September 28, 2023

The Jefferson Highway was an automobile highway stretching through the central United States from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Jefferson Highway was replaced with the new numbered US Highway system in the late 1920s. Portions of the highway are still named Jefferson Highway, for example: the portions that run through Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana; Lee’s Summit, Missouri; Osseo, Minnesota; and Wadena, Minnesota.

It was built in the 1910s as part of the National Auto Trail system.

Named for President Thomas Jefferson, inspired by the east-west Lincoln Highway, it was nicknamed the “Palm to Pine Highway”, for the varying types of trees found at either end.

The southern terminus of the Jefferson Highway was in New Orleans, Louisiana at the intersection of St. Charles Avenue and Common Street. It is marked by a six-foot tall Georgia granite obelisk donated by the New Orleans chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The obelisk was installed on April 15, 1918, and it was formally dedicated the following January.

The original route (finalized in December 1916) on today’s roads is as follows:

When Louisiana numbered its state highways in 1921, the entire length of the Jefferson Highway through Louisiana was designated as State Route 1. This route was in effect until the 1955 Louisiana Highway renumbering. When the U.S. Highway System was designated in 1926, the Jefferson Highway was split into four U.S. Highways in Louisiana: US 61 from New Orleans to Baton Rouge (before it was re-routed onto the Airline Highway), US 71 from Baton Rouge to Clarence, US 171 from Mansfield to Shreveport, and US 80 from Shreveport west into Texas. The section between Natchitoches and Mansfield was not included in the U.S. Highway System.