The original site of Dime Box (now Old Dime Box) is on SH 21, which roughly follows the path of the Old San Antonio Road through Lee County. After the Southern Pacific ran tracks a few miles to the southeast in 1913, most folks eventually moved out to the tracks, leading to the establishment of New Dime Box (nowadays we just call it Dime Box).
However, up until my first post about Dime Box a few days ago, I didn’t know about the interesting story of how the transition from Old to New Dime Box occurred. Bobby Mikulin, Sr. shared via a comment (on my Facebook page) that initially, folks set up temporary residences so that they’d be closer to the tracks during harvest time, which made trade easier. Eventually, those temporary residences became permanent, and that was how we got New Dime Box. I can’t say that I blame folks– I wouldn’t want to maintain two homes a few miles apart!
The path of the railroad could, of course, make or break a town. Giddings wouldn’t exist without the railroad, and when the Southern Pacific bypassed Serbin, we ended up with New Serbin (now Northrup).
Today, in the automotive age, the path of a highway can still make or break a town– though that’s not always true. One interesting (but non-Texas story) illustrates that.
Back in North Carolina, when the state began planning its own highway system in 1921 (before the US highway system existed), NC 10 was the “main highway” that was to connect Murphy (in the far southwestern end of the state) with Manteo (near the far northeastern end).
In general, the goal was for the route of the highway to pass through every county seat on its path. But in Catawba County, the most direct route from Statesville to Hickory (the neighboring county seats) would take NC 10 through Conover, instead of the county seat, Newton. To make matters worse, there was a large ravine east of Newton that would make a route through town even less efficient.
Folks in Newton, fearing a loss of prestige if the highway bypassed them, raised a big stink, and in the end, they prevailed. The route of NC 10 did pass through Newton, but the state also built NC 110, which took the more direct route through Conover. That route later became US 70, and I-40 roughly follows the same route today.
You can read a little bit more about the NC 10/Newton situation here:
(look for “The Newton Case” about 2/3 of the way down the page)
This is another of my Dime Box from my road trip through town in early 2016. This is the only photo I’ve got that includes the old water tank (I sure wish I’d taken more of it) which was dismantled a few years ago. The building that housed the saloon operated by Ray Spitzenberger‘s father is visible across the tracks.