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U.S. Highway 61

Highway 61 is the official designation for a United States highway that once ran from New Orleans through Memphis and Iowa through Hibbing, Minnesota all the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario in Canada. It was an important north-south connection in the days before the interstate highway system. Many southerners, particularly black southerners, travelled north along Highway 61 to go to St. Louis. (It did not run to Chicago, as often presumed by some fledgling blues afficiandos).

The road was originally 1714 miles long, but has been shortened to 1400.

The road is also known as the Blues Highway, as it runs through the Mississippi delta country which was an important source of blues music. Both Son Thomas ("Highway 61") and Mississippi Fred McDowell ("61 Highway") wrote songs about it, and many Mississippians, such as Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley took the blues to Chicago along the route.

The junction of Highway 61 and Highway 49 was the famous crossroads where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for mastery of the blues.

Blues singer Bessie Smith died in an automobile accident on Highway 61. Ike Turner's "Delta Cats" drove up Highway 61 to Memphis to record "Rocket 88", one of the first rock and roll records. Elvis Presley grew up in housing projects along it and Martin Luther King, Jr was shot in a motel on Highway 61.

All these connections led Bob Dylan to commemorate the highway in the title song of his album Highway 61 Revisited.

Table of contents
1 Termini
2 States Traversed
3 Related US Routes
4 Sources


As of 2004, the highway's northern terminus is in Wyoming, Minnesota at an intersection with Interstate 35. Its southern terminus is in New Orleans, Louisiana at an intersection with US 90.

States Traversed

The highway passes through the following states:

Related US Routes