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Author Topic: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour  (Read 2496 times)

Max Rockatansky

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2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« on: August 17, 2017, 11:26:26 AM »

Figured that the Road Trip Board would be the best place to post this thread.  I just started out on a huge Mid-West Road trip which will take me to two National Parks I've never been to and basically a complete circle of Lake Michigan.  I started some of the blog posts with the aerial views of some highways like; CA 168, I-580, I-680, and CA 92 traveling from Fresno to San Francisco.  I'm fairly certain I'll fall behind as soon as I hit the road from Detroit but for now this is the first road/travel blog post of what should be many:

https://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/midwest-road-trip-day-1-part-1-mount.html

Associated Flickr Album:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm2Um8Bd
« Last Edit: August 19, 2017, 04:59:11 AM by Max Rockatansky »
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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 10:36:10 PM »

Landed in Detroit, I ended up taking US 23 to reach my destination which appears to have been an "almost" mistake given the heavy construction project for an apparent lane expansion between I-94 and I-96:

https://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/midwest-road-trip-day-1-part-2-san.html


Of course the two Flickr albums for the day starting with the flight to Detroit:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm2xRCGr

And the drive up US 23:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm2VPqCN
« Last Edit: August 19, 2017, 05:00:33 AM by Max Rockatansky »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2017, 09:10:17 PM »

Day 2; traveled the western outskirts of Detroit and revisited The Henry Ford down in Dearborn:

https://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-lakes-road-trip-day-2-hunting.html


The Flickr album for the day:

Drive to Greenfield Village via M5 and M39:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm34bc6X

Greenfield Village

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm6PdZ5F

The Drive back on US 24/Telegraph and I-96:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/55oT9P
« Last Edit: August 19, 2017, 05:02:30 AM by Max Rockatansky »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2017, 09:19:43 PM »

Day 3 consisted of traversing Mid-Michigan via; I-96, US 127, US 10, M115, M55, and US 31 to reach M22.  I did the entire 117 mile route of M22 from Manistee to Traverse City which surprisingly wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be on a summer weekend.  I think that the painted M-22s on the asphalt and the shields lacking the "M" are completely awful, but there are a lot sign posts with obvious evidence of theft.  I even had time squeeze in 5 miles over the Sleeping Bear Dunes to/from Lake Michigan before heading inland via M-72.  I haven't had time to make the road blog for today but the Flickr Albums are ready to go:

Brighton to M22:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm383xyx

M22/Leelanau Peninsula/Sleeping Bear Dunes

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm2Ds8cz

M22 to Kalkaska:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm2Dskmp

MNHighwayMan

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 09:46:09 PM »

That roundabout sign.

I mean, does that need to be spelled out?
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2017, 09:49:21 PM »

That roundabout sign.

I mean, does that need to be spelled out?

Apparenty...there is actually two of those roundabouts on 72 east of US 31 and it is actually a four-lane divided through both. 

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2017, 09:56:05 PM »

Hmmm. Also, IDK about anyone else, but the M-less M-22 shields make me more want to steal one of them than it does stop me. It's just like those Mile 419.9 markers. The fact they make them unique because of theft makes them more unique to those who collect signs.

(Not that I would ever steal a sign don't get me wrong.)
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2017, 10:04:26 PM »

Hmmm. Also, IDK about anyone else, but the M-less M-22 shields make me more want to steal one of them than it does stop me. It's just like those Mile 419.9 markers. The fact they make them unique because of theft makes them more unique to those who collect signs.

(Not that I would ever steal a sign don't get me wrong.)

The irony is that there is some local shop actually selling replicas that use the new "M-less" style and replicate it pretty well.  I think the numeral font is hideous that large and without the "M" to accentuate it.  The thing is that MDOT seems to think that every single street corner needs a reassurance shield.  Its no wonder a lot of those signs get stolen because there is usually a plentiful supply out in the middle of nowhere on minor junction where it would be easy for someone to bust out the socket set. 

Interestingly one of two signs I ever gave away as a gift was an M-22 shield to my Brother-In-Law.  He has a cabin up on Leelanau and said he would be willing to pay if I ever came across a legit shield which I eventually did.  He still has that shield in his garage mounted right next to the M-37 I found him also.

Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2017, 07:21:45 PM »

Just finished the Day 3 Road Blogs.

Brighton, MI to M-22:

https://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-lakes-road-trip-day-3-part-1.html

M-22 Route Clinch and closing the day out in Kalkaska, MI:

https://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-lakes-road-trip-day-3-part-2-m-22.html


I'm really not sure how far or if I want to even touch the Day 4 stuff right now but the photos are up and can be found here.

Kalkaska to the Mackinac Bridge:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/434e0L

The Mackinac Bridge:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/2Kt45k

Mackinac Island and the clinching of M-185:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1xANyE

-  For those don't know, M-185 is a 8.2 mile state highway on Mackinac Island that doesn't allow motorized vehicles.

Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2017, 08:46:54 PM »

The Day 4 Road Blogs are finished:

http://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-lakes-roadtrip-day-4-part-1.html

http://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-lakes-road-trip-day-4-part-2.html


Plus the Day 5 photos are ready to go on Flickr:


-  M-123 and Tahquamenon Falls State Park

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/F175Yf


An assortment of stuff on M-28 which included a couple ghost towns, the original routing of US 41/M-28 in Marquette, and Keweenah Bay:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm38EX9d

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1AKxtU

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1ALf8j

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm6RLpPN


I also checked out some of the major Copper Country sites like; Houghton, Hancock, the Quincy Mine, and Calumet:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/2N89oD


All the color photos should be in sequence, I think that I only missed one lettered county route trying to pass someone.  M-123 is a complete clinch, although some of my photos in the morning with the fog got a little blurred up.  Really its a toss-up between the Tahquamenon Falls or Calumet, I really didn't expect to find a city here abandoned to this degree (insert Detroit joke here) in Michigan of all places.  Too bad my parents never saw fit to come this way when I was growing up here, seems odd that Isle Royale will be the 45th National Park I've been to.

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2017, 10:47:45 AM »

Good stuff! I've always wanted to do the circle tour. 
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Brandon

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2017, 01:25:48 PM »

All the color photos should be in sequence, I think that I only missed one lettered county route trying to pass someone.  M-123 is a complete clinch, although some of my photos in the morning with the fog got a little blurred up.  Really its a toss-up between the Tahquamenon Falls or Calumet, I really didn't expect to find a city here abandoned to this degree (insert Detroit joke here) in Michigan of all places.  Too bad my parents never saw fit to come this way when I was growing up here, seems odd that Isle Royale will be the 45th National Park I've been to.

Calumet's been like that for quite some time.  The population of Houghton County topped out at around 100,000 in 1913-14.  In the 1920s and 1930s, as the price of copper dropped, mines closed, and people left the area.  By 1950, the population had dwindled to what you see currently.  There are a number of abandoned mining towns in the woods as well, all along the peninsula.  There still is native copper to be mined on the Keweenaw, but it is fairly deep and expensive to get to.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2017, 10:47:07 PM »

Good stuff! I've always wanted to do the circle tour.

Kind of makes me wonder how long it would take to do one of the signed circle routes.  The Lake Michigan Circle Tour looks daunting by itself.

All the color photos should be in sequence, I think that I only missed one lettered county route trying to pass someone.  M-123 is a complete clinch, although some of my photos in the morning with the fog got a little blurred up.  Really its a toss-up between the Tahquamenon Falls or Calumet, I really didn't expect to find a city here abandoned to this degree (insert Detroit joke here) in Michigan of all places.  Too bad my parents never saw fit to come this way when I was growing up here, seems odd that Isle Royale will be the 45th National Park I've been to.

Calumet's been like that for quite some time.  The population of Houghton County topped out at around 100,000 in 1913-14.  In the 1920s and 1930s, as the price of copper dropped, mines closed, and people left the area.  By 1950, the population had dwindled to what you see currently.  There are a number of abandoned mining towns in the woods as well, all along the peninsula.  There still is native copper to be mined on the Keweenaw, but it is fairly deep and expensive to get to.

I took M-26 back from Copper Harbor today to Houghton which took me through a ton of them.  Really the stories don't do the reality justice, it is really just rows of abandoned cities all over the peninsula.  Really I might consider coming back here some time and really diving into pretty much every ghost town, abandoned mine, or whatever interests me I can find....M-26 in particular had a CA 49 vibe to it.

Speaking of today, looks like I'll be a couple days behind on road blogs.  I took the big trip to Isle Royale which was my 45th National Park.  I did check out the terminus for US 41 past Copper Harbor:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/vtU0qu

My M-26 album is still in progress as I'll be clinching the rest of the route heading west tomorrow to Minnesota.  For now the Copper Harbor to Houghton segment is done.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm75R9RT

Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2017, 09:44:24 PM »

Day 5 Road Blogs are now up:

https://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-lakes-road-trip-day-5-part-1-m.html

https://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-lakes-road-trip-day-5-part-2-long.html

https://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-lakes-road-trip-day-5-part-3.html


As for Day 7 I took the rest of M-26 and made my way to Minnesota via mostly WI 13.  I checked out the Bayfield Peninsula and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  Surprisingly the northern reaches of WI 13 are really a scenic, fun, and traffic free drive compared to US 2.   This was more of a travel day more than anything....Flickr Albums are located below:

M-26 Complete Album:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm75R9RT


M-26 west to WI 13:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm78PePz


WI 13 north of US 2:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/1kD633


The rest of the way to Duluth including I-535:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm3iKySy

Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2017, 07:54:34 AM »

Took me forever to load my photos for Day 8.  I started the day with heading up US 53 through the Iron Range.  I checked out what I'm fairly is the original alignments of US 53 in Eveleth and Virginia, it seems that the latter is having a new expressway alignment built to the east of the city:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1KLZt3

I continued on US 53 north to Voyaguers National Park which was the 46th I've been to:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/tLK4ib

US 53 is a pretty good road with lots of wide passing angles north of Cook and an expressway to Duluth but it wasn't something that I wanted to backtrack on.  That being the case I took the 103 miles of MN 1 from US 53 to MN 61 through the Iron Range.  I checked out the Iron Range town sites, the Soudan Mine, and even found a stray US 61 shield.  MN 169 seems odd to me given it just dead ends a couple miles east of Ely, was that really mean to reach US 61 at some point?  MN 1 is a really rough road east of Ely and in really bad shape.  It looks like the road is being rebuilt west of Ely first with the work moving eastward:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/DW401h

On the coast along MN 61 I stopped to see the Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm3iXYUd

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm7dZE5Z

I even stopped at Park Point in Duluth to get a better view of the Blatnik Bridge carrying US 53/I-535.  I really wish that I had attempted pictures of 7th Avenue given the huge grade:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/pe5p24

MNHighwayMan

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2017, 09:56:43 AM »

MN 169 seems odd to me given it just dead ends a couple miles east of Ely, was that really mean to reach US 61 at some point?  MN 1 is a really rough road east of Ely and in really bad shape.  It looks like the road is being rebuilt west of Ely first with the work moving eastward:

Originally MN-169 ended somewhere between Tower and Ely. For a short time in the 1940s-50s(?), east of Ely to Power Dam Rd (the current "dead end" [not really a dead end, just continues as a county road]) was known as MN-221, before it was renumbered to be an extension of MN-169. Given the BWCA and the whole lot of nothing out there, it was never meant to reach US/MN-61.

As for the stretch between Tower and Ely, yes, MnDOT is working on an enormous project to rebuild and straighten the highway. It's the Eagles Nest project. (South)east of Ely, I am unaware of any major projects soon to be for MN-1.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 10:03:09 AM by MNHighwayMan »
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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2017, 10:41:30 AM »

Quote
I checked out what I'm fairly is the original alignments of US 53 in Eveleth and Virginia, it seems that the latter is having a new expressway alignment built to the east of the city:

Kinda sorta.  The construction you saw is intended to replace the existing alignment between Virginia and MN 135, which will go back to the adjacent mining company so they can mine it.  US 53 will remain on its existing alignment through Virginia proper.

Quote
Originally MN-169 ended somewhere between Tower and Ely.

At MN 135.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2017, 09:57:34 PM »

MN 169 seems odd to me given it just dead ends a couple miles east of Ely, was that really mean to reach US 61 at some point?  MN 1 is a really rough road east of Ely and in really bad shape.  It looks like the road is being rebuilt west of Ely first with the work moving eastward:

Originally MN-169 ended somewhere between Tower and Ely. For a short time in the 1940s-50s(?), east of Ely to Power Dam Rd (the current "dead end" [not really a dead end, just continues as a county road]) was known as MN-221, before it was renumbered to be an extension of MN-169. Given the BWCA and the whole lot of nothing out there, it was never meant to reach US/MN-61.

As for the stretch between Tower and Ely, yes, MnDOT is working on an enormous project to rebuild and straighten the highway. It's the Eagles Nest project. (South)east of Ely, I am unaware of any major projects soon to be for MN-1.

So what was the point of having MN 169 be an extension of US 169?  It sure looks like that they were going for something with US 169 being realigned to Virginia and MN 169 being signed, was it really as simple has just getting a US Route with in the neighborhood of Soudan and Ely?  USends actually had a pretty interesting break down on the topic along with some maps:

http://www.usends.com/169.html

Quote
I checked out what I'm fairly is the original alignments of US 53 in Eveleth and Virginia, it seems that the latter is having a new expressway alignment built to the east of the city:

Kinda sorta.  The construction you saw is intended to replace the existing alignment between Virginia and MN 135, which will go back to the adjacent mining company so they can mine it.  US 53 will remain on its existing alignment through Virginia proper.

Quote
Originally MN-169 ended somewhere between Tower and Ely.

At MN 135.

Well that would certainly explain the detour for MN 135 down by Eveleth routed onto MN 37.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 10:00:52 PM by Max Rockatansky »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2017, 10:18:15 PM »

Not much doing today aside from an almost entirely all freeway and expressway for about 440 miles from Duluth to Chicagoland.  I did do a photo clinch of I-535 and snuck in some pictures of US 53 coming off Miller Hill, I found both to be fascinating highways.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm3krZgJ

Really that whole traffic light/left entrance transition for US 53 really is weird to me, that must be a complete disaster during rush hour.  I took US 53 down to I-94 and essentially stayed on it almost all way to Illinois....I-894 not withstanding.  About the only interesting thing I saw was Mill Bluff State Park which got me a couple Interstate overview shots of I-90/I-94.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm2XvWsn

Interestingly there was a huge utility/power line project along I-90/I-94 that had an active plank road being used, it might be in some of my photos.  Something I found odd is how Wisconsin has alternate routes signed onto surface alignments for Interstates, I did get a couple pictures of the shields and placards that were displayed.  I had some amusement texting people asking if they wanted to see my "PP" when I passed County Route PP, but there wasn't much to keep my mind alive.  Suffice to say Interstates and freeways really aren't what I enjoy the most on road trips.

Aside from that I'm working on the Day 6 Road blogs and completed the one for the US 41 North Terminus and Isle Royale:

https://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2017/08/great-lakes-road-trip-day-6-part-1-us.html

My WiFi connection luck continues to be bad in these hotels so I'm getting a little behind on road blogs, for now I'm just happy keeping up with my photo edits/uploads.  I'm looking some stuff tomorrow in the Chicago area before bailing out for Indiana and Ohio.

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2017, 10:22:53 PM »

So what was the point of having MN 169 be an extension of US 169?  It sure looks like that they were going for something with US 169 being realigned to Virginia and MN 169 being signed, was it really as simple has just getting a US Route with in the neighborhood of Soudan and Ely?  USends actually had a pretty interesting break down on the topic along with some maps:

http://www.usends.com/169.html

MnDOT seems to have a thing for numbering certain state highways as extensions of, or former alignments of, US highways. MN-61 used to be US-61. MN-65 was once partially US-65 (the original length of MN-65 was an extension of US-65). MN-169 is an extension of US-169. MN-212 used to be a thing but was later renumbered as an extension of MN-5 after US-212 was shortened.

Edit: and of course I shouldn't forget former MN-218, an extension of US-218 that ran from Owatonna to Brainerd.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 10:30:14 PM by MNHighwayMan »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2017, 10:29:07 PM »

So what was the point of having MN 169 be an extension of US 169?  It sure looks like that they were going for something with US 169 being realigned to Virginia and MN 169 being signed, was it really as simple has just getting a US Route with in the neighborhood of Soudan and Ely?  USends actually had a pretty interesting break down on the topic along with some maps:

http://www.usends.com/169.html

MnDOT seems to have a thing for numbering certain state highways as extensions of, or former alignments of, US highways. MN-61 used to be US-61. MN-65 was once partially US-65 (the original length of MN-65 was an extension of US-65). MN-169 is an extension of US-169. MN-212 used to be a thing but was later renumbered as an extension of MN-5 after US-212 was shortened.

Weird, I guess score one for route continuity I suppose?  Hell seems like I really only ever discover oddities like this while I'm out traveling.   MN 61 seems like it still would have been a really quality US Route given it goes all the way to Thunder Bay, shame US 61 couldn't multiplex I-35

Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2017, 09:39:04 PM »

Visited some family in Cleveland so I'll be a little behind on road blogs it seems pretty much until this trip is over.  I have the Day 10 photos up, suffice to say things have gone from extremely rural to urbanized.  Started out in downtown Chicago, among the many things I checked out on a morning run was the original terminus points of US 66 in addition to a lot of Lake Shore Drive and the start of I-55:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/1a969B

Drove the Chicago Skyway for the first time since 2001 which meant that I got to see it for the first time after it was rebuilt about a decade ago:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm7kMw3Z

For the most part I stuck to the Indiana Toll Road and Ohio Turnpike to Cleveland.  I had a substantial detour to go see the Indiana Dunes, turns out the ramp from IN 39 is closed off:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm3x2Qbj

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/59W7Ne

I did see an older style Indiana Shield at the end of IN 49:

IMG_6179 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

TheHighwayMan394

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2017, 10:29:15 PM »

MN 61 seems like it still would have been a really quality US Route given it goes all the way to Thunder Bay, shame US 61 couldn't multiplex I-35

It did until 1990, when US 61 was removed north of the town of Wyoming and subsequently created MN 61 along the remaining independent portion from Duluth to the border. Apparently they first petitioned for the truncation of US 61 in 1971, but was denied at that time which was probably because I-35 wasn't finished to Duluth yet. I believe I-35 was completed (except for the tunnels) in 1977.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 10:32:28 PM by TheHighwayMan394 »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2017, 10:42:44 PM »

MN 61 seems like it still would have been a really quality US Route given it goes all the way to Thunder Bay, shame US 61 couldn't multiplex I-35

It did until 1990, when US 61 was removed north of the town of Wyoming and subsequently created MN 61 along the remaining independent portion from Duluth to the border. Apparently they first petitioned for the truncation of US 61 in 1971, but was denied at that time which was probably because I-35 wasn't finished to Duluth yet. I believe I-35 was completed (except for the tunnels) in 1977.

Weird, it just seems like that would be a pretty handy US Route to have still around.  Has the state been deleting large multiplexes recently?  It seems like there was some odd ones from what I've read up on just for the Iron Range region. 

Speaking of US 61 I completely forgot to post this guide sign I found exiting Ely on MN 1:

61USa by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

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Re: 2017 Great Lakes Circle Tour
« Reply #24 on: August 27, 2017, 01:34:41 AM »

I did see an older style Indiana Shield at the end of IN 49:

IMG_6179 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

That's a newer install, but it has been there for at least the past 6 years.  Snapped a photo of it back in 2011-12.
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