Most old road alignments I’ve found have been brief, lasting less than a mile. I’ve encountered a handful that have lasted a few miles, such as the 5-mile old alignment I missed between Aurora and Dillsboro earlier on US 50. But just check out this old alignment of Indiana’s US 50!
That’s almost 21 miles of old-alignmenty goodness! Old US 50 follows Main St. and Vallonia Rd. out of Brownstown, then State Road 135 through Vallonia, then State Road 235 to Medora, and finally a series of county roads back to US 50.
We hit the mother lode!
And so off we went. Our first stop along the Mother of All Old Alignments was Vallonia. The French settled this land in the late 1700s. The settlers and area Indians didn’t get on too well, and by 1810 hostilities had broken out. Governor William Henry Harrison ordered a fort be built at Vallonia to protect the settlers. He sent two companies of Indiana Rangers here during the War of 1812; several skirmishes happened here during the war.
Not that you could tell it today. This is one seriously sleepy town. We saw not a soul as we walked its main street.
People still live in Vallonia, of course. Some of them go to church here, at the Vallonia United Methodist Church. It was founded in 1858; this building was completed in 1906.
We thought the church might be the only non-residential building in Vallonia until we rounded the curve and found its faded business district. This is the only building that looked like it might still contain a business.
This simple building is more typical; it appears to be used only for storage. The triple doors on the right suggest that this might have been an automobile repair garage early in its life.
Next door stands the Joe Jackson Hotel, built in 1914. I haven’t been able to find out anything about Joe Jackson, but his hotel was apparently the finest in Jackson County (which is named for President Andrew Jackson, not old Joe). Check out this photo of the hotel shortly after it opened. Also check out this photo of the barber shop it once contained.
The hotel doesn’t contain much of anything today, as this photo shows. But it is being restored. It was the first sign of life we saw in Vallonia.
Another sign of life is Fort Vallonia. It’s not the original fort; that’s long gone. This one was built in 1969. Ever since, the fort has hosted Fort Vallonia Days, a festival every October that attracts 30,000 people.
I guess maybe Vallonia isn’t so sleepy after all!