Jefferson Highway Heritage Byway


  • DesignationState Byway (2016)
  • LocationIA
  • Length220 miles
Dedicated Byway Visitor Information
Iowa DOT
Statewide Byway Partners
Iowa Department of Transportation
Iowa Byways Map - Download
Jefferson Highway Heritage Byway
VisitMasonCityIowa Photo


Travel this two-lane road through Iowa farmland as early motorists experienced it. In the early 1900’s the automobile gained popularity and roads were developed. In 1913, the Jefferson Highway was designated by the Jefferson Highway Association led by businessman and political activist, Edwin Thomas (E.T.) Meredith of Des Moines.

The Jefferson Highway route stretches from Winnipeg, Canada to New Orleans, Louisiana and dubbed “Pines to Palms.” It was modeled after the 1913 success of the Lincoln Highway (an east-west route across the nation.)

In Iowa, the route connects 24 communities starting from Northwood, near the Top of Iowa Welcome Center then on to Mason City, the setting for The Music Man Broadway play. (Written by hometown boy, Meredith Wilson.) Mason City also celebrates its Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie-style hotel, the Park Inn. The Jefferson Highway continues to the Reed-Niland Corner in Colo, once a one-stop café/gas station/motel for travelers at the intersection of the Lincoln and Jefferson Highways where today, travelers will still find food and lodging. Further south, the Jefferson Highway travels through Des Moines, the state capitol; Osceola with its casino and Amtrack connection; and ends near Lamoni where it exits Iowa and heads into Missouri.

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