Minnesota Historical Society

Tales of the Road

$ 22.95

Highway 61

Author Cathy Wurzer

Minnesota Historical Society Press (April 1, 2011)

Tales of famous folk, innovative industries, and picturesque landscapes will inspire you to slow down and savor the journey the next time you travel Minnesota’s storied Highway 61.


Highway 61 traces approximately 440 miles through Minnesota, from Pigeon Falls at the Canadian border south to La Crescent. Along the way, the road hugs the North Shore, zips through St. Paul, and navigates bluffs along the Mississippi River. While places such as Split Rock Lighthouse or Sugar Loaf Mountain offer well-documented stopping-off points, observant travelers may wonder about the historic buildings, abandoned sites, and decaying structures they see along the way.

In this companion book to the Twin Cities Public Television documentary, Cathy Wurzer unearths stories about these places and more as she travels down the road and into the past, spotlighting famous and fascinating locations, many of them little remembered today. Learn about bootleggers crossing the St. Croix by ferry or importing hooch from Canada onboard vessels designed in White Bear Lake. Visualize—or maybe even visit—the quaint tourist cabins, supper clubs, and lodges that served tourists who began motoring up the road in the 1920s. Take stock of historic and current industries: Russ Kendall’s Smoke House in Knife River, a rutabaga plant in Willow River, the pottery factory in Red Wing. Each tale is illustrated with historic and current views to show how much—or how little—Highway 61 has changed. Here’s one road trip you won’t want to miss!

Author information

Cathy Wurzer, one of Minnesota’s premiere journalists, has an extensive background in public and commercial broadcasting. She is both the host of Morning Edition on Minnesota Public Radio, one of the region’s most listened-to morning radio shows, and the cohost of Almanac, a weekly public affairs television show produced by Twin Cities Public Television. Her work on Almanac has earned her four Emmy Awards.

Reviews and news

Praise for Tales of the Road:

“I’ve driven all of 61 from north to south, approximately at the speed limit, and now I know what I missed by not stopping. Slow down. Take a look. You may not come this way again."
Garrison Keillor

Tales of the Road: Highway 61 made me want to drop everything I was doing and hit the road. It doesn’t get any better than this!”
Russell A. Olsen, author of Route 66 Lost and Found

“Cathy Wurzer (I call her ‘Z’) and I have travelled a lot of roads in our long association. But none compares to this lovely trip, on my favorite road, with my favorite correspondent.”
Don Shelby

“Cathy Wurzer has cleverly combined history and travel in a well-illustrated, easygoing narrative about Highway 61, one of our most fascinating and historic routes. Drive along with Cathy or do it yourself with this book as a guide. You’ll enjoy every mile of Tales of the Road.”
Jason Davis, host of On the Road, KSTP-TV

Tales of the Road on Minnesota Experience/TPT

In the Media:

TPT's Almanac
Houston County News Feature
KFAI's Write On Radio
Pioneer Press
MPR's Midday
KSTP's Twin Cities Live
KARE 11's Showcase Minnesota
KBJR, Duluth Radio

  • 128 pages
  • 125 color photographs
  • 8 x 9 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873518291

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