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mobilene

The Michigan Road

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I have now uploaded, tagged, titled, geotagged, and described the photos from the entire Michigan Road omnibus excursion.

 

It's somewhere north of 1,000 photos. It's here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/sets...57605001968216/.

 

I'm making a return cruise through the southern half of the road the first of October and will photograph a few things I missed, and there are a few spots on the road north of Indy I mean to photograph (even have a sticky note on my dasboard to remind me of them), but for all intents and purposes this is it, I'm done. Whew!

 

Next I'll get back to writing up the story for my jimgrey.net space.

 

jim

Major job there - and a nice one, too. I've restarted my cyberdrive so as not to miss anything and have made it as far as downtown Indianapolis where the Old Trails Building brought on a pause. I've Googled a bit and found it called the Old Trails Insurance Building. Apparently, it was built in 1928. I've found nothing on an Old Trails Insurance Company. What else is known about the building or the company?

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I don't know much about it myself, but I did find a couple old photos of the building with a sign above reading "Old Trails Auto Insurance."

 

http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm4/item...BOX=1&REC=1

http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm4/item...BOX=1&REC=2

Cool. The first floor looks open - like a drive in... garage? I wonder what full coverage cost on a brand new 1928 Model A Ford.

 

I think that's the same picture they've cataloged twice.

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I've done it. It took me nearly as long to view Jim's photos of the Michigan Road as it did for him to drive it but I was a lot more comfortable and saved a bunch of gas. It's a very nice set of pictures and the commentary is both entertaining and educational. The geotagging is a very nice bonus. It's a very nice job all the way around.

 

I wasn't at all familiar with Michigan Road history and toward the end of the album I found myself wondering why it even went to South Bend when its destination was many miles due west. Then, not long after I asked the question, I learned that Kankakee Marsh was the answer. I learned quite a few other things along the way and I got my curiosity aroused on a few others. I bet there are some good stories connected with the Foker fellow and the rock houses he did around Argos and, as I mentioned previously, that Old Trails Insurance Building in Indianapolis holds some interest for a National Road kind of guy.

 

Good job, Jim, and good luck with the next phase.

 

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Denny, I feel honored that you took the time to slog through all 1,000+ photos. Thank you!

 

Next phase is to create some sort of document that tells the story of the road -- some history; some old photos, maps, and drawings; and the best of my photos. I'm trying to figure out how best to present the material; I think my usual approach would be unwieldy. I'm hoping to spend the late fall and winter months working on it in my spare time.

 

Thanks,

jim

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I learned today that the cooling tower that so ungracefully marks the end of the Michigan Road is the site of a former great sand dune called the Hoosier Slide.

 

hslidemc[1].jpg

 

"Hoosier Slide was a huge sand dune bordering the west side of Trail Creek where it entered Lake Michigan. At one time it was nearly 200 feet tall, mantled with trees. Cow paths marked its slopes and people picnicked upon its crest. With the development of Michigan City, the timber was cut for building construction and the sand began to blow, sometimes blanketing the main business district of the town on Front Street, which nestled near its base.

 

Climbing Hoosier Slide was very popular in the late 1800's with the excursionist crowds who arrived in town by boat and train from Chicago and other cities. The summit, where weddings were sometimes held, afforded an excellent view of the vast lumberyards which then covered the Washington Park area.

 

When it was discovered that the clean sands of Hoosier Slide were useful for glassmaking, the huge dune began to be mined away. Dock workers loaded the sand into railroad cars with shovel and wheelbarrow to be shipped to glassmakers in the U. S. and Mexico. Much of the sand also went to Chicago in the 1890's as fill for Jackson Park and for the Illinois Central RR right-of-way. Over a period of 30 years, from about 1890 to 1920, 13 1/2 million tons of sand were shipped from Hoosier Slide until the great dune was leveled. NIPSCO [a public utility company] acquired the site for use as a generating plant in the late 1920's." - From Portable LaPorte County.

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I visited the Madison-Indianapolis section of the Michigan Road again on Saturday, this time with a friend in tow. When we got to that stone bridge, we found that the creek had gone dry. So we took the opportunity to go under the bridge to see what we could see.

 

It was clear that some restoration work had been done. Somebody had scratched "10-1-1997" into the concrete of the new support. I'm no restoration expert, but I wasn't terribly impressed. Here are some photos from under the arches.

 

2915239255_65d7e7db94.jpg

 

2915233555_5d3bd190b7.jpg

 

2916079608_88cf708a3b.jpg

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Yesterday I used some of the weekend's excellent weather to visit a bit of Indiana. Vevay was the initial target and I got there mostly on US-42 through Kentucky with a river (and state line) crossing over the Markland Dam. Once in Vevay, Madison was just too tempting and, once in Madison, the Michigan Road was a no-brainer. I had thoughts of performing the Hinkle's Hamburgers taste test that mobilene missed but they're closed on Sundays. So the only thing remotely new I can provide is the "discovery" that there are four stone arch bridges inside the Jefferson Proving Ground site.

 

I noticed that information on a display for the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge which now occupies part of the JPG. From their website, I've learned that the refuge is open on certain days including the 2nd & 4th Saturdays of each month through November. I may have to go back within the next few weeks to try a 'burger and look for bridges.

 

I also learned of a November 1 JPG Heritage Partnership seminar inside the site. It sounds pretty interesting on its own and offers a chance to enter through one of the gates on Old Michigan Road but it isn't clear how much exploration (i.e., bridge hunting:-) would be possible on that day.

 

I followed the Old Michigan Road only as far as US-50 but really enjoyed the drive. Thanks, Jim, for making me aware of its existence.

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Denny, I'm really gratified that you got out on the Michigan Road over the weekend. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've been tempted to go down to JPG on one of their open weekends myself to look around, although I understand that a lot of the site is still off limits because of unexploded ammunition. My stepson's dad was in charge of the USAF portion of JPG for several years and my stepson spent a lot of time inside JPG during the summer in the late 90s and early 2000s, and he used to say that the place was just littered with stuff you did not want to mess with.

 

The photos I've seen of bridges inside JPG are of great big stone bridges that put that little one in my photos to shame! Here's the only one I can find at the moment:

 

JPG stone bridge

 

BTW, I am of the opinion that the Michigan Road originally ran through a small bit of land currently inside JPG. Very old maps do not show the jog right and then left that exists today just north of Madison. That little stone bridge I photographed is on that little "bypass" section. Check out this map where US 421 curves right and then you have to turn left to get back on the MR. Zooming in on that map reveals traces of what could be the original road, which runs in the line with the existing road to the north and to the south.

 

And here's a photo of a fellow holding an old-style Indiana state road sign, from the Michigan Road before US 421 came through. I understand that these signs were black on white, so the paint has worn off this one.

 

SR 29 sign

 

As for Hinkle's, I'm wondering if they're ever open, because every time I'm down there, they seem to be closed!

 

Peace,

jim

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...a lot of the site is still off limits because of unexploded ammunition.
But no more than 1.5 million pieces according to a sign that also explains that the military calls these UXOs -- UneXploded Ordnance.

 

The photos I've seen of bridges inside JPG are of great big stone bridges that put that little one in my photos to shame! Here's the only one I can find at the moment:

 

JPG stone bridge

I also found that picture and there is another, possibly of the same bridge, on one of the signs at the roadside display. According to the sign, all four are still in use. I really am thinking about that November 1 seminar. An Ohioan will be there demonstrating ax throwing so I would feel safe. :P

 

As for Hinkle's, I'm wondering if they're ever open, because every time I'm down there, they seem to be closed!
Have you always gone there on Sunday? The posted hours are 7 AM through 10 or 11 AM Monday through Saturday for the "dining room" and around the clock from 6 AM Wednesday until 4 AM Sunday for the counter side.

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I guess I better be deciding about next week's seminar at the Jefferson Proving Ground pretty soon. Like just about anything I put my mind to, I can come up with plenty of reasons to go and plenty of reasons to stay away. This post is more or less to ask if anyone else (mobilene, roadmaven, ...) is even thinking about it or if anyone else has additional pros and cons on attending.

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I'm interested in seeing JPG and learning of its history, especially of how the facility was formed. I dunno if it's worth it to throw axes and learn about caves just to be able to hear the one historical session, however, so I think what I may do is pick another Saturday where I can go down just to see the wildlife preserve.

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I'm interested in seeing JPG and learning of its history, especially of how the facility was formed. I dunno if it's worth it to throw axes and learn about caves just to be able to hear the one historical session, however, so I think what I may do is pick another Saturday where I can go down just to see the wildlife preserve.

I've had similar thoughts. On the one hand, it seems a good way to get inside and get some useful information but it also seems likely that, while the axes are being thrown and the catered lunch is being served, I'd be thinking about stone bridges and eating at Hinkle's. I'm leaning toward not going but the truth is I really haven't made up my mind.

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I've had similar thoughts. On the one hand, it seems a good way to get inside and get some useful information but it also seems likely that, while the axes are being thrown and the catered lunch is being served, I'd be thinking about stone bridges and eating at Hinkle's. I'm leaning toward not going but the truth is I really haven't made up my mind.

 

Having been to Madison umpteen times over the past few years, I'm ashamed to say we've never been to Hinkle's. But after looking at their menu, I have to say their prices are more than reasonable. I recall eating at a soda fountain a few years ago on the north side of Main Street in Madison and it was what I'd call "not a quality dining experience". Warm Cokes with little ice and the food was uninspiring, as food goes.

 

I'm thinking another good weekend AR cruise would be southern Indiana, maybe between Cincinnati & Louisville along the Ohio River with a lunch stop at Hinkle's.

 

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Holy cow! Now them's my kind of prices! Very much appeals to the tightwad in me.

 

I think an Ohio River cruise that stopped in Madison would be wonderful. I think lots of cruises would be wonderful, of course, but never seem to be able to commit to a weekend.

 

Dig this then-and-now of downtown Madison:

 

http://www.hinkleburger.com/MainStreet1812/

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Dig this then-and-now of downtown Madison:

 

http://www.hinkleburger.com/MainStreet1812/

 

That's some excellent photography by the photographer who took the "now" shot. After trying my hand at that kind of thing, I know how hard it can be to get your angles just right. It looks like all the buildings are still intact, and the only differences are the trees and pavement....and the horseless carriages.

 

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Holy cow! Now them's my kind of prices! Very much appeals to the tightwad in me.

 

I think an Ohio River cruise that stopped in Madison would be wonderful. I think lots of cruises would be wonderful, of course, but never seem to be able to commit to a weekend.

 

Dig this then-and-now of downtown Madison:

 

http://www.hinkleburger.com/MainStreet1812/

Nice then-and-now but I really doubt that then was 1812. The daguerreotype was patented in 1839, Madison incorporated in 1824, and the first lots sold in 1811. I'm thinking that 1912 might be closer to the truth. There's a shot with a believable circa 1850 date here.

 

 

Pick a date for a southern Indiana cruise and I'll do my best to be there.

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Pat and I had been meaning to make a trip down there to take photos of locations where they had filmed the movie "Some Came Running" with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin...hmmmm...and a Hinkle Burger to boot! There's also Mundt's Confectionery with a great soda fountain and the Madison Fudge Factory, that has the best fudge!

 

Who's up for this weekend?? :D :D :D

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Who's up for this weekend?? :D :D :D

I could probably make it down on Sunday, but unfortunately it looks like most of the places mentioned are not open on Sunday. :unsure:

 

Chris

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As a service to those who might go to Hinkle's in the future, we made a quick afternoon trip to Madison Saturday afternoon. Just about everything but the eating joints down there close by 6pm (a lot of them at 5), so if you plan on heading down, go early in the day. Details of the day are here.

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Nice pictures from Madison. I've refreshed myself several times at the Broadway and eaten there a time or two but have yet to stay there. Your photos and comments help keep it firmly on the to-do list. Your description of Hinkle's is kind of what I expected. During my last visit, someone at the Broadway referred to it as "Madison's White Castle". It, too, remains on the list.

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