Highway 61 Revisited: 1,699 Miles from New Orleans to Pigeon River
Stretching from New Orleans to the U.S.-Canada border in Grand Portage, Minnesota, U.S. Highway 61 - like its east-west counterpart Route 66 - is a dying vestige of a time when two blacktop lanes represented the zenith of cross-country highway travel. Unlike Route 66, however, a strong case can be made that Highway 61 - running 1,699 miles through the gut of the nation - is a much truer cross-section of American heritage and geography. From the Deep South, steeped in the tragic legacy of slavery and the magic of rhythm and blues, to the lily-white North Shore of Lake Superior, inhabited largely by the descendants of Scandinavian immigrants, this evocative and artfully executed celebration of Highway 61 is organized as a "road trip" book in three acts: 1) Louisiana to Memphis, 2) Memphis to Wisconsin, and 3) Wisconsin to Canada. As such, it provides an unprecedented and visually intense look at the road's past and present, tying into the people associated with the cities and towns along the way (Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, Elvis), the literary locales (Mark Twain's Hannibal, Mo.), its proximity to historic sites (Vicksburg), and less-famous but nevertheless interesting folks (Supa-Chikan, a folk artist/musician who builds guitars from 5-gallon gas cans). Each of the eight states through which 61 passes is represented.About the Author: Tim Steil has worked as a reporter in radio, television, and print for almost 20 years, including stints with the Chicago Tribune, Daily Southtown, and numerous national magazines. He is also the author of MBI's Route 66 and Fantastic Filling Stations.
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