If you enjoy traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present, including historic, cultural, and natural resources, you are a cultural heritage tourist, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Texas is renowned for its heritage tourism offerings. In 2011, over 200 million people traveled to experience Texas spending $6.3 billion in the process, the most ever recorded. Tourism dollars help Texans sustain the very qualities of community they value and heritage tourists’ desire, such as:
- Walkable historic districts showcasing Texas’ varied architectural legacy of stunning courthouses, depots, churches, houses, and commercial buildings
- Downtowns full of home-grown shops and restaurants reflecting the character of our diverse heritage
- Restored historic theatres where the show must go on
- Museums and cultural centers telling local stories
- Legendary forts, missions, presidios, and battlefields–the real places to experience history
Such places are critical to Texans and the state’s ability to deliver that legendary Texas mystique many travelers expect.
2011 Heritage Traveler Spending
Historic Highways, Birthplace of the Texas Road Trip
Legislation passed in 2009 created the Texas Historic Roads and Highways Program. The Texas Historical Commission in partnership with Texas Department of Transportation will work to identify, designate, interpret, and promote the earliest paved roads, beginning with the immense Bankhead Highway legacy. Work is underway to identify significant segments and formally survey the road and the historic sites along it in Texas. Touching a large number of Texas communities, future development of the heritage tourism potential along the Bankhead will help raise awareness of local and regional history and contribute to county and city economies.
Named for U.S. Sen. John Hollis Bankhead of Alabama, an early champion of the Good Roads Movement, the transcontinental Bankhead Highway ran from Washington, D.C. to San Diego, California. Passing through over 60 Texas towns the road had several minor branches with the primary route entering from the east at Texarkana traveling through Mount Vernon, Garland, Arlington, Fort Worth, Eastland, Mineral Wells, Abilene, Midland, Van Horn, and many others to exit in the west at El Paso. Today, the Bankhead roughly parallels Interstate Highways 20 and 30.
Public input meetings along the Bankhead are planned over the next two years. Work is in early stages of identification and survey. Please contact Leslie Wolfenden, THC resources survey coordinator, for information on this project at 512.463.3386.
First Road Signs on El Camino Real de los Tejas Unveiled
The first signs marking the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail was unveiled on October 8, 2012 at Apache Pass outside Rockdale in a special presentation hosted by the National Park Service and the Texas Historical Commission (THC).