|The Jefferson Highway: Blazing the Way from Winnipeg to New Orleans
University of Iowa Press: (Iowa City, Iowa), 2016
A Book Review by Patricia L. Cummings
The Jefferson Highway: Blazing the Way from Winnipeg to New Orleans reveals the history of the first international
highway that stretched north to south through the Mississippi Valley, passing through eight states: Minnesota, Iowa,
Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. After initially engaging in research fifteen years ago and then
setting the project aside for a time, the author was encouraged to continue his quest to locate more information about the
Jefferson Highway after finding several Internet archives that are treasure troves of information.
He was able to trace the original route of the Jefferson Highway, as much as is sanely possible, given the fact that the route
has undergone many changes since the early decades of the 20th century when it was completed. Some records are
presumed to be lost. Another problem in studying the highway is that in November 1926, the names of all interstate
highways were converted to numbers.
With an overwhelming amount of material potentially available, if one were to include a study of all the states the 2,300 mile
highway passes through, the author decided to concentrate his efforts on documenting and describing the Jefferson
Highway as it makes its way through Iowa (his home state). Chapters 5, 6 and 7 are dedicated to providing driving
directions, enjoyable commentaries, and photos and old postcard images of the historical artifacts that remain along the
Iowa stretch. Today, the portion of the Jefferson Highway that passes through Iowa is “a blend of US 65 and US 69.” In
Iowa, The Jefferson Highway intersects with the (formerly-named, east-west) Lincoln Highway.
This comprehensive book features the history of the highway and includes details of the founder, and officials of the
Jefferson Highway Association, uncovering the work and determination that was needed to bring the highway to
completion. To write this book, meticulous research was done by historian Lyell D. Henry, Jr., a (retired) emeritus
professor of political science who taught at Mount Mercy University from 1982-1999. His earlier books include Zig-Zag-
and-Swirl: Alfred W. Lawson's Quest for Greatness (Iowa, 1991) and Was This Heaven? A Self-Portrait of Iowa on Early
Postcards (Iowa, 1995).
One goal of the book is to preserve knowledge of the highway whose name had all but sunk into oblivion. It is also hoped
that this most recent book may lead to additional research by others to document the Jefferson Highway in the other states
through which it passed. This book makes me wish I lived closer to Iowa so that I, too, could go on a road trip on the
Copyright 2016. Patricia L. Cummings and Quilter's Muse Publications. All rights reserved.