Jefferson Highway Association looks to bring annual conference to Natchitoches

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The Jefferson Highway Association, originally founded in 1915 promotes the preservation of the Jefferson Highway in the United States of America and Canada. The National Highway, described as ‘ from the pines of Winnipeg to the palms of New Orleans connects existing roads in one super highway and was to travel from one nation to another ( from Canada to Louisiana).

The association is interested in holding their 2019 conference in Natchitoches (target date- last weekend in April). Several members gave a presentation May 24 to local community members, organizations and state DOTD representatives.

Known as the “Pine to Palm” Highway, it was promoted as a vacation pipeline.It was replaced in the 1920s with a numbered U.S. Highway system.

Association President Glenn Smith and members Mike Curtis and Roger Bell spoke on the history and historical significance of the highway, and the association’s preservation efforts since 2011 when a group of roadies reformed it.

“The really cool thing about your community (Natchitoches) is that the Jefferson Highway runs right through your downtown area (Front Street and Jefferson Street),” said Bell.

Smith said what’s even more interesting is the fact that there’s more miles of road in Louisiana still called “Jefferson Highway” than anywhere else he’s traveled.

“I wasn’t aware until two years ago when two documentary makers produced a film on the Jefferson Highway that Jefferson Street was part of the original Jefferson Highway,” said Tourism Office Executive Director Arlene Gould.

The group discussed ways to market the Jefferson Highway as another tourism draw for Natchitoches, getting more people in the area to join the JH Association, and creating signage to mark the route through the Parish.

“I’d love to see signage from New Orleans to the Texas border,” said Smith.

Henry “Buddy” Maggio and his wife Nita joined on the spot and members of the Natchitoches Historic Foundation expressed interest in becoming members.

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