Between July 1996 and December 1998, MnDOT conducted a statewide inventory of its wayside rests on Minnesota trunk highways. The purpose was to identify roadside structures that were eligible for the National Register of Historic Places . The initial research report, Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways, was published and distributed in September 2000; a supplement that adds eight new properties and updates was completed in 2005.
The report evaluated waysides and roadside development facilities and determined roughly half of the 110 properties were eligible for listing (or already listed on the National Register or located within a National Register site or district).
Many of these historic roadside facilities were built during the 1930s and early ‘40s by unemployed Minnesotans under the federal relief programs of President Roosevelt's New Deal. The facilities were built in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Highways, as MnDOT was known at the time. The partnership produced roadside facilities built to meticulous standards with local materials. Many of these properties are state, regional, or local landmarks and are important to regional tourism services. They include features such as scenic overlook walls, picnic tables and fireplaces, interpretive markers, and small bridges.
MnDOT has prepared roadside facilities management plans for many of the facilities and intends to complete a Programmatic Agreement, which will provide preservation direction to MnDOT staff when planning transportation improvements near these resources.
Documents, Reports and Presentations on Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways
Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highway Report
Full report (Published in 2000, PDF 3.8 MB)
Report by chapter:
Front Matter (PDF, 312 KB)
Introduction (PDF, 66 KB)
Project Objectives and Methods (PDF, 104 KB)
Historic Context Narrative (PDF, 315 KB)
General Findings (PDF, 209 KB)
Description of the Inventoried Properties (PDF, 278 KB)
Evaluation of National Register Eligibility (PDF, 114 KB)
Illustrations (PDF, 1.9 MB)
Map of Inventory Properties (PDF, 1.2 MB)
References (PDF, 105 KB)
Appendices (PDF, 228 KB)
Report without pictures (PDF 1.3 MB)
Supplement to report: revised with 8 additional properties, updates, and corrections. (Published in 2005, 3.75 MB)
Documents for individual properties in the research
Inventory forms for each Historic Roadside Development Structures property (features, background, significance, etc.).
Treatment reports for properties eligible/listed on the National Register of Historic Places (restoration recommendations and cost estimates)
See a list of sites to visit (Includes the map from the report; 1.6 MB)
View publications about the research
Currents; a publication of the National Park Service's Historic Landscape Initiative, which highlights MnDOT's research and preservation efforts regarding its Historic Roadside Development Structures collection.
Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference (January 2003).
TRB Paper: Identifying, Evaluating, and Preserving Minnesota's Historic Roadside Facilities (PDF, 2.8 MB)
TRB presentation (available in alternative formats)
- PDF document (3.0 MB)
- PowerPoint presentation (5.8 MB)
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