History and Development
The evolution of the transportation corridor in the Texas Hill Country is a unique and fascinating story. Although there was never a designated No. 9 train route for any of the railroads that passed through these hills, the name does give some insight into the tremendous transportation heritage of Texas and the Hill Country region.
The Pinta Trail
Portions of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway Company (SA&AP) line, especially the segment from San Antonio to the north side of Boerne, followed very closely the route of the Pinta Trail. This early Native American trail was a route to the interior of the Texas Hill Country traversed by foot and by horse.
Evolving from this once-narrow pathway was a wagon trail for immigrants. This trailway became what is now known as Old San Antonio Highway, or Old Fredericksburg Road, and was the main wagon trail from San Antonio to Boerne, eventually leading to Fredericksburg. It is no coincidence that the SA&AP chose to follow portions of this trailway to minimize grading of the railroad bed and to be in close proximity to plentiful natural resources.
After the construction of the railroad, the State Highway Department constructed State Highway 9, a more permanent roadway that followed the route of the Old San Antonio and Old Fredericksburg highways. This was later upgraded, realigned, and given the name U.S. Route 87. This new route utilized portions of State Highway 9. A segment of an unused section of this roadway was later renamed as Old Number 9 to recognize this remnant route. The third and latest upgrade and expansion was the creation of Interstate Highway 10 that swings further westward, sweeping away from the alignment of the original Pinta Trail.
Purchase, Funding & Construction
The abandoned Southern Pacific Railroad right of way was acquired / purchased by the city in 1973.
In 1993, the city applied for an ISTEA Grant from the Texas Department of Transportation for a hiking and biking trail along the railroad right of way commonly referred to as Old Number Nine. The funds were used to construct the 1.4-mile linear trail utilizing city forces. The trail is a stabilized base trail.
Texas Recreational Trails Fund
In 2000, the city applied to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Texas Recreational Trails Fund for a grant. The grant funds were used to construct trail heads and trail amenities that provide for recreational, educational, and interpretive opportunities.
Construction of the linear trail began in the fall of 2002 and was completed in late summer of 2003 after weather caused several construction delays.
In a conscious effort to connect to earlier days, the motif of the SA&AP railroad was fused into the Old Number 9 Trail amenities, utilizing to the extent possible some of the more distinctive design elements of the SA&AP. For example, the depot shade pavilion at Blanco Road was designed to replicate the outline of the smaller depots of the SA&AP used by less-populated communities along the route.
The construction and installation of trail amenities began in late fall of 2003 and was completed in fall of 2004. In the summer 2015, the entire trail was upgraded from a stabilized base trail to a concrete trail.