The Great River Road is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The National Scenic Byway's 250 mile stretch in Wisconsin may be attracting more people than ever.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, the leaders of ten states decided to create a protected parkway along the Mississippi River. Today, the Great River Road stretches along the historic waterway, winding from the Minnesota bluffs down to the Louisiana delta.
Al Lorenz is the chair of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission in Wisconsin. He says early protections have kept the road popular with tourists, "Wisconsin went all out later on in the 60s and 70s and bought scenic easements along a good share of the Great River Road. You could control development to be aesthetically pleasing and acceptable to the traveler."
Travel Wisconsin Lisa Marshall spokeswoman says tourism has been blossoming over the last decade in the river towns, from Prescott to Kieler, "More B&B's and inns being developed on the northern route. We've had some really great attractions that have opened, such as the National Brewery Museum on the far southern end. As travelers are coming and bringing money to those communities, the tourism industry is stepping up and developing more retail businesses and places to stay and things to so."
Two new sites are being planned along the Great River Road in Wisconsin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will add an aquarium at the Genoa Fish Hatchery this summer. Plans for an archeology and cultural visitors' center are underway in Onalaska.