Langhei Township residents to host the ‘Burma Road’ parade

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The residents of Langhei township in southern Pope County  invite area residents to their fifth Burma Road parade, beginning at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 11.  The parade will proceed along the scenic, hilly, township road known as the Burma Road (302nd St.) to East Zion Church on Pope County Highway 10 where refreshments and souvenirs will be available.  
The “Burma Road”, located midway between Starbuck and Benson, originates at State Highway 29, goes east 2 1/4 miles and then north for a quarter-mile to Pope County Highway 10.

A look back at the history of the Burma Road
In 1951, the Langhei township board bonded for $30,000 to build as many roads as possible in the township to replace and upgrade the trails that existed prior to that time.  One of the roads chosen is what is now 302nd Street.  In 1951 the road consisted of a trail along a very steeply hilled route that connected Highway 29 on the west to County Road 10 on the east end.  
The construction of the road became very controversial when the three township board members disagreed about its construction. 

One board member opposed the building of one mile of that road going west from what is now designated as 295th Avenue, declaring that is would never be used anyway.  Besides, he was “on the outs” with someone living in that area and didn’t want to do favors for that person.  He was overruled by the other two board members.
They agreed to build that stretch of road, but as cheaply as possible.  This resulted in a narrow grade with steep ditches, and 11 sharp hills in a stretch of 2 ½ miles.

Anyone growing up in the area always loved travelling the road, because the series of steep hills made it seem like a roller coaster ride any time of the year.  Edner Danielson, a Langhei resident, began referring to it as the “Burma Road” because of the similarities to the World War II supply  route built through mountainous terrain with numerous hairpin turns and narrow grades of Southeast Asia.  The name stuck, and today the residents prefer the original name over the road sign that labels it 302nd Street.
In 2001, Arne Pederson, whose farm is just off the Burma Road, was visiting with Luverne and Mary Jo Forbord, who live on the Burma Road.  “Do you realize the Burma Road is now 50 years old?” asked Arne.  “Fifty years should be cause for a celebration,” they responded.  
On a warm Sunday afternoon in August, 2001, a caravan was assembled along the Burma Road.  They were part of a parade to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this unique road.  That day, 54 units traveled the one and a half mile parade route to East Zion Church.

Photo:  Burma Road in history referred to the World War II supply route built through mountainous terrain with numerous hairpin turns and narrow grades in SE Asia.

 

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