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 Texas : Features : Columns : "Texas Tales"

Road Log 1922

by Mike Cox
Mike Cox
Every year when school's over many Texas families take to the highways for a summer vacation. The only thing that's changed over the decades is the quality of those roads.
A daily log kept by James A. Correll in the late spring and summer of 1922 shows it's a little easier to get across Texas than it used to be. The log was included in the 1986 privately published book, "Texas Cousins: Correll, Tisdale, and Related Families" by Marie C. and Albert A. Tisdale.

The Correll clan - Correll, his wife and their four daughters - left their home in Austin at noon on June 14, 1922 in the family's Buick for California. Needing first to attend a family function in Kansas, they went west via Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Arizona.
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En route to Waco, where they would spend their first night, they encountered "fair roads but numerous detours due to recent washouts." It took them eight hours to travel 119 miles.

They left Waco at 8:30 a.m. the following morning, making it to West in an hour. But a knocking engine sounded like trouble, so the family waited in West while Correll took the Inter-urban electric train back to Waco to buy the needed part, a differential pinion. Their car repaired, they got out of West at 5:15 p.m. and made it to Hillsboro, where they camped for the night. (They had a white canvas tent and four cots. The younger girls slept in the car seats.) In all, they only made 44 miles that day.

On the third day of the Texas leg of their trip they covered 144 miles, from Hillsboro to Alvord. Correll assessed the highways they traveled as fair to fine, with even a section of what he called "concrete pike."

June 17, the fourth day out of Austin, they proceeded via Bowie, Ringgold, Henrietta, Wichita Falls and Burkburnett through the oil fields into Oklahoma, where they camped on the roadside near an Indian reservation. Total mileage: 118. Again, Correll noted the road conditions in Texas as varying from fine to rough and sandy.

The vacationers returned to the Lone Star State on Sept. 14, arriving in El Paso via "concrete highway" from Las Cruces, N.M. After reprovisioning, they left the border city at 5:15 p.m. and enjoyed 40 miles of paved west-bound roadway before the route turned to gravel. About 9:30 p.m., having covered 150 miles, they put up their tent for the night at a pumping plant about 10 miles east of Sierra Blanca in Hudspeth County.

The next day, traveling on a good gravel road, they passed through Kent and on to Pecos. On that stretch, Correll wrote, their car hummed along a good road to a point about 12 miles from town, when the route turned bad and sandy.

"From Pecos to Ft. Stockton," he wrote, "just [a] trail across desert land, rocky stretches followed by sandy stretches through mesquite and greasewood." They stopped at 8 p.m. to make camp after covering 167 miles, their one-day mileage record in Texas. "Terrible alkali dust all afternoon," he noted.

Having gassed up and bought more grub, the Corrells left Fort Stockton at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 16. After driving on a good gravel road, they had a blowout 35 miles from Sheffield. Their spare tire made it only another 33 miles. Somehow they got into Sheffield, bought a new tire and continued to Ozona, where they purchased a second tire. Leaving the Crockett County seat at 6 p.m., they stopped for the night 10 miles west of Sonora. Total mileage: 144.

"We crossed ranches going through bump-gates and cattle guards, some ranches as much as a hundred miles across, fording creeks and streams," one of the Correll children later wrote. "Most of this route went through private property, as there were no state highways in that country, roughly where Interstate 10 goes now."

At 8 a.m. on Sept. 17, they left via "poor stony road" on into Sonora. From there to Junction they enjoyed a better road. "Crossed Llano River and numerous creeks many times," Correll wrote in his log. After getting a new tire to replace one punctured by a mesquite thorn, they drove to London and then Mason. From Mason to Fredericksburg, he continued, they traveled on a "fine gravel pike," making the 45 minute trip "in less than 2 hours."

Finding the road from Fredericksburg to Austin "too bad to travel at night," they camped in Gillespie County. The next morning, Sept. 18, they covered the final 84 miles to the Capital City.

When they could see the dome of the Capitol, Correll's daughter remembered, everyone in their car began yelling and cheering.

Texas highways are much better today, but some things about family vacations haven't changed. "Dad said that he couldn't have made another day," she wrote.
Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" >
May 3 , 2007 column
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