Arthur R. Nichols was a consultant to the Minnesota Highway Department from 1932 - 1940 and is considered one the "masters" who established the field of landscape architecture in Minnesota. He had a significant impact on roadside development, much of which can still be seen along Minnesota highways.
Many of our roadside structures were built by workers of the federal relief programs of the New Deal. The list includes the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)/Emergency Conservation Work (ECW), Civil Works Administration (CWA), Federal and State Emergency Relief Administration (FERA and SERA), National Recovery Work Relief (NRWR), National Youth Administration (NYA), YOuth Conservation Corps (YCC), Public Works Administration (PWA), and Works Progress Administration (WPA)/Work Projects Administration (WPA).
Examples of structures the CCC built:
Orr Roadside Parking Area, Garrison Concourse, Kenny Lake Overlook
Examples of FERA/SERA sites:
Redwood Falls Retaining Wall, Preston Overlook
Examples of NRWR:
Stillwater Overlook - North
St. Croix Boomsite RPA
Examples of NYA:
St. Cloud Historical Marker
Lake City Concourse
Examples of WPA (Works Projects Admin)
Avoca Historical Marker
Examples of WPA (Works Progress Admin)
Thompson Hill Overlook
Camp Ripley Entrance Walls
Examples of YCC:
Taylor Falls Overlook - North
Other structures were built by the Minnesota Highway Department; New Duluth Overlook, Otter Tail City Historical Marker, Daytonport RPA, and others.
The sites are scattered throughout Minnesota with the exception of the northwest area. Clusters can be found along the north shore of Lake Superior and in the metropolitan area.
Many of these historical roadside sites are still extant but many are also in disrepair. Some sites have been completely abandoned or razed. Some sites exist but are difficult to get to. From July 1996 to December 1998 Mn DOT inventoried the state's roadside features. In addition, Mn DOT has developed management plans for many of the sites.
Hopefully, these roadside gems will be around for many years to come.