Minnesota Roads - US 61

US 61

There is no Hiawatha Pioneer Trail. It was created in 1964 as a joint effort with Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and stayed on maps until 1975, but gradually faded from signage after that. Minnesota went on a hunt to remove remaining shields in 2008, leaving just a precious few. One is in pretty bad condition, and this is the only other one I know exists in this state, although I found some scattered elsewhere. The trail meandered every which way and, quite honestly, was created only to get people on the road and use fuel, thanks to petroleum company sponsorship and political backing, so why not have it meander unnecessarily? There were so many turns that I can't even figure out whether it followed US 61 south or US 10 east at their upcoming split.

Beyond the split, US 61 SB comes up to the Hastings High Bridge across the Mississippi River, just before it forms the MN/WI border and stops being entirely in one state for the last time until Louisiana. Its wider, 4-lane replacement (matching the cross section on either side) is under construction to the north, spelling the unfortunate demise of a beautiful and historic bridge. The new bridge will have modern arches and enough room for pedestrians, but I would much rather have seen it constructed narrower, with less conspicuous design (how about an under-deck arch instead?), and keep the old bridge for pedestrians. It's been done before (see NH 9 at the Vermont border/Connecticut River).

While I still can, I head across the old bridge into Hastings.

Views of the bridge from the south shore of the river.

Menacingly, components of the new bridge approach take shape just beyond. I dare not venture near them, not the least because it's a construction site.

To the east (riverine south), the Hastings Rail Bridge, which will not be replaced with a 4-track bridge with pedestrian accommodations and a lack of steel trusswork.

Back north across the bridge, while I still can.

Another eastward rail bridge view from the top of the High Bridge.

MN 61, former US 61
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