Historic U.S. Highway 8, Minnesota
U.S. Route 8 was the predecessor of I-35 and 35W between Minneapolis and Forest Lake. It provided Minneapolis with a connection to U.S. 61, then the main route to Duluth. East of U.S. 61, it ran through Chisago City, Lindstrom, and Center City, finally crossing into Wisconsin at Taylors Falls. Sadly, what is left of U.S. 8 east of Forest Lake has become one of the most infamous highways in Minnesota due to its high accident rate.
1926: Taylors Falls to Wyoming
U.S. 8 was one of the original east/west routes of the U.S. Highway system, officially adopted in November, 1926 (Minnesota had started marking its U.S. routes in September). U.S. 8 was routed along what had previously been State Route 46 between U.S. 61/State Route 1 at Wyoming and the the St. Croix River at Taylors Falls. The route was already paved as far east as a point between Chisago City and Lindstrom. The remainder remained gravel until being paved in 1930. Work continued through 1931 and 1932, when a new highway along the now familiar alignment of U.S. 8 east of Center City was completed.
1930: Extension to Minneapolis
In 1930, U.S. 8 was extended southwest to Minneapolis to connect Minnesota's largest city with U.S. 61. The route chosen followed U.S. 61 south from Wyoming through Forest Lake to State Route 63, which then cut southwest across Anoka and Ramsey counties. The Route 63 corridor had been developed by the Highway Department between 1927 and 1928, and was one of the widest paved highways in the state at the time, with 27 feet of concrete pavement in contrast with the 18 feet being used on most highways.
At Minneapolis, U.S. 8 was routed onto Lowry and Central Avenues, terminating at the intersection of 3rd and Washington Avenues in downtown. It was eventually moved onto New Brighton Boulevard and Broadway in 1942 (U.S. 8's western terminus would remain at 3rd and Washington until 1976).
1954: Bypassing Wyoming
In 1951, the Highway Department began development on a new corridor for State Highway 98 between Forest Lake and Chisago City. Highway 98, originally marked in 1934, had been created to provide a more direct route than the previous paved route through Wyoming, but had remained mostly undeveloped. Once paving work on the new highway was completed in 1954, U.S. 8 and Highway 98 swapped alignments, with U.S. 8 taking the new, more direct route, and Highway 98 taking U.S. 8's original route to Wyoming (Highway 98 was finally retired in 1996 and is now marked as County Road 22).
1964-1979: Replacement by I-35/35W
The I-35W/35 corridor was designed to be a replacement for U.S. 8 between Forest Lake and Minneapolis. It began operation in 1964 when the first section opened between Highway 36 in Roseville and U.S. 10 in Mounds View. The freeway was pushed north to Lake Drive in Lino Lakes in 1968, and to Forest Lake in 1969. However, 35W south of Highway 36 into downtown Minneapolis had yet to be completed, so U.S. 8 was retained to fill the gap. U.S. 8 followed 35W only as far south as what is now County Road 88, where it exited onto a divided highway completed in 1965 as a temporary short-cut. 35W was finally completed in 1976, after which U.S. 8 was truncated at New Brighton Boulevard and Broadway. It was pushed back a bit further to the New Brighton Boulevard exit in about 1977, and finally all the way back to Forest Lake (its current extent) in about 1979.