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Great River Road marks 75th anniversary

Dennis Donath, the commissioner representing Pierce County on the Mississippi River Parkway Commission, met with the Friends of Freedom Park Board of Directors on July 30 and presented a copy of the governor’s proclamation to John Carlson, president of the board, and Jessica Bierbrauer, newly appointed executive director of the Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center. (Submitted photo)

By Dennis Donath

PRESCOTT--2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the Great River Road (GRR), also known as the “prettiest drive in the United States,” according a recent Huffington Post poll.

This year, communities up and down the Mississippi River are hosting events to commemorate this historic occasion. The theme for Prescott Daze this fall is “75th anniversary of The Great River Road National Scenic Byway” in further recognition of this priceless asset.

Pierce County, which serves as the northern portal to the Wisconsin section of the GRR, is without a doubt the most scenic of the eight river counties in the state. The most important tourism asset in the county is the Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center in Prescott, which opened in 2006, and serves as the northern anchor of a system of six Wisconsin GRR interpretive centers. Each of these centers offers the traveler a different perspective on the section of the river they serve.

At Prescott, visitors can actually see the blending of the different colored waters of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers as they flow past the viewing area. They can learn about the importance of steamboats to the development of the Upper River region. Approximately 100,000 travelers from every state and many foreign countries have come through Prescott since the visitor center opened.

In July, during a ceremony at the State Capital, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker issued a statement proclaiming 2013 as the 75th anniversary of the GRR and urged all citizens to participate in the events along the river.