Several tiny towns dot the National Road in western Indiana, but most of them never developed any businesses of consequence (or at least no evidence survives) and today are little more than a collection of aging homes. Stilesville, however, apparently managed to develop a small local economy. I say apparently because Stilesville boasts an actual, albeit small, business district. In Stilesville, there’s some there there.
The town has, of course, faded considerably. I’m sure I-70 hastened its decline. Yet people were out and about in Stilesville as I walked the town taking photographs. Several came and went from the Cornerstone Pub, the town’s most prominent building. A 1925 road guide I’ve seen said that Stilesville offered lodging and a restaurant; I wonder if this was the place.
I can’t quite make out the name of the bank painted on the building’s west end; can you?
The main intersection, the one with the stoplight, had steps up to the sidewalk on three of the four corners. Fresh concrete had recently been laid on the fourth corner, but without steps, probably thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A block west, Cooper’s Hardware and Clothing was almost certainly once a service station.
Dig the buggy in front of this little old house.
So why did Stilesville find success, but not Belleville or Putnamville or Manhattan, all similarly sized towns along the road? Perhaps Stilesville’s founders were a bold and forward-thinking bunch; after all, they built their little town in 1828, a year before the National Road began to be built in Indiana.
I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.
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