BLUE STAR HIGHWAYS
by Bob Bowman
is the story of a historical marker without much of a history.|
years ago, the Texas Garden Clubs, Inc. of Texas embarked on a mission to dedicate
a series of Blue Star Memorial Highways as a means of honoring the services of
men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces during World
At the request of garden clubs throughout the state, the
Texas Highway Department in 1976 designated eight highway sections as Blue Star
Memorial routes. Large metal markers bearing the Blue Star symbol were placed
along the roadsides of each segment.
program was actually a national campaign inaugurated by the National Council of
State Garden Clubs and may have been started in Texas as early as 1947 because
one highway was designated by state officials then and modified in 1953. Another
was set aside in 1975.
Star Memorial Highway Marker on Highway 90 in Hondo|
| But over the span
of five decades, the story behind these historical markers has been lost in the
mists of history.|
Our interest in the Blue Star Memorial Highways was
aroused when a friend called with a request for information about "the Blue
Star marker on U.S. 59 near the Highway Department" in Lufkin.
She said she had checked a number of local historical sources, but found little
For a while, we also ran into a brick wall. Our old reliable
resource, the Handbook of Texas and its online companion, made no mention of the
designations. Calls to libraries and a couple of
East Texas historians produced little or no information. Then, we did what
we should have done in the first place. We called Cathy White, the community relations
representative of the Lufkin office of the Texas Department of Transportation.
In a few days, Cathy solved at least a portion of the mystery.
Star Memorial Highway Marker in Columbus|
May 4, 1976, the Texas Department of Highways approved a minute order in Austin
granting the Texas Garden Clubsą request to designate the memorial highways and
agreed to erect Blue Star markers provided by the garden club ladies.U.S.
59 from Houston to Texarkana
3188 from State 94 to its end at Camp Olympia in Trinity County (1983)U.S.
271 from Paris to Gladewater
287 from the Anderson-Houston county line to the Johnson-Ellis county line (1976).U.S.
385 from Big Bend National Park north to the Oklahoma state line north of Dalhart
155 from Palestine
to Linden (1975)U.S.
77 from the Oklahoma state line at Gainesville
then via other highways the New Mexico state line (1947 and 1953).
SS 496 at Avondale
from its junction with U.S. 287 southeasterly via Saginaw, Fort
Worth and Kennedale
to its junction with U.S. 287 in Mansfield
Between 1976 and 1988 the state approved orders designating eight stretches of
roadway as Blue Star routes. They are:
Some portions of the history of the Blue Star Memorial Highways
did the name Blue Star originate?How,
when and where did the designation program begin?
How many markers were erected in Texas and the U.S.?How
many highways were marked in the U.S.
If you can help us better define
the history of these old historical markers, let us know.
Things Historical April
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
is a former president of the East Texas Historical Association and the author
of 24 books on East Texas history and folklore.
Blue Star Memorial Highway
a member of the Nassau Bay, Texas, Garden Club, as well as Blue Star Memorial
Highway chairman for District IV, Texas Garden Clubs Inc. No doubt much of the
info you have been given regarding the Blue Star project is correct, but the info
from TXDoT is off on dates.
Our club dedicated NASA Road One as a Blue
Star Memorial Highway in 1971. It included the official marker, the one that is
still used today. While I may not have as much history on Texas' Blue Star, I
do have an overall history covering the national, as well as a list of the 52
Texas highways that have been dedicated.
On March 1, 2003 our club
"rededicated" its marker due to the fact that TXDoT somehow moved our marker from
its original location without notifying anyone. When I moved to Nassau Bay in
1991 and joined the garden club, someone mentioned that our club had installed
the marker and planted oleanders down NASA Road 1. When I asked about the marker,
no one knew where it was. So, we began a search and located it in another town
where TXDoT had put it next to a historical marker. We got permission to remove
it and put it in Nassau Bay (it first had been on the Johnson Space Center [NASA]
side of the road).
... One of our members found a veteran who still
had his family's Blue Star Service Flag from WWII.
... This service flag is where the Blue Star comes from in the marker, hence the
name for the highway project, which was/is a living memorial to our veterans and
those currently serving. ...
I also have a list of the dedicated Texas
highways ... Unfortunately, I'm told, some of the markers have been stolen, shot
up, one was burned, etc. -- think there were 9 with problems. - Kathryn Gehbauer,
March 14, 2003
out this site
the background on the council that started it all and the history. - D. Dill,
January 16, 2004