This report details a trip through southwestern Minnesota on June 24, 2004, during my 2004 summer vacation.

Froggie's 2004 Summer Vacation:  Southwest Minnesota Loop

After spending a couple nights at my aunt's cabin, we made another "grand round" of sorts heading back to the Twin Cities, this time by way of the southwestern corner of the state:

- Stopped briefly in Osakis to pick up some beef sticks and jerky from the excellent meat market they have in town, then headed south, via MN 127 and Douglas CSAH 3, which becomes Pope CSAH 33.

Continuing south along our track required a considerable number of turns.  Starting with Pope CSAH 33, in order: MN 28, CSAH 33, CSAH 22, CSAH 39, CSAH 20 (which becomes Stearns CSAH 25), Stearns CSAH 18 (which we took through Brooten and becomes Kandiyohi CSAH 1), MN 9, and MN 104. Kandiyohi CSAH 13 (which becomes Swift CSAH 6). CSAH 6 ends at US 12 in Kerkhoven, and we were briefly on US 12 before picking up CSAH 35 going out of town. CSAH 35 then becomes Chippewa CSAH 2, and after a brief 1 mile stint on MN 40, we took CSAH 2 all the way south into Clara City. By this point, we were so far out in the boonies that the local government entities didn't even put stop signs up at intersections...just yield signs instead. Meaghan and I jokingly called the area the "Land of Yield".

- CSAH 2 goes right through the heart of Clara City, as does MN 23, which we picked up and headed southwest on. The MN 23/MN 7 intersection is a 4-way intersection with stop control on MN 23 (MN 7 traffic doesn't have to stop).  Interestingly, the entire intersection, plus both MN 23 approaches, were done in full concrete that looked relatively new...sometime within the last 5-10 years.

- Further southwest, MN 23 briefly goes to a 2-lane divided setup around the town of Maynard. We followed CSAH 4 south from here, which used to be an old routing of MN 23 between Maynard and US 212 (replaced by a new routing 1 mile to the west sometime in the '70s). CSAH 4 becomes Renville CSAH 37 at the county line, which was somewhat of a DeLorme had it listed as CSAH 23W.  Took a series of gravel roads a few miles west of here in order to pick up Chippewa CSAH 15. CSAH 5 north of CSAH 15 was closed for reconstruction, but we were heading west. Saw some old-style cable guardrail heading down into the Minnesota River valley, and CSAH 15 picks up the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway designation at what is briefly considered (but unsigned) CSAH 20.

- Just west of CSAH 15, Chippewa CSAH 20 crosses the Minnesota River, and becomes Yellow Medicine CSAH 7. We crossed US 212 and stayed on this road heading up the bluff. CSAH 7 goes a couple miles south before ending at CSAH 5, where we turned west for a ways. CSAH 5 becomes Lac Qui Parle CSAH 2, which then goes into the town of Boyd. A resurfacing project was underway from the county line into Boyd.

- From Boyd, we followed this routing south: CSAH 29, which becomes Yellow Medicine CSAH 9, and then later Lyon CSAH 17, CSAH 10 into Minneota, CSAH 3 out of Minneota (after a short hop and gas stop on MN 68), then briefly on MN 19.  Lyon CSAH 13 was under reconstruction between MN 19 and CSAH 4, but was open to traffic, so we took this down and eventually took CSAH 13 all the way to MN 23.

- The US 14/MN 23 "interchange" is actually a grade separation with an access road between the two highways. A Terraserver image:

- Southwest of Florence, we took a couple small side-trips in order to nip the corners of Murray and Lincoln Counties (I'd already had both...Meaghan needed them). Further southwest, south of Ruthton, MN 23 crosses "Buffalo Ridge", which is the dividing line between the Misssissippi River and Missouri River watersheds, and also has a lot of wind generators along it.

- Once in Pipestone, MN 23 duplexes with US 75 for about 1/2 mile. There's a sign that states:

US 75 (in a shield)

- The sole traffic signal in Pipestone is where US 75, MN 23, and MN 30 all converge, with each route duplexing with the other two, but not all three at once. MN 23 and MN 30 go west from here for a few blocks along the only 4-lane roadway in town, before they split. We took the MN 23 part of the split and continued southwest.

- MN 23 goes through the small town of Ihlen, but only slows down to 50 MPH in the process. Slows down a little more for Jasper, where we took a brief side trip west out MN 269 to the state line. Where MN 269 crosses the state line (and becomes SD 11), four counties come together in one location: Pipestone and Rock in Minnesota, and Moody and Minnehaha in South Dakota. Only two are actually signed at the state line, though: Minnehaha and Pipestone.

- Back on MN 23 to its end at I-90, and continued south on Rock CSAH 17. Rock CSAH 17 ends at the state line at a T-intersection. The road at the state line here (which actually turns south into Iowa just to the east) is maintained by Iowa, and according to my DeLorme is unsigned Lyon CR A10. From here we headed west the one mile to where the three states (IA/MN/SD) come together.

- Monte Castleman has been at this point before and discussed it, so I won't go into details, though I will point out that the centerline USGS marker itself was missing (though the area did have a metal piece in the pavement and was spray painted). Took some pictures of the area and the old bridge just to the north, then turned and headed back to I-90. Enroute, we took a brief side-trip along Rock CSAH 4, which is former US 16, to the state line to photograph where US 16 formerly entered the state.

- Took I-90 east before stopping in Worthington for ice cream. EB I-90 has a 2-mile advance BGS for the US 75 exit...had never seen a 2-mile advance BGS in Minnesota before. I've known of quite a few gates at various Interstate entrance ramps in rural Minnesota (to facilitate closing the Interstate during winter weather), but on WB I-90, there's a MAINLINE gate at the US 75 interchange. First mainline gate I've seen. Further east, there's a VMS on EB I-90 between the Nobles CSAH 13 and MN 266 interchanges. Unlike the I-94 VMS near Clearwater, this one was displaying a message: SEAT BELTS REQUIRED. BUCKLE UP.

- Saw another mainline "snow gate", EB at the US 59 interchange, as we were exiting to hit up DQ and get some ice cream. Note to Matt Salek: I-90 BGS at US 59 lists both Fulda and Worthington as control cities. The DQ driveway from the frontage road was weird: you entered on the LEFT side, with opposing traffic to your right. Almost a UK-ish way of doing a driveway. While in town, we drove into downtown Worthington in search of a bank ATM (no ATM, but fortunately found a Wells Fargo branch that was open...since Wells Fargo is my bank, was easily able to make a withdrawl). Various signs in downtown Worthington helping to direct traffic to I-90, US 59, and MN 60.

- US 59 is closed for reconstruction between I-90 and Fulda, with the detour via I-90, MN 60, Nobles CSAH 1, and MN 62.

- Another note to Matt Salek:  EB I-90 BGS at MN 60 only lists Windom as a control city.

- Took MN 60 east, starting on the last leg of our trip. All 4-laning on MN 60 between Worthington and Windom is now complete. As a general rule, the existing lanes became the eastbound lanes, with the westbound lanes being built new (and mostly built in concrete). An all new alignment was built around Heron Lake, though, with both sides done in concrete.

- Reconstruction MN 60 with any sort of improvement through Windom will be impossible within the existing ROW. New ROW will be needed, and in one location means the choice between taking out part of a grocery store or taking part of a car dealership lot.

- Past Windom, a 5-lane undivided section exists between US 71 North and about one mile to the northeast, before MN 60 drops down to 2 lanes. MN 60 between Windom and St. James was reconstructed back in the 1980s, mostly on new alignment (and fully on new alignment between Mountain Lake and Butterfield).  While most of this reconstruction was still 2 lanes, some parts were built to 4 lanes: about 3.5 miles around Mountain Lake, and about 1 mile around Butterfield. These segments help with passing slower vehicles, though a complete 4-lane section would be nice for consistency.

- Ran into a major construction zone between MN 15/30 south and just north of Madelia. Traffic was down to 1 lane in each direction with a 40 MPH speed limit for pavement rehab, which slowed things down considerably. MN 15 around Madelia was also closed for reconstruction, with traffic detoured through the city.

- Some spot improvements have been made on US 169/MN 60 in west Mankato.  Specifically, at one street intersection, what used to be a full intersection was turned into a 5/8 intersection...basically a right-in/right-out on each side, with the only left turns allowed being FROM SB 169/60.

- Mankato and North Mankato have apparently merged into one city, based on the city limit signs I encountered.

- Another construction zone: US 169 was down to 1 lane between the Minnesota River bridge and north of US 14. No speed restrictions, but being stuck behind slow, oversize-load trucks made for slow going, especially at the two traffic signals just south of US 14.

- Took US 14 east to check out 4-laning progress. Since last year, the 4-lane section on US 14 has been extended about 3 miles further east, with the section between MN 60 East and the Blue Earth/Waseca County line now completed.  There are no private driveways, and 3 intersections along this stretch: CSAH 48/CR 185 (combined into a single intersection), a township road, and CSAH 37 at the county line. East of the county line, US 14 merges back to 2-lane/2-way, but grading has been completed further east, to where the new US 14 will cross over the existing highway just west of Janesville.

- Took a short sidetrip south on CSAH 3 from Janesville to see if roadwork for the US 14 bypass had begun. Not yet, but survey sticks were posted showing the future roadway and ramps...US 14 will have a diamond interchange at CSAH 3.

- Back into Janesville, and headed north on CSAH 3. Waseca CSAH 3 is one of the few county routes I've seen in Minnesota that are paved in concrete. Unlike Iowa, most of Minnesota's paved county mileage is paved in asphalt or bituminous.

- There is an END Waseca CSAH 3 shield at the intersection with MN 60. This is interesting, since the intersection is actually in Le Sueur County.  About 300-400 feet of roadway is marked as Waseca CSAH 3, but is actually unsigned Le Sueur CSAH 62.

- From this point, I wanted to get back to US 169, and nip Sibley County in the process. Took a somewhat convoluted routing to get up to Le Sueur: MN 60, CSAH 11, CSAH 13, CSAH 15, CR 115, and finally MN 112. MN 112 between CSAH 15 and CR 115 was closed for reconstruction, hence using the two county routes. MN 112 has 4 turns within Le Sueur...I traveled through 3 of them, then kept straight at the last turn, which puts one onto MN 93.

- Took MN 93 across the river, clinching Sibley County for Meaghan, then hopped on US 169. As MN 19 is still closed at US 169 for the interchange construction, MN 93 between US 169 and Henderson is part of the detour route to access MN 19 West. After crossing the river and leaving the "valley of the Jolly Green Giant", traffic wanting to take MN 19 East turns off at CSAH 28.

- The US 169/MN 19 interchange is progressing, but is now becoming a bit delayed, due to soil problems previously in the project. The interchange is a folded-diamond to the north. Although the bridge over US 169 looks complete, most of the ramps still need to be paved, and approach work on MN 19 needs to be completed. Not sure what the timeline is for completing this project.

- Further north, I received visual confirmation that MN 25 has indeed been realigned in Belle Plaine. Originally, MN 25 followed Meridian St north from US 169 into downtown. This road is now CSAH 3 (but with an "OLD MN 25" shield on the side as well). MN 25 has now been shifted to Main St/Old CSAH 6 between downtown and US 169. This shift adds a bit of legitimacy to the planned interchange at that junction.

- Rest of the trip home was relatively uneventful: US 169 to Secret MN 801 to MN 13 and local roads to my parent's house.

Next up: the return trip East begins...

Back to the Roadtrip Report Archive
Back to Magnolia Meanderings

(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig