New Deal Roadside Landscape Features

Roadside features were sometimes featured in postcards, such as this 1933 image of the Lester River Bridge.

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Historical Overview + Documentation
Identifying Significant Themes


Sometimes Mn/DOT has not found original plans, but simply early design schemes, as shown here in this Christmas Lake Roadside Parking Area sketch.

Mn/DOT’s statewide inventory of historic roadside development facilities was based on extensive background research, historic context development, and survey fieldwork. Early in the process, the consultants examined hundreds of documents, photographs and drawings—many of which are still stored in Mn/DOT’s Central Office. They then conducted extensive fieldwork. Because few states had undertaken an inventory of historic wayside rests, new contextual research was necessary to understand the sites and to help determine which were important or unique within the collection.

The consultants identified several themes important to the development of the properties: early auto tourism, the promotion of modern highway design, the creation of the Minnesota Department of Highways (MHD) and the MHD’s Roadside Development Division, the role of New Deal federal relief programs in advancing roadside development, and the unique landscape architecture of historic roadside development facilities. The consultants also identified people who played key roles in designing and building these facilities. Once they identified the significant themes, the historical and architectural importance of the roadside facilities began to emerge.

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Cultural Landscape Currents is a product of the Historic Landscape Initiative | Questions or Comments?

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