End of US highway 51

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Photo credits: Martin Karner; Jeff Morrison; Steven Nelson; Alex Nitzman; Greg Osbaldeston

Approx. time period North terminus South terminus
1926-1951 Hurley, WI (downtown) New Orleans, LA
1951-1986 Hurley, WI (northwest) Laplace, LA (old)
1986-present Hurley, WI (northwest) Laplace, LA (new)

The north end of US 51 has always been in Hurley WI, although the endpoint has changed. Today US 2 bypasses Hurley to the north, but until the mid-1930s it made a loop through downtown Hurley. I'm guessing this was done via Silver Street. The photo below is looking north on 2nd Avenue:

Nelson, May 2008

Today US 51 continues about a mile ahead to its current terminus, but if US 2 originally used Silver, then US 51 probably would've ended here. The photo below was taken from westbound Silver:

Morrison, July 2013

Originally I think US 51 began to the left on 2nd. In about 1935, US 2 was rerouted to its current alignment. When that happened, US 51 was extended north (right), ending at the "new" US 2. Here's how the "End" assembly used to look...

Osbaldeston, June 2001

...but that's since been replaced...

Morrison, July 2013

...and in case you miss that one, there's another just ahead (shown close-up below):

Morrison, July 2013

From here, if you go east (right) on US 2, you cross the Montreal River into Ironwood MI. If you go west (straight, then curving left), you're heading toward Ashland and the twin ports of Superior WI and Duluth MN. The photo below was taken from westbound US 2:

Morrison, July 2013 (unchanged since at least 2003)

There we've just crossed a bridge over the river (which divides Ironwood and Hurley, as well as the states of Michigan and Wisconsin in this area; you can see the Wisconsin welcome sign in the background). Southbound US 51 traffic passes under the bridge, exits right, and loops back over the bridge from right-to-left. Drivers making that movement soon observe the first southbound marker:

Morrison, July 2013


US 51 used to be signed further than it is now: from Laplace LA it was co-signed eastward with US 61 (and US 65) all the way down to New Orleans. Those three routes ended at the same place where a fourth route (US 11) ended: the intersection of Broad Street and Canal Street (you can view photos from there on this page).

In 1951, US 51 was truncated to its junction with US 61 in Laplace (west of New Orleans). Until fairly recently, US 51 traffic was routed along what is now Main Street, or "Old 51" according to some street signs in the area. The photo below is looking south on Main at its junction with US 61:

Karner, Jun. 2013

That's where US 51 used to end (and now the east beginning of LA 44 is straight ahead). Below we're looking west on Airline Highway (or north on US 61):

Google Maps Street View, Apr. 2011

To the right you can see what was once a high-speed slip ramp leading to northbound US 51. Today that only provides access to a business, and then it's barricaded. But the road itself continues, and on the far side of the barricade it's now known as "Circle Drive". It still connects to Main, but it's no longer a one-way ramp; it functions as a normal neighborhood street, providing access to a few private residences. Continuing ahead on Airline, we come to the junction with Main itself:

Karner, Jun. 2013

The south beginning of US 51 was to the right. But in 1986, US 51 was rerouted along a newer alignment which bypasses the "Old 51" neighborhood. The newer highway begins at the next traffic signal; here's a close-up view of the signage there:

Karner, Jun. 2013

That's more of a standard 4-way intersection; you can't make that right-hand turn as fast as you could onto the old US 51. The cars visible in the foreground of that photo are at the south end of US 51; they're seeing the sign shown below:

Karner, Jun. 2013

Now, heading back the opposite direction (east on Airline), here's the signage at the beginning of modern US 51:

Karner, Jun. 2013

If you go straight on US 61, the next intersection is the historic beginning of US 51. But if you take that left turn, you'll soon see the first northbound confirming marker on current US 51:

Nitzman, 1999