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Heber M. Scott

The Denison Herald
Sun, 26 Feb 1961

State's Senior County Engineer Retires Here After Rare Career
A career in public road work stretching from the split-log drag maintenance of dirt trails to the modern four-lane super-highway will come to a climax March 1 with the retirement of the oldest county engineer in Texas.
Heber M. Scott, a resident of Denison since 1904, will end 43 years as county engineer of Grayson and a much longer career in road construction and maintenance in this area.
Starting in his late teens, Scott helped build the first, macadamized road in Texas, from Denison to Carpenter's Bluff, and figured in some of the first street paving in Denison and many miles of the first surfaced roads in this county.

Scott holds the longest service tenure of any employe in the history of the county, with years to spare.
The 70-year-old veteran has seen books full of history made in the methods and science of road maintenance and construction. And he has found a thrill in every minute of it.

"I would have retired earlier, at least a couple of years ago," he declares, "but I was having too much fun in my work."      
Born at Leonard Feb. 6, 1891, he came to Denison with his family 57 years ago and attended public schools and the famed Harshaw Business Academy. He topped off his schooling with a four-year correspondence course in engineering, reinforced by a lot of practical experience in lhat field.
One of his earliest jobs was helping remodel the late Security Building from a wholesale hardware plant, for which it originally was erected, into an office structure.
As a youngster he gave little thought to it, but Scott kept rendezvous with destiny in several respects, including the epochal landing of the Annie P on Red River north of Denison.
His father, who then operated a transfer service, sent him to the river to haul in two wagonloads, 6,000 pounds of grindstones that had been shipped by boat, to the Hall-Leeper Hardware Co. here. That was in 1905.

Scott kept another date with history in his first road building work. Through the summer of 1912 he worked as a chairman and later as bridge and culvert inspector for Road District No. 1, the first in Grayson County.
Embracing Denison and a northeast corner of the county, this district had voted $250,000 in bonds for the surfacing of 10 miles of streets in the city and 20 miles of country roads, including the history-making Carpenter's Bluff strip.

Scott recalls that eight men who worked for the epoch-marking road district still survive here, including Oscar Boren, a foreman: J. E. Foster, carpenter foreman; S. O. Freeman, who "didn't quit working when he became foreman"; F. E. Vaughan, foreman; Jess Cook, now of Pottsboro, a concrete worker; Joe Cassell, a hauler; and Nath Walcer, Negro road grader operator "who could blade a rock surface as pretty as you ever saw."
The first gravel surfaced roads that replaced dirt trails were 10 feet wide, with a 6 inch layer of clay and gravel. Scott doesn't remember whether they outlasted the debt they entailed, but does recall that they "definitely were hailed as a big improvement in those days."

There weren't any of the mechanical monsters that make small chores today of major road construction work.
"The only power, outside of teams, we had was steam engines which pulled graders, rollers, and the big plows." Scott recalls. "All dirt was moved with slips, wheeled scrapers, elevating graders, and bottom-dump wagons — all pulled by teams, preferably mules. We hitched as many teams in tandem as were needed to move the load."
For some time after Scott got into the business the then common practice of using prisoners for road work continued.
"The prisoners were hauled, as many as 20 at a time, to work sites in huge wagon cages, which also served as their sleeping quarters. Four or five armed guards stood watch at all times. The prisoners didn't give us much trouble as you might think, but neither did they set any records as workmen."  
One of the unique techniques recalled by Scott was mixing concrete, something that is done in a continuous operation today by giant machines that spew out broad concrete paths.
He remembers that when Gandy street was paved about 1914 all of the concrete was mixed on room-sized platforms, much in the manner that a do-it-yourself home-owner today might mix a small batch of concrete for a step.


"The sand, gravel, and cement were dumped in windrows," Scott explains, "and a whole army of shovel wielders would start mixing the dry ingredients, with water then added gradually.
"As crude as the process was, we whipped up some concrete that workmen today are finding pretty tough when they rip it out for rebuilding jobs."
Scott recalls that Frank Lee, a Negro now employed by the Goodman Co., was one of the workmen on the Gandy street project.
Before he got in the groove as county engineer, Scott flitted back and forth between jobs with the city as assistant engineer, with the interurban line, and in the engineering department of the Katy, which was widening curves and otherwise beefing up its track for the inauguration of the Texas Special as a blistering-fast passenger run.

During one of his hitches at city hall, he helped plan the old viaduct, which was dismantled a few years ago. But, he won't accept blame for the design of the viaduct, which started on one street, cut diagonally across a block, and landed on another, producing two tight corners that proved a bane to later traffic.

Denison's first viaduct

Denison's second viaduct

Source : The Herald Democrat

Work on Denison's viaduct causes a look back to its history
by Donna Hunt
January 08, 2012

...Denison's first viaduct was in the very early days.  A wooden structure carried a street car track and other traffic across across the Austin Avenue route.  People living and working north of Morgan Street had no trouble coming and going, but those living south of Morgan had a problem.  The Katy's Roundhouse. shops and switch yards stretched from Lamar Avenue on the east to Mirick Avenue on the west and that meant a detour for those in South Denison to get to town in the early days.
That problem was somewhat solved in the 1880s, according to Jack Maguire in his book, "Katy's  Baby" , when the wooden viaduct was built.  It carried tracks for the "dummy line" and the first mule-powered streetcar  as well as a place for pedestrians to walk.  Horses and wagons also probably crossed over the "yards" to get to town...

The Rest of the Denison Viaduct Story
by Donna Hunt
January 11, 2012

...second viaduct...Denisonians living in the south part of town were served by wooden viaduct that in pictures looked a littl shaky from its begining in the early 1880s until about 1915.  Before the wooden structure was built, those living in thearea south of town had to go the long way around to get down town.  Transportation wasn't plentiful in those days and for many that meant a lot of walking.  The wooden viaduct was a lot safer in many instances.
But by 1915 the old viaduct with its tracks for the "dummy line" and the first mule-powered streetcar along with a small walkway for pedestrains had outlived its usefullness.  When talk began about needing a new viaduct, a controversy arose over where to put a new two lane concrete structure.  City leaders were divided in their acceptance of plans for the span to begin on Rusk Avenue and end on Austin Avenue.
In fact, opposition almost forced the city into a special election until the council took some fast action to prevent it, saying there were no funds for such an election.  At that time a viaduct fund collected by a special tax levy to build a viaduct over the Katy shops, had only $5,527 in it.
Mayor Alexander Acheson said that a viaduct as planned by the city and railroad would cost not less than $60,000 and possibly $75,000.  He said it would take two years to build.  It's not known if money in that special viaduct fund helped build the new span.
The council issued a special letter to Denisonians, outlining reasons for the crooked viaduct.  Opening words of the letter were "The council declines to change the location of the viaduct."  Their minds were made up...
The letter continued....the building of the viaduct would have to be postponed indefinitely.
It may have been the "postponed indefinitely" statement that finally changed the minds of the people of Denison. Those living on the south side of town were anxious to have easier access to downtown even though the viaduct would have a break-neck crook in the span that later became a deathtrap to many people.  Other residents were finally convinced at how important the viaduct would be to the city....
While the viaduct was completed as planed from Austin to Rusk avenues, the oppositio's argument turned out to be true and the viaduct became a nightmare for travelers from the very beginning.
Even pedestrains complained that they didn't feel safe walking across the crooked span.  In those days, fewer people had cars and there were a lot of walkers coming and going to work across the viaduct...
Fortunately by 1954 the old viaduct was showing its age with signs of decay.  Thanks to the Texas Highway Department, a new $800,000 shortcut to downtown was opened by way of the Austin Avenue viaduct that started and ended on Austin Avenue.  That structure was a blessing to many Denisonians.  For one thing, it had four lanes instead of two and it was STRAIGHT!
On November 26, 1954 at 2:45 p.m. barriers to the center aisle were removed, opening the span without fanfare or even a ribbon-cutting ceremony...

Scott's first job with the county was in 1916 as assistant, to the then county engineer, Julian C. Field, who also was a Denisonian. Field and Scott are the only two men to hold the county engineer post. Son of a pioneer Denison physician, Field later was a highway contractor and owned a sand and gravel firm here. His widow still lives here.

During his tenure as assistant county engineer, Scott helped build the first county-wide system of gravel roads, financed by a $962,000 bond issue. In all, 235 miles of roads were built, reaching into every community of any importance.
He recalls that surveying public roads routes in those days was largely a matter of following existing trails and property lines, "and going by practically everybody's house."
He was on the ground floor of more Grayson road history in 1917, when he served as resident engineer for a road district, created in the Hagerman to vote all of $10,000 for 6-1/2 miles of new gravel paving.    
Several years earlier he served as assistant engineer during re-construction of the Colbert toll bridge. The span was swept away by the 1908 flood and a ferry was used for years until the structure could be rebuilt.

After a few months as resident engineer on a road construction program in Carter County, Okla.. Scott became county engineer of Grayson May 26, 1918, and has held the post since.
A high point in his career was surveying routes for the county's first system of concrete roads, built after a 1927 bond issue. This still is the framework of the county's present highway system.
Scott remembers that he was working on a city paving job when he and Miss Nondas Whiteacre were married Dec. 30, 1912. "I wasn't earning enough money to afford a wife, but we got married anyhow," he chortles.

The Scotts, who reside at 2219 Loy Lake Road, have three sons, Lewis, Roy, and H. M. Scott Jr., all partners in a paving firm and a daughter, Mrs. B. K. Burleson, also of Denison.
Also still very much present and accounted for at the ripe age of 94 is Scott's mother, Mrs. Minnie T. Scott, whose husband spent a number of years as a furniture merchant here.
When Scott sees the traffic-jammed thoroughfares here today, he finds it difficult to remember that he started out planning streets principally for horse and buggy use.
"There were six cars in Denison then," he recalls.
What passed as cardinal highway routes had names instead of numbers, the most popular in these parts being the Jefferson Highway, the "Pine to Palm Route". Two others through this area were the King of Trails and Ocean Highway.
Whether they're 10-foot gravel trails or  four-lane expressways, public roads are closely interwoven with the lives of the people they serve, and Heber Scott is happy to have devoted a long and eventful career in that field.

Dallas News
18 Dec 1961
Death Takes Heber Scott,
Grayson Engineer 43 Years

DENISON, Texas (Sp.) - Heber M. Scott, 71, who retired this year after spending 43 years as Grayson County engineer, died in a  hospital here Monday after a 9 day illness.
Funeral will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Brafcher Funeral Chapel with burial in Fairview Cemetery.
Mr. Scott's career in public road work stretched from the split-log drag maintenance of dirt trails to the modern 4-lane super-highways. At the time of his retirement, he held the longest service tenure of any employe in the history of Grayson County.
He hauled two wagon loads of merchandise from the Annie P when the craft made its historic voyage up Red River to Denison in 1905.
Mr. Scott was born Feb. 6, 1891, at Leonard.  His, mother, now 95, still lives in Denison. He was married to Miss Nondas Whiteacre Dec. 30, 1912, in Denison.
Mr. Scott was associated with his three sons in H. M. Scott and Sons, asphalt contractors, for years. He was a member of the First Christian Church and a deacon. He was a member of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers.                   
At one time he was assistant engineer of the Texas Electric Interurban Line, was with the engineering department of the Katy Railroad and worked with a Denison firm.
He was educated in Leonard and Denison and attended the Harshaw Business Academy, topping his studies with a correspondent course in engineering.

Photo caption:
H. M. Scott Sr., who took this picture, was serving as city inspector when a strip of East Main street was paved in 1912. The steam roller at the rear did extra duty by furnishing steam to operate the concrete mixer in the foreground. Much of the concrete used in street paving at that time was hand-mixed on huge platforms.

Sherman Democrat
18 Dec 1961
Obituary Notices
Former County Engineer Dies

DENISON -- H.M. Scott Sr., 70, of Denison, retired Grayson county engineer, died at 2:20 a.m. Monday in a Denison hospital. He became critically ill nine days ago.
Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Bratcher Funeral Chapel. The Rev. Jess Pugh, pastor of the First Christian Church, will conduct the services. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery.
The family will be at the funeral chapel from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Mr. Scott was born Feb. 6, 1891, in Leonard, the son of Mr. and Mrs. T. M. Scott, On Dec 30, 1912, he married Miss Nondas Whiteacre in Denison. After retiring as county engineer, Mr. Scott became associated with his sons in the asphalt contract business. He was a deacon in the First Christian Church, and a member of the church and the Society of Professional Engineers. He retired on March 1 of this year after 43 years as county engineer.
Survivors are his wife; three sons, H. M. Scott Jr., Lewis Scott and Roy Scott; a daughter, Mrs. Francene Burleson; his mother, Mrs. Minnie Scott, 93, and eight grandchildren, all of Denison, a niece; and two cousins, Mrs. Tola Montgomery of Sherman and Rhome Carr of Fort Worth.

Contributed by Suzie Henderson

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