U.S. Route 83 is like no other highway in Texas. It extends from its northernmost border at Oklahoma, passes through the ranchlands and oil patches of the Panhandle, hits a big speed bump in Hill Country, then follows the Rio Grande Valley all the way to Brownsville.
Award-winning author Stew Magnuson set out in 2009 to chronicle the past and present along this historically rich highway, traveling its length in May 2010 with the idea to publish a book about what he discovered. Like Highway 83 itself, it was a long road that took nearly eight years, but it ended on this year with the publication of The Last American Highway: A Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83 in Texas.
Magnuson will give a multi-media presentation about the history and joys of traveling Highway 83 at the Carnegie Library of Ballinger at noon, Thursday, Oct. 26. And at the Menard Public Library Thursday Oct. 26 at 6 p.m.
Magnuson calls The Last American Highway in Texas a hybrid history-travel book.
“Every town has a story to tell,” he says. A massacre in Menard marked the beginning of the end for the Spanish Empire in America. Wellington is where the notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde sent their car careening into the Red River. On a ranch just east of Brownsville, Ranger “Rip” Ford led the charge at the final battle of the Civil War.
Magnuson uncovers the stories of the famous, the infamous and the forgotten as he explores a road like no other in America.
The Last American Highway in Texas is available on Amazon.com and bookstores and gift shops along the highway.
Over the past eight years, Magnuson has carved out a place as the foremost expert on the fifth longest federal highway that runs 1,885 miles from the Canadian border to Mexico. He founded and administers the Fans of Route 83 — The Great Plains Highway page on Facebook, which now has more than 3,600 members. His usroute83.com website serves as a place for travel tips for those who want to explore the road. He writes the Highway 83 Chronicles blog about current events.
He successfully published two previous books about the road, The Last American Highway: A Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83: The Dakotas and; The Last American Highway: A Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83: Nebraska-Kansas-Oklahoma. He has appeared on South Dakota Public Television and Nebraska Public Television, and done dozens of book talks and radio spots extolling the pleasures of traveling what was once called the Great Plains Highway.
Magnuson is also the author of The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska-Pine Ridge Border Towns. Published by Texas Tech University Press, it was named the 2009 Nebraska Nonfiction book of the year, a finalist for the Center of Great Plains Studies book of the year, and was recently named one of the Nebraska’s 150 most important literary works to mark the state’s sesquicentennial this year. He also penned Wounded Knee 1973: Still Bleeding, a brief account of the

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