Blog Oklahoma Podcast 178: The Jefferson Highway

Welcome to Blog Oklahoma

Everyone knows about Oklahoma’s famous historic highway, The Mother Road, Route 66. That nostalgic drive across our state from Quapaw in Green Country to Texola in Great Plains Country. The brown historic route road sign has been woven into our very culture. Where I am here in Elk City, I live two blocks from the historic route and drive on it regularly. Historic Route 66 is part of our daily lives.

But what many of us here along the Will Rogers Highway might not even know, Route 66 is just one of the famous highways that cross Oklahoma. Let me introduce you to the Jefferson Highway.

Welcome to Blog Oklahoma

The Jefferson Highway

The Jefferson Highway was one of the earliest transcontinental highways. It was named in honor of our third President, Thomas Jefferson. It was established in 1915 and ran from New Orleans, Louisiana, north to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It was intended to provide a direct link from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. Thus, giving it another name, the “Palm to Pine Highway.”

The Jefferson Highway was not a single, continuous road but a network of existing roads designated as part of the route. This route travels north through Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Manitoba, Canada.

Today, much of the Jefferson Highway has been absorbed into other highways and interstates like many of the older historic routes. However, there are still many historical markers and other signs along the way that commemorate the legacy of this essential early highway.

The Oklahoma Route

You can still travel much of this historic route in eastern Oklahoma. The distinctive blue J H signs and official Oklahoma historic route signs mark the old highway. From the south, you’ll enter our state from Texas near Colbert, Oklahoma. The route takes you north-northeast through communities such as Durrant, Caddo, Atoka, McAlester, Eufaula, Muskogee, Wagoner, Pryor, Adair, Vinita, and Miami. To the north, you’ll exit our state to Kansas from Picher, Oklahoma.

In the show notes, I’ll have links to more information about the Jefferson Highway, including a free Oklahoma Jefferson Highway tour book.

It’s fascinating how much Oklahoma history has happened along this highway. Two moments come to mind on both ends of the route. South of Colbert, Oklahoma, was the site of the Red River Bridge War. And there are the sad events surrounding the contamination and eventual evacuation of Picher, Oklahoma. Both events should probably be their own episode someday.

More Oklahoma Facts

Since I’m on the topic of Oklahoma, here are a few random facts for you. Impress your friends with your Oklahoma knowledge.

Oklahoma currently has 77 counties, but on Statehood in 1907, Oklahoma only had 75 counties. Harmon County was split from Greer County in 1909, and Cotton County was created from Comanche County in 1912.

Cimarron County is Oklahoma’s westernmost county. It sits out there at the end of the Oklahoma Panhandle. It’s also the only county to border four different states, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. It also can be said to border Texas twice, with the State of Texas to the south and the County of Texas, Oklahoma to the east. Cimarron County is also home to the highest point in Oklahoma at Black Mesa in the far northwestern corner of the county at 4,973 feet or 1,516 meters. It’s also the only county in Oklahoma to touch a different time zone since it borders Central and Mountain time.

The lowest point in Oklahoma can be found in McCurtain County in far southeastern Oklahoma on the border with Texas and Arkansas at 289 feet or 88 meters in the Little River, a small tributary of the Red River.

And finally, Oklahoma has six tristate points connecting with two other states. Three are back in Cimarron County: New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma; Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma; and New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. The other three are in eastern Oklahoma: in Ottawa County is Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma; in Delaware County is Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma; and again, in McCurtain County is Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Elections

First, an update from the March 7, 2023, election. State Question 820 was defeated, with 61% voting against the proposition. So currently, there is no legal recreational marijuana in the state.

Next, there’s another election coming up on April 4, 2023. Local issues will be on the ballot this time, school boards, city councils, county commissioners, and city or county bond issues. I encourage you to visit the Oklahoma State Elections Board to see if you need to head to the polls.

Free ASL Course

The Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur, Oklahoma, offers some free online American Sign Language courses. Each course provides eight lessons focusing on grammar, proper signing, and culture. The spring session runs until July 31, 2023. If you’re interested in learning ASL, sign up today. I’ll have links in the show notes to the courses.

About In The News

In the first podcast of this year, I announced that “In The News” was returning. I’m afraid plans have changed on that. The goal was to bring you some interesting local news from around the state, but I hit a little snag with that. Paywalls.

The majority of local Oklahoma newspapers have their news behind a paywall in one form or another. Now, I’m all for supporting your local newspapers, If you can, please subscribe. Currently, I’m subscribed to the Elk City News, my hometown paper, The Oklahoman, and the Oklahoma Observer. As much as I would like to support other local Oklahoma newspapers monetarily, there is no way I can.

And I’m afraid the news I was hoping to share, just doesn’t get filtered to TV or the wire services where I can access that news. What does is mostly crime, crashes, or disasters, and that’s not what I wanted to share here in the podcast.

So I’m not going to be doing In The News segment here in the podcast. If something I find interesting does pop up, I will share it here, but as its own topic.

However, the news I can share, I do daily at Blog Oklahoma on Mastodon, and weekly in the Blog Oklahoma Newsletter. So please check those out.

Did You Know?

Did you know we have our own CafePress store? There you can purchase a t-shirt, coffee mug, and other great items with the Blog Oklahoma Podcast artwork on them. Just head on over to

I’ve added even more great music to the Blog Oklahoma Bonus playlist on Spotify. There are many hours of music for you to enjoy. I’ll have links to this and more in show notes at

And thank you for listening to the Blog Oklahoma Podcast.

Blog Oklahoma Podcast

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This episode was recorded in front of a live teddy bear audience in beautiful just off downtown Elk City, Oklahoma. During this session we used a MXL 990 microphone or Behringer Ultravoice XM18005 microphone connected to a Behringer Xenyx 502 audio mixer using a Behringer U-Control UCA202 USB Interface to feed into Audacity. Our audio episodes are hosted on Libsyn and our video episodes are hosted on YouTube.

The Blog Oklahoma Podcast episodes are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.