish Trail follows either U.S. Highway 90 or local streets that used to be part of US 90, many of which are designated as State Road 10A.

East of Marianna, it joins State Road 71 southbound until it branches off to the east on an unmarked road, and it remains as such until the second segment of CR 10A joins it in Sneads. Between Quincy and Havana, it runs along SR 12, and then it turns south along U.S. 27 until it reaches CR 2196 between Tallahassee and Chaires, where it then turns northeast along former State Roads (SR) 154 and 158, returning to US 90 in Monticello[10] until it reaches US 1 and turns south towards St. Augustine.


  1. ^ Old Spanish Trail Executive Committee to Unknown Recipient, November 28, 1922, St. Mary's University Old Spanish Trail Archive
  2. ^ Laskow, Sarah. "Resurrecting the Original Road Trip on Americas' Ghost Highway". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  3. ^ "The Old Spanish Trail Highway: Welcome to the Archives". Louis J. Blume Library, St. Mary's University. n.d. Archived from the original on 15 September 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Old Spanish Trail Centennial Homepage". Old Spanish Trail Centennial. Archived from the original on 20 December 2021. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Old Spanish Trail from U.S. 90 to Interstate Highway 10". National Register of Historic Places ~ National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior.
  6. ^ "Old Spanish Trail from U.S. 90 to Interstate Highway 10". Texas Historic Sites ~ Atlas Number 2013000176. Texas Historical Commission.
  7. ^ https://www.houstontx.gov/ecodev/tirz/7.html
  8. ^ "Old Spanish Trail (OST)". Historic Texas Highways. Texas Historical Commission.
  9. ^ Drive the Old Spanish Trail https://drivetheost.com/louisiana/
  10. ^ Old Spanish Trail; Saint Augustine to Tallahassee

External links[edit]