Bob Dylan once prompted his listeners to revisit Highway 61, and now chambers of commerce and leaders in three counties along the historic thoroughfare are asking people to do the same.
The counties of Chisago, Pine and Carlton are hoping that by taking a combined approach to tourism and economic development along Highway 61, people driving or biking through the counties will stop and explore towns along the route.
“We’re missing this whole piece of nostalgia and following those old tracks,” Executive Director of the North Branch Area Chamber of Commerce Kathy Lindo said.
The motto the communities are employing as their slogan for the initiative is “Discover the fun on Old Highway 61.”
The first step for the project, Lindo said, is to “take a good inventory” of what all the communities have that could draw people from I-35 and onto Old Highway 61.
On July 24, business and communities leaders from the three counties will be meeting at the Pine City Courthouse to identify the inventory and begin thinking about how to market the areas as potential tourism stops and places attractive for new business.
Lindo said there will be two more meetings in September and August to further vet out ideas and develop a distinct plan.
“Historical sites, businesses, restaurants, antique shops, scenic overlooks, other points of interest — I don’t even know all of the possibilities,” Lindo said.
Lindo admitted that the project is an abstract idea right now, but she’s excited about what might come of it.
Getting on the map
In addition to the July 24 meeting, Lindo was just about finished last week with part of another project she hopes will help bolster economic development in North Branch and Chisago County.
Lindo plans to place maps encased in Plexiglas along the North Branch section of the Sunrise Prairie Trail that show points of interest in North Branch.
Those maps are finished, and she’s working on countywide ones.
That project is a joint initiative between the city of North Branch, the Chisago County Economic Development Authority, Chisago County Parks and Recreation and the North Branch Area Chamber of Commerce.
“When people (who use the trail) come to town, they’ll be able to find what they’re looking for,” Lindo said.