Road trips

Signs along the Michigan Road Historic Byway in central Indiana

If you’re wondering why I’m posting frequently about the Michigan Road all of a sudden, it’s because just before I returned to work this summer I toured the road through Marion and Shelby Counties, checking placement of Michigan Road Historic Byway signs.

The Historic Michigan Road Association has been working for almost two years to place directional signs along the entire byway. They help anyone wanting to follow the byway stay on it, especially in a few places where you have to turn or exit to stay on the byway. So exact placement of these signs is important.

In these two counties, some of the byway is maintained by the Indiana Department of Transportation, some by the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, and some by the Shelby County Highway Department. So we worked with all three agencies to get the signs installed.

On the tour, I took a few photos with signs in them. Here’s one at Washington St. and Southeastern Ave. in Indianapolis, where the Michigan Road meets the National Road. This placement is perfect.

Southeastern at Washington

Did you notice the obelisk in the photo above? It was placed in 1916 to commemorate the intersection of these two historic roads. A few years ago, as part of a bigger road project here, Southeastern Ave. was reconfigured to meet Washington St. at a perfect T, rather than at its previous awkward angle. The obelisk stood in the way, so it was moved to where it stands now. I wish I could have seen that — this thing is all concrete and has to weigh a ton! Here’s what it looked like in 2008, in its original location.

National Road/Michigan Road marker

It’s a little worse for the wear now, as you can see, with the MICHIGAN ROAD letters all broken off and the plaque removed. The corresponding NATIONAL ROAD letters are gone from the other side, too. I hope they’ll be restored. Someone did paint the letters that were pressed into the concrete, making them easier to see.

Michigan Road obelisk

Indy DPW and INDOT did a great job placing the signs. I gave both agencies a spreadsheet listing every place we wanted signs. Indy DPW reviewed the list with me and said that they’d place the signs on those exact spots or, when that was not possible, on a reasonable nearby spot. INDOT asked me to ride along with an engineer to point out exactly where I wanted each sign to go. That was very cool of them, and it made for a fun afternoon. Here’s a sign in Wanamaker, one that Indy DPW installed.

MR Northbound

Unfortunately, it appears we miscommunicated with Shelby County about sign placement. I took this photo at the Middletown Bridge, which is near the Shelby-Decatur county line. We didn’t want a sign here. Actually, none of the Shelby County signs ended up where we needed them. So I’m in contact with their Highway Department trying to get this straightened out. There are two tricky turns in Shelby County that were created when the construction of I-74 disrupted the Michigan Road’s original route. Our signs need to be placed at those turns to keep drivers on the byway.

Northbound Michigan Road, southern Shelby County

But this is why I made the tour: to check for problems so they can be corrected. In the process, I enjoyed a pleasant day on the road. Margaret came along. We chatted, explored, and took a lot of photographs. I love days like that, misplaced signs notwithstanding!

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2 thoughts on “Signs along the Michigan Road Historic Byway in central Indiana

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    Very intresting read Jim I enjoyed it. Just to get some sort of perspective on this what sort of distances do you cover on you road trips. I hope you get all the signage sorted.

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    • My road trips vary in length. The longest attempt was Baltimore, Maryland, to Indianapolis along the old National Rd. in 2009, but that trip was interrupted by an accident that totaled my car. This trip along the Michigan Road was an unusually short one, about 35 miles.

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