The routes that moved troops in early Texas often followed old Indian trails, usually were little more than deep wagon ruts. This one, the Chihuahua Road—joining Ft. Clark with other southwest posts—was widely used, 1850-1880. The Comanche War Trail, part of the Chihuahua Road, carried women, children, and horses stolen by Indians from Mexico to the north.
The Spanish era opened El Camino Real (the Old San Antonio Road) in 1691 to join Louisiana to Mexico. After 1836, Republic of Texas settlers demanded forts for safety from Indians; a main 1840 supply road followed present Austin-Dallas highway. Central National Road, 1844, linked Trinity and Red Rivers. (Its rules required all trees to be cut 12 inches or less from ground).
From 1848 to 1860, surveys by U.S. led to a network of military roads in west central Texas. In 1849, Capt. Randolph B. Marcy blazed a West Texas trail used by California gold hunters. Famed U.S. 2nd Cavalry made Ft. Belknap—San Antonio Road a military artery in 1850s.
During Civil War, supplies moved from Mexico to Texas over the Cotton Road. The Indian campaigns of Capt. R.S. Mackenzie in 1870s opened trails across the staked plains; but by 1881, the railroad had begun to replace Texas' once-famous military routes.