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American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!


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Everything posted by mobilene

  1. Thanks, guys. I love to research, explore, and write, and as I travel the old roads I can do all three! I mentioned in my writeup a friend who told me he used to see the brick road as he drove to work in Marshall every day. He was kind of upset that I didn't include him on this trip! He wants me to take him along on this trip this fall after the leaves are off the trees so we can see more. You've gotta admit, even though the photos are prettier when everything's green, the leaves do obscure things.
  2. I have finally completed my writeup of my Illinois National Road trip, which was July 7th. I say finally because I've worked steadily on it in all my free time for the past nine days. It is the longest trip report I've ever written. There was so much to see! The highlights: - About 30 miles of the 1920s road, which was mostly brick. Most of it was visible from US 40, and a little of it driveable. - The covered bridge west of Greenup - The towns along the National Road and their buildings dating back as far as 1870 - The incredibly well-maintained residential district along the Road in eastern Casey - The crazy striping on a section of the old road west of Effingham Read all about it here: http://www.jimgrey.net/Roads/NationalRoadIllinois/ Oh, and one little anecdote I forgot to put in the writeup, but I'm sure I'll eventually add -- At the bridge in Greenup, a fellow noticed my Rose-Hulman T-shirt and said, "Oh, are you a Rose student?" I chuckled and replied, "20 years ago, but thank you very much for asking!" Many thanks to all of you here for your encouragement and for the tips to many resources that led us to see things we might not have noticed or appreciated otherwise! Special thanks to KTSOTR for permission to use scans from his road guides, which added something special to the writeup. Peace, jim
  3. All those homes on the islands... Don't they worry about flooding? I'd've loved to see a photo of the Henry J.
  4. What a great photo! Looking forward to seeing the dirt alignment.
  5. Yeah, I'm thinking the best car for abandoned alignments is a plain old Jeep. Just don't try to turn the Town Car around on a one-laner and you should be fine!
  6. I take Collectible Automobile, which I read from cover to cover every month. I'm eager for American Road to nestle in there alongside it as a real pleasure read. As soon as I move, that is. Pat, I work in Carmel, on the other side of the universe from Greenwood. Maybe there's a Borders up here. Heaven knows there's everything else up here, even stuff you don't really need. For those of you not in the Indianapolis frame of mind, Carmel is a north suburb and is considered the high-rent district. Greenwood is a south suburb and considered more average-man.
  7. A post like that, where you have to think and process photos and all that, sure, it could take hours. Personally, I love doing that stuff, but it sure can be hard to make time for it. I lived in small cities until I was 27, when I moved to the biggest city in Indiana. I like city life, but I like it on a much smaller scale than this. It took me 5 years to get used to living here. I miss the small cities I lived in before. My career led me to Indianapolis -- this is where the jobs are, if you're going to follow my career path in this state. And as long as my ex stays here, so will I, because I will live near my children while they're growing up. My big taste of small-town life came when I visited my grandparents as a kid, who lived approximately in the middle of nowehre in southwestern Michigan. They had property on a small lake, and the birds and frogs and bugs would congregate and make a symphony of noise. I especially liked the dragonflies. They would light on you and just sit for a moment. I used to look at their wings and wonder about the color variations from one dragonfly to another. We'd get in the boat and motor over to one tavern for pizza, or get in the truck and drive around to another tavern for frog's legs and orange Crush, back when it still had orange pulp in it. My grandparents knew every law enforcement officer in a three-county region, so somehow it was always ignored that there were young children in the bar. Peace, jim
  8. I am drawn like a magnet to a refrigerator to breakfast joints in small towns. When I lived in a small(er) town years ago, I used to go to this little breakfast-and-lunch cafe called Boo's a few doors south of US 40 (well, it was US 40 then, anyway). I'd always have an egg, toast, bacon, and coffee, and it always cost me about $3. Frequently, the county sheriff would sit next to me at the counter, a real polite fellow. I guess he became mayor after I moved away, and his administration was undone when he was caught in an affair with a woman who did the morning show on the local country radio station. I worked with that woman briefly at an adult-standards station where she did afternoons and I did weekends and fill-ins. She was very nice. She was married to the guy who did weather on Channel 10. Her daughter was my stepson's best friend while we lived there. Ah, small-town life. But enough about me. Woodrow Wilson "Red" Sovine would have been 90 today. jim
  9. Funny, my toe hurts this morning. I don't subscribe, but it's only because I'm looking to buy a new house. I am just waiting until I've moved before I subscribe. jim
  10. I boldly assert that I am unafraid of admitting, and providing photographic evidence of, my road gaffes! So will there be photos of your jaunt this week, Keep?
  11. My George Stewart US 40 book came today. I felt that strong, strong pull to just sit down and spend as much time as it took reading it one end to the other. But my sons started complaining about needing dinner. Can you imagine?
  12. Amen, preach it, sister. I don't have a favorite road, though there are a few I always like to drive. Actually, once I get to know a road, I'm ready to find a different one, because I want to see what's around that next curve. jim
  13. I dunno, sometimes I think I hear a wisp of the Vermont accent in Apu's voice when he says, "Thank you, come again!" jim
  14. I'm running automated tests today, which nearly consumes both of my computers, so today I *am* about my boss's business while I do this. It's why I can afford to be verbose. I grew up in South Bend thinking that the main road through town could be called either Michigan St. or Dixieway. My dad *always* called it Dixieway. It was signed Dixieway South in places on the south side, where I lived. It may still be signed Dixieway North in Roseland, a little town north of South Bend, but it's been a long time since I've been up there. When I go home to visit, people don't say Dixieway as much anymore. Kind of sad, really. Yeah, maybe I'm suffering from too much familiarity with US 31; I've driven it from here to there hundreds of times and it is absolutely no less mind-numbing each time. It's stoplight city from Indy north to Kokomo, and then it is absolutely dead (except for the speed trap at US 24) until you get to LaPaz, just south of South Bend. It's why I normally take Michigan Rd/421 to SR 29 up to Logansport, then through Logansport on old 29 to SR 25, then 25 to Rochester and to US 31 and north to S.B. -- in other words, the rest of the Dixie Highway connector, which is a lot more fun, with a lot more to see. Besides, the real DH connector - old US 31, before that SR 1 - veers off of US 31 at Plymouth and only rejoins US 31 briefly before Rochester! :-) And wouldn't you know it, my automated tests just finished on this machine, so now I need to go do work that requires my full attention. Peace, jim
  15. I am tentatively planning on writing up this trip in detail next week. I should have the time, the Lord willing and the creek don't rise. But I've taken waaaaaaay more photos this time -- I finally bought that new battery, making it possible -- and it'll take forever to just sort it out. My first ever official road trip (more than just noodling around, which I had done for years) was 1 year ago Saturday, before my digital camera -- I took a film camera and 2 rolls of film. I can't imagine being that limited now! America's small town was already lost when I became old enough to be aware. My grandparents lived near Cassopolis, Michigan, and it was decayed and depressed even in the 1970s. I saw more of the same in every southwestern Michigan small town we visited. But on this trip, I will say that Casey, IL, stood out as still vital. The homes along old US 40 were generally very well cared for. As we entered town from the east, my friend and I both said, "Wow," as we saw the tree-lined street with its tidy homes, some stately. We passed a 1928 elementary school with new windows -- I'll bet you get how big of a deal that is. As we entered downtown, we didn't see any significant architecture or anything, but we did see reasonably maintained old buildings with real businesses in them, not just antique shops as in so many other small towns. We also found what looked like it had been a service station, maybe built in the 50s, with old gas-station memorabilia in and around it. Photos will be forthcoming. Yeah, even the lady who has the National Road in her front yard had the attitude of, "Oh, that," when I pointed to the brick road and said we were following it to Vandalia. Cripes! I'd be the type to *move* to that strip of Illinois just so I could maintain the part of the road that ran through my front yard! I am becoming more serious about buying some of the old road guides. I think your advice about buying the worn ones is spot-on. I like having old things in nice shape, but I would be *using* these guides, taking them along on trips, and I would want to be able to subject them to the abuse attendant thereunto. Besides, $100 for one of these in the best shape hurts my brain. Anyway, I would like to be able to make educated guesses at what building X is there on the corner, and the guide should be able to answer many of those questions. It would also make my writeups more interesting. "In this photo is the building that was in 1914 Meckelson's Garage, which had labor rates of $1 per hour." On July 28, my oldest friend (known since we were 12) and I are taking a trip of pure nostalgia for both of us. We both have plenty of memories of US 31 from the Michigan line to Indianapolis, and we're going to drive the old alignment of it, before 31 was rerouted and made 4 lanes. We'll pass through South Bend, Plymouth, Rochester, Peru, Mexico, Kokomo, Westfield, and Carmel on the way, all now bypassed. I'm not sure anybody really cares about US 31 -- it's such an undistinguished road. But he and I spent a lot of time on it going places -- me entirely on the new routhing, him on the old routing as his family made trips on it before the four-lane was built -- and we are going to enjoy the ride. I've driven parts of this route over the years, before I got serious and was still just noodling. My dad tells me I need to look for the one-lane bridge that used to be a major bottleneck in Rochester, but I'm betting it's not there anymore. Peace, jim
  16. aaaaaaigh! Stop! I need to eat, sleep, and go to work sometime! And my kids would eventually wonder why I haven't come to pick them up! ;-), of course.
  17. It is still called the McKinley House. The sign has moved east, to a gravel road which is probably the driveway. That road seemed to be farther east than the cut into the hill in the 1953 photo. I sure wished I had taken my photo from farther back, like Stewart did. I left my printout of that page in the car, daggone it, and couldn't compare. At least I got the right angle. About the Matrix/Vibe, it's not as low as a sports car, but for a sporty-looking economy car it's awfully low. Those silly, and expensive, low-profile tires don't help. FWIW, I've found a lot of good information at www.matrixowners.com. Mostly kids who customize their 'Trixes, as they call them, but I've gotten help with a clutch issue, my brakes, and I found out why I've lost FIVE (5) $80 wheel covers since I got the car (bad design). KTSOTR, what a jewel of a resource you posted there. The first thing that strikes me is that we saw nothing, but nothing, but brick road until Marshall, and the concrete began somewhere west of there. Once we saw concrete, we saw nothing but concrete to Effingham. Past Effingham, IIRC we stopped seeing the old road; perhaps they built modern 40 over it. And if I had this road guide for the trip, I wouldn't have gotten home until midnight because I would have wanted to linger in towns and guess where all these businesses were. As it was, we saw a couple buildings along the way we were sure used to be garages, and now I'm wondering if they were called out in your guide. I can see that I could get sucked deep into collecting guides and maps. One short segment of brick was signed as Old Natl Rd or something, and was driveable. That was pretty cool. Where I grew up, there are still many brick streets downtown, and I hated riding on them because they were noisy and made the car vibrate. These segments of National Road brick were very smooth. The one driveable segment needed some maintenance. FWIW, a lot of the old National Road appeared to be in the right-of-way of US 40. Seems pretty efficient. And the old telephone-pole rule applied very well along most of the route, although there were three or four times the poles disappeared and we couldn't figure out why or to where they'd gone. The railroad rule applied pretty well past Marshall, too. We found several old motels, some abandoned and decaying and a couple still going concerns. One Indian fellow came rushing out of his motel's office, concerned about why we were photographing his establishment. He was quite relieved to learn we were just tourists. Along the way we encountered this giant neon sign: Green Lantern Fine Food. I would have loved to see it lit up at night. But behind it was the charred remains of what must have been the restaurant, police tape still up, and a sign saying "New Green Lantern Coming Soon." Oh, and one more thing, about the Blue Ribbon Farm. I may have missed it, but I never saw the little bridge, either. That the house was gone in 1980 fits with my friend's 1970s childhood memory. By the way, I encountered more people along this route than ever before. I'm used to these trips being pretty quiet! Everybody was friendly, though, even the rough-looking couple at a laundromat where I parked my car, who wondered if my friend and I were looking at buying any of the vacant businesses in their town. Peace, jim
  18. I got back from the trip at about 9:30 pm yesterday, after leaving here at 6:30 am. Brick and cement National Road paralleled US 40 for at least 60 miles, from the IL border to about Effingham, except where "old US 40" ran through a town, when usually it followed the National Road alignment. Seeing brick was exciting at first, but after about 30-40 miles it became commonplace. I've attached some pics. KTSOTR clued me in on locations where George Stewart took photos in both IN and IL. I shot as many as I could find. 1367.jpg. My car, beached when I backed up too far. Notice the brick road behind my car; this is the National Road, just west of the IN-IL border. A woman who lived nearby, and a man passing by, stopped and helped lift and push my car into the ditch so I could make a running start to get back up. It worked, but I scraped bottom pretty good. The woman who lived there said a neighbor who died many years ago laid brick on the Natl Rd, watched as US 40 went in 30 yards to the north, and died just after I-70 construction started south of him (taking some of his land). 1416.jpg. The famous block in Marshall, IL, from the US 40 book 1738.jpg. The old capitol building in Vandalia, with the Madonna of the Trail. 1831.jpg. The Victorian house just east of Harmony, IN. It appears to be a bed-and-breakfast now. We could not find the farm near Belleville, IN -- and we scoured the highway for miles either side of Belleville. My travel companion grew up in that area and she says she vaguely remembers the barns as a girl (which would have been the mid-late 70s). She called some friends and relatives who'd lived there longer and none of them remember a Blue Ribbon Farm. So for now, what happened to this site is a mystery. I took something like 350 photos of this trip so it's going to take time to sort through them before I can do my usual writeup. My general rule is not to take another road trip before I write up the last one -- I have a trip scheduled with an old friend for July 28, so I'd better get cracking. Peace, jim
  19. I got the US 40 pages just fine, and I'll make a point to take photos of the same spots you sent. A couple of the pages were in Indiana, and I'm going to try to stop by those, too. The friend I'm taking on the trip tomorrow lives near Belleville -- grew up out there, really -- and she says that the image from there of the farm looks familiar to her. She's going to drive home that way tonight to see if she can find it. jim
  20. I ordered the $18 copy of the Stewart book and the $4 copy of the Vale & Vale book just now. :-)
  21. If you click the link in Denny's message, it'll fail. Remove "localhost/" from the URL and it'll work. Denny, how fascinating to read your grandmother's writing and compare it to your trip and photos. Makes me wish my grandparents had been travelers. Well, my dad's dad drove a truck, but probably wasn't the picture-taking type. Yeah, yeah, I'm probably going to break down and buy that book. jim
  22. Having had a touch of heat stroke in a 108 degree desert, I can say with some authority that this is not something you want to experience, even if you do have plenty of cool water to drink. Yikes. jim
  23. Ohhhhhh rapture. This is the kind of road evidence I dream about. And how cool that your grandfather was involved! I hope to find old pictures along Indiana roads like this! jim
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