Old US Highway 61—A Piece of History Found!

Those Gentle Readers of this blog, know that my fictional Port of Danger Bay has “Historic US 61” running through it.

Looking North from 7th Avenue NW in Forest Lake

Looking North from 7th Avenue NW in Forest Lake

Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there are no such markers along stretches of that historic highway that once went from New Orleans to Port Arthur Canada.

While it may be no surprise to the good citizens of Forest Lake, Minnesota, there is a stretch of old highway 61, long abandoned as a highway, on the northwest part of the city. Running from 3rd Avenue NW, the narrow concrete roadway starts at 3rd Avenue NW running northwest to 4th Avenue NW where it turns due north as 1st Street NW, and continues to a point about a block north of 7th Avenue NW where it ends at US Highway 8. It is now virtually untouched, there are few signs of repair, the old concrete looks much as it must have a few years after it was constructed, but I’m sure one day soon this piece of American history will be destroyed in the name of progress…a great loss in my opinion.

Why should I care about this? Perhaps it is because much of my childhood travels with my parents involved US 61, there were no freeways then. . Highway 61 brought us to my aunt & uncle’s farm near Moose Lake, traveling north from Saint Paul, we’d pass through White Bear Lake, Hugo, Forest Lake, Wyoming, Stacy, North Branch, Harris, Rush City, Rock Creek, Pine City (where we’d eat at the “61-way Café” Cheeseburgers $.30 with a hearty helping of fries), Beroun, Hinckley, Sandstone, Rutledge, Willow River, Sturgeon Lake (almost there!) and finally Moose Lake.

One summer vacation, we drove to Port Arthur in Canada…all the way on US 61 (We must have gone through Danger Bay—right?). This was my first visit to the North Shore of Lake Superior…the beginning of my love of the Big Lake.

It likely won’t happen, but it should…all usable portions of the old Highway 61 should be designated as “Historic US 61,” much as portions of Route 66 are currently marked along Interstate 44 in Missouri.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Just sayin’.

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