It’s a little unusual for me to make road trips this late in the year – I like the road best while it’s still warm outside. Yet I’ve hit the asphalt a lot this autumn. I’ve been sharing my Halloween trip with you lately, a trip down US 40 and the National Road in eastern Indiana. A particular friend and I make a point to take a road trip together every year, and this was our 2009 excursion. We spent most of our day in Wayne County, exploring Richmond and Centerville and spending a little money in the antique shops in Cambridge City. Also, the Michigan Road Historic Byway project has been heating up as my partner in the effort, blogger Hoosier Reborn, and I have been building support in Michigan Road counties south of Indianapolis. So I’ve spent a little time on the Michigan Road recently, and you know I love to do that.

2009 may go down for me as the year I began noticing vintage signs. I’ve already written one sign post (get it? sign post? signpost? I kill me!) this year, about the signage along the National Road in Vigo County. Here I go again!

My National Road friend and I got hungry midafternoon while antiquing in Cambridge City. So we stopped for very tasty tenderloin sandwiches at the Silver Dollar Lounge. The french fries were hot and crisp, too! Thee neon portion of their sign was lit.

Cambridge City

Down the street a bit is the Drive-In Liquors sign, some of its neon also lit.

Cambridge City

After Hoosier Reborn and I finished extolling the virtues of a Michigan Road Historic Byway to people interested in tourism and historic preservation in Madison the other day, I was hungry and went off in search of lunch. Seems like every other time I’ve been to Madison, Hinkle’s Hamburgers has been closed. But this day not only was it open, but their sign was on. I snapped this shot and then went in for a double cheeseburger. Mm mm!

Hinkle Hamburgers

After lunch, I walked Madison’s main drag for a little while snapping shots. This great neon sign lurks quietly a half block north of Main Street on Mulberry Street. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a neon Independent Order of Odd Fellows sign before, and I’ve seen a lot of Odd Fellows buildings in my travels. I wonder when it was last lit.


I followed the Michigan Road home from Madison. The road followed two routes through Ripley County. The original 1830s route remains a lovely drive along a narrow country road. But when the automobile came to prominence in the early 20th century, Michigan Road signs went up on a parallel route slightly to the east, along what is now US 421 through Versailles (that’s ver-sales to you, bud) and Osgood. In Versailles, the Moon-Lite Motel’s sign was partially lit, so I stopped for a photo.

Moon-Lite Motel

The last time I passed through Osgood, the Damm Theatre was still undergoing restoration, and its sign was down. This isn’t the original sign, but it’s a nice reproduction.

Damm Theatre

The Michigan Road passes by a Coca-Cola bottling plant on Shelbyville’s north side, just before it crosses the Big Blue River. I was delighted to find the neon sign over its front door lit.

Coca-Cola, Shelbyville

If you like signs, too, then check out my twilight visit to Logansport, Indiana.


11 responses to “Seeking the signs”

  1. kurt garner Avatar

    Man, I saw the Moon Light sign too and wanted to go back and take a picture….looks like the perfect sign to shoot at twilight. I still need to get you that pic of Felkes Florist.


    1. Jim Avatar

      I just won a postcard of the sign on eBay; photo from “back in the day.”

      There wasn’t a great place to park near the motel, so I pulled off the road. My car almost got creamed by a wide-load semi — moved it out of the way literally two seconds before impact.

  2. Mike Roe Avatar

    Oh, boy, I really like the drive-in liquors sign! Great pictures, Jim!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Is it the sign, or the thought of driving in to get the liquors?

  3. David Avatar

    What’s your sign? Nice display. I took a snapshot of the Damm Theatre, too. Just because I thought it was Damm funny.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Last time a girl asked me, “What’s your sign?” I blinked and answered, “Neon!”

      Ba dump bump, tshhh!

      Seriously, I get a kick out of saying I went to photograph the damm theatre.

  4. Pat Avatar

    The National Road in eastern Indiana is one of my favorite drives this time of year. Many of the towns along the route have their Christmas decorations adorning the light posts throughout town, and there’s something special about cruising through those towns, especially early on a Sunday evening, when the decorations are lit up.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I can well imagine! I’ll bet those little towns along the route do it up right.

  5. Bernie Kasper Avatar

    I gave up on Hinkle’s years ago Jim, it’s not good when it’s only about 6 blocks from your house !!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I guess you come to take such things for granted!

  6. Chris Felke Avatar

    Just let us know, we will leave the sign on for you anytime!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: