Caddo to honor historic Jefferson Highway

Durant artists, Clay and Dottie Moore completed a mural at 100 Buffalo Street, Caddo, in time for Caddo Heritage Day. Pictured also is Vesta Baker, of Caddo. The mural is representative of 1915-1925 era advertisements of the Jefferson Highway. Photo provided.

By Vesta Baker

Caddo downtown has a new look at the east end of Buffalo Street.

Owners of the old Oklahoma State Bank Building at 100 Buffalo Street enlisted the talent of Durant artists, Clay and Dottie Moore of Moonlight Murals, to create a mural to commemorate the Jefferson Highway, affectionately called the JH.

Volunteer, Alex Baker, shows commemorative pole he helped paint, near Caddo, to mark the way of Historic Jefferson Highway, now old Highway 69. Photo provided.

In the years 1915-1917, through the efforts of private citizens such as Caddo businessman W.F. Dodd, the JH was designed and constructed, stretching from Winnipeg, Canada to New Orleans. The completion would not have been possible if not for volunteers, who took time from their farms, ranches and businesses to build this magnificent road.

Advertisement of the time boasted that the road could be traveled 365 days of the year, to enhance commerce and promote understanding among people along the way.  The growing number of automobile owners could then travel the road for pleasure rides called “Sociability Runs,” and were invited to spend the night in various camps and welcome stations in cities along the route.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Texas and Oklahoma businessmen, the project brought motorists down the road through Atoka, Caddo, Armstrong, Durant and Denison. The street signs on Highway 69 in Tushka still bear the name of Jefferson, more than 90 years after the highway name was exchanged for a number.  Recently, Caddo was feature in a travel film by Highway Walkers Media, Less Traveled: A Journey from Pine to Palm. Visit the site at highwaywalkers.com.

Interested persons can learn about the present day Jefferson Highway Association online, and find numerous links about the history of the JH, by linking Mary Maurer’s site: Caddo, Oklahoma – My Home Town.

With 2017 being the Centennial year of the JH, Caddo Community Association decided to feature the Jefferson Highway for 2018 Caddo Heritage day, Saturday, Oct. 20. The theme is “Let the Good Times Roll!” The family fun day, with no admission charge, features vendors setting up by 8 a.m.; a parade at 10 a.m.; Car, truck and tractor show and entertainment from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; and kids’ games and contests. This year also marks the first annual Corn Hole tournament, to begin at 11 a.m.

Decorations for the celebration will include stumps of electric poles painted with the JH logo, like those that marked the route for travelers each mile of the highway.  Parade entries and scarecrow contestants are all encouraged to keep the theme in mind when planning for the day.  School children will enter an art show, featuring their interpretation of the theme.

Caddo Community members, Drew Harbin, Misty Tally, Tonya Burgess, and Lucy Covey, paint JH logo on poles, for Heritage Day. Photo provided.

CCA is conducting a fund raiser drawing on Heritage Day, thanks to the generosity of Argo Air, K & D Custom, Jimmy’s Auto, NAPA, Shamrock Bank, D & H Tire in Atoka and D & R Construction.  In keeping with the theme, “Let the Good Times Roll”, the prizes are: $200 off a set of tires, a Yamaha Side-by-Side Power Wheels (12v battery operated), a Yeti cooler, and a basket of car care products and two Yeti cups.   CCA is thankful for the generous gift prizes, which are each $200 to $300 value.

Tickets for the drawings are being offered at each Caddo home football game, or from individual CCA members.  CCA also holds a silent auction from 9am to 1pm at the newly renovated Caddo Community Building.  Heritage Day T shirts will be available for sale at the football games, as well as at Craighead’s, in early October.

Vendors may register with Jennifer (580) 634-1456 or email jwilcox_91@yahoo.com.  Car show inquiries can be directed to Jimmy at (580) 920-3815.  For info on the Corn Hole tournament, see Facebook event, Caddo Heritage Day, or call Jason (903) 271-2233 or Robin (903) 271-2201. General questions may be addressed to caddocomassoc@gmail.com.

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