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Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview

Agency History

Scope and Contents of the Records

Organization of the Records

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Highway Commission minutes, 1963-1975,

Red River and Sabine River bridge records, 1920s-1930s,

Houston urban expressways proposed improvement plans, 1962-1963,

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Texas Highway Department:

An Inventory of Highway Department Records at the Texas State Archives, 1920s-1930s, 1962-1975



Overview

Creator: Texas. Highway Dept.
Title: Highway Department records
Dates: 1920s-1930s, 1962-1975
Abstract: The Texas Highway Department (merged into the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation in 1975, and merged again into the Texas Department of Transportation in 1991) was responsible for the building and maintenance of the state's roads and highways from its creation in 1917. Records document the work of the Texas Highway Commission, building projects for Red River and Sabine River bridges, and improvements to Houston freeways and include minutes, reports, correspondence, memorandums, photographs, orders, telegrams, agreements, proposed bills, drawings, blueprints, specifications and maps, dating 1920s-1930s, 1962-1975.
Quantity: 5.65 cubic ft.
Language: These materials are written in English.

Agency History

The Texas (State) Highway Department (merged into the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation in 1975, and merged again into the Texas Department of Transportation in 1991) was responsible for the building and maintenance of the state's roads and highways from its creation in 1917. Its governing body was a three-member Highway Commission who appointed the state highway engineer, held public hearings, had the authority to create geographical divisions within the Department, and formulated plans or policies for the location, construction, and maintenance of a comprehensive system of state highways and public roads in cooperation with the counties of the State, or under the direct supervision and control of the State Highway Department.

The Texas Highway Department was created during the early twentieth-century movement to stimulate building and improvement of roads throughout the nation. The Federal Aid Road Act of July 11, 1916 (39 Stat. 355; 16 U.S.C. 503; 23 U.S.C. 15, 48), signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, initiated federal aid for highways with the requirement that each state receiving aid have a state highway department that controlled the building of roads. While earlier bills to establish a state highway department in Texas had failed (in 1911 and 1913), the promise of matching federal funds enabled the 35th Texas Legislature to pass House Bill 2, signed into law by Governor James E. Ferguson on April 4, 1917, which created the State Highway Department. The Department was to administer federal funds to counties for state highway construction and maintenance and to provide for state motor vehicle registration, fees from which were to generate the state's required matching funds.

The department began operation on June 4, 1917 with the first meeting of the three-member Texas Highway Commission. The first commissioners were Curtis Hancock, T.R. McLean, and H.C. Odle. George A. Duren was appointed as the department's first state highway engineer, who serves as the department's chief executive officer. In the summer of 1917, after gathering information at public hearings, the commission proposed an 8,865-mile state highway network. Further influence from the national level came with the Federal Highway Act of 1921, which required state highway departments to control the design, construction and maintainance of roads rather than Texas' practice of allowing counties to undertake the work themselves with oversight from department engineers.

Gibb Gilchrist became the fourth state highway engineer in 1924, having begun as a division engineer in 1919. In his service, he oversaw a period of significant modernization in the department and instituted a beautification policy for roadsides. Gilchrist resigned in 1925 when Miriam A. (Ma) Ferguson became Governor, and a quick succession of five men held the department's executive post from 1925-1928. Gilchrist returned to serve from 1928 until 1937, when he left to become dean of engineering (and later, university dean) at Texas A&M University.

In 1927, the legislature authorized the hiring of 20 plainclothes license and weight inspectors, whose job was to collect fines for vehicles weighing more than their registration class allowed. The legislature increased the number of inspectors to 50 in 1929 and designated them as the State Highway Patrol, which in 1935 was separated from the highway department (Senate Bill 146, 44th Legislature, Regular Session) to become a component of the newly created Department of Public Safety.

Julian Montgomery became state highway engineer in 1937 and resigned in 1940, when Dewitt C. Greer took over the post at which he remained until 1967, later becoming a highway commissioner from 1969 to 1981 (chairman 1969-1972). During Greer's tenure, the passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1956 led to the initiation of the Interstate Highway System in Texas, and the Texas highway system grew threefold to over 68,000 miles of paved roads. The Highway Department building near the state capitol, completed in 1933 as its first purpose-built home, was eventually named for Greer.

James C. Dingwall (1968-1973) succeeded Greer as state highway engineer, followed by B.L. DeBerry (1973-1980), who saw the department through its first merger with another state agency. After the merger, the title of State Highway Engineer was changed to Engineer-Director.

In 1969, the 61st Texas Legislature created the Texas Mass Transportation Commission to develop public mass transportation in Texas. This agency was merged with the Highway Department in 1975, creating the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation. An executive order of May 1976 transferred the Governor's Office of Traffic Safety to the Department. On September 1, 1991 (House Bill 9, 72nd Legislature, 1st Called Session), the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation and the Texas Department of Aviation were merged into the new Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, 11th edition (2001); and An Informal History of the Texas Department of Transportation, Hilton Hagan, Austin: The Dept., Public Information Office, 2000.)

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Scope and Contents of the Records

The Texas Highway Department (merged into the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation in 1975, and merged again into the Texas Department of Transportation in 1991) was responsible for the building and maintenance of the state's roads and highways from its creation in 1917. Records document the work of the Texas Highway Commission from 1963 until 1975, when it became the Highway and Public Transportation Commission; building projects for Red River and Sabine River bridges in the 1920s and 1930s; and improvement plans to Houston freeways in 1962-1963 that were part of Texas Supreme Court case A-10937. Types of documents include minutes, reports, correspondence, memorandums, photographs, orders, telegrams, agreements, proposed bills, drawings, blueprints, specifications and maps, dating 1920s-1930s, 1962-1975.

To prepare this preliminary inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and determine record types.

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Organization of the Records

These records are organized by State Archives staff into three series:
Highway Commission minutes, 1963-1975, 4.23 cubic ft.
Red River and Sabine River bridge records, 1920s-1930s, 0.5 cubic ft.
Houston urban expressways proposed improvement plans, 1962-1963, 0.92 cubic ft.

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.

Restrictions on Use

Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Technical Requirements

Researchers are required to wear gloves provided by the Archives when reviewing photographic materials. Blueprints, drawings, and maps in these records are too large to photocopy.

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Index Terms

The terms listed here were used to catalog the records. The terms can be used to find similar or related records.
Subjects:
Roads--Texas--Design and construction.
Document Types:
Blueprints--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s, 1962-1963.
Specifications--Texas--Roads--1962-1963.
Reports--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Correspondence--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Memorandums--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Photographs--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Orders--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Minutes--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s, 1963-1975.
Telegrams--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Agreements--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Bills--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Drawings--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Maps--Texas--Roads--1920s-1930s.
Functions:
Building roads.

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Related Material

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Texas State Archives
Historic Map Collection of the Texas State Archives, searchable at https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/apps/arc/maps/ [Includes five complete sets of county highway maps with city supplement sheets and a nearly complete run of state highway maps from 1917-1981.]
Texas Attorney-General's Office, Court cases and investigations, Litigation files, 1880-1948 (bulk 1902-1940), 89 cubic ft. [Restricted] [See files listed under Red River Bridge Company and Vaughn, Stanley J.]
Texas Department of Public Safety, Photographs (Education, Driver's License, and Headquarters), 1937-1965, undated, part of 16 cubic ft.
Texas Department of Public Safety, Photographs (Highway Patrol, Identification, and other divisions), 1937-1965, undated, part of 16 cubic ft.
Texas Department of Public Safety, Photographs (Miscellaneous, Narcotics, Safety, Statistical, Ranger, and unidentified), 1937-1965, undated, part of 16 cubic ft.
Texas Department of Public Safety, Training Academy recruit training records, 1930-1931, 1935-1999, bulk 1980-1999, 78 cubic ft. [Restricted]
Texas Department of Transportation, County highway maps, 1998, 2004, 0.5 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for this unprocessed collection. Call number is 2005/148.]
Texas Department of Transportation, Transportation Commission public hearing transcripts, 1991-1993, 0.5 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for these unprocessed records. Call number is 2006/044.]
Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Highway Department historical records, 1911-about 1993, bulk 1927-1960, 147 cubic ft.
Texas Department of Transportation, Transportation Commission, Minutes and agenda, 1991-2005, 2.25 cubic ft.
Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, Dewitt C. Greer correspondence, 1959-1981, bulk 1970-1981, 1 cubic ft.
Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, Public hearing dockets, 1979-1988, 2.35 cubic ft.
Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, Highway and Public Transportation Commission minutes and public hearing dockets, 1975-1993, 4.5 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for these unprocessed records. Call numbers are 1998/042-1 thru 8, 2006/044-1 and 2, and 2006/113.]

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item and cite the series), Texas Highway Department records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession numbers: 1991/154, 1998/069, 2005/112

These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Supreme Court on May 10, 1991; by the Texas Highway Commission on January 29, 1998; and by the Texas Department of Transportation on February 22, 2005.

Processing Information

Houston urban expressways proposed improvement plans processed by Laura K. Saegert, September 1992

Highway Commission minutes processed by Tony Black, January 1998

Corrections and further encoding to TARO project standards by Laura K. Saegert, March 2001

Finding aid converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by TARO using the conversion stylesheet v1to02.xsl, July 22, 2003

Corrections made to encoding to conform to EAD 2002 and DACS by Rebecca Romanchuk, December 2005

Agency history written, and minutes series and Red River and Sabine River bridges series added by Rebecca Romanchuk, February 2006

Updates made to agency history sources and related materials by Rebecca Romanchuk, August 2012

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Detailed Description of the Records

 

Highway Commission minutes, 1963-1975,
4.23 cubic ft.

The Texas Highway Commission directed the policies of the Texas Highway Department from 1917 until June 1975, when it became the State Highway and Public Transportation Commission after the Highway Department merged with the Texas Mass Transportation Commission. The commission's name changed again in 1991 to the Transportation Commission, after the Texas Department of Aviation merged with the State Highway and Public Transportation Department, creating the Texas Department of Transportation. The commission appointed the state highway engineer, held public hearings, had the authority to create geographical divisions within the Department, and formulated plans or policies for the location, construction, and maintenance of a comprehensive system of state highways and public roads in cooperation with the counties of the State, or under the direct supervision and control of the State Highway Department. These records are minutes, 1963-1975, that document the Highway Commission's work; minutes from the Commission's 1917- September 1963 meetings are not present. The series, Red River and Sabine River bridge records, contains some Commission meeting and open hearing minutes from the late 1920s. The Commission came into being after the 35th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 2, signed into law by Texas Governor James E. Ferguson on April 4, 1917, which created the State Highway Department. The three commission members are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. The chairman is designated by the governor and serves at his or her pleasure as presiding officer. Members originally served two year terms, changed in 1923 (Senate Bill 155, 38th Legislature, Regular Session) to six-year staggered terms.
Arrangement
These records are arranged in chronological order as received from the agency.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Highway Commission minutes, Texas Highway Department records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession Information
Accession number: 1998/069
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Highway Commission on January 29, 1998.
Processed by
Tony Black, January 1998
Box
1998/069-1 [1917-September 1963 missing]
October 24, 1963-January 31, 1964
February 25-May 6, 1964
June 4-September 1, 1964
September 30, 1964-January 26, 1965
Box
1998/069-2 February 25-May 1, 1965
May 31-September 1, 1965
September 21, 1965-January 20, 1966
January 31-May 5, 1966
Box
1998/069-3 June 9-September 20, 1966
October 3, 1966-February 1, 1967
March 2-June 2, 1967
June 12-November 16, 1967
Box
1998/069-4 November 28, 1967-March 1, 1968
April 1-June 26, 1968
July 10-November 1, 1968
Box
1998/069-5 November 14, 1968-August 1, 1969
August 26, 1969-April 1, 1970
Box
1998/069-6 May 7-December 17, 1970
January 7-June 1, 1971
Box
1998/069-7 June 30-December 2, 1971
January 31-June 27, 1972
Box
1998/069-8 July 31-December 13, 1972
January 31-June 27, 1973
July 31-December 10, 1973
Box
1998/069-9 January 8-June 26, 1974
July 31-December 17, 1974
January 28-June 20, 1975

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Red River and Sabine River bridge records, 1920s-1930s,
0.5 cubic ft.

The Texas Highway Department (merged into the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation in 1975, and merged again into the Texas Department of Transportation in 1991) was responsible for the building and maintenance of the state's roads and highways from its creation in 1917. The Interstate Bridge Law was passed by the 40th Legislature in 1927 and the State Highway Commission subsequently adopted a policy to construct interstate free bridges whenever an adjoining state agreed to provide its share of the construction. Prior to passage of the law, the State Highway Department had helped to construct only one interstate free bridge (the Paris-Hugo bridge between Texas and Oklahoma). Toll bridges and ferries were the only other means of entrance to the state where a river needed to be crossed. By the end of the 1930s, the department had participated in the building or purchase of 11 bridges over the Red River and three bridges over the Sabine River, with plans to construct three more to connect all Texas-Louisiana highways with toll-free crossings. Records include reports, correspondence, memorandums, photographs, orders, minutes, telegrams, agreements, proposed bills, drawings, blueprints, and maps, dating from the 1920s to 1930s.
Arrangement
These records are arranged in the order in which they arrived from the agency.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Red River and Sabine River bridge records, Texas Highway Department records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession Information
Accession number: 2005/112
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Department of Transportation on February 22, 2005.
Technical Requirements
Researchers are required to wear gloves provided by the Archives when reviewing photographic materials. Blueprints, drawings, and maps in these records are too large to photocopy.
Processed by
Rebecca Romanchuk, December 2005
Box
2005/112 Report on proposed Galveston-Bolivar Bridge, 1938
Byers-Waurika, Red River bridge, Clay County, 1938, 1941
Report on Red River bridges, Gibb Gilchrist, 1937
[includes 30 photographs and 2 charts]
Red River bridges, general correspondence, 1929-1931, 1938
Red River bridges correspondence, State Highway Commission meeting minutes, 1927-1929, 1937
[State Highway Commission meeting and open hearing minutes are included.]
Construction and maintenance agreement, Oklaunion-Davidson Red River bridge, Wilbarger County, Texas, 1938
[photostat]
Negotiations common to all bridges, 1924, 1926-1931
[includes 2 folded maps]
Terral Bridge negotiations, 1928-1933
[includes 1 folded blueprint and 2 folded drawings]

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Houston urban expressways proposed improvement plans, 1962-1963,
0.92 cubic ft.

The Texas Highway Department (merged into the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation in 1975, and merged again into the Texas Department of Transportation in 1991) was responsible for the building and maintenance of the state's roads and highways from its creation in 1917. These materials consist of a set of blueprints and specifications for proposed improvements to the South Loop and West Loop Freeways in Houston, covering the area between Main Street (U.S. 90A) to the Southwest Freeway (U.S. 59). The set of plans includes a project layout, cross sections, plans and profiles, estimates, and specifications. The plans were drawn up by the State Highway Department in 1962 and approved for construction by Houston city officials and others in 1963. These plans were part of Texas Supreme Court case A-10937.
Arrangement
These records are arranged in the order in which they arrived from the agency.
Preferred Citation
Houston urban expressways proposed improvement plans, Texas Highway Department records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession Information
Accession number: 1991/154
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Supreme Court on May 10, 1991.
Technical Requirements
Researchers are required to wear gloves provided by the Archives when reviewing photographic materials. Blueprints and drawings in these records are too large to photocopy.
Processed by
Laura K. Saegert, September 1992
Box
1991/154-13 Houston urban expressways proposed improvement plans, 1962-1963

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