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Texarkana (Bowie County)

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Straddling the Texas-Arkansas border, Texarkana is rare among American cities. It is two separate municipalities, physically indistinguishable, yet separated by a broad avenue that marks the boundary between two states, Texas and Arkansas. Its location south of the Red River is in the center of a region occupied for more than a thousand years by the “great kingdom of the Tejas,” as Spanish explorers referred to the Caddo Nation. Permanent Caddo villages and French trading posts existed along the Red River in the vicinity of present-day Texarkana. Over seventy Indian mounds, reminders of the Caddo culture, can be found within a thirty-mile radius of the city.

Texarkana was platted in 1873 by the Texas and Pacific (T&P) Railway as the eastern terminus of a line that eventually extended to Sierra Blanca, east of El Paso, where it joined in 1881 with the Southern Pacific system to form a transcontinental route to the Pacific coast. In 1874, the town was also joined to the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, which had extended its lines through the southwestern corner of Arkansas to the Texas border. This positioned Texarkana as a strategic link between the state’s rapidly expanding rail network and the Midwest. The northeast-southwest-oriented street grid, which aligned with the T&P tracks, also extended past the Arkansas side of the border to Hickory Street. State Line Avenue, Texarkana’s grand boulevard, was laid out on a north-south axis, exactly along the dividing line between the two states. It intersects the downtown street grid at a twenty-eight-degree angle, creating awkward intersections and oddly shaped blocks.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.

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