This episode of Discover Austin spans the city as we discuss the major roads with peculiar and sometimes several names.
Greetings, I’m Craig Smyser. In this episode of Discover Austin, we’re going to look at some of the peculiarities of roads in Central Texas.
If all the roads in the Austin area, the one about which most out-of-town clients ask is Mopac. The odd-sounding name originates from the fact that the expressway was built alongside railroad tracks for what was then the Missouri Pacific Railroad, better known as MoPac. In reality, the official name of the roadway is Loop 1. However, everyone calls it Mopac. Well, everyone except the people who make the road signs. Most of the signs say Loop 1 while only a few say Mopac. Apparently, this is just a big inside joke at the expense of visitors and newcomers. With a name like Loop 1 it is obvious that the road must make a loop around the city, right. Wrong. This is a north south road that does not loop around anything, just like Loop 360, another road that doesn’t loop around the city. In fact, there are technically four other roads called Loops that aren’t loops. While not near as prominent as Loops 1 and 360, I will tell you that 111, 212, 275, and 343 are not loops despite what the signs may say. Of course, I should mention that Guadalupe is also not a loop. And, yes, it’s pronounced Guadalupe.
SoCo is a local abbreviation for South Congress Avenue. It is the portion of the Congress that is south of Lady Bird Lake and is home to many restaurants and shops.
See this road? Looks like Manchaca right? Well, we pronounce it Man Shack. While there isn’t any disagreement on the pronunciation, there is certainly a controversy over the origin of the name. One group claims it is a misspelling of the name of Jose Antonio Menchaca, a Texas Army captain who helped win the Battle of San Jacinto while another group claims it was named after a bayou in Louisiana.
My favorite road name in Central Texas is found in Round Rock – Hairy Man Road. Legend has it that during the 1800s passing stagecoaches in the area were often robbed by a hairy man. Nowadays, a local neighborhood hosts a Hairy Man Festival each year with a contest for the hairiest man being the main attraction.
This brings us to FM 2222, a schizophrenic road that has a variety of different names. When it starts around I-35, it is also known as Koenig. As it continues west, it changes to Allandale Road, then Northland Drive, back to just being 2222, then Bull Creek Road, back to just 2222, then finally to Bullick Hollow before ending near Lake Travis. It certainly isn’t the only road in Central Texas that changes names, but it sure is a fine example.
Finally, I need to bring you up to speed with what FM and RM mean in street names. FM stands for Farm-to-Market and RM stands for Ranch-to-Market. Back in the 1940s, Texas set out to ensure there were reliable, paved roads connecting rural areas to towns and cities. As you have already figured out FM originated in areas with farms and RM in areas with ranches. Back in the 40s, many of these roads were well outside of urban areas. Now, of course, many have been eclipsed by cities. So while many roads with the FM or RM designation no longer serve their original purpose, the naming convention lingers on.
I’m Craig Smyser, thanks for watching Discover Austin.