ANOTHER ACADIA PARISH CITY - During the 2019 Old Spanish Trail Conference held in July in Houston, the City of Crowley joined Rayne as the second Acadia Parish city named an “Official OST City.” On hand for the official announcement were, from left, Ann and Eddie Palmer of Rayne and Charlotte Jeffers of Crowley.
Crowley joins Rayne as official OST City during conference
HOUSTON - Culminating an effort that began more than four years ago, Crowley joins Rayne as it was designated an “Official OST City.”
The presentation was made during the Old Spanish Trail Conference held in July in Houston.
Charlotte Jeffers, tourism coordinator for the City of Crowley, was on hand to accept the honor on behalf of the city. Accompanying Jeffers to the Houston conference were Dr. Eddie Palmer and his wife Ann, who have long been active in promoting the OST and were instrumental in Rayne earning the first “OST City” designation in the entire country.
“This is something we started working on back in 2014, but really kicked off in 2015 with our car show,” Jeffers explained.
For the conference, Jeffers highlighted Crowley with an exhibit of events and activities held to promote the Old Spanish Trail, which include the “OST Motorcade” now a part of the annual Rice City Classic Car and Antique Tractor Show.
“This is going to be an added attraction for our city,” Jeffers said of the designation. “It’s going to help us to promote the city as more and more people travel along the OST right through the middle of downtown Crowley.”
“We’re hoping that we can get Jennings and Welsh to join in and that one day we’ll all be able to kind of link together to form an ‘OST Trail’ of some sort, each promoting their own community but all promoting the OST,” Jeffers explained.
Locally, Jeffers said a mural somewhere along the route through Crowely in is the planning stages.
“I’m hoping that it will depict the stages of development of the OST,” she said.
The OST was an auto trail that once spanned the United States with almost 2,750 miles of roadway from ocean to ocean. It crossed eight states and 67 counties along the southern border of the United States.
Conceived in 1915 as the shortest route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Old Spanish Trail connecting St. Augustine, Florida and San Diego, California, took nearly 15 years to construct at a cost of more than $80 million.
Unlike other Southern transcontinental highways that stitched together existing roads across the continent’s relatively flat and dry midsection, much of the Old Spanish Trail was forged over formerly impassable swamplands in the Southeast, including five major outlets into the Gulf. Along with these geographical impediments, the Old Spanish Trail Association (OSTA) protested that the uncooperativeness of individual states and the federal government ultimately hampered its completion.
Finally opening for travel in 1929, the OSTA billed the highway as the most expensive and most highly engineered of all the transcontinental trails. As the progenitor of today’s Interstate 10, the OSTA deserves recognition for boosting the first southernmost transcontinental highway.
In Louisiana, the OST roughly follows U.S. Highway 90.
Preparations have been made for a decade-long centennial celebration begin this year and ending with a 2029 motorcade grand finale from St. Augustine to San Diego.
The present-day, all-volunteer Old Spanish Trail Centennial Celebration Association OST100 is collecting oral histories, travel logs and news articles related to the Old Spanish Trail to help conserve the roadways, businesses and historic sites of the original auto highway.
The current work of revitalization, historic preservation, public/private partnerships, restoration, and road enhancements, follows the example of the original promoters of the Old Spanish Trail, who involved diverse business and private interests in building and beautifying the original roadway.