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Gordon Bushnell, solo highway builder, about 82 [died 1982]
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r***@gmail.com
2014-07-12 04:41:32 UTC
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As long as I'm dredging up obscure folks like Mr. Bojangles, I'm delighted to be able to report I've finally successfully researched a fellow I've been wondering about ever since I saw Charles Kuralt's original CBS News report on Gordon Bushnell in 1978.

Turns out, according to an old Chicago Tribune story, that the late Kuralt also did a follow-up "On the Road" report on Bushnell in August 1982, just a month or so after the long-retired Minnesota dairy farmer died.

Bushnell was truly an American original--as were so many of the subjects of "On the Road" stories--a man who always thought there should be a direct east-west route between Fargo and Duluth (the latter of which of course these days is notable as the birthplace and early hometown of that guy with the funny nose, the funnier hair and the funniest voice). But since the Minnesota state highway gods never deemed it necessary, Bushnell decided to start building it himself about 1958. It's unclear how (or even if) he obtained the easements for his lonely project, but he nonetheless toiled away in obscurity and solitude for fully two decades before Kuralt stumbled upon him.

Bushnell got less than 20 miles of it completed--and it's unclear what portion of The Gopher State his work was in, although presumably it is near Lake Superior. The best news is that Kuralt's update (and obituary) reported that a member of the Minnesota legislature proposed the by-then-overgrown stretch Bushnell managed to finish be designated The Gordon Bushnell Memorial Nature Trail.

I hope that happened, and regret that when I was in Hibbing and Duluth again just last year for Dylan Days 2013, I hadn't as yet found this information...so that I might locate the old pavement myself, even if the Minnesota legislature never did the right thing and followed through on the trail-designation proposal.

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
r***@gmail.com
2014-07-12 05:20:42 UTC
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Well, if Kuralt can file an update, I guess so can I.

Further exploration of this fascinating--to me, at least--story not only reveals a DOD for the late Bushnell as June 28, 1982, but that he was also a former Minnesota state senator himself for four years in the post-war era. And, born in 1900, he worked from 1918 to 1927 in state road construction, which makes his solo project seem a lot less crazy in retrospect.

Also, I should have reported to ya'll that Kuralt explained to his CBS viewers that Bushnell had always had the hope that once he got the ball rolling, the appropriate Minnesota transportation officials would recognize the wisdom of his project and take over to complete it conventionally.

Finally, it turns out that the completed stretch is apparently a few miles west of Duluth in the vicinity of Tamarack, Minnesota, which not surprisingly is in the district the former state senator represented.

If you're wondering why I care so passionately about this obscure story, it's because I'm not proud of the fact that certain quixotic dreams I've had of my own over the years I've never similarly followed through on.*

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida

* Well, one of them I realized, I suppose. It was a small magazine entitled "Zimmerman Blues", and it lasted five years in the late 1970s with an international readership (and a global monopoly on its subject matter). Should you wish, you can read all about it in the final section of the brand-new book "The Dylanologists", by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Kinney.
2***@gmail.com
2014-12-22 06:23:16 UTC
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Post by r***@gmail.com
Well, if Kuralt can file an update, I guess so can I.
Further exploration of this fascinating--to me, at least--story not only reveals a DOD for the late Bushnell as June 28, 1982, but that he was also a former Minnesota state senator himself for four years in the post-war era. And, born in 1900, he worked from 1918 to 1927 in state road construction, which makes his solo project seem a lot less crazy in retrospect.
Also, I should have reported to ya'll that Kuralt explained to his CBS viewers that Bushnell had always had the hope that once he got the ball rolling, the appropriate Minnesota transportation officials would recognize the wisdom of his project and take over to complete it conventionally.
Finally, it turns out that the completed stretch is apparently a few miles west of Duluth in the vicinity of Tamarack, Minnesota, which not surprisingly is in the district the former state senator represented.
If you're wondering why I care so passionately about this obscure story, it's because I'm not proud of the fact that certain quixotic dreams I've had of my own over the years I've never similarly followed through on.*
BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
* Well, one of them I realized, I suppose. It was a small magazine entitled "Zimmerman Blues", and it lasted five years in the late 1970s with an international readership (and a global monopoly on its subject matter). Should you wish, you can read all about it in the final section of the brand-new book "The Dylanologists", by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Kinney.
i can add a little to this. i have been on this road. i used to work with the grand son of Gordon Bushnell. his family at the time still owned acreage and the old homestead just north of Tamarack,Mn. the road was on the north edge of the property, running East/West. it was getting over grown back then (about 15 yrs. ago). i was just on google maps and you cab still make out the road.
r***@gmail.com
2014-12-22 06:40:55 UTC
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Someone self-identified as "208" wrote in augmentation of Bryan Styble's research:

I can add a little to this: I have been on this road. I used to work with the grandson of Gordon Bushnell; his family at the time still owned acreage and the old homestead just north of Tamarack...the road was on the north edge of the property, running east-west. It was getting overgrown back then, about 15 years ago. I was just on Google Maps and you can still make out the road.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks so much for this! As I indicated above, I severely regret not seeking and finding the pavement myself when I was up in Duluth for the fourth (and surely, I'm confident, final) time last year since 1980. But thanks to you at least I now know it can be found on Google Maps, which I shall attempt to do forthwith.

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
Anglo Saxon
2014-12-22 18:38:04 UTC
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Post by r***@gmail.com
BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
* Well, one of them I realized, I suppose. It was a small magazine
entitled "Zimmerman Blues", and it lasted five years in the late 1970s
with an international readership (and a global monopoly on its subject
matter). Should you wish, you can read all about it in the final
section of the brand-new book "The Dylanologists", by Pulitzer
Prize-winner David Kinney.
I think everyone would admit that's a damn fine achievement, Bryan.

Anglo
r***@gmail.com
2014-12-22 18:41:29 UTC
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Anglo Saxon opined to Bryan Styble:

I think everyone would admit that's a damn fine achievement, Bryan.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

That simply made my day; thanks for the kind sentiment, Anglo!

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
t***@gmail.com
2015-06-01 21:22:12 UTC
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my parents own the log cabin that Gordon Bushnell built while builing this road. I still go up there, walk the "bushnell road and spend time in the cabin. love it!
Post by r***@gmail.com
Well, if Kuralt can file an update, I guess so can I.
Further exploration of this fascinating--to me, at least--story not only reveals a DOD for the late Bushnell as June 28, 1982, but that he was also a former Minnesota state senator himself for four years in the post-war era. And, born in 1900, he worked from 1918 to 1927 in state road construction, which makes his solo project seem a lot less crazy in retrospect.
Also, I should have reported to ya'll that Kuralt explained to his CBS viewers that Bushnell had always had the hope that once he got the ball rolling, the appropriate Minnesota transportation officials would recognize the wisdom of his project and take over to complete it conventionally.
Finally, it turns out that the completed stretch is apparently a few miles west of Duluth in the vicinity of Tamarack, Minnesota, which not surprisingly is in the district the former state senator represented.
If you're wondering why I care so passionately about this obscure story, it's because I'm not proud of the fact that certain quixotic dreams I've had of my own over the years I've never similarly followed through on.*
BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
* Well, one of them I realized, I suppose. It was a small magazine entitled "Zimmerman Blues", and it lasted five years in the late 1970s with an international readership (and a global monopoly on its subject matter). Should you wish, you can read all about it in the final section of the brand-new book "The Dylanologists", by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Kinney.
r***@gmail.com
2015-06-01 22:14:58 UTC
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An individual going by the e-handle "team" wrote to Bryan Styble:

my parents own the log cabin that Gordon Bushnell built while builing this road. I still go up there, walk the "bushnell road and spend time in the cabin. love it!
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

No foolin'! Thanks much for replying, and it's great to hear some people still remember that minor American hero Bushnell and his quixotic quest.

As I stated above, I hugely regret not remembering about this story when I was last in Duluth in May 2013, so that I might locate and finally tread upon the stretch, rather than merely reading about it from afar. I've been to that city four times in my life, but don't expect I'll ever visit it again, alas.

But reading your thoughtful words makes me know that even if the Minnesota legislative proposal to name the stretch of pavement The Gordon Bushnell Nature Trail--or some such wording--was perhaps never realized, some people still gain some real benefit from his remarkable and selfless toil.

Thanks again for corresponding!

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
t***@alum.mit.edu
2015-06-04 10:46:01 UTC
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team... or 208, would you kindly provide the latitude/longitude for where the road can be seen? If you mouse on the spot on Google Maps and then right-click and select "What's here," it will give you the latitude and longitude.
a***@gmail.com
2015-08-07 14:55:31 UTC
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Post by t***@alum.mit.edu
team... or 208, would you kindly provide the latitude/longitude for where the road can be seen? If you mouse on the spot on Google Maps and then right-click and select "What's here," it will give you the latitude and longitude.
I've done a bit of research on this road myself, including looking up "Highway D" literature at the Minnesota History Center's library.

As best as I can tell from the descriptions, plus the Carlton County land plat, Bushnell Rd appears to be 1 mile north of Aitkin County Rd 32, or the equivalent of 490th St, about 4 miles north of Tamarack and northwest of Wright. Only about 4 miles of road are visible on satellite imagery, though, assuming this is the correct road. The western end of what's visibile is at 46°43'24.39"N, 93° 6'38.42"W.

We had some discussion earlier this summer on the AARoads road forum: http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=13889
t***@gmail.com
2015-10-08 20:55:50 UTC
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I AM ACTUALLY HEADING UP THERE THIS WEEKEND. I DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE FULL SECTION OF ROAD BUT I CAN GIVE YOU COORDINATES IN THE AREA OF McGregor MN. MY FAMILT STILL OWNS A CHUNK OF LAND THAT BORDERS THE TRAIL SO I WILL BE UP THERE TO PREP FOR DEER HUNTING SEASON.
46.723640, -93.202441

SORRY SO LONG BETWEEN POSTINGS. I NEVER LOOK ON THIS SITE.
MY DIRECT E MAIL IS ***@gmail.com
I can send you photos of the trail and the cabin he built now owned by us.
Post by t***@alum.mit.edu
team... or 208, would you kindly provide the latitude/longitude for where the road can be seen? If you mouse on the spot on Google Maps and then right-click and select "What's here," it will give you the latitude and longitude.
r***@gmail.com
2015-10-08 21:07:44 UTC
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[I presume your posting, Sir or Madam "team", is directed toward me:]

Well, I hope you have a safe and fun trip! BY ALL MEANS, I would LOVE to see your photographs of this wonderful piece of Americana!

But for some odd reason my alt-obits browser always truncates your e-address to simply "***@gmail.com". And it ALSO for some bizarre reason misrepresents my e-address as a gmail one. In fact, my longtime e-address remains ***@hotmail.com .

Again, I shall treasure any photos you can send my way, inasmuch as I knuckleheadedly forgot to search out the Bushnell pavement on my own during my fourth (and surely final) visit to Duluth in 2013. Much appreciate the update, and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Oh, and you really ought to frequently check this newsgroup; it's populated by some witty and informative posters, and is a terrific resource to keep up on who's alive and who's not!

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
k***@gmail.com
2016-04-25 20:30:54 UTC
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Post by r***@gmail.com
[I presume your posting, Sir or Madam "team", is directed toward me:]
Well, I hope you have a safe and fun trip! BY ALL MEANS, I would LOVE to see your photographs of this wonderful piece of Americana!
Again, I shall treasure any photos you can send my way, inasmuch as I knuckleheadedly forgot to search out the Bushnell pavement on my own during my fourth (and surely final) visit to Duluth in 2013. Much appreciate the update, and I look forward to hearing from you again.
Oh, and you really ought to frequently check this newsgroup; it's populated by some witty and informative posters, and is a terrific resource to keep up on who's alive and who's not!
BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
Hello Bryan,

Are you still looking for information on the road?

Gordon was my Great Grandfather. Our family still owns the property, but it is now under threat of demolition by a mining company. According to my mom the road grew over, and it is on (our)private property and is very challenging to get to now.

My mother is Bonnie(Bushnell).

Best,
Kendra
t***@gmail.com
2017-07-10 15:33:45 UTC
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Post by r***@gmail.com
[I presume your posting, Sir or Madam "team", is directed toward me:]
Well, I hope you have a safe and fun trip! BY ALL MEANS, I would LOVE to see your photographs of this wonderful piece of Americana!
Again, I shall treasure any photos you can send my way, inasmuch as I knuckleheadedly forgot to search out the Bushnell pavement on my own during my fourth (and surely final) visit to Duluth in 2013. Much appreciate the update, and I look forward to hearing from you again.
Oh, and you really ought to frequently check this newsgroup; it's populated by some witty and informative posters, and is a terrific resource to keep up on who's alive and who's not!
BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
Hello Bryan,
Are you still looking for information on the road?
Gordon was my Great Grandfather. Our family still owns the property, but it is now under threat of demolition by a mining company. According to my mom the road grew over, and it is on (our)private property and is very challenging to get to now.
My mother is Bonnie(Bushnell).
Best,
Kendra
Hi Kendra. My name is Paul Otto. The log cabin and forty acres that Gordon had was sold to my parents and is now one of my Favorite fall/Winter getaways. There has to be a Story for a book of this interesting Character that you call Great Grandpa, i have great photos of the area, the road and the cabin but i do not see a way to attach them...
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