During the 18th century, the land that would become Texas was administered by Spain. El Camino Real and the La Bahia Road passed through San Antonio. Both were roads that connected the seat of government in Mexico to distant frontier boundaries with French Louisiana territories. These were primitive roads suitable for horses, men on foot and wooden oxcarts.
Through the 19th century, roads in Texas were dirt trails; rough and dusty at best, muddy and impassable at worst. These humble roads carried immigrants to new settlements, crops to market and soldiers to battle.
When Texas was admitted to the Union in 1845, there was a flurry of activity associated with creating a U.S. transcontinental route through its vast territory. San Antonio became a central hub for roads leading east and west. The roads created during the Mexican and Spanish administration of Texas were redirected and repurposed to connect the Gulf of Mexico to the east with the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Road building and maintenance were functions of county government acting as an extension of the Texas State Legislature. When the Texas State Legislature mandated the creation of “first class” roads between county seats, they defined a first class road as a path forty feet wide. Within that path smaller stumps (less eight inches in diameter) were to be cut off at ground level, larger stumps were rounded off to allow wagon wheels to pass over them. Second-class and third class roads were also defined in terms of width, thirty feet and twenty feet wide respectively.