Jeff Adams of St Paul sent in the above photo of a fading marker for the old Hiawatha Pioneer Trail he found on W 7th Street (State Hwy 5) in St Paul. As the paint chips away, it is revealing the sign’s former job as a night-time speed limit sign, albeit upside down (when was the last time you saw one of those in Minnesota?)
This trail was pushed by the API (American Petroleum Institute) in the 1960’s to “package” vacations for motorists around the upper midwest to get them to…wait for it…use more oil products. The governors of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois agreed to help promote and mark the route in their respective states. The route slowly faded into history until officially biting the dust in 2008.
The Iowa Department of Transportation has a more detailed history here.
The 1966 Minnesota official highway included a feature on the trail. You can view a scan of the map over at the Minnesota Digital Library here.
Seen any more remnants of this trail? Email your pics to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!!