Historic Highway Route Through Iowa To Be Recognized

Nov 1, 2016

State tourism officials have named three new byways through the state, including the historic Jefferson Highway.

The route was first designated 100 years ago, envisioned as the north-south equivalent to the Lincoln Highway.

Jefferson Highway booster Loring Miller of Leon
Credit Joyce Russell/IPR

It runs from Winnipeg, Manitoba to New Orleans, following Highways 65 and 69 from Northwood to Lamoni in Iowa.

New markers will go up along the historic route in time for the 2018 tourism season.

Loring Miller of Leon in Decatur County is one of the project’s boosters.

"Construction started in 1916," Miller says. "By 1919 over 15,000 stencilled pole markers and 2000 enameled steel signs posted at mile intervals were placed on the route to guide motorists."

Markers will direct travelers to significant historic sites along the way.

The second new state byway is an 82-mile route that will originate in Winterset.

Credit Joyce Russell/IPR

It will guide travelers to the John Wayne birthplace and Madison County's iconic covered bridges.

“The ‘Bridges Byway’ is laid out like spokes of a wheel,” said Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino.   

The third new byway is known as the "White Pole Road." It runs 26 miles, between Adair and Dexter, just north of Interstate 80 along old U.S. Highway 6.

"The route had a historic claim to fame linking five small towns and highlights infamous events from outlaws such as Jesse James and Bonnie and Clyde," Trombino says.

Three already-existing state byways have been selected for upgrades.

The Driftless Area Scenic Byway in the Decorah area will be extended by 44 miles.

The Historic Hills Scenic Byway will be extended from Moravia to Honey Creek State Park, a distance of about seven miles.

Finally, the Iowa Great River Road National Scenic Byway that runs along the Mississippi River will get upgrades. The changes will improve access to amenities along the riverfront and address safety concerns along the route.