Road Trips

1933 photographs of US 40 at Harmony, Indiana

US 40 was widened from two to four lanes across Indiana in the 1930s and 1940s. Old photographs of any road can be hard to come by, but especially when the road changed so dramatically so early.

Fellow roadfan Roger Green has been researching US 40 for several years now. He grew up in a small western Indiana town called Harmony, which is on US 40 in Clay County. The photos he found are from Harmony in 1933, and they show a road of very different character from today. This eastbound photo is from just west of Harmony Barnett Street. The building at left is Rohrig’s Texaco.

Digital image © 2006 Indiana Historical Society. All rights reserved.

This Google Street View capture shows the same scene as Google recorded it in 2018. The Texaco station is now a diner.

© 2020 Google.

Here’s a closer look at the diner. I made this photo in 2009; the diner’s changed hands and names at least once since then.

Harmony, IN

The photo below is from a little east of the photo above. The house in the picture still stands; see it here.

Digital image © 2006 Indiana Historical Society. All rights reserved.

This westbound photo, which has to be from N CR 200 E, shows Rohrig’s Texaco on the right. It’s a little hard to see but farther down the road on the left is Finley’s General Store.

Digital image © 2006 Indiana Historical Society. All rights reserved.

When I made my 2009 trip documenting US 40 in western Indiana, Finley’s was still standing, but it’s not clear to me whether it was still operating. The same is true today.

Harmony, IN

What’s most fascinating to me is the roadway itself — it’s a continuous ribbon of concrete. Indiana didn’t start inserting expansion joints in its concrete highways until about 1925, as best as I can figure. Also, travel lanes were much narrower in the early 1920s than now. This highway is probably only about 12 feet wide.

One segment of continuous-concrete US 40 remans, on a short old alignment about seven miles east of Harmony, in neighboring Putnam County, near Manhattan. As you can see, this old road cracked pretty severely. Expansion joints help prevent cracking.

Itty-bitty old US 40/NR alignment

This photo gives a pretty good feel of just how narrow this road is. Can you imagine encountering an oncoming truck here at night? Harrowing! The modern four-lane US 40 was a giant improvement in safety and speed. Here’s a 2009 eastbound photo of the modern road just east of Harmony.

US 40 east of Harmony, IN

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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Last updated on 17 April 2020 by Jim Grey

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8 thoughts on “1933 photographs of US 40 at Harmony, Indiana

  1. I love comparing old scenes of places with their modern counterparts. Harmony seems to have weathered the decades better than most places.

  2. Pat Chase says:

    How can I attach a photo. I have a couple of old photos of gas stations in Knightstown on the National Road that I could share.

  3. Dan Price says:

    I have a picture of the Rohrig’s Texaco sign in front of my Great Uncle George’s station that I’d be happy to send to you if you provide me an email address. Thanks for doing this blog!

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