Thursday, September 26, 2013

Detroit Lakes Overlook - Scenic Overlook of Big Detroit Lake

Detroit Lakes
US Highway 10

This roadside structure is on the north shore of Detroit Lake on a frontage road off Highway 10. It offers a scenic view of the lake. The two main structures are the center bay with three informational plaques and the long wall between the frontage road and Highway 10.

The stone on the right has a brief history of Detroit Lakes.

Geological Marker

The Lakes of Minnesota
The great ice ages that began about 1 million years ago, were characterized by the advance and the recession of huge ice sheets over vast areas of North America. These continental glaciers, originating in Canada, moved southward, scraping up mantle rock and soil which was dropped in central and southern Minnesota to produce plains and irregular belts of hills. Most of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes lie in such deposits and trace their origins directly or indirectly to glaciation.
"In the rugged surface that extends from Detroit Lakes to Alexandria, where glacial action was particularly vigorous, the lakes are irregular in outline. Elsewhere they may be round, long, wide, narrow, big, little, sun-warmed or ice-cold; shallow and sandy or rocky and deep; mucky and weed-fringed or clear as crystal; with or without islands, inlets, bays, sand bars, beaches, or cliffs. Taken together they give Minnesota a water area greater than that of any other state. Many exhibit landscapes of unusual beauty, but all, regardless of location or character, add to Minnesota's most valuable mineral resource -- Water." Erected by the
Geological Society of Minnesota, in cooperation with the Department of Highways, State of Minnesota 1960.

The Woods Trail Marker
Part of the Red River Ox Cart Trail
The Woods Trail 
Through woodland and prairie, along river banks through sloughs, the mixed-blood American and Canadian buffalo hunters, called metis, blazed trails with their oxen and squeaky-wheeled wooden carts. They carried buffalo robes and pemmican from their homes along the Red River of the north to market in St. Paul, and then carried supplies back again. The heyday of the complex network of Red River trails lasted from about 1820 to 1872, when the first railroad reached the Red River at Moorhead. "The northern most of the Red River trails ran through forested stretches along a portion of the 400-mile route. It was known as the Woods Trail and passed right through this location. The name was an exaggeration, since only the section from Detroit Lakes to Crow Wing was wooded. South from Pembina the trail crossed the Red and ran along the east bank through low savannah, dotted with willow, and onto a high and treeless prairie. It followed deep ridges of Glacial Lake Agassiz on the eastern border of the Red River Valley, entering the forest at Detroit Lakes. The trail proceeded along the Otter Tail and then the Leaf and Crow
Wing Rivers to the east until it reached an important stopping point, the village of Crow Wing, which also lent its name to the trail. From there the Crow Wing trail made its way over sandy prairie on the east bank of the Mississippi to Sauk Rapids, where it merged with the Middle Trail, which took a more southerly route toward the Mississippi River, for the rest of the distance to St. Paul.
Erected by Minnesota Historical Society and the Becker County Historical Society in 1996.
[Seals of Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Historical Society]

The foundation for the overlook wall was built 1957-58 by the Department of Highways. The "upper" by others.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Long Lake Roadside Parking Area

Long Lake
Minnesota Highway 371

This site was developed in 1954 by the Minnesota Highway Department and consists of a paved parking area and a Geological Marker at the southern area and a boat launch at the northern area. There are signs on both south and northbound 371 indicating the marker, no reference to the parking area. The site has apparently been significantly altered. A restroom building and information board were installed in 1969 in the northern area but are no longer at the site. I've seen this at several RPAs that had a restroom building. Maybe there were problems with sewage disposal.

Paved southern area

Brainerd Region
Toward the close of the Wisconsin stage of glaciation about 12,000 years ago, the waning lobe of the ice sheet in the Brainerd area retreated westward, leaving in its
wake many stagnant ice blocks which had become separated from the main ice field. Water flowing from the surface of the receding ice deposited sand and gravel around and over these severed parts of the glacier and formed an outwash plain studded with huge blocks of partly buried, motionless ice.
On melting, the detached blocks -- some of which were miles in extent and scores of feet thick -- left permanent, water-filled depressions in the gravel plain. The lakes so formed, including those portrayed on this tablet, do not follow the original shape of the ice blocks but are commonly round or elliptical due to subsequent shore line changes.
Erected by the Geological Society of Minnesota and the Department of Highways, State of Minnesota aided by a grant from the Louis W. and Maud Hill Family Foundation 1954

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lake Bemidji Overlook Walls

Bemidji, MN
Minnesota Highway 197

This roadside structure site has features from 1937 to 2004. It is located at the southwest corner of Lake Bemidji and consists of three overlook walls, a fishing pier, a bridge and a fence. The overlook walls date to 1937 and were constructed by the Minnesota Highway Department (now Mn DOT). The pier was built in 1985 collaboratively by the City of Bemidji, Mn DOT and Mn DNR. The bridge, built 2003, is on the northbound lane of Mn 197 at the Mississippi River. The fence runs along the southern shore of the lake and has 5 overlook bays that jut toward the lake. Built by Mn DOT 2004.

The back of the stone overlook walls
The overlook wall from the walkway along Mn 197

The fishing pier

Bridge 04022 over the Mississippi River

State Proj. No. 0416-27 (TH 197 = 72)

The steel fence and bay

Bridge 04022 and the fishing pier

A December 31, 1937 article in the Bemidji Sentinel noted the work “gives Bemidji one of the most attractive highway entrances to any city in Minnesota.” ¹

Third overlook wall (across from Ace Hardware)

Nearby is the historic Nymore Bridge which spans the Mississippi River on Old Midway Drive. The bridge is an example of a barrel-vault, reinforced concrete bridge.

The Nymore Bridge over the Mississippi River

Also nearby are the Paul and Babe statues, on the Time Magazine's list of the Top 50 American Roadside Attractions.

Paul and Babe, Paul Bunyan Park

¹  Susan Granger, Scott Kelly, and Kay Grossman. (1998, December). Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways. Minnesota Department of Transportation.