The 1930s may have been a time of economic crisis but that did not stop all progress, including the improvement of roads. This 1936 printing plate for a Condition Map of Minnesota Trunk Highways, published by the State of Minnesota, Department of Highways, in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows that most major road surfaces throughout the state had been markedly improved during the previous decades. Instigated by popular demand and the pressure of the newly formed highway lobby, which was initially funded by bicycle manufacturers, the good roads movement led to the passing of federal and state legislation and the improvement of road networks, including those in Morrison County. According to the printing plate, Morrison County’s major roads in 1936 were either paved or bituminous. Both Highway 371 and the portion of Highway 10 from Royalton to Little Falls were paved. Highway 10 from Little Falls through Randall and Cushing was bituminous. State Highway 27, the main route running east-west across the center of the county, was also bituminous.
The printing plate was donated by the family of Mary (Johannes) Fietek (1921-1984). Mary was born in Culdrum Township on October 15, 1921, to Erich and Anna Johannes. She married Clement Fietek on October 15, 1940, and had five children – Clarence, Leon, Gregory, Anna and JoAnn. Mary worked as an inspector for Munsingwear Manufacturing of Little Falls for twenty years. One of Mary’s hobbies was apparently printmaking, which came as a surprise to her children who found the printing plate and a marking stamp set while cleaning out a closet in the family home.
For more information on the history of Minnesota roads, Minnesota Department of Transportation Library or call 651-366-3791 (toll free 800-657-3774).