U.S. Route 83
Travel Page

Central Texas — South from Abilene to North of Laredo

Highway 83 south of Abilene passes through ranch country and eventually climbs into the scenic Hill Country near Junction until the land flattens out again at Uvalde. Crystal City is the birthplace of the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.
Gas Up!


A few miles south of Abilene where Highways 83 and 84 converge is the Hilltop Station.
Hundreds of these old gas stations once lined 83 from border to border, but few remain open. Most have been replaced by bright, shiny convenience stores. The owner pumps the gas for you, but doesn’t take credit cards!

San Saba Mission and Presidio

In March 1758, an alliance of Comanche, Wichita and Caddo Native Americans attacked and sacked a Spanish mission a few miles east of present-day Menard, Texas. The mission, and the fort a few miles upstream of the San Saba River, were there to convert the Apache and protect them from their long-time enemies, the Comanches. That didn’t sit well with the Comanches, who were then the most powerful nation on the southern Plains. The force laid siege to the fort, but never overtook it. The friars inside the mission didn’t fare so well.
A 1930s Work Progress Administration project rebuilt the fort, and that is now in ruins itself and is located a few miles west of town on a local golf course. Follow the signs from Highway 83. The mission is east of the town, a couple miles downriver on Farm Market Road 2092. A historical marker is all there is to see there.

The Junction Boys
In 1954, legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant took over as head football coach at Texas A&M. He found the players he inherited lacking, and took them to this remote satellite campus near Junction. During brutal heat, he relentlessly drilled his players with letting them drink water. The camp was immortalized in a book and ESPN film, The Junction Boys. The campus is now part of the Texas Tech University system, and can be found along Highway 337 south of town. Look for the signs to the campus. The screened cabins where the players presumably spent some sticky, uncomfortable nights are still standing.


Hill Country

From Junction to Uvalde is the state’s famous Hill Country. Nature enthusiasts flock to the town of Leakey (pronounced LAY-key) and its environs to hunt, fish, camp and get away from it all. The town only has a few hundred permanent residents, but its population soars on weekends. Garner State Park nine miles south of Leakey and 31 miles north of Uvalde is a popular spot for accessing the Rio Frio River.


Texas is famous for both its music and dance halls. One of the best examples can be found a few miles north of Uvalde. The Lone Star Saloon (right) generally has country-western on Fridays and Tejano bands on Saturdays, Call (830) 591-9191 for a schedule.

Crystal City

Crystal City is famous for growing spinach as well as this Popeye statue, which has been on the town’s main street since the 1930s. The town holds a Spinach Festival annually around the second week of November.
Head to the eastern edge of town to the high school. In back of the sports complex is the site of a World War II internment camp that
housed Japanese, German and Italian families. There are four historical markers there, which give a brief history of the camp. The foundation for the bathhouse is still visible.



Like the Sutton House in McCook, Nebraska, the Bel-Asher House (left) is influenced by the Prairie School of architecture. The sandstone structure was built by rancher and railroad owner Asher Richardson. The house is hard to miss as it sits just off Route 83 in Asherton, Texas. A few miles down the road is the small town of Catarina, also established by Asher Richardson as a railroad depot, it once had some 2,000 residents in the 1920s, but is down to a handful now. The once abandoned Catarina Hotel has now reopened as the Palm Suite & Inn. It has about 24 rooms, a lounge and restaurant featuring Chinese and American food.

Good Eats
You might find some jerky at the junction of Route 83 and Interstate 35. If the stand is there, it’s hard to miss. Beef, buffalo and alligator are some of the more popular offerings. As of December 2015, owner Russ Carlson was still there!


Learn more about the history and sites to see along U.S. 83 in The Last American Highway: A Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83: The Dakotas and the second edition, Nebraska-Kansas-Oklahoma. CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Click on the state to check out the other U.S. Route 83 Travel Pages.
North Dakota.
South Dakota.
North Texas.
Rio Grande Valley