An amazing video has been digitized of the historic Spiral Bridge in Hastings, showing it in use before its demolition, and a brief shot of its demise. You can check it out here. Thanks to Cathy Wurzer for posting this on the Tales of the Road facebook page!
Paul R has sent in a set of great photos of some old alignments along what is now U.S. 10 in northern Minnesota between the towns of Hawley and Audubon.
First a little background. The road between Detroit Lakes and Moorhead was still gravel back in 1921 when it was added to the trunk highway system as part of Constitutional Route 2. Prior to that it had been marked as three motor trails: The Minnesota Scenic Highway, The Duluth-Fargo Highway, and the Mississippi River Scenic Highway. In late 1926 the road also became part of U.S. 10N (U.S. 10 originally had two branches between St. Cloud and Fargo, a northern one along today’s familiar route, and a southern one along what is now I-94).
Between 1927 and 1929 the old gravel road between Moorhead and Detroit Lakes was replaced by a 20-foot wide concrete highway. In 1934 both U.S. 10N and Constitutional Route 2 were retired, and replaced by plain old U.S. 10. The first concrete road between Hawley and Audubon served until 1957, when it was replaced by the construction of the current divided highway.
The map below shows the alignment of the original gravel road in purple, and the first paved road where it deviated from the modern highway in red. Nearly all of the original gravel road still survives today. On the other hand, only two short sections of the early concrete highway have survived, and are now used as service drives.
View Deadpioneer’s Historic Minnesota Highways Blog Map in a larger map
The old gravel road ran east from Hawley along Junction Avenue, eventually merging onto what is now Clay County Road 115, which becomes Becker County Road 102 at the county line. The old road then continued east to Lake Park, turned south through town, and turned east again onto a road that passed south of Bower Lake. Sadly, several sections of the road south and east of Lake Park have been lost to time.
We begin our journey in the town of Hawley (to follow along, you can zoom into map above, or open it in a new window).
“Highway Explorer” comes through again….this time with pics of an old iron bridge in Reads Landing in Wabasha County. This bridge is at the west end of 202nd Street, just north of modern U.S. 61. It is now used as a private entrance.
Although it was once part of the Wabasha Military Road, this bridge was never used by U.S. 61. The old military road passed through Reads Landing on its way to Camp Lacupolis, where it ascended out of the river valley and then followed modern County Roads 10 and 4 towards Lake City. The road was eventually moved to a new alignment that bypassed Reads Landing entirely.
The current alignment of U.S. 61 along the lake wasn’t constructed until 1930.
Today we have another set of photos from “Highway Explorer”, this time of a stretch of old highway in the northeastern corner of Rice County. This road, now labeled on maps as Albany Avenue, was once part of State Highway 165. However, its history goes back a bit further. (See below for a map of the south end of the old alignment).
The first road in this area was the historic Dodd Road, a path blazed between St. Paul and St. Peter in the mid 1850’s. By the early 1920’s, the stretch of Dodd Road in northeast Rice County had ceased to be an important long-distance route. A 1921 auto trails map doesn’t even show it. Construction records show that the road was graveled (and presumably graded) as a county job in 1924. Construction plans show the road as “State Road 25”, which in today’s terms would be a County State Aid Highway. The road was eventually added to the trunk highway system in 1934 as part of the new State Highway 165, a route connecting Faribault and Lakeville as an alternate to U.S. 65, bypassing Northfield.
What is now Albany Avenue remained in use until 1947, when a new grade was constructed just to the east, leaving it behind as a local road, shown on later construction plans as County Road 98. The new grade was paved in 1949, and eventually became U.S. 65 in 1956. In 1964, I-35 was constructed just to the west. The bit of the south end of Albany Avenue was destroyed by the new freeway.
Today, the old highway remains gravel, just as it was back in 1924. Bridge #3978, a 20 foot concrete slab structure constructed in 1923 by the Department of Highways over Chub Creek, still survives today. The old road also passes by an historic church and through the unincorporated town of Hazelwood. It is now accessible at both ends via Rice County Road 46, which now occupies the old two-lane alignment of U.S. 65.
Kim Mensinger has sent in some nice photos of a couple of the historic bridges on the Cannon Bottom Road, just west of Red Wing, which was bypassed in 1931 (it was once part of U.S. 61 and Constitutional Route 3). These bridges are scheduled to be demolished in the next few years. For more info on this historic highway, see the article here (from my U.S. 61 project, pops in a new window/tab).
MnDOT has released images of the three proposed designs for the replacement of the U.S. 61 bridge over the Mississippi River at Hastings. These include a single tied arch (similar in appearance to the old bridge), a dual box girder crossing (like the new 35W bridge in Minneapolis), and a single cable bridge. Although I like the idea of the tied arch to maintain the appearance of the crossing, I think the dual box girder design makes more sense in terms of cost and logistics. I wouldn’t even consider the cable bridge, as I really hate how it looks, especially in the context of Hastings’ historic downtown.
Anyone else have thoughts on this?