Day 11: August 6, 2014
Fort to Border

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The grass edged empty two-lane struck me as something a little different from what I've been seeing. It's part of the TX-290 loop that leads to Sheffield. Further on, an overlook and picnic area contains this marker detailing some of the road's early history. According to the DriveTheOST, that retaining wall in the center of the third photograph was "constructed by New Deal labor in the early 1930s".

The Fort Lancaster historic site is near the loop's midpoint. It was occupied between 1855 and 1864 as one of a string of forts built to protect settlers from the natives. In the museum I learned of a small connection with another auto trail. The US Army experimented with using camels in the western desert and two different groups of them stopped at Fort Lancaster. The group of 25 that arrived on July 9, 1857 was led by Edward Beale. Beale was on his way to lay out the Beale Wagon Road which would eventually become part of the National Old Trails Road. The OST-NOTR connection is indeed slim but I think it interesting.

If admission had not included use of a golf cart, I almost certainly would not have explored the entire site as I did. My pictures show one of the enlisted men's barracks and the lime kiln.

The road head straight west from Fort Lancaster but eventually turns north to connect with I-10. Not far from that connection is this unmarked gate with its most impressive metal sculpture.

Much of the old road is hidden underneath I-10 and I covered a lot of the distance to El Paso on the expressway. These pictures are from a short section of the old road that passes through Balmorhea. The statues draw attention to an import shop across the street from a small park with a pair of fountains that must have looked great once upon a time. I bet "the world's biggest woodie" on the edge of town once looked pretty great, too.

I left the interstate at McNary to follow TX-20 into El Paso. The road more or less parallels the Mexican border with the closest approach being near Alamo Alto. I believe Mexico is about a third of a mile away in the picture of County Line Lakes. It is a bit farther away in the second picture but a portion of black border fence can be seen in the right half of the photo.

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