History of the Byway
The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway used to just be a bunch of roads. . .
In 1995, Ideal Township, concerned for the safety of bicyclists on CSAH 16, conducted a raffle to raise local match money to pave the shoulders of CSAH 16. In order to increase the priority of shoulder paving with the Crow Wing County Highway Department, the regional representative of the Minnesota Office of Tourism suggested that the roadway might quality as a scenic byway under a relatively new Minnesota state program. If designated, this may help raise the priority of the paving project.
And that is what happened. A small group of local residents worked together to complete the forms, inventory the byway, and submit the application for state designation.
The Scenic Byway was designated in June of 1998. As a result of this designation, shoulder paving on CSAH 16 was completed in August 2002 (centennial year of Ideal Township). Funds that were raised in the raffle were used toward the 20% local match to cover the cost of the shoulder paving work. Other groups donating to the match were the Crosslake/Ideal Lions and the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association (PBSBA).
Then in February of 2005, the PBSBA submitted an application for national designation. The application touted two themes of national significance; the family resort story and the influence of the nationally known tall tale character of Paul Bunyan on the area. The Paul Bunyan influence was the springboard for the PBSB's tagline, "Explore the Lore".
Official national designation was awarded by the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration at a ceremony at Union Station in Washington DC on September 22, 2005.
National designation brings with it tremendous awareness building opportunities as a part of the national marketing efforts and inclusion on all America's Byways materials. Further, national designation offers eligibility for federal funding and technical assistance and support that is not available without the designation.