Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Camp Ripley Entrance Walls

Camp Ripley
Minnesota Highways 371 and 115

The Camp Ripley Entrance Walls were built between 1934 and 1942 and involved three relief agencies; Fed/State Emergency Relief (FERA/SERA), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and Work Projects Administration (WPA). Little Falls Black Granite was used and the stones were laid without mortar, except for the gateposts. The site includes Bridge 4969 which carries Highway 115 over the Mississippi River.

A "pseudo-guard tower"¹, one at each of the north and south walls, east of Bridge 4969. This is the southern one.
The northern wall follows the arc of the Veterans Cemetery from Morrison County 76 to Minnesota Highway 115.

The north "pseudo-guard tower"

The stone gateposts to the cemetery were added between 1994 and 1998.

Veterans Cemetery entrance

This type of wall runs along both sides of 115 east of the bridge, along the north side of 115 west of the bridge

These low walls parallel Mn Highway 115 from County 76 to the bridge over the Mississippi River where both sides abut against the bridge rails. West of the bridge the wall on the north side of Mn 115 continues up to and just past the main entrance to Camp Ripley.

Along the north side of Mn 115

Main camp gate

Camp Ripley Entrance Walls, Aug. 1997
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory

The walls were built primarily to function "as a visible symbol of military presence. . ."¹

In the northwest corner of Mn 115 and County 76 a tank stands on a earthen mound with "Camp Ripley" lettered below. A similar tank is along northbound Mn 371 just south of the exit to County 47/Mn 115.

The camp entrance walls have not been altered with the exception of the gateposts to the Veterans Cemetery.
Camp Ripley is one of the largest National Guard training camps in the country.

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pillsbury Mine Overlook

Chisholm, MN
US Highway 169/MN Highway 73

The Pillsbury Mine Overlook was located along both sides of US 169/MN 73 just south of Chisholm. This site was sometimes referred to as the Miner's Look-Out. The overlook was abandoned some time ago and guardrails block the old parking areas which are surrounded by chain link fencing. The highway passes through the Pillsbury mine.

US169/MN73 running through the Pillsbury mine
USGS MN Hibbing 2010

The overlook, built in 1962 by the Minnesota Highway Department, "aroused considerable public interest as an added tourist attraction. Lookouts will be built along a one-fifth mile portion of the road that traverses the Pillsbury open-pit mine for better viewing of the pits." ¹ This was part of a realignment project for Highway 169 which also included a bridge "to carry the Oliver Iron Mining division railroad tracks over the relocated highway." ²

The ribbon cutting for the work was noted in the October 1963 Minnesota Highways.

A 1972 aerial photograph shows the bridge and overlook areas (with parking stripes)

1972 Aerial photo - MnDNR

The east side consisted of a parking area with a rectangular extension jutting to the east. A lectern-style stone marker is located at the north end of the east parking area. The site is on a slope in the road, down traveling north and up traveling south. The present roadway is above the grade of the old overlook.

Stone marker and east parking area

Stone marker built from local rock, plaque removed

The marker and parking area are deteriorating. The railroad tracks seen behind the stone marker are the trolley tracks for the Discovery Center located a half mile north on Hwy 169.

East parking area

Rectangular parking extension on east side

The west side consisted of a parking area off the highway.

West side parking area

Trees and brush have grown tall and thick enough since the site was abandoned to block most of the view of the old mine.

The construction log³ for Hwy 169 does not specify when the overlook was closed. In 1981 "traffic barrier construction" was completed. A 1989 aerial photograph shows the overlook in seemingly intact condition.


¹ Minnesota Highway News, April, 1962, Minnesota Highway Department. From Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways
² Ibid
³ State of Minnesota Department of Highways, Construction Project Log Record, TH 169/73 W. Co. Line - N. Jct. T.H. 73 in Chisholm