The second leg of my trip down Indiana’s US 50 got off to a bumpy start. As I parked in Seymour, where this trip began, I accidentally locked my keys in my car.
Fortunately, I had a friend along, and he noticed a hardware store across the street. “Let’s go buy a wood dowel there,” he said. “You can use it to press the lock button.” (I had left the driver’s window open about an inch.) 58 cents later I was working the dowel against the door lock, which wouldn’t play ball. My keys were lying in the seat, the fob face down, so I used the dowel to turn the fob over and press its Unlock button. Success!
I’ve had more daunting adventures on road trips, such as being chased off by the police and backing my car off a road, beaching it. Oh, and wrecking my car. Shudder. So this wasn’t all that bad in comparison. But without my friend’s quick thinking, I would have ended up calling a locksmith and paying way more than 58 cents to get into my car.
My 1924 Automobile Blue Book directed the driver to enter Seymour on Tipton St., which is modern US 50, but turn north on Chestnut St. and then west on 2nd St. We walked a few of the downtown blocks along this route. The most interesting and surprising find was this sign just off Chestnut St. at St. Louis Ave.
Apparently, Paris Style was a chain of dress shops with locations in several small Indiana cities. I wonder if the other cities had signs like this one, which clearly once sported neon. The Prius on blocks was a real headscratcher.
I was taken by the chimney on this house at 2nd and Walnut. My guess is that the rest of the house hasn’t always been covered in stucco.
My ABB had us follow 2nd St. to the edge of town, where it makes a sharp left and crosses a railroad track, crosses US 50, and follows a couple county roads briefly before rejoining US 50.
The next town is Brownstown, which is full of great neon.
If you’re surprised that Brownstown Flowers and Gifts has been around since 1890, you may be even more surprised to learn that Zabel’s Furniture has been around since 1879.
Brock’s is a real Johnny-come-lately to Brownstown, having come along in 1952.
The Knights of Pythias building stands in the next block, right across from the Jackson County Courthouse. The building itself isn’t remarkable, but this weathered neon sign sure caught my attention.
Remarkably, the Knights of Pythias still meet here. I’m used to seeing fraternal-order buildings used for other things or standing vacant.
There seems to be an idiom of Indiana county seats – a courthouse stands at the center and brick buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s face it on at least one side. Brownstown is no exception.
My travel companion wondered why Brownstown became the county seat when Seymour is so much bigger; I guessed that Seymour outgrew Brownstown long after the county seat was named. I’ve since learned that Brownstown is Jackson County’s second county seat. The first was Vallonia (the next stop on our trip). The county seat moved to Brownstown shortly after it was founded in 1816. Upstart Seymour didn’t come into being until 1852.
Regardless, I was taken with the Jackson County Courthouse. It’s not that it is unusually beautiful, but that the many trees surrounding it made for excellent shooting. I took a lot of photos from the grounds.
Where modern US 50 turns left a block past the courthouse, old US 50 continues straight and shortly merges with State Road 135. The original alignment follows SR 135 through Vallonia to SR 235, then SR 235 to Medora, then a series of delightful country roads. We wouldn’t see modern US 50 again for 21 miles.
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Last updated on 21 February 2020 by Jim Grey