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The Gaylord Nelson Highway

Updated: May 9

U.S. Highway 63 holds the designation of being named “Gaylord Nelson Highway”, in special recognition of one of Clear Lake’s own and whose environmental work is known throughout the world.

The entire route of USH 63 in Wisconsin, from its crossing at the Mississippi River at Red Wing through to Ashland, holds this title. Wisconsin Statue 84.1051 states this was initiated in 2009 “…in recognition and appreciation of Gaylord Nelson, the native son of Clear Lake who served with distinction as both the governor from 1959 to 1963 and as a U.S. senator from 1963 to 1981, and whose legacy includes numerous environmental achievements, including the founding of Earth Day, the creation of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, and the preservation of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior”.

This impressive designation may be news to many of us. Why? Perhaps it’s because there are no signs along USH 63 noting this. Recently, some interested citizens researched further and found that the state highway department will manufacture, erect, and maintain the signs, but not at the state’s expense. In other words, the funding must come from private or local municipal funds. 

A local group of energized people started a campaign to purchase some signs, at least enough to place along USH 63 where it passes through Clear Lake as well as where it crosses the Mississippi at the WI-MN state line and at Ashland where it intersects with USH 2. Additional signs will be erected if funds become available. The current cost is estimated at $780 to $1560 per sign, depending on location and sign size. Signs with special, colored graphics may cost more. The signs would be maintained by the state for 10 years; additional research is needed to determine maintenance costs after that.

Consider donating to this fund and supporting the recognition of Gaylord Nelson, a renowned native of Clear Lake and founder of Earth Day.

For additional information, go to the Clear Lake Historical Museum Facebook site,, or to the website,, or contact a museum  representative at 715-607-0961. 

Donations can be sent to the Clear Lake Historical Museum at P.O. Box 2, Clear Lake, WI 54005. Please specify that your donation is for the Gaylord Nelson Highway.

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