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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

What became of old marker on state line?

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
Those of us living along Route 66 who research and promote the old road's history have long pondered the fate of a missing Texas Highway monument. Many old-timers still remember entering Texas from Texola, Okla., to the east and passing by a neat, art-deco design granite monument alerting motorists they were now in Texas.

Local efforts and resources could not turn up clues to the monument's whereabouts, or fate, only that it most certainly once stood proudly by the road. The time period was estimated as "about the mid-1930s."

John Troesser, editor of the popular online magazine TexasEscapes.com, entered the search when a damaged photo was sent in by Richard Benton of Oklahoma City. The photo showed Richard's father standing in front of the monument, proof it really did exist at some date. No date or information was written on the photo.

Then, Anne Cook, the photo librarian at TxDOT, entered the hunt. Though TxDOT was organized in 1953, their library dates further. It was believed the monument would be tied to the Texas 1936 Centennial.

At this point John Anderson at the Texas State Library and Archives entered the search. Information was found showing the 1936 Texas Centennial was a very big event and that hundreds of distinctive, gray granite markers were placed throughout the state, many still standing today.

However, the art-deco design of this particular marker was not like the others. Why? No one knows but at that time, the State Fair in Dallas featured some art-deco sculptures on display.

Now enter Jim Steely whose passion was Depression-era structures, who remembered seeing our particular monument and proceeded to locate additional photos from Centennial Photo Albums in Austin. Eventually, our mystery monument was identified as the one which stood just past the state line on Old Route 66 in Texas, but captioned as being located on State Highway 75, the forerunner to Route 66. Though Route 66 was born in 1927, many portions of the National Highway especially in this area were not paved or completed until the mid-1930s due to the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. Parts of the old highway from Groom to the state line had to rely on WPA and CCC personnel and funds to complete the improvements.
Highway 75 / Route 66 inside Texas-Oklahoma State line, showing Texas Centennial marker
 
Route 66 Texas-Oklahoma State line Texas Centennial marker
Photos courtesy TXDoT
The final effort to locate the monument or its grave if that be the fate, is to see if someone, some record or some bit of information is still around in the Wheeler County TxDOT archives or former employee's memories telling the final end to the mystery. The size and weight of the structure shouts the demise was not easy and its beautiful form was probably shattered in its removal.

So now, after 20-plus years, the what, why, design, photo and original location has been discovered.

Where the bones of the victim are buried is still under investigation.

A small wooden replica of the monument has been built and is exhibited in the Texas Old Route 66 Museum in McLean. There are rumors a full-size replica of the monument might be constructed. Who knows? Maybe the long lost, Texas Mystery Monument will live again, somewhere.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" May 5, 2009 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.
Related Topics: Texas Centennial | Texas Monuments | Texas Towns |
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