Traveling West on The Old Spanish Trail Highway
Texas: From San Antonio to Sonora
The Old Spanish Trail traveler leaves downtown San Antonio by way of South Flores and Fredericksburg Road. But IH-10 completely subsumes the old road when it converges on the north side of town. All of the maps that are contemporary with the OST from 1926 until the establishment of the numbered transcontinental highways show the old highway going through Boerne, Comfort, Kerrville, Ingram, Segovia and Junction. Correspondence in the archives also shows that these towns were along the original route though U.S. 90 goes farther south down to Del Rio.
Fredericksburg was not on the highway though the intrepid traveler in 1927 could take another road from Kerrville to Fredericksburg. The OST and the "Southwest Trail" were the same highway until they diverged at Boerne with the "Southwest Trail" going northwest to Fredericksburg.. The Rand McNally map below shows where the Southwest Trail heads farther north at Boerne and the OST moves west to Kerrville and beyond.
The Rand McNally map is useful, but a more recent map from the Automobile Association of America (ca 1930 below) delineates the route in broader strokes:
The white line shows the route of OST from San Antonio to El Paso. Note the break off at Boerne where the Southwest Trail heads north to Fredericksburg. South of OST the road that would later become U.S. 90 travels through Uvalde and Del Rio before rejoining OST east of Sierra Blanca at Van Horn, Texas. West of Van Horn, the old Bankhead Highway ends at OST. Harral Ayres, Director of the OST Association considered what is now U.S. 90 as the southern fork trunkline of OST.
If you leave the interstate at Fair Oaks Ranch and drive the Old Fredericksburg Road (part of the opriginal OST) and turn south on Cascade Caverns Road before turning west again on the Old San Antonio Road, you will be following the OST into Boerne, Texas. Boerne, a small town founded by German settlers in the first half of the nineteenth century, follows the model of the southeastern U.S. towns: OST is its Main Street and, for a few blocks, is Hauptstrasse (the High Street). In Boerne, you are on U.S. 87 which follows the OST out of town and then heads north as the old Southwest Highway to Boerne and San Angelo. Get back on IH-10 and then take the first exit to Comfort, Texas, on U.S. 87/Texas 27.
Many of the bridges along the OST have been replaced as the roads have been widened. This bridge along what is now Texas 27 is just one of those:
That old bridge just east of Comfort, Texas, was replaced in the 40s or 50s by a newer bridge:
From this point west, the old highway (now Texas 27) carries the traveler all the way through Ingram, Texas. Not too many miles west of Ingram, the highway is once again covered by the newer IH-10 but continues in sections, just to the south of the interstate, as a frontage road.
That's OST! It only runs for a short distance until it rejoins IH-10. Then, continue on IH-10 West until you get to the Confort exit. Parts of the frontage road south of IH-10 were undoubtedly sections of OST at one time and one small section called "Old Comfort Road" was OST. At the very first exit from IH-10 to Comfort, you will be on High Street. High Street merges briefly with US-87 South and Texas State Highway 27. 27 continues the OST route all the way to Kingsville (where it is both the San Antonio Highway and the Memorial Highway). The OST Association's Service Map and Information Brochure for West Texas (1923) also has a fairly decent map of the route.
The road through Comfort, Texas, to Ingram, Texas, remains one of the most attractive parts of the Texas Hill Country. After rejoining IH-10, the traveler stays on the interstate most of the way across West Texas. But the frontage road on the south side of the interstate is frequently the remains of OST left intact so ranchers and farmers can drive to the nearest highway entrance. Those are only available by backtracking while driving west since they frequently come to dead ends as they move eastwards.
There is a more extensive track of the OST heading west from Sierra Blanca into Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Do remember that The OST and the other transcontinental highways that got their starts between 1910 and 1920 connected small towns to big cities and always went through the centers of those towns. In the late 30s and in the 40s, counties constructed bypasses around those towns, but continued to maintain the old highways as "business routes." The purpose of the interstates is not to connect towns for business purposes (though they do that) but to provide quick East/West and North/South travel for people going long distances or for evacuation purposes.