Minnesota Roads - MN 61
Other than the next one, photos progress (and generally are) southbound.
Courtesy Averill Hecht, this historic photo is from when scenic drives had scenic designs.
If photos progress south, I better start in the north. I think the welcome sign is before Customs. This was once the north end of US 61, but the number died north of Minneapolis when I-35 was completed. The route from Wyoming (MN) on up has reverted to county maintenance, sometimes retaining the number "61," until the end of 35, where the highway remains on the state logs as the key connection for traffic continuing north. Interestingly, and perhaps because of local familiarity, it also kept the number "61" in duplication with the US highway that once went this way.
CR 17 is now a loop off of MN 61, but the southern portion of that road is the original US 61 alignment, which followed what's now CR 89 to Pigeon River. The bridge is long gone, but the Canadian side has "Old Border Road" leading back toward Highway 593 and thence Highway 61.
What makes CR 88 so special that the county name was added later? I think there is a relatively recent period in Minnesota where county blanks were provided to counties to add their own names.
Not sure if CR 7 is an old alignment of US 61. It heads inland on 5th St. through Grand Marais and comes back to the coast later.
Through Grand Marais on the current route. I bet US 61 had four lanes on the south side of town once.
All in the same parking lot.
WHY IS THIS SIGN FORMATTED STRANGELY?
Seashells and a pentagon, what is going on here? So... the seashell or leaf shape is the logo for the Superior Hiking Trail, featuring mountains abutting the Lake Superior coast. I haven't figured out a pattern with the use of pentagons vs. squares. I thought it might have been county by county, but I'm still in Cook here.
Now to County... blank. Lake County, actually, and another scenic drive shield. Overhead signs seem to lack county names more frequently.
The other end of Silver Bay has more seashells if you turn on CR 4. You can even almost make out the trail name in the shield!
Looking northwest along the Gooseberry River at the Gooseberry Falls Bridge.
One more seashell, then through the 1991 Lafayette Bluff Tunnel. This was a very expensive fix to bypass a moderately sharp curve, so there must have been some kind of accident history to warrant this.
Right away I come to the 1994 Silver Creek Cliff Tunnel. The old road here wasn't even curved much, just along the coastline and scenic. Can't have scenery. Thanks, MnDOT.
This tunnel was built with a Two Harbors bypass in mind, but such has not materialized. The divided highway still begins on the south side of the city.
Into Two Harbors. Drink 7-Up, eat minnows! Maybe. The sign's gone now.
MN 61 is old US 61, but oldest US 61 is CR 61. MN 61 is a divided highway from here to Duluth while CR 61 follows the coast. Interestingly, the divided highway does not link to I-35. It was supposed to follow a rail ROW paralleling MN 61, but the rail never became inactive, so the highway was never completed.
The historic Lester River Bridge was built in 1925 to serve then-SH 1, the longest highway in the state. Despite its age, it's not under construction here. MN 61 had pretty deplorable pavement condition entering 2013, so it's getting a thorough overhaul from here north to the end of the divided highway.
Coincidentally named 61st Ave. EB at the bridge.
Onto Lake CR 5
Onto Lake CR 4
See more of Two Harbors
Current US 61
Continue south on I-35
Into Ontario on 61
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