BALLINGER - Author Stew Magnuson visited the Carnegie Library in Ballinger last week during a book tour where he discussed his recent work “The Last American Highway: A Journey Through time down U.S. Route 83 in Texas.”

BALLINGER - Author Stew Magnuson visited the Carnegie Library in Ballinger last week during a book tour where he discussed his recent work “The Last American Highway: A Journey Through time down U.S. Route 83 in Texas.”

Magnuson opened the discussion with a video which showed the audience what can be found along Highway 83, from its beginning in North Dakota all the way to the end in deep south Texas.

His latest work is the third in his series on Highway 83 Chronicles which started with “The Dakotas” in 2014 and “Nebraska-Kansas-Oklahoma,” released in 2015.

Magnuson began the discussion by mentioning Thomas H. McDonald who headed up the very powerful Bureau of Public Roads, which was responsible for building roads throughout the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century.

Descending 1,885 miles straight down the center of the United States from Westhope, North Dakota, to Brownsville, Texas, is U.S. 83, one of the oldest and longest of the federal highways that hasn’t been replaced by an Interstate.

He discussed the “Good Roads Movement” which involved carmakers and tire manufacturers and makers of cement road material.

He mentioned how it would be Governor Jim Ferguson, who was “not regarded as the nicest guy,” as initially being against road building, but then he changed his tune, when Texas received a significant amount of funding to build roads connecting the state to the nation.

“The Texas Department of Public Roads was established 100 years ago,” Magnuson explained.

And after the Great Plains Highway Association was established, what was then called Texas Highway 4, and now known as Highway 83, would be constructed.

“It was the fourth most important highway in the state,” Magnuson said.

He talked about the Great Plains Highway Association convention held in Abilene 50 years ago.

“There were probably members of the Ballinger Chamber there,” Magnuson postulated.

Magnuson showed pictures of landmarks along the highway, which starts with the 6666 Ranch in Texas and moves through Runnels County to The Cross.

“The cross really puts you guys on the map,” Magnuson said.

He also mentioned the antique shop owned by Fred Schwake in the book.

“Who knew there was someone in the NCAA Basketball Hall of Fame here,” he quipped.

Magnuson said one thing he wanted to experience was a Friday night football game in Texas. He got his wish the last time he traveled through Ballinger and made a stop at Bearcat Stadium to watch a game.

A seasoned author and Washington, D.C. based journalist, who works as the editor in chief of the National Defense Magazine, Magnuson resides in Arlington, Virg. with his wife and two children.

Magnuson also penned “Wounded Knee 1973: Still Bleeding,” which was published ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Occupation.

He also authored “The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder,” an award winning nonfiction book published by Texas Tech University Press. The book was named Book of the Year in 2009 by the Nebraska Center of the Book.

Magnuson, a native of Omaha, Neb. has traveled to all 50 states and visited or lived in 48 countries. An avid baseball fan, he has also attended 124 professional baseball games.