- What is the State Entrance Sign program?
- Who designed the large Type I Entrance Monument sign?
- How is it decided where they are built?
- Who designed the historic stone monument signs?
- When were these built?
- Are they all historic?
- What makes the Historic Type IIs historic?
- We saw a crew working on an old monument. What were they doing?
- The monuments look similar, but different. Why?
- Can we request a stone monument for the road in our area?
- Why does MnDOT invest in these historic monuments?
A taskforce on the Aesthetic Environment was initiated in 1974 that created the Minnesota Welcome Sign Program.
The current Type I State Entrance Monument was developed through a student design competition at the University of Minnesota in 1996. The winning design emphasizes Minnesota’s distinct shape and outstanding natural regions of the state. The design shows three distinct areas showing Minnesota’s three prominent biomes: coniferous forests of the northeast, deciduous forests across the center and the prairies of the south and west. The mid-section is striped and symbolically represents the unique landscape of the Mississippi River.
Sixty-nine Entry Points into Minnesota were identified and classified into three levels based on highway volumes and type of traffic.
Type I: Major Entrance Signs
Located on interstate and other significant U.S. and State Highways.
Type II and Type III: Secondary Entrance Signs
Located on U.S. and State Highways.
Type III: Minor Entrance Signs
Located on State Highways.
The historic Type II stone monument design is attributed to landscape architect Arthur R. Nichols. Mr. Nichols consulted with the Highway department from 1932-1940. A number of stone monuments were constructed during the 1990’s that replicate the original design. These would not be considered historic.
The majority of the historic entrance monument were constructed during the Depression Era between 1940 and 1942. Originally, 18 historic Type II stone monuments were constructed.
A number of these monuments have either been destroyed of have been moved from their original locations. The majority of the Historic Type II stone monuments were built in the southern half of the state by the National Youth Administration (NYA) and the Works Project Administration (WPA).
Pre-1955 state line markers/monuments are eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
A historian researched the history of the monuments and determined that they met the standards to be considered eligible for inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior.
- Age: Achieved significance in the past 50 years
- Integrity: Does it still look much like it did when originally constructed
- Significance: Is the property associated with events activities, or developments that were important in the past? With the lives of people who were important in the past? With significant architectural history, landscape history, or engineering achievements? Does it have the potential to yield information through archeological investigation about our past?
Additional criteria can include thematic, integrity, contributing environment (National Register property boundaries). More information can be obtained at https://www.nps.gov/nr/national_register_fundamentals.htm.
Older monuments were restored in 2015 and 2016 to stop deterioration. Artesian stone masons removed and replaced deteriorated stones, removed deteriorating mortar and repointed all of the historic Type II monuments. They also disassembled the tops of the monuments to place new wood beams and cross arms for the hanging signs. The restoration work includes cleaning dirt, moss, lichens and other biological matter from the surface of the stones. Periodic restoration work is necessary to repair normal deterioration of the mortar joints and preserve them for future generations.
All of the monuments have stone patterns unique to each monument. The stone for each monument are mostly native to the part of the state where they were built. The historic Type II monuments were constructed with granite, limestone, Winona travertine and sandstone.
No. Replication of historic elements is discouraged.
MnDOT is required by State Statute to review projects for compliance with “Minnesota Historic Sites Act”, the “Minnesota Field Archaeology Act”, and the “Minnesota Private Cemeteries Act”. Eligible or listed sites are incorporated into the projects to preserve and protect historic resources through rehabilitation or restoration. The objective of these statutes is to avoid, reduce or mitigate adverse impacts.
- Minnesota Historic Sites Act (MS 138.661-138.669) - Directs state agencies to consult with the Minnesota Historical Society if projects they undertake or fund will impact properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places and/or in the State Register of Historic Places.
For more information on MnDOT’s role, please see: