Historic U.S. 61: Old Highway 61 - Wyoming to the St. Louis County Line
Photo Tour, Part 1 - Wyoming to Pine City
Old Highway 61 - Wyoming to Pine City
Located In: Pine, and Chisago Counties.
Length: 35.34 miles.
Type: Modernized highway.
Status: Fully intact
View Map Key Old Highway 61 is shown in light blue, I-35 in dark blue, and all temporary connections in orange.
The south end of Old Highway 61 runs parallel and just to the east of I-35 through Chisago and Pine Counties, passing through the small towns of Wyoming, Stacy, North Branch, Harris, Rush City, Rock Creek, and Pine City. This section, still fully intact, was the longest continuous stretch of old 61 to be retired during the construction of I-35, with the move onto the Interstate taking place in 1969.
Old Highway 61 begins in Wyoming at the junction of current U.S. 61 and Chisago County Road 30. U.S. 61 northbound has turned left here since 1969, when the road ahead was turned back to Chisago County. County Road 30 continues straight ahead on the old route.
Entering Stacy. Note the "Forest Blvd" sign on the right.
Looking north through Stacy. On the left is a surviving section of the original paved highway, bypassed when U.S. 61 was modernized in the 1950's (see article).
Stacy's city hall and water tower.
Entering downtown North Branch. Ahead is the old junction with State Highway 95, marked through North Branch since 1934.
Another view of the junction with Highway 95, looking east into North Branch's old business district. Note the Merchant's State Bank on the corner, now a law office.
Another view of downtown North Branch, looking east down Highway 95 from Old 61.
Entering the city limits of Harris.
Entering Harris proper.
Harris's old business district, built on the opposite side of the railroad tracks from the highway.
Businesses along old 61 in Harris.
Old Rush Creek Bridge at Rush City
Crossing Rush Creek in Rush City. The bridge (no. 2581) was constructed way back in 1916, and is the oldest bridge still in use on Old Highway 61.
A closer view of the bridge, showing its concrete and girder understructure. The bridge was widened in 1927, and again in 1951 (strangely, this bridge was built one block west of the original highway, now Alger Avenue - see article).
In downtown Rush City at the end of County Road 30 and the junction with State Hwy 361.
State Highway 361 at Rush City
The first Highway 361 marker in Rush City. Highway 361 was created in 1969 to replace U.S. 61 between Rush City and Pine City in order to maintain the state's obligation to run a trunk highway through the city limits of both towns dating back to the constitutional amendment that created the trunk highway system in 1920 (I-35 did not pass through the city limits of either Rush City or Pine City at the time).
Rock Creek and the Junction with Highway 70
On Highway 361 at the Pine County line and the south city limits of Rock Creek. Once a tiny community, Rock Creek has expanded its city limits to encompass the entire surrounding township.
Old central Rock Creek, looking west across Old 61. On the left is a culvert over Rock Creek constructed in 1954.
Approaching the old rail overpass just north of central Rock Creek, constructed in 1954.
Approaching the junction with Highway 70, just north of the rail overpass.
Direction signage at the junction.
The end of State Highway 361 at the junction with Highway 70. Highway 361 originally extended north to Pine City when it was first marked in 1969. The section north of Highway 70 was turned back to Pine County in 2003.
A piece of decaying pavement at the southwest corner of the junction with Highway 70. This ramp was built in 1964 to feed traffic from U.S. 61 towards I-35, which was completed as far south as the Highway 70 exit in 1964. Highway 61, however, continued north to Pine City until 1969.
Signage at the junction with Highway 70. This was the site of U.S. 61's junction with Highway 70 from 1954 until 1969 (U.S. 61's original alignment at Rock Creek was quite different, for more details, see the the article here).
Pine County Road 61 at Rock Creek
The first County Road 61 marker north of the junction with Highway 70. County Road 61 was extended south to Highway 70 in 2003 upon the retirement of the north end of Highway 361.
Entering the Pine City city limits.
Entering Pine City proper. Note the old "MOTEL" sign ahead on the right.
Temporary Connection on Hillside Drive at Pine City
The intersection with Hillside Drive on the south side of Pine City. Hillside Drive was improved as a connection to I-35 in 1964, originally marked as State Highway 324. In 1965, Highway 61 north of this intersection was turned back to Pine County. From 1965 until 1969, Highway 61 turned left here and followed Highway 324 to I-35 (see map, below). Highway 324 wasn't retired until 2003.
- Part 1 - Wyoming to Pine City
- Part 2 - Pine City to Sandstone
- Part 3 - Sandstone to Moose Lake
- Part 4 - Moose Lake to Carlton County Road 5 (Otter Creek)
- Part 5 - Carlton County Road 5 to Highway 210
- Part 6 - Highway 210 to I-35 at the Carlton / St. Louis County Line