Historic U.S. 61: Old West Main Street, Red Wing
Old West Main Street
Located In: City of Red Wing, Goodhue County.
Length: 1.36 miles
Also Marked As:
Old West Main Street was part of the original alignment of U.S. 61 through the city of Red Wing. It ran parallel and just to the north of the modern highway from the west end of downtown, to a point just west of County Road 1.
Old West Main was paved with 18 feet of concrete in 1920 as part of the construction of a highway reaching west from downtown Red Wing to what is now the junction with Highway 19 on the west end of town. This paving was the beginning of the construction of the first modern paved highway between La Crescent and St. Paul.
Old West Main Street was bypassed in 1953 by the construction of the four-lane divided highway on the west side of Red Wing, still in use by U.S. 61 today. The new road was built on an artificial rise above the Hay Creek lowlands, allowing for the construction of bridges and tunnels over the railroad tracks. Plans show that the old concrete was paved over with a blacktop surface in 1951 during the construction of the new four lane road.
Old West Main has been extensively modernized, widened, and repaved. It now passes through a commercial strip, a small residential area, as well as behind Pottery Place, a pottery factory converted into an antique and retail mall. The west end now connects with a service drive that runs along the north side of the modern highway.
Old West Main Street passed through an area that was once largely industrial. Many railroad tracks crisscrossed the area, providing spurs to the various industrial buildings. Three of these lines crossed the old highway. Two of the crossings were near the current intersection of Old West Main with Bench Street (the section of Bench Street connecting the modern highway with the old road was constructed along the former alignment of one of these tracks - see map right). One of the rail grades was converted into the popular Cannon Valley Trail, the east end of which is accessible from the old highway.
Just to the east of Bench Street is the bridge over Hay Creek, which replaced the original concrete arch structure in 1984.
The east intersection of Old West Main Street with U.S. 61 was reconstructed in 1974 to replace the old shallow intersection. A small section of the old connection was left behind as a service drive (see close-up, right).
Another at-grade rail crossing also once existed just to the west of the intersection.
Inset 2: East end of Old West Main Street
Photo Tour - Photos were taken in March, 2007.
Looking east at the western end of Old West Main Street. Note the cemetery on the left.
Looking east towards Bench Street behind Red Wing Chevrolet. The intersection with Bench Street ahead was once the site of two at-grade rail crossings. To the left of the intersection is the entrance to the parking lot at the east end of the Cannon Valley Trail.
Looking east towards Withers Harbor Drive and Hay Creek. The rather bland modern bridge is just visible. It replaced a concrete arch structure (I have yet to see any photos of the old bridge, information is from construction records).
Pottery Place on Old West Main Street, as seen from Withers Harbor Drive.
Driving east by Pottery Place, now home to several antique stores and a Godfather's Pizza.
The small retail area around the Pottery Place complex begins to transition to a small residential area.
Looking back to the west towards Pottery Place. Photo from August, 2009.
A small road-side park on Old West Main Street. This structure was once part of the historic North Star Stoneware Company factory's wall. The building was demolished in 1994 (info taken from the plaques on the wall). Photo from August, 2009.
U.S. 61 once passed directly through this small residential neighborhood.
Old commercial buildings on Old West Main Street (above and below)
Approaching modern U.S. 61 at the eastern end of Old West Main Street. This was the approximate site of a rail crossing before 1974.
At the now closed-off east end of Old West Main Street, bypassed in 1974.