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End of US highway 290

View a map showing this route.

Additional research and/or photo credits: Chris Elbert; Karin and Martin Karner; Jeff Morrison; Steven Nelson; Alex Nitzman; Jeff Royston; Stephen Taylor

Approx. time period East terminus West terminus
1926-1935 San Antonio, TX Davis Mtn. Jct. TX (at-grade)
1935-1943(?) Houston, TX (downtown) Davis Mtn. Jct. TX (at-grade)
1943(?)-1950s(?) Houston, TX (Shepherd Dr) Davis Mtn. Jct. TX (at-grade)
1950s(?)-1970s(?) Houston, TX (Katy Rd) Davis Mtn. Jct. TX (at-grade)
1970s(?)-1992 Houston, TX (I-610) Davis Mtn. Jct. TX (interstate)
1992-present Houston, TX (I-610) (near Harper, TX)

US 290 was an original 1926 route, but it's changed so much since then that it serves a completely different corridor now. It originally followed the same basic route of what is now I-10, running from US 90 in San Antonio to what was then US 80 at "Davis Mountain Junction". That toponym doesn't show up on modern maps - but it's west of Balmorhea, where I-20 ends at I-10, way out west in the Texas panhandle. Here's what it looks like today:

Elbert, Mar. 2007 (unchanged as of Dec. 2011)

Gomez Peak (northernmost of the Davis Mountains) is visible in the background. Westbound US 80 used to follow the general path of today's I-20 to this spot, and then along I-10 west from here. US 290 began here and followed (for the most part) modern I-10 to San Antonio (traffic from which you can see at far left). Virtually all traces of the old roadways are gone now, and it appears the actual junction was completely erased when this interchange was built. But here's a great postcard that shows the historic junction:

from a postcard, postmarked 1960

That's looking east on US 80, which continued straight ahead. US 290 began on the road curving off to the right, which led to San Antonio (you can view photos and historic maps from there on this page). The photo below shows roughly the same perspective, post interstate construction:

Royston (since replaced with Clearview version)

After these freeways were complete through here in the 1960s or 1970s, US 290 was co-signed eastward with I-10 until 1992. By the time of Chris' visit in early 2007, the signs pictured above had been replaced with Clearview versions. The photo below was taken from westbound I-10:

Elbert, Mar. 2007

These days, that's about as close as you can come to showing where US 290 originally ended. (Incidentally, that signage has changed: it's now exit 187, and the control city is Dallas.)

In 1934, the US 290 designation was removed from the segment between San Antonio and near Segovia. Instead, it was rerouted more easterly from Segovia, along its current corridor through Fredericksburg and Austin, to a new east terminus in Houston. Today, most of the Northwest Freeway sits on top of US 290's original alignment. But near the interchange with the Sam Houston Tollway, it veers off slightly to the north. East from there, US 290 used to be routed along Hempstead Highway and Hempstead Road. Originally US 90 followed what is now US 90A, not Katy Road, so US 290 traffic was directed further east along Washington Avenue, which turns into Preston Street downtown. The designation ended at Fannin Street, where US 290 junctioned not only its parent route (US 90), but also US 75 [map]. This intersection was right at the original Harris County courthouse:

Google Maps Street View, Mar. 2014

That's looking southeast on Preston; US 290 ended here. To the right on Fannin was westbound US 90; straight ahead was southbound US 75; and to the left was east 90/north 75.

Around 1943 a few changes affected highway routes in Houston [map]. First, US 75 was removed from its original Main Street/Airline Drive routing, and was instead shifted to follow Shepherd Drive down to Washington. At that point, US 75 turned east along what had been US 290, so the US 290 designation was truncated to that intersection. The photo below is looking west on Washington:

Karners, Dec. 2014

That was the perspective of a driver on northbound US 75, who would've been directed to turn right here on Shepherd, while straight ahead was the east beginning of US 290.

Another change was that US 90 was redirected to follow Washington out of town (instead of its original routing along Fannin and Main, which became US 90A). For awhile US 290 and US 90 were co-signed west of Shepherd, to the point where US 90 diverged onto Katy Road. But after a few years (around 1950), this overlap with US 90 was eliminated, so US 290 didn't begin until the point where it split off from US 90:

Nelson, Aug. 2007

That's looking west on Washington. US 90 continued to the left on Katy, while US 290 began to the right on Hempstead. The photo below is looking southeast on Hempstead:

Karners, Dec. 2014

That's essentially where US 290 ended: the curve to the right leads to Katy Road (historic westbound US 90), while straight ahead curves eastbound to Washington (eastbound old US 90).

Starting in about the 1970s, US 290 traffic has been routed onto a multi-lane expressway, known locally as the Northwest Freeway. Where that highway ends at its interchange with I-610, the US 290 designation also ends. This first photo shows the last eastbound 290 shield...

Taylor, 2000 (essentially unchanged as of 2014)

...although the frontage road visible on the right has additional US 290 signage ahead at on-ramps. The shot below shows the signage at the actual east terminus of US 290:

Taylor, 2000

Note that this freeway marks the spot where signage on the 610 loop changes from east/west to north/south. The photo below shows the beginning of US 290 from northbound I-610...

Taylor, 2000

...and the next one shows the beginning of 290 from westbound I-610:

Taylor, 2000

Alex reports those signs had been replaced with Clearview versions by 2005, but the verbiage is basically identical; below is an example:

Morrison, May 2012

In 1992, the last remaining segment of original US 290 - that between Segovia and Davis Mtn. Jct. - was decommissioned. Until then, that entire segment had been co-signed with I-10 (with a few exceptions). Now the west end of US 290 is at least 10 miles from anyplace, at I-10's interchange 477. I'll call that spot "near Harper", since that's the westernmost community along US 290's route. The photos below were taken over 15 miles west of there; this first one shows the last westbound trailblazer:

Karners, Dec. 2014

After a few more miles, we reach the west end of US 290:

Taylor, Dec. 2000

Curving to the right is the on-ramp to westbound I-10. Access to eastbound I-10 is via another underpass, off the left side of this photo. From eastbound I-10, US 290 traffic exits, curves back under I-10 via the underpass visible here, and comes in towards the camera. Below is a close-up shot of the signage visible at far right:

Karners, Dec. 2014

No "End" sign; just your options at I-10. The photo below shows the beginning of US 290 as seen from eastbound I-10:

Teresco, May 2004

Hidden behind the RV in that photo is this sign, at the offramp:

Nitzman, Jan. 2006

If you take that exit, the first eastbound confirming marker looks like this:

Karners, Dec. 2014