In unincorporated areas of Texas counties and less developed parts of cities, drivers may notice unconventional designations for roadways. Instead of highway, street, road, avenue or parkway, roads in these areas often have a FM—or farm-to-market—designation.

In the years before and after World War II, these secondary roads were of great importance to rural travelers, according to a U.S. Department of the Interior study, “Historic Road Infrastructure of Texas, 1866-1965.”

The development of FM roads was integral to providing transport of farm and ranch produce to market, ensuring regular mail delivery service, and providing access to schools, medical care, church and social gatherings.

The first “feeder” roads—which served as precursors to the FM road system—were constructed in the 1930s using Works Progress Administration funding following President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. By the 1960s, Texas’ secondary road network was recognized as the most developed rural highway network in the country.