Behind the Walker Motel: An old alignment of US 40 in western Indiana

Just before US 40 reaches Putnamville from the east, a road branches away. The sign on the corner calls it CR 35 E, but all the maps call it CR 550 S. Whichever name is right, it’s merely an alter-ego for this old alignment of US 40 and the National Road.

On the northwest corner stands the Walker Motel, now efficiency apartments. The sign is often photographed.

Walker Motel

The old road snakes around behind the motel and soon crosses Deer Creek on this 1925 bridge. Its deck is only 20 feet wide, narrow by modern standards.

Old US 40 bridge

I stood on the bridge for quite some time taking photographs, but I never encountered another car. Why can’t they put railings like this on bridges today?

Old US 40

The concrete was poured sometime between 1922 and 1924, but US 40 was moved to its current route here by 1939. It might have been covered over in asphalt otherwise, and this link to the past would have been lost.

Former NR/US 40 alignment

The road seems to widen when it emerges from the woods, but that’s only because weeds are not overgrowing the edges. This shot is as close as it gets to what this major highway was like almost 90 years ago when this concrete was new.

Former NR/US 40 alignment

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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8 responses to “Behind the Walker Motel: An old alignment of US 40 in western Indiana”

  1. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    Strange that they would keep the sign if they’re a going concern, but of a different sort. Even a weathered sign is bound to attract some weary traveller. I take it this original stretch of the National Road is still open to traffic? Much as I love walking abandoned roads, there must be a particular thrill to DRIVE an almost-forgotten stretch of an historic road.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yep, that stretch of road is still open and driveable! It’s now a hyper-local road to provide access to a few homes. It is very cool to drive it, and imagine a time when it was a busy highway. I’ve got another old alignment like this coming up in a later post! And there’s one, very very short, that I probably won’t bother to blog; here’s a photo:

      The biggest old-alignment driving thrill I’ve ever gotten was the time I drove part of the abandoned brick National Road in Illinois. You can still reach segments of it by car, even though it’s officially closed. Here’s video:

  2. Steve Smiley Avatar
    Steve Smiley

    Just on the left and in the curve in your next to the last photo, was a very large resturant called the The Putnam Inn. In my days there it was considered old and historic. It was to have been a very popular stopping point along the old highway and was still very busy in the 1960’s even with only the locals knowing it was there. It was at least a two story building, maybe a small third level. Google Earth shows no trace of it now, but it was about opposite of the brown roof house. Maybe in the green area just to the west. You could look out the back door and see over Deer Creek.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Steve, that’s super cool about the restaurant. Too bad it’s gone.

  3. William Smith Avatar
    William Smith

    I think (but could be mistaken) that this restaurant was The Old Trail Inn. Putnam County Historical Museum has info.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for the info!

  4. JR Avatar

    So glad to see the Walker renovated and back to
    use as a nice, functioning apartment group!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I need to stop and look (and photograph it) the next time I drive by!

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