The Historic Bankhead Highway Rediscovered in Big Spring



In 2009, the Texas Legislature officially recognized the significance of the state’s earliest paved roadways by establishing the Texas Historic Roads and Highways Program. To develop the untapped heritage tourism potential of these roads, the Heritage Tourism Program selected three cities along the route of the Historic Bankhead Highway—Big Spring, Weatherford, and Mount Vernon—in which to conduct a pilot series of heritage tourism product development workshops in 2015. The workshops brought together city representatives, cultural leaders, business owners, and other community stakeholders to create a variety of new tours, exhibits, films, festivals, classic car rallies, and cultural demonstrations in celebration of their shared Bankhead Highway legacy.

Big Spring participants developed two major projects over the course of the heritage tourism development workshops.  In a project entitled History Mystery Panels, participants created a series of large format informational panels that feature historic images of downtown Big Spring relevant to Bankhead history.  The panels—installed in storefronts and on exterior walls of buildings throughout downtown—pose questions to visitors, who must then use the historic images in combination with the surrounding contemporary downtown to answer the ”history mystery” challenge. Answers can be confirmed at the Heritage Museum of Big Spring. The panels engage the public and enliven distressed downtown buildings while increasing awareness of Big Spring’s significant historic resources as they relate to the Bankhead Highway. The history mystery panel idea was concurrently developed in Mount Vernon, and is a replicable concept for statewide application.

Big Spring’s Summers on the Green brings together community members and visitors during a series of monthly movie and entertainment events held on the lawn of the recently restored Hotel Settles. This new green space is located adjacent to the historic Municipal Auditorium providing an ideal venue while effectively strengthening the local preservation ethic regarding downtown Big Spring through engaging family experiences.  The inaugural event featured cinema style shorts produced by local radio personality Tumbleweed Smith, a classic car show, and performances by Howard College theater students, who took on the roles of personalities famous in the days of the Bankhead Highway.  

To see more from the premiere 2015 Summers on the Green event, please browse the image gallery below.

Photo Gallery

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  • The Summers on the Green event, held on the Settles Lawn along the Bankhead Highway in downtown Big Spring.