Jefferson Highway in Carthage, Missouri

Before there was U S Highway 66 (Route 66 - Main Street of America) and U S Highway 71 (Broadway of America) there were "auto trails" coming through southwest Missouri and the two best known ones were the Jefferson Highway and Ozark Trails routes. Learn more about highways prior to federalization of the highway system in America, at the links listed below. (For more on Ozark Trails, click here.)


Jefferson Highway Association website.

Association members have started Geocaching along the JH (including one at Powers Museum). Get more information here.


The Iowa Department of Highways has one of the best highway history sites including information on the Jefferson Highway. Publisher E. T. Meredith, the road's creator, was based in Des Moines, Iowa.

To view an image and text from a 1923 Jefferson Highway guide (including general route placement), .

NOTE: Image for Sociability Run (right) was a 2003 program event.



Over a decade ago, the Powers Museum assisted the Cass County Historical Society of Harrisonville in one of the first test road rallies over a portion of the former Jefferson Highway located between Harrisonville and Webb City, Missouri (see Sociability Run image above). To see a map of part of the roads that were traveled for this event, .

The museum has been researching the nearby counties to find the various alignments of the Jefferson Highway as well as the original Highway 71 route that was developed after the initial campaign for the Jefferson Highway. Much of the original material for the rock road beds and early concrete roads for both these roads came from the waste materials of the Tri-state Mining District radiating out from Joplin, Missouri.

If you have photographs, maps or promotional literature from any location along the Jefferson Highway's route, please contact the Powers Museum. Various county contacts are looking for photographs of the highway, businesses located along or near the highway or work crews and/or active supporters of the highway or the earlier 365 Day Road clubs. Especially sought after are images showing the Jefferson Highway pole markers and/or signs. So far, we have only found an image with JH pole marker visible in a photograph of Girard, Kansas.

POWERS MUSEUM Facebook Album featuring some Jefferson Highway sites visited by former Museum Director Hansford.


Jefferson Highway, Carthage and the State of Missouri

Why would the Powers Museum be interested in this subject area? Not only did the highway intersect Carthage but its long-time promoter was James Douglas Clarkson of Carthage. Mr. Clarkson was an agricultural implement dealer (at 2nd & Main, now the Jasper County Annex II building's parking lot), who after retirement from that business, literally rode the length of the highway — New Orleans to Winnipeg — in a mobile office complete with desk and Dictaphone during the years 1916 to 1922 to promote its development. The July 1916 Jefferson Declaration magazine cover seen here is a sample of the monthly publication of the Jefferson Highway Association and Clarkson supplied much of the material for the publication including an "on-the-road" type report each month.

Pittsburg University Axe Library in Pittsburg, Kansas, holds several years of "Jefferson Declarations."  For information on other Pittsburg State University's Axe Library/Special Collections holdings on the Jefferson Highway in southeast Kansas, click here.

Clarkson also managed the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway (PPOO) that went through northern Missouri and had its office (along with the office of the Jefferson Highway) in St. Joseph, Missouri. Information on this highway can be found in issues of magazine Modern Highways and The Appian Way (along with some Jefferson Highway information, too). The Powers Museum has seen some of these issues on microfilm as held by the State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia. Contact them for further information. Now portions of the Missouri PPOO Highway have organized into a new cultural tourism organization called Highway of American Genius.

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