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Old Spanish Trail advocates gather in Rayne for networking conference

Posted: 8:31 PM, Jun 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-09 21:31:40-04

City leaders in Rayne are working to add the Old Spanish Trail (OST) to the list of scenic byways.

Today, the city’s chamber of commerce sponsored the first ever OST Networking Conference at the Rayne Civic Center. 

Work started on the OST in 1915 to make the shortest route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean in the South. 

Highways 80 and 90, as they’re known today, are a part of the transcontinental roadway. 

"The Route 66 of the South is what some people call OST, you know. Look at all the different kinds of history, and all of the romance and all the novel things that happened along Route 66 across the country. From songs that were written about it to TV programs that were written about it, well, we’ve got the same thing with the OST," explained Rayne OST Committee Chair Dr. Eddie Palmer. 

The OST Committee is working with the state to get the auto trail designated as an official scenic byway.

"[It’ll feature] different spots on the side of the road where people can visit significant things that would be attractive to tourists. And, those are in pamphlets and in maps, and other kinds of ways, those can be communicated to tourists in this area," said Palmer. 

Business experts say the extra attention would help municipalities along the OST to showcase local are and culture to boost their economies. 

"That’s how you get the local governments and the city halls involved because an increase in sales tax revenue creates new jobs and new businesses," said Laurie Suire with United Way. 

By making OST a scenic byway, those who saw its treasures would able to share it with visitors. 

One of those gems remembered by an OST committee member is a dance hall that was once located in Rayne but closed its doors in the 1970s. 

"That was a Cajun tradition to start off with. I mean, girls danced together and then, later on, hopefully, someone was gonna ask us to dance. And, hopefully, we weren’t too shy. And, we would come, and we would dance, and that’s where I would find my husband," said Martha Royier of Rayne. 

Until the decision is made, historians will continue making known the significance of the auto trail.