History of King's Highway 61:
King's Highway 61 is a major collector highway which forms a transportation link between Duluth, Minnesota and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Highway 61 enters the United States at the Pigeon River International Bridge, located 60 km south of Thunder Bay. The highway passes through mostly rural portions of Northwestern Ontario. The only town on Highway 61 is Thunder Bay, located at the northern end of the highway. The highway was first established in 1937 when a Department of Northern Development Trunk Road known as the Scott Highway was officially redesignated as King's Highway 61. The Pigeon River Bridge was given the colourful but notorious name the "Outlaw Bridge", because it was constructed and opened without any formal agreement between Canada and the United States. The Pigeon River Bridge was completed in 1917 by community groups in Port Arthur, Fort William and Duluth who wished to provide a continuous road between the cities. The original timber structure was replaced by a more permanent steel bridge in the early 1930s. Customs houses were constructed on both sides of the boundary, establishing a more formal crossing between Canada and the United States. Highway 61 connected with U.S. Route 61 (known today as Minnesota State Highway 61). In 1963, a new International Bridge was opened at Pigeon River and the original bridge was closed and demolished. Highway 61 was relocated several miles to the east to access the new bridge, bypassing about 11 km of the original highway. The old highway to the Pigeon River was renumbered as Highway 593. In the late 1960s, the Lakehead Expressway (now called the Thunder Bay Expressway) was constructed, and Highway 61 was rerouted onto the new bypass. The old route of Highway 61 into Fort William was renumbered as Highway 61B. In 2007, a large section of Highway 11 & 17 in Thunder Bay was bypassed by the new Shabaqua Highway. Highway 61 was extended north by 3 km from Arthur Street to the new junction of Highway 11 & 17.
Most sections of Highway 61 are two lanes, although the Thunder Bay Expressway is a four-lane undivided highway north of the Kaministiquia River. Highway 61 was built to very high standards, with full width paved shoulders along most parts of the highway. Passing lanes appear regularly along Highway 61 between Pigeon River and Thunder Bay. Highway 61 is one of Northwestern Ontario's most scenic highways, passing through pleasant rural valleys surrounded by high, flat-topped mountains known as mesas. There are no services along Highway 61 outside of Thunder Bay. The speed limit on Highway 61 is 90 km/h (55 mph), unless posted otherwise. Please visit the Highway 61 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 61.
Additional Information About King's Highway 61:
Learn More About King's Highway 61 (My Upcoming Publications)
King's Highway 61 - Route Information (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)
King's Highway 61 - A Virtual Tour (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)