Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Bespoke in black and white


Yashica Lynx 14eI wished I had an f/1.4 lens for my Nikon F2 last month when I visited the classic car museums in Auburn, Indiana. My f/2 prime would have left me with a mighty narrow in-focus patch; I wanted that extra stop of exposure. I had just had good luck with my Yashica Lynx 14e indoors in available light, though, so I decided to give it another try.

I also wanted to shoot black and white, given that I’d shoot endless color with my Canon PowerShot S95 on the trip. I had just bought a ton of Arista Premium 400 so I loaded up a roll. This film is heavily rumored to be rebranded Kodak Tri-X. It behaves much the same to my eye.

And then the light in these museums moved frequently and quickly between bright areas and deep shadows. I knew getting good exposure would be tricky, and that the Lynx’s viewfinder would not help me figure it out. I really wished I had an SLR for its through-the-lens viewing.

All day, I framed shots and hoped for the best. After the photos came back from the processor, several were beyond saving. These turned out all right, though. This photo of an Auburn’s fender and wheel required no Photoshopping.

Turned wheel

That luck didn’t last with photos of a pair of step-down Hudsons in the National Auto & Truck Museum. Light blasting in from intermittent skylights left deep dark areas in what had once been the Auburn factory. My Lynx did the best it could.

Hudson in the shadows 2

Despite the difficult light hiding many of this Hudson’s details, I like the mood that lighting creates here.

Hudson in the shadows 1

Dim, even lights in the National Auto & Truck Museum basement meant wide-open exposures and the narrowest in-focus patches, but with care I made some of them work. Here’s a 1952 Chevrolet.

52 Chevy

I lingered over this wine-colored Nash Healey, the first one built.

Nash Healey

Inside the neighboring Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museum, shooting away from the enormous plate-glass windows gave the best chance for good exposure. Always a contrarian, I tried a few shots facing them. This was the best of them; the rest could not be salvaged.

Parked by the big windows

Getting down and close worked, too.


Here, I made one of the great windows work to my advantage.

Duesenberg reflecting in the Auburn

Upstairs, faced with illumination entirely by spotlight, I all but gave up on the Lynx. I did manage this one photo.


I wish I could say that I enjoyed the challenge in this difficult light. But I’d face this frustration again, because I want to prove I’m photographer enough to handle it.

Recommended reading


Here are the blog posts I enjoyed reading this week.

Prolific blogger Mark Evanier tells a story about terrible customer service on a high-end television designed by Henry Kloss, and how Kloss himself resolved the problem. I own a much lesser Kloss product, the Model One table radio, and I love it. Read Tales of Something or Other #6

Brick Lincoln Highway near Ligonier, Indiana


The Lincoln Highway is on my old-road bucket list. The 1913 coast-to-coast highway cuts two major alignments across Indiana. I’ve driven parts of it, especially the entire portion from South Bend to the Illinois line, but have never stopped to photograph anything along it. This Lincoln Highway visit was a minor exception. Margaret and I had a whole day to ourselves after our trip to Auburn and were just looking for a pleasant day together. There’s a well-known bypassed brick section of the Lincoln Highway near Ligonier, which was just 30 miles away. So we spent part of our day on the Lincoln.

Brick Lincoln Highway

The 1913 alignment as it heads northwest from Fort Wayne is mostly US 33 today. A few old alignments lurk about as US 33 was rerouted in improvements over the years.

Imagery ©2014 DigitalGlobe, IndianaMap Framework Data, USDA Farm Service Agency, Map data ©2014 Google

Imagery ©2014 DigitalGlobe, IndianaMap Framework Data, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2014 Google.

This is probably the best-known old alignment along the 1913 Lincoln Highway route, if for no other reason that it’s the last brick pavement still serving on it.

As you can see on the map snippet, this was a pretty wicked curve. That’s where the township line runs, and the road was routed along it. Roads were also typically routed along farm property lines in those days. It made for a lot of awkward curves. Highway departments everywhere spent much of the 20th century smoothing out such curves for safety. That frequently left the older alignment behind so that homeowners could still reach their properties.

When I first heard of this alignment many years ago, a short section of brick remained on the west side of US 33 where you see that little clearing on the map. Those bricks, which served no practical purpose, are gone now. Too bad.

This northbound photo is from the north end of the old alignment, where it flows into modern US 30.

Brick Lincoln Highway

Incredibly, while researching these bricks I found a 1924 photograph of the brick road taken near this curve. I haven’t been able to confirm when these bricks were laid, but clearly it was no later than 1924. Most other Indiana brick highways I’ve encountered were laid in the 1910s.

“Packard on brick 2 miles east of Ligonier, Indiana.” University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed October 18, 2014.

Returning to today, here’s where the road curves as it heads south. The Lincoln Highway is an east-west road overall, but this segment lies along a brief north-south section.

Brick Lincoln Highway

I’ve seen a lot of old brick roads in my travels, but have never seen a curve constructed like this one. In both directions leading toward the curve’s center, the bricks were laid in parallel rows that edged along the curve’s radius. Where they met in the middle, a 45-degree cut was made.

Brick Lincoln Highway

Another thing I’ve never seen before is a brick gutter. And notice how the bricks are mortared. I’ve found few mortared brick roads in my midwestern old-road travels — most of the time, the bricks are tightly packed without mortar. These three features alone make this road segment worth preserving.

Brick Lincoln Highway

Here’s a view of the gutter from the other direction.

Brick Lincoln Highway

Given how the “old” looks hastily added, I wondered as I shot this whether this mailbox predates the realignment. Probably not: my research suggests that the Lincoln was realigned here as early as the late 1920s. I doubt this mailbox is pushing 90 years old!

Brick Lincoln Highway

Here’s the south end of the old brick road, which is about 800 feet long. Margaret was busy exploring too. She’s a good sport: old cars all day Saturday and old roads all day Sunday.

Brick Lincoln Highway

These Lincoln Highway markers are said to be a recent addition, but they don’t look to be rust resistant.

Brick Lincoln Highway

This is the only surviving brick segment of the Lincoln Highway in Indiana. I know of a 2-mile brick segment near East Canton, Ohio, and a 2.8-mile stretch near Elkhorn, Nebraska, said to be the longest along the entire route. There may be others. It’d be fun to find them all.

Here are some brick National Road segments in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

Walking the trail

Regrowth along the trail
Kodak Automatic 35F, Kodak Gold 200

I took this photo while hiking through Cumberland Mountain State Park in central Tennessee.

The Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum


I grew up in museums, thanks to my dad’s best friend running the art museum at Notre Dame. I’ve been to endless openings and I’ve walked through myriad exhibits. I know museums. They don’t intimidate me.

So I was unprepared to be stunned and overwhelmed by the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museum. The dizzying array of cars and the impeccable building, a time capsule of the 1920s and 1930s, quickly sent me into visual overload.

Showroom floor

This post will be short on words and long on photos. Here’s a 1923 Duesenberg.

1923 Duesenberg

Here’s a gorgeous 1931 Duesenberg.

1931 Duesenberg

And here’s a 1936 Auburn.

1936 Auburn 852

I love the interesting details on this 1934 Auburn, such as the horizontal curved vents on the sides of the snout.

1934 Auburn

Its grille is interesting, too.

1934 Auburn

This is an 810 Cord prototype from about 1936.

Cord prototype

Here’s an 1936 Auburn hearse. Just check out that long, long wheelbase!

1936 Auburn hearse

The lighting upstairs was more difficult for photography. Here’s a 1930 Cord.

1930 Cord

When faced with so many cars to see and photograph, I usually take a methodical approach. But I was so bowled over by this museum that I mostly stumbled around, photographing what I noticed. I’m not sure I saw everything! And I can see I missed some shots I would have liked to take had my wits been fully about me.


The great thing, though, is that this museum is only about two hours from home. I can go again another day — and be fully prepared for the experience.

1962 Chevy Nova

1962 Chevy Nova
Canon PowerShot S95


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