Minnesota State Highway 23 spans from southwestern to northeastern Minnesota and is the second longest state route in Minnesota, after MN 1. A welcome change of pace from I-35 for those who prefer to “go the long way” or “enjoy the ride”. I am one of those people. As I ventured north on 23, I passed through the Veterans Evergreen Memorial Drive Scenic Byway. This 50 mile stretch, traveling through Pine, Carlton and St Louis counties is known as the scenic route to Duluth. If you ever take this way, you will notice the groves of trees that trace the route from Askov to Duluth. What you may not know is that a Vietnam veteran named Geoff Steiner, a psychotherapist who suffered from post-traumatic-stress disorder, planted the 40,000 trees as a form of personal therapy, in commemoration of those soldiers who didn’t make it home from the war.
At the southern end of the byway sits the Veteran’s Memorial Overlook. A somber, exquisite place that gives an incredible view of the St. Louis River Valley. The memorial is a centerpiece in the Lake Superior Basin for reflection, a healing backdrop if there ever was one.