Road Trips

US 40 and the National Road at Six Points near Plainfield, Indiana

Windows Live Maps image, 2006

Just beyond the Indianapolis and Marion County border, but just east of Plainfield, is the Six Points area. A two-lane segment of an old US 40 alignment runs through here. It’s maybe 600 yards long.

Heading west just past the Marion/Hendricks county line, there’s a body shop on the south side of the road as the road gently curves. We took the next left and and immediately made the first right to get onto the old road. This picture shows the old segment on the left and the current road on the far right.

Old National Road east of Plainfield

On the right you can barely see the sign for The Diner, an old Mountain View diner that had more space built onto the back. It was in its declining years. When I visited again in 2009, I found it closed when I photographed it.

The Diner

It was later moved into the City of Plainfield itself, restored, and given its original name back: the Oasis Diner. Here’s my photo from 2014, not long after it reopened. It’s quite popular today.

Oasis Diner

But back to this segment of US 40 and the National Road. When we turned around, it was clear that the broken pavement behind us was old US 40 pavement. Notice how the body shop building is parallel with the old segment, and would have been right against US 40.

Old National Road east of Plainfield

As this westbound photo shows, the road was closed for construction, so we couldn’t drive it. As best as we could tell, this road had houses on both sides. Dawn and I wondered aloud if they moved the road around these houses so they could widen it to four lanes without displacing the residents. Later I learned that the road was moved to eliminate the dangerous railroad crossing from this US highway.

Old National Road east of Plainfield

This segment was bypassed in about 1940 when US 40 was widened to four lanes. The bypass eliminated a shallow-angle (and therefore dangerous) intersection with a rail line in here. You can see a trace of the line in the map above.

What we didn’t know on the day we made this trip was that the road was closed to build the Ronald Reagan Parkway. I made this trip again in 2009 and in driving this segment westbound was deeply disappointed to find this:

Bisected National Road

I get it, this old alignment got so few cars it didn’t make sense to make an intersection here, especially when current US 40 was 200 feet away to the north. But it is unfortunate that this historic road was made discontinuous. Here’s the eastbound view from the other side of the Parkway. Since I made this photo in 2009, this has been reconfigured so that you can turn left from southbound Ronald Reagan Parkway onto Old National Road, and right onto Ronald Reagan Parkway, from here.

Bisected National Road

In 2006 I failed to make photographs of the western end of this segment. I corrected my oversight in 2009.

Bisected National Road

Today, you can’t drive the eastern portion of this alignment anymore as it was removed. Curiously, a tiny stub remains right next to the Ronald Reagan Parkway.

Image © 2020 IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2020 Google.

As you approach the removed alignment from the east, the only evidence the road was ever there is the row of utility poles that follows the old right-of-way. That’s a common tell of an old roadway. Here’s a view from Google Maps Street View showing how this scene looked in June, 2019.

Street View image © 2020 Google.

It always makes me sad when any part of a historic road is removed.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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11 thoughts on “US 40 and the National Road at Six Points near Plainfield, Indiana

  1. I’m so glad they saved that old art deco diner!
    Along the Cariboo Highway here there are scraps of the old Hwy 97 which would make for some interesting pictures. The problem is the road isn’t suitable for stopping on; twists, turns, mountains … and a bunch of idiots doing 120 KPH in the 100 zones trying to kill you.

  2. Over the years I have checked out Highway 99 which goes from Canada to Mexico. It was assigned in 1926 and though parts of it still exist it was replaced by Interstate 5. At the Canadian border it continued as British Columbia Highway 99. In Central California it is still a major highway.

  3. This is a wonderful post! I was so excited when I saw the first diner picture, making a mental note to go find it my next trip through because old diners with great signs rank among my favorite things. And then kept scrolling and realize I have been there – in the new location. Anyway, You should know that you inspired me to take a trip along the National Road in Indiana a couple of years ago. I was recovering from a painful end to an otherwise good relationship. I wrote some about my adventures that trip but here’s the story about the diner if you’re bored and interested. Thank you for your blog and for inspiring us all to go out and explore! https://makethejourneyfun.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/the-oasis-diner/

    • How awesome that you made that trip! Have you ever made the NR/US 40 trip across Ohio, esp. eastern Ohio? That’s some amazing territory to cover.

      I made my early road trips because I was recovering from the end of a terrible, destructive relationship — so I relate.

      • I have done Ohio in sections but am contemplating driving it straight through this spring. I’ve also driven a portion through western PA- that was a beautiful drive!

        When I did the Indiana trip, I knew I wanted to go somewhere but wasn’t sure where. Your stories from the NR had always fascinated me and I discovered there were some things to do along the way- lots of antique stores and ice cream at Lynn’s Pharmacy were some highlights. So I set out with a map but no real plans, driving till I felt like stopping, making lots of photos and talking to some interesting people along the way. It was exactly what I needed so thanks for the inspiration.

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