Scenic Highway 61 in danger of sliding into Lake Superior, closing for repairs

Traffic cones line the side of the highway
St. Louis County officials released this photo, showing trees slipping down the slope toward Lake Superior on the side of Scenic Highway 61 between Duluth and Two Harbors. The damage, near the New Scenic Cafe, will shut down the road for five weeks this fall.
Courtesy of St. Louis County

A popular drive along Minnesota's Lake Superior shore is shutting down for emergency repairs, at the peak of fall color season. The closure starts next Tuesday, Oct. 11.

St. Louis County officials say a slope on the lake side of Scenic Highway 61 northeast of Duluth is failing. They are closing the road to traffic for what they say will be five weeks of repairs to shore up the road for the winter.

The damage is across the highway from the New Scenic Cafe, between Duluth and Two Harbors, where the road runs near the shoreline, high above the water.

Traffic cones line the side of the highway
St. Louis County posted these drone photos of the erosion along Scenic Highway 61 between Duluth and Two Harbors. The county is planning to shore up the slope for the winter and do more permanent repairs to the road next year.
Courtesy Image of St. Louis County

Photos from the county show tall trees tipping toward the lake, adjacent to the road, and about 200 feet of exposed dirt eroding into the lake. The slope failure does not affect the four-lane, high-speed Highway 61 Expressway, located farther inland. Scenic 61 traffic will be detoured to the expressway.

The Scenic 61 route along the shore is a draw in the fall for people watching the leaves turn and the seasons change. The county says the cafe and local homes will remain accessible during the work. A permanent fix for the damage is planned for next year.

The road follows a 21-mile, 19th century wagon trail from Duluth’s Brighton Beach area to near Two Harbors. It offers scenic overlooks and access to lakeside dining and lodging.

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