old61 Mineral Center Road

Mineral Center Road

Part of:

old61 1963-1966

Length: 4 miles

Historic Context: County road taken over by the MHD as a temporary connection in 1963 between the old and new border highways during the latter's construction.

Construction: Paved by Cook County with 24 feet of asphalt just before being taken over as a temporary connection in the early 1960's.

Bypassed: 1966 upon opening of the remainder of the new border highway.

Status: Intact. Maintained by Cook County as County Road 17.

Last Visited: June 2012

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Mineral Center Road was used by U.S. 61 for only a few short years in the mid 1960's as a temporary connection between the old road to the Canadian Border and the current north shore highway. It ran east-to-west through the Grand Portage Indian Reservation for four miles between the now defunct town of Mineral Center, and Highway 61 a few miles south of Grand Portage (see map below).

Before the construction of the current north shore highway, Mineral Center Road served as the main connection between the community of Grand Portage and the old border road, which had been built in the late teens as part of the "Duluth-Port Arthur Highway". The Department of Highways had wanted to move the highway closer to the shore and through Grand Portage since the 1930's, but had been blocked by serious legal troubles (see the article on the Old Border Road for more details). With the legal troubles cleared up and World War 2 out of the way, construction was finally begun on the planned highway in the late 1950's. The first stage, including the current border crossing, were completed in 1963 to a point just south of Grand Portage. It was at this point in time that Mineral Center Road was called into service as a temporary connection while the remainder of the new highway was under construction. It remained in use by U.S. 61 until the road was completed in 1966.

Left to right: a montage of images from the 1962, 1964, and 1967 official highway maps, showing the transition between the old border road and the current highway. Notice in the 1962 image how Mineral Center Road is shown as a gravel road (dotted gray line) and that it is the only road to Grand Portage. The 1964 image shows it as paved and in use as U.S. 61. The 1967 map shows the new highway as completed, with the old highway and Mineral Center Road as county Roads.

At Mineral Center

The east end of Mineral Center road featured an interesting junction with old Highway 61. What was originally just a simple T-intersection had a curved connection added at it's southwest corner by 1957 (according to a USGS aerial photo). This was likely built as the connection used by U.S. 61 during the mid 1960's.

Close-up of the junction of County Roads 17 and 89 at Mineral Center.

Photos - taken in June, 2012.

Looking east at the intersection of Old Highway 61 (foreground) and Mineral Center Road (curved road on the right). After the new border road was opened in 1963 northbound traffic would have been directed to the right here.

Mineral Center Road sign at the old T-intersection with Old Highway 61.

Looking eastbound on Mineral Center Road a little south of Old 61.

Mineral Center Road cutting through the forest between Mineral Center and Grand Portage.

Signage at the east end of Mineral Center Road where it intersects modern Highway 61.


  1. MHD Construction Plans: project 1604-11, 4-25-1964.
  2. Miller, Les. "North Shore Highway Completed". Minnesota Highways. November 1966, pp 7-8.
  3. MnDOT. Construction Project Log: Control Section 1604.
  4. USGS Aerial Photo from June 8, 1957 of Mineral Center. Accessed 10-24-12 via USGS Earth Explorer.

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