Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Historic Roadside Properties

on Minnesota Highways


Current projects

Location: West of Hwy 100 between Broadway Ave and Bottineau Blvd, on Lakeland Ave in Robbinsdale, MN

Eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places: Under review (previously eligible)

Original Construction: 1940-41

Designed by: Arthur R. Nichols, Consulting Landscape Architect

Constructed by: Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Proposed scope: Several phases of work have been undertaken to complete different work in the site. These include: Stone masonry repair at the overlook wall (top and piers at stairs), “beehive” oven, and rock garden trail at the E and of the rock garden. Reconstruction of stone picnic tables and benches from salvaged and new materials. Repairs to the rock garden pond walls and built-in benches.

Accessible walk to picnic table near the beehive. Accessible walk connecting Broadway bridge walk to Lakeland Ave and accessible parking space.

Vegetation removals including trees impacting rock garden and plants between near the new accessible picnic table. Interpretive sign. Potential volunteer involvement with ongoing weeding and new plantings.

Construction update: Work has been completed in three different projects in the summer of 2021 through 2023:

  1. Completed: Tree removal: 4 “volunteer” trees growing in the rock garden were removed in March 2021. Two of these trees were growing in paths and 2 were growing close to a bench built in the embankment.
  2. Completed: Stone picnic table restoration-Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps. The Corps members worked with a technical expert from Advanced Masonry Restoration to repoint two picnic table pads, clean off another pad, and rebuild one picnic table from salvaged stone in the rock garden. Work was completed in July 2021.
  3. Completed: Stone Mason Contract- Environmental Associates, Inc. was contracted to rebuild 10 picnic tables, re-point 9 pads, and repair and repoint the beehive.  Work took place during the month of October 2021and then from May through June 2022.  In addition, to the planned above, a flagstone base around the beehive was discovered and repointed, the top of the beehive was covered with a metal cap and woven wire covers were added to the firebox openings to protect the beehive from future damage.  The overlook wall along the parking area was cleaned, the top was repointed, and end piers were rebuilt.
  4. Under Construction-May-June 2023: One more phase of work is underway focusing on safety and accessibility. Work includes: Repointing the rock garden pond walls and benches, adding a new accessible walk along Broadway from the bridge to the parking area, with a loop into the picnic area to a new accessible picnic table near the beehive. Plantings between the new picnic table and bench in the rock garden and re-graded and seeded grass areas in the rock garden. A new interpretive sign will be installed near the parking bay.

Timeline: Summer 2021 through June 2023

Additional information: This site is intended to be conveyed to the City of Robbinsdale after work is completed. A full rehabilitation of the site and rock garden and garden fountains and pools is not planned by MnDOT.

The Robbinsdale Lions Club has submitted a permit for volunteer weeding at the site through 2023. For more information, visit robbinsdale.org/graeser-park or contact graeserpark@gmail.com.

Wall repair and covered tables Rebuilt table picnic area cylindrical stone fireplace, called a “beehive” with newly exposed stone ring around base picnic area with stone table in front of stone “beehive” oven under a white cover Stone “beehive” fireplace with mason installing new stones in arched opening where stones are missing completed stone “beehive” stone fireplace a stone wall under white covers with a bucket and loose stones along a gravel walkway which parked cars are pulled up to low stone wall with opening and a few steps into a grass picnic area with stone picnic tables and the “beehive” fireplace grass picnic area with six spaced out stone picnic tables, trees at edges and the “beehive” oven near the back of the view

Location: Hwy 14 about 1 mile south of intersection with Hwy 15 on east side of Minnesota river near New Ulm.

Not Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places: Previously eligible. Goal of project will be to improve integrity to increase its potential for eligible status and re-evaluate the site.

Original Construction: 1938-39

Designed by: Arthur R. Nichols

Constructed by: National Youth Administration, a federal New Deal work relief program during the depression.

Project background: This project will rehabilitate the New Ulm Spring Roadside Parking Area (Class IV Rest Area), which is part of the Historic Roadside Property Program. In the late 1990s, the site was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Properties, but in a 2014 re-evaluation, was determined not eligible. The loss of eligibility was mainly for reasons of deterioration since the previous review. This project goal is to re-establish the integrity of the site and improve its potential for eligibility. This is the only remaining WPA-era wayside in this part of the state (MnDOT District 7) and one of only 3 remaining sites in the Historic Roadside Property Program which were built around springs. All of them have been capped or disconnected. All work will follow the Secretary of Interior Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties.

Project scope: Repair and repoint (removing and replacing mortar) the stone wall, replacing the gravel walk with a concrete walk, repaving the parking area, re-introducing the curbed island with  right in/right out one-way access. Rebuild natural surface trails, stone steps and two picnic areas above the wall. Interpretation will be added, and ADA accessibility improved by adding an accessible picnic table at the south end of the wall and curb ramps on the walkway. The spring outlet pipe will be stabilized, but water will not be restored due to contamination of the water source.

Vegetation management will include strategic removal of invasive shrubs such as buckthorn and invasive perennial plants such as garlic mustard, along with selective tree removal and pruning to open views of the river valley from the picnic areas on the hill.

Timeline: Work began in spring 2022. Work will be concurrent (but is a separate project) with road reconstruction on Hwy 14, called SP 5202-58. The site will be closed during construction as the Hwy 14  construction will close the road.

Construction updates: The project was delayed a year from the original 2021 construction due to a bidding problem.

Construction began in May 2022 and will be complete in September 2022. The site will not re-open until the road construction is complete in 2023. Please see updates for SP 5202-58.

Photo of stone wall at New Ulm Spring-May 2010. Photo of hillside at New Ulm Spring site. a workers standing on a dirt path spraying green “hydro seed” on a slope with a black metal rail separating two trail segments a close view of a set of stone slab steps in a wooded slope and a backhoe bucket to the right close view of a stone wall partly disassembled and scattered tools on top. Stones are irregularly shaped with flat faces and have tape with numbers on them short stone wall with mortar removed stones have tape with numbers and exposed dirt below and in back of wall partially rebuilt stone retaining wall with wet mortar, irregular top and reinforcement rods extruding above wall with orange caps on them. historic photo from 1939 of wayside adjacent to road: a tall stone retaining wall with a central spring pipe flowing with water and curved walls decreasing in height. Several women, one standing on walk below wall, one sitting on top of wall with legs dangling over, two people standing above wall on grass. A few more people visible in background at a picnic table. All people are women wearing 1940s clothes-dark jeans button shirts, only one is wearing a full skirt

Location: Hwy 6 approximately 3.3 miles south of intersection with CSAH 28 near Remer, MN.
Not Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places: Previously eligible
Original Construction: 1939-40
Designed by: Arthur R. Nichols
Constructed by: CCC Camp F-46

Project background: The log changing structure at Willow Lake was part of a large site development that is only partly visible today. The Rest Area, which has a stunning rock overlook wall, and stone curbed island to park along, once had a viewing tower, picnic area, and the changing structure was situated along the shore where a swimming area was established. An historic road, called “the Old Tote Road” follows the shore and connected to the overlook to the southern part of the site, which now has a DNR constructed and operated boat launch.

Project scope: The project will stabilize the log changing structure. The structure will be partially dis-assembled and sound logs and wood parts will be re-used. New logs will match the original materials. The structure will have secured windows and doors. The intent is not to use the structure, but to preserve it. Interpretation will show the interior and describe the site.

Timeline:This project has been delayed and is anticipated to be completed over the fall of 2023 through June 2024.

one story round log structure with shingle roof collapsing, screened by trees and brush growing close to it. Log ends are angled and irregular lengths at corners. Trees growing behind structure corner of log structure showing protruding round logs with angled ends of irregular length. Window covered in plastic. Small trees growing close to building inside corner of log structure-round logs are whitewashed and closely fitted to each other. Dirt and graffiti on walls, window blocked with unpainted wood boards interior of log structure showing top of gabled wall and round log beams supporting the roof. All wood is whitewashed with dirt on top surfaces exterior view of one story round log structure, fallen leaves on ground and trees encircling sides and back of structure. Ground slopes up on right side of shelter.  Yellow leaves and evergreen trees in background

Location: Hwy 2, 1 mile east of intersection with Hwy 59,  near Erskine, MN.
Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places
Original Construction: 1972-4
Designed by: Virgil Siddens, architect and MHD
Constructed by: MHD

Project background: Oak Lake Rest Area was evaluated in a study published in 2020 and was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its outstanding early modern rest area design and its intact setting. Three other sites share the same building designs; Lake Hansel, Lake Latoka and Burgen Lake. Only Oak Lake and Burgen Lake remain, but Burgen will require significant capacity additions, being on I-94 near Alexandria. Oak Lake, in a relatively quiet location in the northwest corner of the state, has remained nearly fully intact. A site rehabilitation will be completed in 2023. A building rehabilitation will follow in the future. Both rehabilitations will follow the Secretary of Interior Standards to retain historic integrity.

Project scope: The project will rebuild parking pavements, walks, trails, and site furnishings. Two picnic shelters will be rehabilitated. Unique wood directional signage will be rebuilt and plantings will be replaced.

Timeline: The site project has been awarded and began in April 2023. The completion date is in October 2023.

Public use impacts: Portions of the site will be closed in phases. The first Phase will be closed to trucks. The second Phase will have no building access and portable toilets will be provided for the public. The third phase will have shared parking for cars and trucks. Please follow signage on TH 2 for closures and parking changes.

view of concrete walk leading to small brick restroom building with narrow vertical windows and reverse mansard style roof. Concrete trash and recycling containers on right side of walk, bench and plaza to right of building. Trees in background concrete walk at edge of parking area and brick piers and low sloping roofed picnic shelter with freestanding wind scree and shaded picnic tables inside. Trees in background shaded under shelter, a metal topped picnic table on a concrete surface. Wind screen with wood and plexi-glass slats with blue sky and trees in background roughly square concrete surfaced plaza with benches in foreground and sides, three foot tall brick walls on sides and a metal picket railing at the far end with a view of a lake through trees with leaves in bud and blue skies with wispy clouds crumbling bituminous surfaced trail through grass picnic area with trees and lake to the left and trees and road to right. One picnic table visible in grass on right. Sly is blue and the flat horizon is visible.

Location: Hwy 301 west of Hwy 10 North Side, adjacent to Minnesota Correctional Facility St. Cloud
In Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Minnesota State Reformatory for Men Historic District (SH-SCC-013)
Original construction: ca. 1930
Designed by: not documented
Constructed by: WPA-MHD

Project description: In conjunction with the reconstruction of TH 301, this historic retaining wall is the edge of a National Register Listed Historic District encompassing the St. Cloud Correctional Facility (Prison). The cobblestone wall has grey granite caps which match the stone of the correctional facility buildings. The stone was quarried within the facility itself where the quarries remain as part of the exercise yard.   

Project scope: The road will be reconstructed, storm water facilities repaired, and the walls will be reconstructed. The tall section of the wall will be rebuilt with a concrete core and stone facing. Shorter walls will be rebuilt as original fieldstone walls.

Project timeline: This project is planned to be constructed in the 2023 construction season.

Construction updates May 2023: This project has been awarded and is underway. Please follow detours as directed during the project. Only emergency traffic and MCF-SC service vehicles are allowed in the construction area.

view straight down road with low retaining wall with rough grey stone cap and cobblestone face on left, concrete gutter in center and road on right. Evergreen trees in background where road features converge grass and retaining wall curved to taller end pier. Wall is constructed of rounded cobblestones and cut stones with rustic caps. Road is elevated behind wall and dry grass and evergreen and deciduous trees without leaves across road low wall with only stone cap visible running through mowed green grass. Deteriorated bituminous swale runs parallel to wall a few feet away.  Road and trees visible beyond close-up of cobblestone retaining wall with crumbling mortar and stones missing and fallen out of wall. Long rectangular cap stones with rusting tops continue over damaged wall area. Light is visible through wall. Evergreen and light trunked trees in background across road

Recently completed projects

Recent projects are completed, but still under contractor warranty. These projects may still have short duration warranty work and small repairs completed.

Location: Hwy 212/23 on west side of MN River south of 212 river bridge in Granite Falls, MN.

Not Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (under re-evaluation)

Original Construction: 1938

Designed by: Arthur R. Nichols

Constructed by: Minnesota Department of Highways Staff and federal relief program workers.

2021 project scope: Granite Falls Overlook Rehabilitation; the overlook wall was repointed (replace deteriorated mortar between stones), benches were repaired, walkways were repaired, the gravel plaza surface was replaced with concrete, and stone curb was repointed, new trees were planted, and an interpretative sign was added. All work followed the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation.

At a separate location in Granite Falls Veteran’s Memorial Park, Repointing on the south wing wall of the entrance to Granite Falls Memorial Park on Hwy 67 was completed. This part of the entry structure is in the MnDOT right of way.

This project was completed in September 2021. Ongoing warranty and maintenance activities will be ongoing for 1-2 years.

Granite Falls Overlook wall and sidewalk Granite Falls wall repair Granite Falls stairs beneath bridge Granite Falls Overlook

Reads Landing is Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Location: Hwy 61 approximately 9 miles southeast of Lake City Concourse

Original Construction: 1939

Designed by: A.R. Nichols, attributed

Constructed by: National Youth Administration

2020 Rehabilitation included Work will include the rehabilitation of the brick and stone overlook, plaque repairs and restoring a stone retaining wall on the upland side of the overlook.

Lake City is Eligible for Listing on the National Register of Historic Places

Location: Hwy 61 in Lake City south of W. Elm Street.

Original Construction: 1938-40

Designed by: A. R. Nichols, attributed

Constructed by: National Youth Administration (1940 phase)

2020 Rehabilitation included repointing and stone replacement at the stone overlook and walls adjacent to Hwy 61, repair of flagstone paving areas and some sidewalk replacements. Interpretive signage was restored.

Eligible for listing on the National register of Historic Places
Whipholt RPA

Location: Hwy 200 about a half-mile east of 16th Ave (CR2108) on the south shore of Leech Lake

Original Construction: 1941, resumed and completed 1951

Designed by: Arthur Nichols, attributed

Constructed by: WPA and Minn. Dept. of Highways

2020 Project scope: included restoration of the stone overlook wall, improve interpretive elements and signage, repave the access road and parking area (within the existing paved area limits) and add plantings , picnic tables and a portable toilet screen.

Whipholt picnic area Whipholt wall joint Whipholt before north wall Before veneer collapse After south of concourse After south corner During upper and veneer walls S of concourse Reads Landing

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places under: Gooseberry Falls State Park CCC/Rustic Style Historic Resources, an Historic District, as a contributing feature in 1989

Gooseberry Falls Concourse Rehabilitation
Gooseberry Falls Concourse Rehabilitation alternate view

Original Construction: 1936-40

Designed by: Edward W. Barber

Constructed by: Civilian Conservation Corps

2019 Rehabilitation Project completed safety and accessibility improvements to the historic concourse and bridge overlook and repointed the historic concourse structure (repointing is the replacement of the mortar between the stones). The concourse plaza and overlook plaza was cleared of vegetation and gravel placed in original parking area with the Gitchi Gami trail running through is lined by trees and grasses to distinguish it as new. The bridge monument was moved from the plaza to the north side of the river. The Upper plaza (former bridge abutment) was paved in concrete with a planting bed separating it from the road level gravel concourse.

Before and after photo gallery

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Pine-Hickory (PDF) (link to inventory form)

Pine-Hickory Lakes Roadside Parking Area

Original Construction: 1938

Designed by: Arthur Nichols, Consulting Landscape Architect

Constructed by: National Youth Administration (NYA)

2019 Project included restoration of several historic stone features, repaving the parking area with accessibility improvements to the picnic area, portable toilets and addition of a new fishing pier will be installed by the DNR on Little Pine Lake. An existing paved trail was repaved to a fire ring on Little Pine Lake, while other trails to an overlook, fire ring and walk in canoe launch on Hickory Lake remain turf.

Read more about the site on this link to the new interpretive sign:

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Whitefish Creek Bridge Rehabilitation (Bridge 3355)

Original Construction: 1939

Designed by: Arthur Nichols, Consulting Landscape Architect and National Park Service

Constructed by: Civilian Conservation Corps

2019 Project included rehabilitation of the stone bridge, stone bridge abutments, flagstone walks and guardrail stone wall. The bridge deck and approach lanes were reconstructed and an integral Wyoming guardrail will be installed.