New green space, walking trail will pay homage to nature and historic Jefferson Highway

Work in underway on a new green space with a walking trail on Jefferson Street. After the City received a donation of the land and the University Cleaners building, it also purchased the two lots with houses next-door. The cleaners was torn down in October, 2017 and the two houses were next.

The new green space and walking trail is a joint beautification project between the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the City of Natchitoches, and the Cane River National Heritage Area.

Phase 1 includes a parking lot and walking trail, which is scheduled for completion within the next two weeks. Phase 2 will include benches, a smaller version of the pavilion at city park, which will be built inside the loop of the walking track. Additional enhancements are planned for a later date.

The City grew about 15 Cypress trees from seedlings that now stand four-feet tall. They were planted on the high bank across the back of the property. This project features a more natural aesthetic and has very different landscaping from previous projects.

There is also a wetlands area behind the property that connects to Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site. It is full of local flora and fauna, which the project partners plan to keep protected.

Another aspect of this green area is to add a plaque portraying the historical significance of the road it’s on.

A plaque will be installed in the park upon its completion to bring awareness to the area’s history.

“Historically the Natchitoches portion of the Jefferson Highway was one of the most well traveled and maintained portions,” said Rebecca Blakenbaker, CRNHA Executive Director. “It’s an honor to pay homage to that particular part of Natchitoches’ history by having this plaque placed along Jefferson Street. It’s these corridors that promoted traveling and tourism and the Jefferson Highway Association is always looking for ways to improve tourism along the trail. Visitors and residents always enjoy learning tidbits of information about Natchitoches’ history through these interpretive plaques.”

Jefferson Street is part of the historic Jefferson Highway, which was first formed in New Orleans in 1915 and once traversed from Winnipeg, Manitoba to New Orleans as part of the “Good Roads Movement” of this time period. Communities along the route worked together to improve roads, bridges and promote the route which was once a principal travel route through Louisiana.

The Jefferson Highway along with other historic highways later lost most of their identity when these “named roads” were nationally changed to numerical designations. Much of the old Jefferson Highway roadbed though remains up and down the historic route today and enthusiasts are now working to make it a viable north-south historic byway across the country for modern day tourists.

In 2011, the Jefferson Highway Association was reformed as a historical, heritage organization to preserve the history of the historic route and promote tourism and travel on the historic roadbed which goes through seven states (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana) and one Province (Manitoba) in Canada. This will be the 8th annual conference for this group and the first to be held in Louisiana.


15 thoughts on “New green space, walking trail will pay homage to nature and historic Jefferson Highway

  1. Sorry… I’m not from here… Is this Jefferson Street the same as Front Street? Does it become Sam Sibley past the NSU gate? What about the part that people call Washington Street?

    • Lady J in the house !! god no stay away from Washington street
      murder row…..few murders in that sketchy hotel.

  2. Natchitoches is so closed minded and your points are well taken.People will drive to the Pargon and to Bossier to gamble and those cities reap the benefits,why not bring gambling to Natchitoches ? We have bingo its a form of gambling,driving on these roads is a gamble.If you put something on the river or front street you could make a killing .
    Heck put something on 49,hotels and food easy access on and off the Hwy.

    • Paragon is on an Indian Reservation, Tunica-Biloxi, and the “boats” in S’port-Bossier are technically not land-based casinos. Louisiana state law forbids land-based casinos, Indians get a pass on that law. So, the I-49 location is out. And, I would think a “boat” on Cane River Lake would also be a no-go since it would technically be “land locked.” But, even if there was no legality blocking it “Natchitoches” can not establish a casino, or any such business.

      I read comments like “Natchitoches” needs a Target, a Lowe’s, “more restaurants.” These are private businesses and cities don’t snap their fingers and bam! one appears. I promise you such businesses not being here has little to do with Natchitoches being “closed minded.”

      The only thing cities, parishes, states can do to entice businesses to locate there is TO GET OUT OF THE WAY! Tax incentives help, but then folks complain about a large corporation getting a tax break, and ignore the taxes they do pay, the jobs they create, etc… Then there are all the local regulations that local governments throw in the way of businesses wishing to locate there. That’s what I mean by “GET OUT OF THE WAY.”

      Point is, private entities, people, INVESTORS create business. There is nothing stopping you from recruiting investors and making something happen.

  3. Nine 18 wheelers between 5 and 6 AM this morning. I assumed that the truck route had been changed to Jefferson Street.

  4. Let’s just let all the streets go to pot, as in all potholes, and we won’t need any of those high-faluting polluting cars, we will have all the walking trails we need. Just think how few traffic jams there will be unless old friends stop to gossip much as they do in the WalMart Aisles. Of course you lazy bones are gonna have to get up early to get there on time. Please be careful that you you don’t rush to fast down our new walking trails, which were our old streets. Those potholes have never been repaired, at least at the point the streets become walking trails, if you step in one, you are gonna break your fool neck. But please don’t try to sue the city, all their money has been spent on building a pretty River Front, construction of a luxurious sports complex, remodeling an old ugly building to the tune of a bout 1/2 million dollars. But don’t look to the roads. That hole you are staring into the side of is a pothole that they didn’t think was important enough to fix. I do hereby declare that it’s time to get rid of the jokers that somehow got elected to mayor, city council, parish president and parish council. I guess their mamas never took the time to teach them that you pay for the necessities before you put in the swimming pool. That you put food on the table before you plan a cruise around the world. Wise up men and women of local government, YOU HAVE GOT THIS ALL WRONG. DO US ALL A FAVOR, DON’T RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFIĆE AGAIN. WE WOULD BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL!

    • I can appreciate your sentiment and frustration. I don’t have an opinion on this project, but do share concerns about the general direction of both the city and the parish. Clearly we need new people to run for office. But who? Most people capable of doing a great job are already engaged in some other endeavor, maybe owning/operating their own business, and why in the world would they give that up just to subject themselves to the crud of holding political office? Look at what has happened to Donald Trump! Egad!

  5. Jefferson Street is part of highway 6 which is a state highway, it is up to the state to upkeep highway 6 not the city of Natchitoches

    • You are so right, Dexter, but it seems one of our representatives would be interested In this City and NSU to ask the State or relate info to the State DOTD. Of course we don’t have a representative living in Natchitoches Parish…. do we?

  6. This is a joint venture between three entities, one of which is the city. Assuming equal share, that means the city put up 33% of the funding for this project. I don’t know how much this is costing, but I bet that 1/3 of that amount wouldn’t mend very many potholes in our streets.

    On the other hand, we, as a nation, are losing too much of our history. There are too many revisionists and those with personal agendas demanding that our history be destroyed and forgotten. So, if this small piece of our history can be preserved and a green space created to boot, that’s a double win, IMO.

    • If they want history,put the cleaners sign up on a old pole! Those few potholes might be the ones that take YOUR front end out

  7. the road to this walkway and and the 4 way are awful ! but hey,throw a tire rod out and enjoy brisk walk while waiting for tow truck.

  8. It HAS BEEN 50 OR MORE YEARS SINCE THIS SECTION OFJefferson has been touched or improved. This stretch would be more inviting if the State would overlay or improve the roadway (it is a State highway and often traveled by 18-wheelers).

    • Are they part of the City? City taxes or Parish taxes? Taxes pay for streets and roads.
      Rake me over the coals, burn my hide, but the Parish (and City) might have a bit of money had video poker not been voted out years back, and now I wonder if the sports betting will be voted out of the Parish— which many people bet now, although it is illegal and no tax is generated.
      Makes me wonder how many people in Louisiana and Natchitoches put their beer in the crisper of the refrigerator so no one sees it but drinks it, and who bets on professional and LSU sports, but will vote out legal sports betting— but continue doing it illegally. (Sorry, I got off on another tangent!– but we must have taxes to pay for everything– even the “free stuff”!) People will do these pleasurable sins anyway, so why not get the tax money and use it for roads.

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