Old Spanish Trail (auto trail)
|Southern Borderland Trunckline|
The Highway of the Southern Borderlands
|West end||San Diego, California|
|East end||St. Augustine, Florida|
|States||California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida|
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.
Promoters of the Old Spanish Trail claimed that it followed the route used by "Spanish Conquistadors" 400 years earlier, but there was never anything resembling a continuous trail from Florida to California in Spanish times.
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Preparations have been made for a decade-long centennial celebration to begin in 2019 and end with a 2029 motorcade from St. Augustine to San Diego. The present-day, all-volunteer Old Spanish Trail Centennial Celebration Association OST100 is collecting oral histories, travel logs and news articles related to the Old Spanish Trail to help conserve the roadways, businesses and historic sites of the original auto highway.
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.
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. Smaller archives are held at the St. Augustine Historical Society, Jacksonville University, and other archives along the original route.
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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. 90 ALT. 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.
A portion of the trail remains as a segment of U. S. 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.
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 until it reaches US 1 and turns south towards St. Augustine.
- Old Spanish Trail Executive Committee to Unknown Recipient, November 28, 1922, St. Mary's University Old Spanish Trail Archive
- Laskow, Sarah. "Resurrecting the Original Road Trip on Americas' Ghost Highway". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- "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.
- "Old Spanish Trail from U.S. 90 to Interstate Highway 10". Texas Historic Sites ~ Atlas Number 2013000176. Texas Historical Commission.
- "Old Spanish Trail (OST)". Historic Texas Highways. Texas Historical Commission.
- Old Spanish Trail; Saint Augustine to Tallahassee