Cascade River Overlook – Lutsen MN


In 1934 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) implemented a camp at the Spruce Creek State Park for drought relief by Robert E. Fechner (p.4, The Minneapolis Star), who was selected by President Roosevelt to direct the CCC (Roosevelts tree army). The Spruce Creek Camp established its camp ground at the Cascade River on the North shore. From there they started to build the Cascade River Overlook, which is the largest structure built by the Spruce Creek CCC camp. The CCC camp worked on the overlook for one year between 1934-1935, The Cascade River Overlook is Minnesota’s first example of a scenic overlook that incorporated natural rock within highway backslopes (p. 52, Minnesota Department of Transportation). It is located at the spot where the Cascade River flows into lake Superior, and was built to hold up to 40 automobiles at one time. Facing Lake Superior is a native stone concourse, while the other side of the highway holds some walking trails which lead back into the woods along the river banks.

The Overlook was also built in efforts to show a naturally wild and beautiful setting, closely skirting the lake shore, and show the new ideas in Highway beautification and safety (p.8, St. Cloud Times). Designed by Arthur R. Nichols, who served as the Roadside Development Division’s first Consulting Landscape Architect, and all the necessary materials where provided by the National Park Service. There was very little funds given by the state highway (p.8, St. Cloud Times). The Cascade River Overlook is a part of the the Cascade River wayside, which is a 10 mile roadside development on U.S. Highway 61 on the North shore of lake Superior (p. 9, MNDot Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory). The Historic Wayside covers an area of 2,301 acres of land (p.71, Star Tribune). The Historic Cascade River Overlook still in place today and was restored in 2014 to repair the stone wall the wraps around on the lake side.

Source notes

Primary Sources
“Enrollee at Rock wall near Cascade River Wayside, east of Lutsen, Minnesota.” 1933-1942. Cook County Historical Society.
“Wayside at Cascade River State Park constructed by the Spruce Creek Civilian Conservation Corps crew, Lutsen, Minnesota.” 1934-1936. Cook County Historical Society.
“2010 Cascade Historic Overlook restoration pictures.” “MNDot Historic Roadside Properties.” N.d.
“New plans for road beauty on Superior shore” 24 Aug 1934, Page 8- St. Cloud Times at
“Drouth relief camp lists are being drawn up” 3 Oct 1934, Page 4- the Minneapolis Star at
Summers, Joseph. “Minnesota waits tourist parade with conveniences added to Wild Life Lure in her 32 State Parks.” 24 May 1936, Page 71- Star Tribune at
Secondary Sources
Granger, Susan and Kelly, Scott and Grossman, Kay. Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways. Minnesota Department of Transportation. Dec., 1998.
Neatrour, Anna. Roosevelt’s Tree Army: Civilian Conservation Corps. Digital Public Library of America. Sep., 2015.
Review of Cascade River Overlook. N.d. MNDot Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory. Minnesota Dept. of Transportation

Project originally submitted by jasmine ziegenhagen on May 4, 2021.

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Location Info

Lutsen, MN 55612

Coordinates: 47.707126, -90.522731

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