Rediscover the Fun along Old Highway 61!U.S. Highway 61, also known as the “Blues Highway,” was one of the original highways constructed within the U.S. Highway System. Built in 1926, the 1,400 mile roadway extends from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
By: Press Release, Pine Journal
“Rediscover the Fun along Old Highway 61!” That is the message representatives from nine chambers of commerce and 15 cities in three counties are encouraging others to help send. U.S. Highway 61, also known as the “Blues Highway,” was one of the original highways constructed within the U.S. Highway System. Built in 1926, the 1,400 mile roadway extends from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
A formal “launch” of the Old Highway 61 effort to the public will take place at the Pine Technical College Auditorium from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, in conjunction with the Third Annual Highway 61 Film Festival in Pine City. Cathy Wurzer, host/anchor of “Morning Edition,” Minnesota Public Radio and award-winning Minnesota journalist, will be the featured speaker. The public is invited to attend. Wurzer’s film “Tales of the Road: Highway 61,” will be shown at the Pine Technical College Auditorium for the opening of the third annual Highway 61 Film Festival.
A group of Old Highway 61 stakeholders has been working on the effort to preserve and promote Old Highway 61 over the past few months. In June 2013, the Initiative Foundation awarded a $2,000 matching grant to the Onanegozie Resource Conservation and Development Council, which is serving as the fiscal agent for a steering committee comprised of representatives from the Chisago County HRA-EDA, city of Pine City, Pine County, North Branch Chamber of Commerce, Carton County, and city of Rush City.
Grant dollars were used to host a series of meetings to introduce the idea of collaborating to promote the segment of the Old Highway 61 corridor which extends through Chisago, Pine and Carlton counties. Over 30 “stakeholders” attended meetings in July, August and September to provide input on the proposed project.
A preliminary list and maps identifying over 100 “destinations” within the three counties, along Old Highway 61, have been developed. Destinations highlighted include historic sites, hospitality, natural resources, entertainment and shopping. In addition, a calendar of festivals and events within the cities and townships in the “Old Highway 61 corridor” has been developed. Both will be on display at the Oct. 4 Film Festival launch.
Preliminary goals identified by those involved thus far include but are not limited to: (1) Drawing more customers/tourists to Old Highway 61 businesses and communities; (2) Attracting more businesses to available spaces; (3) Promoting the recreational opportunities and natural resources within the Old Highway 61 corridor; (4) Expanding the regional trail system along the corridor through collaborative efforts; and (5) Branding the “Old Highway 61 Corridor” as a destination and developing a cooperative marketing program.
For more information or to become involved, contact the Carlton County representative on the Steering Committee: Brenda Nyberg, 218-384-9564.