Big Spring Commemorates Bankhead Highway

Big Spring Commemorates Bankhead Highway

BIG SPRING, TX (KWES) - Little did many people know there is a historical gem about an hour east of Midland. Big Spring is home to a stretch of the Bankhead Highway and officials are doing all they can to polish this piece of history. Construction on the Bankhead Highway began in 1916, connecting Washington D.C. to San Diego, California. Nearly 100 years later, the City of Big Spring is celebrating the history of one of the nation's first transcontinental highways.

"It came through Texas from Texarkana to El Paso and part of that route was through Big Spring," said Debbie Wegman, Director of Community Services for the City of Big Spring. "What is currently Business 20 through town, it's 3rd Street, that's where the Bankhead Highway was originally."

Last year, the City of Big Spring was approached by the Texas Historical Commission to work on a project to commemorate the Bankhead Highway. Big Spring, Mount Vernon and Weatherford are the three pilot cities challenged with the task of creating events to bring the history back to life.

"It's very important because it'll help get more people to learn about Big Spring through this project to come and visit us," said Wegman.

Driving down Third Street, you'll see Hotel Settles. The 15-story building was built in 1930 and served as the cornerstone of Big Spring and a major attraction along the cross-country highway.

"The hotel was the place where everybody came and stayed and then famous musicians were in the auditorium, such as Elvis," Wegman said. "There is actually even an Elvis room where he stayed in the hotel and they know where it is."

The fully-functional hotel now holds Summers on the Green, which is one of the projects the city came up with to commemorate the highway. Tourism Coordinator Hayley Lewis says the once a month movie and celebration is a hit.

"This time, which is going to be this Saturday at 7 p.m. on the Hotel Settles lawn, we're going to have bounce houses and a huge car show because the movie is American Graffiti," Lewis said. "What we try to do is pick a theme and this year the theme is automobiles because it's celebrating the Bankhead Highway."
 
Along with Summers on the Green, video memoirs and history mystery panels will showcase one of the major arteries through Texas during the first half of the 1900's.

"It's just exciting to put these events on for people and the celebrate the Bankhead Highway which is a very important part of our history here in Big Spring," said Lewis.