May 9, 2013

Farm to Market Road

While spending some time in the northwest corner of North Dakota a couple of summers ago, (photographic tour of the rural whimsy of that area here)
I came across a "Farm to Market" road sign.
I thought it was a charming name for a road.
Photo taken while passing through Noonan, ND, near the Saskatchewan, Canada border.

Then I started seeing Farm to Market roads in almost any small town we passed through.  
We don't have them (that I'm aware of) in my native northern Minnesota, and I was intrigued.  

When visiting the Hill Country of Texas this March, we came across Farm to Market roads there, as well.  Curious, I finally looked into the history behind them.
The name is a pretty telling indicator that traditionally, Farm to Market roads served to connect rural or agricultural areas to market towns.

The first farm to market road was completed in Texas in January 1937.
The perceived need to connect the vast, isolated central and western areas of the state prompted the Farm to Market (or Ranch to Market) road system to be established in 1949 as a project to provide access to rural areas, consisting primarily of paved, two-lane roads.  These would provide access to the rural areas of the state and allow farmers and ranchers to bring their goods to market.  Funding was to have come from an increase in the gasoline tax.
The system now accounts for over half of the mileage in the Texas Department of Trasportation system.
As a result of population growth and the expansion of urban areas, many Farm to Market and Ranch to Market roads that originally served rural areas now serve urban areas, sometimes exclusively.
An effort was made to rename such roads "Urban Roads" in 1995, but residents opposed the effort, arguing that removing the "Farm" and "Ranch" from the designations was "un-Texan," and that the cost of changing signage was not justified.

And so while many of these roads are still used by farmers to haul goods to distribution points, they are also commonly used as highways for residents & passersby,  and some of them are simply street names reminding us of a time gone by.
Does your state / town have "Farm to Market" road signs? 

Sharing with Rurality.


  1. yup, we've got tons of "FMs" here. :)

  2. None here and I've never heard of them. Very interesting. :)

  3. How neat! I have never seen one of those before. Never knew about this at all but it's very fascinating!

  4. I've not heard of these. Pretty interesting!

  5. I've not heard of them in the PNW, but it makes so much sense! :-)

  6. That was a lovely concept to build roads, not just out of the goodness go administrator's heart but, being a cynic, to bring in the foodstuffs to feed the large towns and win votes??
    By the way what do you 'farm'? We have a few cattle 9 (breeding cows) and sheep apart from the granddaughters' horses and other pets.

  7. That is one of the coolest road names :)

  8. Nope. The southern part of the Gopher state doesn't have them either. Nor Iowa or Wisconsin as far as I know...:)