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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Coast to Coast, and right through Kerr County

Crews at work on IH10 in 1967, near the intersection of SH16.
Click on any image to enlarge.
While going through my collection of historic Kerr County photographs this week, I found some negatives which I'd never scanned. I could tell they were photographs of construction. Intrigued, I put them in the scanner to find out what they were.
IH10 at Quinlan Creek, 1967
They were taken in February, 1967, and show men constructing a roadway with heavy equipment. Research showed the photographs were of the construction of IH 10, from about the intersection of Highway 16 (Fredericksburg Road), heading east, toward Comfort.
Many would assume Interstate 10 has been here forever, but I actually can remember when that highway was built through Kerr County. Before it was built, travel to San Antonio meant going through each town between here and there -- Center Point, Comfort, Boerne and so on. It took forever.
Travel to Junction meant going through Ingram, Mountain Home, and Segovia, if I remember correctly. I do remember traveling toward Junction on the old highway was a pretty drive, going along bluffs overlooking Johnson Creek, and a steep descent into Junction near Lover's Leap, entering that town on a steel truss bridge, crossing the Llano River below the courthouse.
IH10 near SH 16, 1967
Looking at old newspapers, the earliest mention of IH 10 and its path through Kerr County was back in 1960, when the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce voted to send a delegation to Austin in support of the route through Kerr County.
By late 1962, a route for the Interstate had been selected, but there was discussion in our community. Some favored IH 10 following roughly the same route as Highway 27, since the state already had rights of way along that road.
The problem with that idea, it was noted, was Kerrville's municipal airport, which is quite near the river along Highway 27, meaning putting an interstate through there would have limited future growth of the airport. Further, that route would have put IH10 going through some part of downtown Kerrville, or at least nearer downtown Kerrville than the current route of IH10.
IH10 at Quinlan Creek, 1967
In 1962, the Kerr County Commissioners Court, led by county judge Julius Nuenhoffer, endorsed the route for IH10 through Kerr County which was eventually selected, the route we all travel today.
One of the photographs I scanned this week was published in the Kerrville Daily Times on February 26, 1967, for their annual "Progress Edition."
In early 1968, W. R. Faust, assistant district engineer for the Texas Highway Department's San Antonio District, spoke to the Kerrville Rotary Club, predicting "the entire stretch of IH10 in Kerr County will be complete" by 1972. He also reported the first stretch from Highway 16 toward Comfort, a distance of 6.4 miles, had been completed, and the final 8.2 miles to the Kendall County line was under contract.
IH10 near SH16, 1972
Construction to the Kimble County line was also progressing, he said, and contracts for that stretch would be let in late 1969.
Accompanying Faust to the Rotary Club meeting were local resident highway engineers Ray Lindholm and Vern Marrs, men Nuenhoffer described as the "unsung heroes of the highway department."
The section of IH10 between Kerrville and Comfort opened in December, 1970. Construction from Comfort east had not yet been completed, but "hundreds of Kerr motorists have driven over the spectacular new highway -- which officials say is one of the prettiest in the state."
The section of the highway for which I found photographs this week was opened with a ribbon cutting, which included Kerr County Judge Julius Nuenhoffer, and my friend, John M. Mosty, who was mayor of Kerrville at the time.
Until next week, all the best.

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Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is older than IH10. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 22, 2019.

If you enjoyed this column, you'll enjoy my two books, which are collections of my columns from 1994 to 2018.  Both books are available at Wolfmueller's BooksHerring Printing Company, and online by clicking HERE.

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