I was really heartened to hear all the concern about the Honking Tree. This was a landmark white pine near the Two Harbors end of the expressway. To a lot of people, passing the Honking Tree was like passing a gateway, either to the wild North Shore or to their home town. Some person did a stupid, stupid thing.
For some insight into the mind of this sort of tree killer, read The Golden Spruce, by John Vaillant, about a very troubled guy who cut down a revered and unique spruce tree on, I think, Queen Charlotte Island.
Go another sixty miles up Highway 61, and the roadside trees are falling like dominos:
There's a four or five mile stretch of Highway 61, between Tofte and Lutsen, that's getting The Treatment this summer. The road will be widened, so there are two lanes of travel and wide shoulders on both sides. The Gitchi Gami bike trail will be built alongside. Actually, the road is moving "to the left", and the bike trail will be where the eastbound traffic lane is now.
So it will be safer, especially for bike riders. And a bit less wild. Roads, especially National Scenic Byways like this one, have to balance scenic quality and safety