Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Ohio River SR 62 EB W edge of Leavenworth

Ohio River along State Road 62 west of Leavenworth, Indiana
Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 (review), Fujicolor 200

A confluence of roads near Vandalia


The bonanza of abandoned old pavement along the Illinois National Road dries up just before Montrose, a little town just east of Effingham. Thence west, US 40 almost entirely follows the same alignment of the road from when Illinois paved it in concrete in the 1920s. From a postcard, here’s what that concrete looked like when it was new.


Almost all of that road is covered with asphalt today – almost. A little of this concrete is visible where US 40 and I-70 intersect east of Vandalia. This remarkable confluence of roads includes not only the original US 40 alignment, but a newer alignment of US 40 that bypassed Vandalia. Much of that bypass later became I-70.

Imagery and map data © 2014 Google.

Imagery and map data © 2014 Google.

This 1920s concrete road was built 18 feet wide, where the old abandoned brick and concrete road well east of here was just 16 feet wide. But in this photo you can see concrete strips added on either side to widen it by a few extra feet. Notice also that the original middle portion of the road has no expansion joints, and so it cracked. The 1920s was a time of learning in roadbuilding, and later concrete roads all had expansion joints. This is an eastbound photo from the east end of the concrete alignment.

Abandoned National Road and US 40

EB from W end

I turned around in the same place to take this westbound photo. Notice the curved strip added on the north side of the road to let traffic flow into the later alignment of US 40, which bears right. The concrete alignment picks up dead ahead.

Abandoned National Road and US 40

WB from W end

What an awkward intersection these two old roads must have created when they were still in use.

Confluence of alignments

WB from W end

Here’s an eastbound photo of where the original US 40 alignment ends at I-70.

Abandoned National Road and US 40

EB from E end

I’ve seen topographic maps from 1969 and 1977 of this area. In the 1969 map, I-70 was nowhere in sight. In the 1977 map, this entire configuration existed. So the old concrete road was in use through sometime during the 1970s, and the time when I-70 merged onto US 40 here lasted a few years at most.

Recommended reading


I’m trying something new today: a Saturday-morning roundup of a handful of blog posts that I read this week that I thought might interest you too. I’ll try this for a few weeks and see how it goes. If you click through, I’ll keep doing it.

Bastille Day was this week, and Heather Munro reflected on what really caused the French Revolution: fear. Read: Want a revolution? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

As a confirmed realist, which is a nice way of saying pessimist, I need to take to heart Moni Smith’s message about recognizing the good in life. Read: We are swimming in a sea of goodness

Mike Connealy shot cars and planes on black-and-white film with his Olympus XA, which misbehaved a little but still delivered the goods. Read: A couple cars and a diagnosis

Tech blog TechCrunch told technology leaders who feel overwhelmed and under-competent that they probably aren’t applying enough pressure. Read: Do You Feel Pressure or Do You Apply Pressure?


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