Favorite Photos Week: US 40 in Putnam County, Indiana

US 40 in Putnam County, Indiana

Do you see that spot where the road disappears into the trees? I want to go there. I want to find what’s around that curve.

I’ll take some pictures when I get there. I’ll use an old camera, probably one I haven’t used before. I’ll want to experience that vintage gear: how it feels in the hands, how easily the controls work.

As soon as I get home, I’ll send the film off for processing so I can see how the camera rendered the light onto the film. Meanwhile, I’ll research what I saw, because there’s usually something to learn. And I’ll write about it, all of it: the road, the camera, the film, the photos, the sights. Through writing I’ll discover what I think and feel.

What are we waiting for? Let’s go! This is joy!

US 40 in Putnam County, Indiana • Kodak Z730 Zoom • August, 2009


17 responses to “Favorite Photos Week: US 40 in Putnam County, Indiana”

  1. N.S. Palmer Avatar
    N.S. Palmer

    Beautiful! It looks like old State Road 37 on the way to Bloomington.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, it’s one of Indiana’s four-lane non-Interstate highways. This was one of the first built, mostly back in the 1930s.

  2. Dennis Wagoner Avatar

    Great stretch of highway. I drove that every weekend while I was in college. And there are still things to see thirty-five years later.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The first time I went out to Rose we drove 40. Every other time it was 70 — coming from South Bend, that was one long drive, and 70 cut the time a little. But back then, 55 mph was the top speed limit everywhere, so it didn’t cut the time as much as it does today!

      1. Dennis Wagoner Avatar

        I lived in Avon then, so it was easier just to jump on US 40. I only hit 70 once, and that was after the big blizzard of 1978. It took me over four hours to get home that day in a car that did not have a working defroster.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Oy. That brings up painful memories of the four-hour drive I did across Indianapolis once in a snowstorm. And of the trip I did on I-70 between Indy and Terre Haute at 20 miles per hour because the roadway was a sheet of ice.

          1. Dennis Wagoner Avatar

            Yeah, the good old days!

  3. Tom Grey Avatar
    Tom Grey

    I like the part about writing bringibg out what you think and how you feel.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks. It’s so true for me.

  4. Eric Tomaskovic Avatar
    Eric Tomaskovic

    That’s my place on the right! This looks like the stretch right at CR525W heading westbound. My driveway is at the left end of the guardrail. The small electrical wires crossing the road lead to a post with a transformer right near my barn. It’s a mile west of Manhattan and a mile east of Reelsville, home of the Reelsville Diner. We have an old barn there now and will probably start building our house this fall. Too cool!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, you have it right! Just south of where I’m standing is a narrow concrete segment of road that was US 40 before the four lane road was built. I estimate that concrete was poured in about 1925! Good luck with your new house.

  5. Eric Tomaskovic Avatar
    Eric Tomaskovic

    I’ve been doing a lot of research about the area, because I’m a total history geek I guess, which is why I like your blog:) I’ve seen a low-resolution 1939 aerial photo of our place and the road makes a severe jog to follow that narrow concrete segment south of where you’re standing, which is now County Road 775S. In the 1948 and later aerial shots the current four lane configuration exists along with 775S. There is an extremely steep slope on the north side of 40 to a very low valley on my property, probably fifty feet down. It just occurred to me recently that there happened to be a deep depression there, and the original road builders jogged around it (775S) which was no problem with very slow transportation. When they built the four lane they decided to straighten it out and probably had to bring in a couple hundred loads of fill and gravel to do so. We’ve been wondering why we have a barn from before the 1940s but no signs of a house, and we now figure that the house may have gone away after the road was straightened, or maybe it’s a house on 775S that is separated by the four lane. The back side of that guard rail is like a cliff, and it’s a pain to try to maintain that slope so the weeds don’t block our view of the road from the driveway. The state made us cut down 54 trees on that little curve to get a proper sight line. If you ever find a time machine I want to go back to the 20’s or 30’s and drive that stretch of road, maybe in a flathead V8 Ford.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      In case you haven’t found the following post, it includes a graphic showing when each section of the four lane was completed:


      And have you found the old brick alignment of 40 yet? It’s on private property:


      Also, have you noticed the old concrete coming out of the fill of current 40 near the prison in Putnamville? It is mostly paved over in asphalt now but serves as a road on the grounds.

      The original road builders might have jogged around that depression because it was too expensive to do otherwise given the road-building technologies of the time! Also, seriously, 54 trees?!!? I had 21 removed here this year and I got a break from the tree people and it was still shockingly expensive. Finally, I’m totally with you — flathead V8 Ford on the original road!

  6. Eric Tomaskovic Avatar
    Eric Tomaskovic

    I thought I had read all of your US 40 blogs. Never saw the ones about road sleuthing and paving progression — good stuff. We still haven’t had the chance to see all of the old alignments around us, although we have been on a couple of very very cool old sections of CR 750S just west of Reelsville that look like the roads that time forgot. We’re going down to our place on Labor Day weekend, and I’m hoping to check out a little of the topography around the old alignment south of our property to see if any of the old depression is still there, or see if one of the houses is our old farm house. Stop by if you’re driving around on the holiday! It’s that spot where the road disappears into the trees. We’ll give you a guided tour of what’s around that curve. Bring your old camera.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Those sections of CR750S were built in the 1920s — that’s 90-year-old concrete. And I hope you find some interesting stuff when you explore on Labor Day weekend!

  7. Eric Tomaskovic Avatar
    Eric Tomaskovic

    Hey Jim, if you’re on this stretch of US40 again check out our house — it’s finished! Stop by any time.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Awesome! I drove through here on Wednesday but was busy talking with my passenger and didn’t look around me!

Leave a Comment

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

%d bloggers like this: