Historic U.S. 61: Old Highway 61 - Wyoming to the St. Louis County Line
Photo Tour, Part 6 - Highway 210 Exit to I-35 at the St. Louis County Line
Old Highway 61 - Hwy 210 Exit to I-35 at the St. Louis County Line
Located In: Carlton County.
Length: 11.15 miles.
Type: Modernized highway.
Status: Mostly intact, but with many rebuilt sections. Heavily rebuilt at Hwy 210 exit west of Carlton, the Hwy 45 exit at Scanlon, from the jct with Co Rd 45 to 0.5 miles east of the St. Louis River, in Esko, and at the interchange with I-35 at the St. Louis County Line.
View Map Key Old Highway 61 is shown in light blue, I-35 in dark blue, and all temporary connections in orange.
The final segment of Old 61 to be retired, the northern-most stretch is now marked as part of four different routes. It makes two-right angle turns, and has also been heavily modified in places. It passes through the towns of Carlton, Scanlon, and Esko.
Temporary Connection at the Highway 210 Exit
Although the freeway bypass of Carlton had been completed in 1966, U.S. 61 continued to get off I-35 at the Highway 210 exit (#235) from 1967 until 1974. It then followed what is now Highway 210 eastbound into Carlton.
Highway 210 - I-35 to Carlton
On Highway 210 eastbound towards Carlton.
Buildings in Carlton at 2nd Street (note the route signage for the junction with Highway 45 ahead). 2nd Street on the north side (left) of this intersection was the original alignment of U.S. 210 and Constitutional Route 2 from 1926 until 1930.
At the junction with Highway 45 in Carlton. U.S. 61 made a hard turn to the left here towards Scanlon. Highway 210 continues ahead towards Jay Cooke State Park.
The route ahead was originally added to the trunk highway system in 1949 as State Highway 210, then an eastern extension of U.S. 210. In 1956 it was renumbered as State Highway 39. It regained its original number when U.S. 210 was retired in about 1970.
On Highway 45 - Carlton to Scanlon
A view to the northeast at the same intersection, with the Carlton County Courthouse in the background. State Highway 45 took over Old 61 between Carlton and Scanlon in 1974.
The Highway 45 Exit at Scanlon
On Highway 45, approaching the interchange with I-35. Old 61 was realigned slightly to the east here and expanded to four lanes as part of the construction of the interchange with I-35 in 1966. The original two-lane highway ran just to the west (left) of this road (now gone, see map below). State Highway 45 ends at the north end of the interchange and becomes County Road 45.
Old Junction with Highway 45 and the St. Louis River Crossing at Scanlon
The area just north of the Highway 45 exit at Scanlon is one of the most altered portions of Old 61 between Wyoming and Duluth. What is now the junction of County Roads 45 and 61 (formerly the junction of U.S. 61 and State Highway 45, formerly Constitutional Route 55 before 1934) has been massively altered and rebuilt due to the realignment of County Road 45 into Cloquet, and the rebuilding of the St. Louis River crossing just to the east (see map below for an overview).
The junction at Scanlon was originally completed in the 1920's, and later expanded in 1949 as part of the construction of the new divided highway east towards Duluth (the dual-bridge crossing of the St. Louis River wasn't completed until 1954).
Old Highway 45 into Cloquet remained under state jurisdiction until 1994, while the the old divided highway towards Duluth was turned back to Carlton County by 1976. The two-bridge crossing was replaced by a single bridge in about 1987. The old divided highway was also reduced to a two-lane road for about a half mile east of the river. Only a small piece of the old eastbound lane was left behind as service drive (visible in the map above). County Road 45 into Cloquet was moved to its current alignment in about 1997.
Looking north at the current junction of County Roads 45 and 61 in Scanlon. The road ahead is new, built in the late 1990's. The road to the right was built along the path of Old 61 in about 1987.
Looking east down County Road 61 from County Road 45 at Scanlon. This stretch is now a two-lane highway, downgraded so that the county would only have to maintain one bridge across the St. Louis River (the crossing is on the horizon). On the right is a service drive, formerly the old eastbound lane.
Above, a map showing the new St. Louis River crossing and the rest of the County Road 61 rebuilt in the late 1980's. At the east end of the map you can see the old divided highway reemerging. There was once a weight-station in the middle of the rebuilt stretch (marked with white lines).
County Road 61 - St. Louis River to I-35
The old divided highway into Duluth, just east of the St. Louis River, originally completed in 1949.
Entering the unincorporated town of Esko at the bridge over the Midway River, replaced in 2000. The stretch in town originally had a concrete curb dividing the lanes, now removed.
County Road 61 eventually comes to an end at I-35 at the Carlton/ St. Louis County Line. I-35 east of this point was completed in 1977 as a reconstruction of the previous divided highway, which once continued all the way down the Thompson Hill into Duluth.