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San Antonio Area Roads History
Historical Bandera Rd./Culebra Rd. Photos

This page last updated April 3, 2018


Below are historical photos of Bandera Road and Culebra Road. These photos were compiled from a number of sources including old San Antonio-Bexar County Urban Transportation Study (SABCUTS) planning documents, the TxDOT photo library, the San Antonio TxDOT district office, and the personal collections of myself and of a former local Highway Department engineer.

Locations are given using the present-day roadway names. The photos are arranged from south to north. Click on each photo for an enlarged view.

Click here to return to the historical photo galleries page.

Route history

SH 27SH 81SH 16

The route to Bandera went through numerous changes in the first fifty years of the state highway system. When first designated around 1919, it was numbered SH 27. By the mid '20s, it had been renumbered as SH 81. In 1938, it was changed yet again, this time to SH 16; this was likely done to avoid confusion with US 81, which also ran through San Antonio. 

The path this route took through the area also changed several times. It appears the original route may have used Fredericksburg Rd. to Cincinnati, then south on Zarzamora to Culebra and onto Bandera Rd.
By 1927, the route looks to have been changed to use N Laredo St. to Poplar (then named Castro St.), then north on Zarzamora and west on Culebra to Bandera Rd.

In the early '30s, the route appears to have gone back to Fredericksburg Rd., then across Woodlawn Ave. to Bandera Rd. By 1936 or so, the route was changed yet again, this time using Cincinnati Ave. to connect from Fredericksburg Rd. to Bandera Rd. It continued to use this route until the early '50s, when it was moved back to an improved Culebra to connect it to the new US 87 expressway (today's I-10.)

Today's stretch of Bandera between Wurzbach and Evers did not originally exist. Instead, Bandera Rd. followed what's now Evers Rd. between Benrus and Daughtry, then along Daughtry and onto today's Loop 410 right-of-way westward, going just past today's Bandera Rd. before turning northwest behind the properties that today front the west side of Bandera between Loop 410 and Wurzbach. It then merged onto today's right-of-way at Wurzbach. The stretch of today's Bandera between Wurzbach and Evers was built around 1950.

At both Huebner Creek and especially Leon Creek, the road made an S-curve in order to cross the creek at more of a right angle. Those were straightened around 1950.

Finally, in Helotes, the original route went west for a short distance on today's FM 1560 and then curved onto today's Riggs Rd. and followed Old Bandera Rd. through Helotes, joining today's right-of-way north of Scenic Loop Rd. at the El Caparral restaurant. Riggs Rd. was bypassed around 1950. Old Bandera Rd. was bypassed in the mid '70s.

Culebra at I-10 looking west (ca. 1948)
This is looking across the overpass over the future US 87 expressway. In the distance, you can see a recently-widened section of Culebra which was being upgraded to provide a high-capacity connection to the new expressway from the northwest side.

Culebra at I-10 looking west (ca. 1948)
Same location at the photo above but looking over the bridge rail at the expressway that's still under construction at this time.

Culebra and Zarzamora looking southeast (ca. 1948)
You can see the widened section of Culebra between Zarzamora (at the bottom of the photo) and the new expressway (at the top of the photo). Culebra west of Zarzamora would be widened in the early '50s.
(TxDOT/Ralph N Miller Aerial Industrial Photos)

Culebra at Alazan Creek looking east (ca. 1950)
This is the original, narrow bridge on Culebra over the creek. To the left, you can see the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower.

Culebra at Alazan Creek looking east (ca. 1955)
This is the widened bridge and road.

Culebra bridge over Alazan Creek looking northeast (ca. 1950)
A side view of the old bridge showing how primitive it was.

Culebra bridge over Alazan Creek looking northeast (ca. 1955)
A side view of the new bridge.

Culebra at Neff looking east (ca. 1955)
A view of the widened Culebra from near 24th street.

Culebra at Bandera looking east (ca. 1950)
Culebra just west of its junction with Bandera before improvements.

Culebra at Bandera looking east (ca. 1955)
The same location as above after the intersection was upgraded.

Bandera at Culebra looking southeast (ca. 1950)
The same intersection as above but looking from Bandera before improvements.

Bandera at Culebra looking southeast (ca. 1955)
The same location as above after the intersection was upgraded.

Bandera at Texas looking southeast (ca. 1950)
Bandera near Cincinnati before widening. If you look closely at the right, you can see the screen for the old Varsity Drive-In; it was located where the HEB is today.

Bandera at Texas looking southeast (ca. 1955)
The same location as above after Bandera was widened.

San Antonio city limits welcome monument (ca. 1930)
This is likely on Bandera at Cincinnati looking southeast.

Loop 410 at Bandera looking northeast (1956)
An aerial view showing construction of Loop 13 (now Loop 410) at Bandera. Bandera is the road running from left to right near the center of the photo. In the middle of the photo is construction of the Loop 13/Bandera interchange with Loop 13 then continuing to the southwest; work had not yet started to continue it to the northeast. The old Bandera Drive-In is visible just to the right of the interchange. The short stretch of road from the interchange to the northeast is today's Daughtry Dr., which at one time was actually part of Bandera Rd.
(TxDOT/Jack Amman Photogrammetric Engineers)

Loop 410 at Bandera looking east (ca. 1958)
Construction of the Loop 13 (now Loop 410) overpass at Bandera.
(TxDOT/Les Guthrie)

Loop 410 at Bandera (1961)
Another aerial view of the Bandera/Loop 410 intersection. This photo is oriented with north at the bottom. Again, you can see the Bandera Drive-In near the center of the photo. The road that branches off of Bandera at Wurzbach (lower right side of the photo) and connects to Loop 410 was the original path of Bandera Rd.

Bandera at Loop 410 looking west (ca. 1998)
Notice the old Target store at the left. The large parking lot just to the left of the center of the photo is a former VIA Park & Ride.

Bandera at Loop 410 looking southeast (ca. 1998)
This is looking back the other direction from the photo above.

Bandera at Wurzbach looking northeast (ca. 1988)

Bandera at Huebner Creek (ca. 1920)
Early bridge over Huebner Creek in Leon Valley.

Bandera at Eckhert looking northeast (ca. 1988)
Eckhert was still two lanes at this time and the Leon Valley neighborhood at the upper right was still mostly undeveloped.

Bandera at Leon Creek looking northwest (1919)
At this time, Bandera Road dropped down into the Leon Creek channel. This is the view from the southern bank near today's The Bend Sports Bar looking toward the descent into the creek channel. The road surface was still macadam at this time.

Bandera at Leon Creek looking northwest (1921)
This is the view looking toward the north bank where the road climbed back up out of the creek channel near today's Whiskey Tree Bar & Grill.

Bandera at Leon Creek looking northeast (ca. 1988)
If you look closely, you can see a diagonal concrete slab in the creek bottom just in front of the bridges-- this was the original Bandera Road route across the creek.

Bandera at Mainland looking northeast (ca. 1988)
This is long before the Wal-Mart was built.

Bandera at Guilbeau looking northeast (ca. 1988)

Old Bandera at Riggs in Helotes looking northwest (Date unknown)
Not having any photos of Bandera in the Helotes area, I found this one at the site listed below. This is on what is now Old Bandera Road in Old Town Helotes and was the original route for Bandera Road (SH 16 nee SH 81 nee SH 27) before a bypass was built around 1970.
(Borrowed from Palo Alto College Small Town Texas Projects http://pacweb.alamo.edu/InteractiveHistory/projects/rhines/StudentProjects/1998/

Click here to return to the historical photo galleries page.

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This page and all its contents are Copyright 2019 by Brian Purcell

The information provided on this website is provided on an "as-is" basis without warranties of any kind either express or implied.  The author and his agents make no warranties or representations of any kind concerning any information contained in this website.  This website is provided only as general information.  The author expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based upon the information contained herein or with respect to any errors or omissions in such information.  All opinions expressed are strictly those of the author.  This site is not affiliated in any way with any official agency.