Highway Odds and Ends

October 4, 2016 at 11:53 pm | Posted in Bridges, Streets, and Highways | Leave a comment

Here’s some random interesting odds and ends I’ve discovered in my travels around the state

The 100 foot flagpole

During the installation of the tower lighting installation at I-494 and MN 100 a few years ago, workers decked out the towers with flags until they were finished. As recently as a decade ago, there were less than 10 such installations in Minnesota, but that number has almost tripled.


High Mast Light as a flagpole

The Superwide Median

This peaceful country scene is actually in the middle of Interstate 90. Southeastern Minnesota was missed by the last glaciation, resulting in streams eroding deep V-shaped valleys. This causes problems if  you need to build a superhighway through the area. In this case, I-90 needed to descend from the top to the bottom, and the only way to do it was to put one lane on either side of the valley. Although you can’t really see the freeway from this angle, you can see the sides of the valley on either side of the picture.


This is in the Middle of I-90 In Southeastern Minneaota

First Mississippi River Bridge

The significance of this otherwise unremarkable bridge on MN 200 is that it’s the first real highway bridge on the mighty Mississippi. Before this bridge the only crossings are highway culvert, a pedestrian bridge, and the famous stepping stones at the source (actually piled on top of a dam). This is looking east, the Mississippi flows north from right to left, and there is a canoe landing visible at the left side of the picture. Itasca State Park starts immediately to the right of this photo.

FIrst Mississippi River Bridge on MN 200

FIrst Mississippi River Bridge on MN 200

A Minnesota State Highway In Wisconsin

MN 23 cuts through a two block long stretch of Wisconsin on it’s way to Duluth. This stretch is maintained by Minnesota, and there are no state line signs. This is a view looking northeast into Wisconsin; the sign at left says “Carlton County

Minnesota Highway 23 in Wisconsin

MN Highway 23… In Wisconsin

Slayton Crash Memorial

On August 31, 1949, two cars packed with teenagers plowed into each other in the fog on the gentle curve at the south end of town. 12 out of the 13 were killed in what is arguably the nation’s deadliest two car collision. The incidene t gave the town notariety that lasted for decades, long after the highway was rerouted around the edge of town.
Originally there was a billboard memorializing the site, but over the years it deteriorated.

As the generation that can remember firsthand is passing, they found it fit to erect this more permanent memorial. The metal “X marks the spot- Think!- Please Drive Safely” signs are the same ones used by South Dakota since the early 80’s to mark DWI crash scenes, but are derived from an older design that used to be used by automobile insurance companies.

The bronze plaque reads:

April 21 1940
Our Nation’s most tragic car accident

Leo Egge – 18, Carl Falk – 21, Ruth Fisher – 15,
Wayne Gamble – 15,Cecil Jensen  – 23, Everett Johnson – 16,
George Larson – 20, Hollis Luft – 21, Gordon Meyers – 22,
Irene Schwab – 18, Harold Tuynman – 18, Lorens Tuynman – 19

Only one survived
Elmer Meyers – 18

Ski Passes

You have bridges for cars, trains, and pedestrians, but here are some unique ones: An overpass and underpass for skiers. Lutsen Resort is built on both sides of a valley with a road down the bottom, so it’s inevitable that skiers will have to cross at some points. The overpass is for a blue-square run called appropriately “Bridge Run”. The underpass is for a blue-square called “Brule”. In the background you can see part of the main chalet area


Ski Run Overpass

SKi Run Underpass

Ski Run Underpass

Welcome To Pleasantville

In the movie Pleasantville, they showed a map where all the towns named Pleasantville are supposedly located, but they missed this real one in Southeastern Iowa. And this is an appropriate name for the place. Despite the modern cars, the town looks and feels like a throwback to simpler times.

When you’re used to driving in the Twin Cities, it’s a culture shock to explore these parts, where people use more than one finger to wave at you and speed limits actually mean something. The city is where I wound up, the country is what I like.


Pleasantville, Iowa

Tuber’s Big Green Signs

The Apple River is an extremely popular place to go tubing near the Twin Cities; there are three different resorts that do cater to renting tubes. Near the end of the ride, these overhead signs direct riders which direction to steer to return their tubes. The signs read:

Apple River    /\
Campground   |                   River’s Edge
Float Rite          |                   Exit Here
Park                    |                   ————->

Signs on Apple River

SIgns on Apple River

Worthington Truck-Bridge Crash

Early Monday June 2nd 2003, a truck rammed the Nobles County 9 bridge over I-90, shutting down both the bridge and the westbound interstate. Both the truck and the $300,000 worth of soil analysis equipment it was carrying were declared total losses. Both the driver and passenger suffered only minor injuries. Fortunately the bridge had been closed for redecking and guardrail replacement.

Within two days, a local contractor stabilized the bridge by using box culverts from their yard and steel bridge beams from the Mn/DOT storage facility in Mankato, allowing a single lane of traffic underneath. Within 90 days, the bridge was jacked up and the damaged pier replaced and everything was business as usual.

These pictures were sent to me by Robert Spoerl, who got them from someone at Mn/DOT. It is my belief that as a product of Mn/DOT they are not copyrighted.

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The MN-SD-IA Tri-Point

Unlike many state Tri-Points which are underwater or in remote locations, this one is right in the middle of the road. Here’s a younger me standing in Iowas with an arm in Minnesota and South Dakota, and some more pictures of the area. The Monument was originally in the middle of the road but got hit too often, now just a benchmark is in the road and the monument is off to the side


The plaque reads:


Set at the junction of the states of Minnesota, Iowa, and Dakota Territory by
the federal land office survey of Minnesota’s western boundary

Early 1900’s
Removed after partial destruction by vandals

Repaired and reset by adjacent counties at original site under direction
of the US Department of Interior

Broken from base by vehicle traffic

Restored and relocated at this site by the county governments and historical societies of Lyon County, IA.,
Rock County, Minn. and Minnehaha County, S.D. Flush marker set at original location 48 deg 30 min n.l.

Dedicated to the Pioneers of Souixland this 26th day of Octobert 1980

The Gold Cement Slab

This was the last slab of concrete poured on I-9o in Minnesota, near the Blue Earth Rest areas, or for that matter the last slab between Boston and Montana. There was a sign at the rest area explaining it, now it’s gone. The slab itself has had asphalt overlaid on top of it, but is still visible on the shoulder


Gold Cement Slab on I-90

Jefferson Highway Marker

This Marker at the Iowa Border commemorates the completion of the Jefferson Highway in Minnesota and Iowa


Jefferson Highway Marker


The plaque reads:

This marker, dedicated October 28, 1930 by Minnesota Governor Theodore Christianson and Iowa Governor
John Hamill commemorates the completion of the Jefferson Highway Across their states.

The Frank Loyd Wright Gas Station, Cloquet


And Finally, Eagle Mountain, Far From a Highway, but the Highest Point in the state


Eagle Mountain Overlook


Eagle Mountain Summit

The plaque reads:


When Newton H. Winchell, Minnesota state geologist, and Ulysses S Grant II (the president’s son) surveyed this area in the 1890s, they concluded that a peak in the Misquah Hills was the state’s highest point. Using an aneroid barometer they set it’s elevation at 2230 feet. Later comers argued that Eagle Mountain which Winchell and Grant did not measure and can be seen from the Misquah Hill was higher.

In 1961 A United States Department of the Interior survey team remeasured, using aerial photographs and controlled benchmarks. They found Eagle Mountain to be 2301 feet, making it Minnesota’s highest point. The also determined that the first Misquah Hill peak is surpassed by another unnamed summit 2265 feet above sea level located in section 19 of T93N, R1W, in the … Cook County area. The state’s lowest point is Lake Superior which has an elevation of  602 feet.

The igneous rock composing Eagle Mountain is as old as the Duluth Gabbro, which Geologists estimate at over a billions years in age.

Erected by the Minnesota Historical Society

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