Farm to market roads

Half of Texas roadways are FM roads

Farm to market roads started in Texas in 1936 to help farmers more easily transport their goods to the market.

The Texas Department of Transportation owns and maintains the state's more than 50,000 miles of farm to market roadways, typically in the state's rural areas.

More than half of all roadways in Texas are farm to market roads.

"They were started because the farms needed a good road to get to the market to sell their products," said Jean Alexander, director of the Tomball Museum. "Of course it was really very important because this was reconstruction time after the Civil War and things were not easy for people. This was their livelihood, and they needed to get to market and get a fair price. Farming was one of the main businesses from the beginning of the area."

The first farm to market road in Texas was 5.8 miles long, built between 1936 and 1937 in eastern Texas between Mount Enterprise and Shiloh in Rusk County. The project cost $48,015, according to TxDOT. The roadway was redesignated in 1939 as a segment of Hwy. 315.

FM 1488, which travels through Montgomery and Waller counties, was built in 1949 and is 41.158 miles long.

The early construction of farm to market roads was paid for with an annual appropriation of $15 million from the state general fund, called for by the Texas Legislature through the Colson-Briscoe Act in 1949.

Typically, roads east of U.S. 281 are called farm to market roads, and roadways west of U.S. 281 are called ranch to market roads. Some of the farm to market and ranch to market roadway signs throughout the state are shortened to "Farm Road" or "Ranch Road."

There is one road formally designated "Ranch Road" in the state—Ranch Road 1 near the former ranch home of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

There is one other similar designation—NASA 1—around the Mission Control Center in Houston.

Iowa and Missouri have a similar farm to market roadway system, according to TxDOT.

Although many of the farm to market roadways now run through urbanized areas, TxDOT does not have any plans to change the name of the roadways.

"The public is familiar with these names and businesses and residential address listings use these route designations," said TxDOT spokesman Danny Perez. "There is no talk of changing these names."

Houston-area FM roads

  • FM 1960: Runs through Harris and Liberty counties, is 46.9 miles long and was built in 1951.
  • FM 529: Runs through Harris, Waller and Austin counties, is 41.96 miles lone and was built in 1945.
  • FM 2920: Runs through Harris County, is 30.849 miles long, and was built in 1964.
  • FM 1488: Runs through Waller and Montgomery counties, is 41.158 miles long, and was constructed in 1949.
  • FM 1774: Runs through Waller, Montgomery and Grimes counties, is 32.208 miles long, and was constructed in 1951.
  • FM 2978: Runs through Harris and Montgomery counties, is 9.161 miles long, and was built in 1965.