Miles and Miles of Texas: 100 Years of the Texas Highway Department – Book Reading, Discussion and Author Signing

Austin Public LibraryWHO:     Austin History Center, Austin Public Library
WHAT:    Book reading, discussion and signing with the authors
WHERE:  Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe St.
WHEN:   Saturday, April 1, 2 – 4 PM
WHY:      To remember Texas history

The Austin History Center invites you to join the authors of Miles and Miles of Texas to celebrate the rich and innovative history of Texas roads. The three authors will share stories about how the project was developed and read selections from the book. A signing will follow the presentation.

About the Book

On the eve of its centennial, Carol Dawson and Roger Allen Polson with photo editor Geoff Appold, present more than 100 years of history in words and images that track the development of the Texas Highway Department in a new book, Miles and Miles of Texas: 100 Years of the Texas Highway Department, published by Texas A&M University Press.

Dawson’s sprawling narrative starts with Neolithic game trails that have evolved into our major highways and interstates, though the book focuses in particular on the 100 year history of the Texas Highway Department (now known as TxDOT). From its infant struggles through the snarls of political corruption, to the challenges facing its engineers as they tackled the largest and most difficult tracts of roadless territory in the lower forty-eight states, to the present day of conflict, controversy, and magnificent achievement, the Texas Highway Department has proven its integrity, ingenuity, and innovative intelligence on an international scale. The story of a civilization’s roads is essentially the story of the civilization, and Texas is no exception.

Engineered by Polson and researched and written by renowned author Carol Dawson, Miles and Miles of Texas covers more than four centuries of Texas history through the lens of the land, the trails, the road development and infrastructure. Included are over 350 photographs, many never before published. Polson, who worked for TxDOT as Deputy Director of Public Communications and was the TxDOT Commission Coordinator, conceived the initial vision and production approach. Texas icon Willie Nelson wrote the foreword.

“An engaging, appropriately sprawling history of the Texas Highway Department over its first century… Road warriors and transportation buffs will be pleased with this well-illustrated, well-written volume.” – Kirkus Reviews

 “This authoritative and surprisingly entertaining narrative is about a lot more than asphalt … [It’s] the story of Texas itself – of Native American migration and Spanish exploration of wars and revolution, of skullduggery and heroism, of vicious prejudice and noble demon purpose, of engineering triumphs and disasters, of greedy short sidedness and grand shimmering visions.” – Stephen Harrigan, author

About the Authors
Carol Dawson
Dawson is a native Texan who has lived and written in a number of states in the U.S. and other countries around the world, including two separate multi-year stints in New Zealand, where she worked on a revisionist history documentary about the mid-nineteenth-century New Zealand Wars between native Maori tribes and the British Crown. She grew up in Corsicana, attended The Hockaday School in Dallas, then the University of Texas in Austin, and is the mother of three. She is the author of four critically-acclaimed novels (The Waking Spell, Body of Knowledge, Meeting the Minotaur, and The Mother-in-Law Diaries) and the award-winning House of Plenty, a book that tells the story of Luby’s Cafeterias and the cafeteria industry. Having set all her books in Texas, she returned home to Austin a few years ago.

Roger Allen Polson
Polson spent more than 20 years working with the department of transportation as a writer, editor and publication designer.  His experiences with the 75th and 80th anniversary observances have brought a broad curiosity and knowledge about the historical development and wide-ranging achievements of the Texas Highway Department and the modern-day Texas Department of Transportation. He has traveled across Texas, visiting every highway district and writing feature articles and coordinating video productions about many department employees and accomplishments at all levels. He was Executive Editor of the department’s internal newspaper Transportation News from 1994-1997.

Geoff Appold
Appold was the audiovisual director for the Texas Department of Transportation for more than 20 years.  In that role he was responsible for managing, scheduling, and overseeing the production of the department’s video and photography, supervising an extremely talented group of photographers and producers.  Appold also managed the department’s extensive image library which contains thousands of historic and contemporary images. For his wide-ranging contribution to the department, he was presented the Raymond Stotzer Award, the most prestigious recognition given to non-engineers by the agency.

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