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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. When I was probably a teenager -- this was the early 1980s, maybe -- I saw an issue of Hot Rod with a story of somebody driving old 66. It was a mindbender to see the photos of the old segments. I never forgot that. It was the first Major Event in my addiction. The next was last summer when I made my first official road trip and found a short abandoned segment of US 40 west of Indianapolis. I was a goner! jim
  2. Bainbridge is still pretty out there. The worst of the suburbanization ends west of Danville. By the time you hit the county line, you see nothing but fields until you come upon Bainbridge. The town looks pretty depressed, economically. Things look a little rough all over. jim
  3. I can't make it out, either, not even when I look at it at full resolution. It looks like the flag was painted over the "Hanks Bros" sign, and covered up most of the text. jim
  4. I created my first area in the Gallery today and posted some photos of old alignments from my recent US 36 trip. Included is one with a covered bridge, one that goes into a lake on one side and comes out the other, and one that's unpaved (i.e., dirt) and one lane wide. jim
  5. mobilene

    Jim's Road Trips

    Photos from the road
  6. From the album: Jim's Road Trips

    This segment of road is signed "Old 36 Road," which I found reassuring, because otherwise I never would have believed that this road, mostly dirt here but mostly gravel in other places, was once US 36. As you can see, it's one lane wide here.

    © &copy 2007 Jim Grey, all rights reserved

  7. From the album: Jim's Road Trips

    Here's where Old US 36 comes back out of the water on the other side. This part of the old road was made into a boat ramp.

    © &copy 2007 Jim Grey, all rights reserved

  8. From the album: Jim's Road Trips

    This photo is from about six weeks before the previous one, which is why things aren't as green. If you climb up on the dirt mound, you can see the old road and the water beyond.

    © &copy 2007 Jim Grey, all rights reserved

  9. From the album: Jim's Road Trips

    The US Army Corps of Engineers built Raccoon Lake as a flood-control project in Parke County. They built a new, straight, elevated US 36 and buried Old 36 underwater. Driving west, here's where Old 36 ends. They piled a mound of dirt onto a short bridge and that was that.

    © &copy 2007 Jim Grey, all rights reserved

  10. From the album: Jim's Road Trips

    For whatever reason, US 36 was moved one block north through Bainbridge, bypassing the original business district. Here it is, in all its glory.

    © &copy 2007 Jim Grey, all rights reserved

  11. From the album: Jim's Road Trips

    The eastbound entrance to the bridge is more picturesque than the westbound entrance.

    © &copy 2007 Jim Grey, all rights reserved

  12. From the album: Jim's Road Trips

    Along this segment of old US 36 that begins just west of Groveland in Putnam County is a covered bridge. Even though Parke County is called the covered bridge capital of the world, Putnam County has many covered bridges, too.

    © &copy 2007 Jim Grey, all rights reserved

  13. From the album: Jim's Road Trips

    Just west of Groveland in Putnam County, US 36 curves to the right, but a narrow little road continues straight. The telephone poles follow the old road -- and a check of my 1937 Indiana road map shows something that looks like this segment, while my later maps show what looks like the current alignment. So even though this road is signed as a county road, I'm calling this Old US 36 and that's that. All of this segment is very rural.

    © &copy 2007 Jim Grey, all rights reserved

  14. Now that's a great list. I have seen some of this stuff in little towns I've driven through. I'm reminded of tiny Marshall, Indiana, with its two columns with a shallow arch going over the road saying welcome to the town. Now, that's on a state highway (SR 236) and it's actually in the middle of town, so maybe it's not the same thing as you describe. But I hadn't considered looking for these artifacts to appear off the road as a sign of where a road used to go. Is it basically true that banks, hotels, train depots, and schoolhouses tended all to be on what was (at least at one time) the main road through town? For example, US 36 curves north to bypass downtown Bainbridge, IN (a tiny town), and then curves back again. It seems pretty obvious that the downtown route was old 36 based on how it was in perfect alignment with US 36 just before and just after town. The road wasn't signed Old US 36, which is typical for segments of former alignments out there -- it was signed 700N at each end, and Main St. going through. Main St. was another clue since towns tended to center around the highway in days gone by. But I guess there are two other clues I didn't consider. First, on a corner of that old main street was a building with the door cut at 45 degrees and the word BANK carved into the stone above it. And on the opposite corner there was a large building, more architecturally interesting than anything else, with painted ads on one side. Maybe that was the hotel. Anyway, interesting stuff. Thanks! jim
  15. I've stopped for dinner in Bardstown and enjoyed my visit there. Another day I'll stop and see more. Corydon is a nice little town with lots of history since it was the first Indiana capitol. The original statehouse and governor's residence are still there, as is an early school just for black children (that there was a school at all for them was a big deal at the time), and the stump of a great elm tree under which most of the Indiana Constitution was written. Just south of town on old State Road 135 is a park commemorating the site of Indiana's one and only Civil War battle, and one of two north of the Mason-Dixon line (the other being at Gettysburg, PA). Also in Corydon is what's supposed to be a very cool glassblowing company. I haven't been, but a friend of mine who has family there has been dozens of times and says it's well worth the visit. I like Nashville a lot, but forget going there when the fall colors are at or near peak. It's wall to wall cars. A couple places worth stopping if briefly along US 36 are Danville, IN, home of the Mayberry Cafe, which usually has a 1963 Ford sedan painted to look like a police cruiser out front; and Rockville, IN, which has a few antique stores and places to eat along its square, three sides of which are still in brick. In Rockville, if you head east out High St. and bear right at the first (I think) turn, that road winds all the way to the covered bridge at Bridgeton. jim
  16. Wow! What a great list. I never knew about the roadside fountains before. Thinking back, I now recognize some garages and at least one old gas station (that looked kind of like a house in 3/4 scale) that I saw east of Terre Haute. jim
  17. Here are some things I've learned. First of all, I research every road trip beforehand by going to one of the satellite map sites. I use Windows Live Local right now. I scroll the map along the entire route I want to take and I look for segments of old alignments. They're not hard to spot. Frequently, the road will even be labeled as "Old Route xx" or by the road's pre-1926 name (National Rd., Dixieway South, etc.). One thing to look for is where the road curves, and then curves back. Frequently, the road was moved from an original straight alignment. Here's an example from US 40 in Plainfield, IN. (All of my examples are from Indiana.) NOTE: If the images aren't appearing for you, it could be because they're hosted at my personal site, and the host appears to be having issues. Another thing to look for is a short segment of road that begins at the highway, curves away, curves back, and ends at the highway again. Frequently, the ends of the old alignment will be curved so they meet the highway at right angles; this is done because it's safer to turn left or right onto the highway. When you drive along these short segments, frequently the old road is of one pavement type, and the curved ends of another. This photo along US 40 shows how the pavement changes as the curve begins. The photo doesn't show it well, but a 2-lane cement segment becomes a narrow paved path here. Look for where bridges might be. Bridges sometimes get replaced, especially if the old bridge's abutment was at an odd angle with the road because for some reason those don't last as long and are harder to maintain. Bridge replacement projects often orphan an old segment of road because if you build a new bridge a short distance away from the old one, you don't have to close the road during construction. Here's a segment just east of Terre Haute on US 40, labeled as Kaperak Ln., that used to be US 40 before they replaced the bridge over the old Interurban tracks. Satellite maps sometimes also show abandoned segments. Here's one on US 40 west of Plainfield: It looks like a road is there from the air, but here's what it looks like at its eastern end: Where's the road? The opening is along the photo's horizontal centerline. Scan about 2/3 of the way across the photo from the left and look for the hole in the brush. This segment was created by a bridge replacement. There was nothing on this segment of road, so it wasn't needed anymore and was abandoned. You can sometimes also find abandoned segments at either end of a curved old segment, beyond where the road was curved to meet the current highway at a right angle. Notice that north of 700N, there's a short segment of Old IN 37 and then this thin line or ridge vaguely in the same direction as the road. This is an abandoned segment. (This is State Road 37 in Johnson County, which is the county just south of Indianapolis). I've also had some success looking for roads that don't intersect with the highway, but go in the same direction as the highway at the point where they appear to branch off. Here, State Road 37 northbound curves to run more purely north. But look, Bluff Road picks up and runs in the same direction as SR 37 did before that northerly curve. Bluff Road is SR 37's original alignment. This is as much of what I've learned as I can recall at the moment. And my experience is limited to Indiana, that's for sure. Peace, jim
  18. I think you and I are of like mind. I have been thinking about writing a guide for my site, based on what I've learned, about finding and following old alignments. I also wanted to tell the clues I've learned about finding abandoned segments. (My favorite clue is to follow the utility poles; they frequently follow a road's former path.) If we, as a group, can pool our collective knowledge, I'll put it on my (unfortunately fairly large) to-do list to write it up. We can, of course, keep it here, but I'd also like to put it on my site, with attributions as contributors desire. Peace, jim
  19. Thanks, guys for the nice welcome! I'm glad you enjoy my site. I like putting it together almost as much as I like taking the road trips. I like to write -- I was a technology writer in a former life. And these trips are a chance to improve my photography skills. I've just gotten into the maps aspect of this hobby, but mostly for practical reasons: I want to see where roads used to go, especially through cities. My 1957 and 1976 maps of Indianapolis cleared up a lot of mysteries for me, but paradoxically raised a few more questions, such as "just how many alignments through town did SR 37 have, anyway?" Speaking of maps, I found a nice little cache of Indiana road maps online, from j1917 to 1928. Here's the URL: http://www.libraries.iub.edu/index.php?pageId=2978. Indiana's highway system exploded during these years, going from five roads to pretty much the system we have today. Oh, and believe me, I've been tempted to go swimming in Raccoon Lake to see if I can see road underwater. I work with a woman whose parents live more or less out that way, and they say that when the Army lowers the lake's level every winter you can see more of the road. And yes, I am inclined to think that "Crossroads" was about Terre Haute. The guy who wrote the song, Robert Johnson, was known to visit Terre Haute. And a line from the song, "Goin' down to Rosedale..." is a fit, because there's a Rosedale just north of Terre Haute, a few miles east of US 41. Peace, jim
  20. Thanks for the welcome, guys! Nice to be here. I grew up four blocks from one of the branches of the Dixie Highway, or Dixieway as we called it in South Bend. My favorite route between Indy and South Bend is, of course, the Dixie Highway route. My hosting company fixed the domain registration problem; my site is back among the living. To see detailed writeups, with photos, of my road trips, go to www.jimgrey.net and click the "Roads This Exit" graphic. I'm eager to write up my US 36 trip from last week. I still can't believe that a dirt/gravel road is signed as "Old 36 Rd" out in Parke County. Peace, jim
  21. I've only recently started buying old maps. I buy them on eBay and so far haven't had any problems. I'm not buying them for collector value, but to see where roads used to go. So they don't have to be crisp and pristine, although so far most of the ones I've bought have been like new. So far I've bought 1937, 1956, and 1970 Standard Oil maps of Indiana, plus a 1957 Shell map of Indianapolis. jim
  22. Hello everybody! I'm Jim, a lifelong Hoosier currently holed up in Indianapolis. From my Northwestside home, I can hear the cars running at the Speedway, but I'm happily just north of all the race-day traffic. I'm not sure how I came to love the road. My parents were no help -- Dad hated to drive, so we seldom went anywhere. My first job after I got my driver's license was driving for a courier service, shuttling papers small items all over northern Indiana and southern Michigan. To the extent it didn't make me late, I experimented with the two-lane roads that wound around the area. And when I went to college, I would do anything to get off the mind-numbing US 31-to-I-465-to-I-70 route from my hometown of South Bend to engineering school in Terre Haute. I found that the two-lane roads that cut through the countryside didn't take very much longer and could be a lot more enjoyable. And then I began to notice the signs on some highways that said, "Old Route xx." I tried following some of those and found greater peace, quiet, and beauty along the way. I became hooked. I got serious last year when I decided I wanted to start exploring Indiana's highways. My first serious road trip was along US 40 from Downtown Indianapolis to the Illinois border. I plotted out all the old alignments I could find and, last July, a friend and I drove every segment. The most exciting part of the trip came just west of Plainfield when we found a short, non-driveable abandoned segment that the earth was trying to reclaim. Since then I've been driving around Indiana whenever I can get away and the weather is favorable. My favorite trip was last Labor Day weekend when I toured some of the twisties between Brown County and the Ohio River. A few weeks ago I drove State Road 37's original alignment to Bloomington, which included a long abandoned segment and a really pretty winding segment the last 15 miles before Bloomington. And just this past Memorial Day, I drove US 36 from its original terminus at old US 40 in Indianaopolis all the way to Rockville. I found several segments of the road's original alignment, including two with covered bridges, one that was dirt/gravel, and one that is interrupted by a lake the Army Corps of Engineers built 60 years ago -- the road goes in one side and comes out the other. I write about my road adventures on my Web site. Unfortunately, because of a snafu with my hosting company, it is down at the moment. I expect they'll realize that I did, indeed, pay to re-register the domain and will put it back up this week. When they do, I'll pass the URL along. But meanwhile, I have a few pictures of my State Road 37 trip on my blog: http://jimgrey.wordpress.com/2007/05/15/th...to-bloomington/. Glad to be here! Peace, jim
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