The Bankhead Hwy in Midland/Odessa, Was It Named After A Silent Film Actress?
Some may not be too familiar with the Bankhead Highway which runs thru both Midland and Odessa but if you have seen this little stretch of road at some point, here is how it got its name.
All my life I was always told that the Bankhead Highway was named after Tallulah Bankhead who was a popular silent film actress from 1919 to 1922 which is about the time period when highways were being built across America.
This turns out not to be completely true. While the highway was not named for her, it was named for her grandfather, John H. Bankhead, who was a leader in the early road-building movement across the nation.
The highway used to run non-stop from San Diego, California to Washington, D.C., and the parts that remain in the Midland/Odessa area were a part of the original highway through the area.
When US Highway 80 was built, which the Bankhead Highway used through most of Texas, there were pieces of the original highway that went through some towns that were not made a part of the new Highway 80.
The Bankhead Highway in Odessa runs along the northside of the Odessa Country Club, while the part that runs through Midland runs just a little bit south of what used to be the old Highway 80 and Business Highway 80 and merges back into the old Business Highway 80 which is now Wall Street or Texas Spur 268.
So even though I was told the wrong information about the highway's name all my life, it was not totally wrong since the highway was named after the grandfather of silent film actress Tallulah Bankhead.