An item in the Garland News on June15, 1917 suggests that Good Roads committees had already made considerable progress on an improved east-west route through the area. A brief mention on that date stated, “The ‘Sociability Run’ on the now well-connected Bankhead Highway from Texarkana to El Paso via Dallas and Ft. Worth should arrive at Garland about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and stop here for around 30 minutes.”
Another Garland News Article on October 25, 1918 reads in part, “Scouts for the route of the Bankhead Highway will be here November 6. This is probably the most important highway to be built in the South and will in all likelihood be designated a military road”. Note this is the first time that the Garland News had used the term “Bankhead”.
John Hollis Bankhead was born in Marion County, Alabama on September 13, 1842. He was elected US Representative from Alabama in 1907 and died while in office on November 2, 1920. He was instrumental in enacting the Federal Road Act of 1916 which was the birth of the first national highway. It stretched from Washington, D. C. to San Diego, California. Thus the Bankhead Highway was named in his honor.
The highway entered Texas at Texarkana, then followed on to Sulphur Springs, Greenville, Rockwall, Rowlett, Garland, Dallas, Grand Prairie, Ft Worth and then on to El Paso.
It should be noted that the name has changed over the years and in some cases the highway has even been moved. The old highway that originally went thru downtown Rowlett has been known as Highway 67, Highway 66 and now Main Street which dead ends at Lake Ray Hubbard. The new Highway 66 is now about one half mile north of the old location.
All of the oldest buildings on the downtown Rowlett strip used to face north so that the railroad passengers could have easy access to anxious business owners. Once the Bankhead Highway came thru, the owners were more anxious to serve the frequent tourist arriving in their motor cars. The shops were able to have new doors cut in the back of their shops and signs were then place on the new “front” of their shops. This was not the case for the Sacred Heart Catholic Church as the alter was located at the south end of the building. Sometime later a 1922 cyclone blew the church building from its foundation and Ramsey House Movers was hired to place the building back on its foundation. Mr. Ramsey told church officials that it would cost an additional $25 to turn the building around. The Rowlett Sacred Heart Church then faced the Bankhead Highway.