Photography, Road Trips

Published: My photo of a stainless-steel 1950s diner on US 40 in Plainfield, Indiana

My photo of a 1950s stainless-steel diner on US 40 east of Plainfield is featured in a new book from Indiana Landmarks.

The Diner
Minolta X-700, 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2009

The book, Rescued and Restored, “celebrates remarkable historic places snatched from the wrecking ball or lifted from decades of neglect.” So says the Web page Indiana Landmarks put up about the book, which includes a link to purchase a copy. See it here.

My copy of the book arrived last week, and it is a lush look at many beautiful and interesting historic structures around Indiana, telling their stories and showing photographs before and after they were restored.

You’ll find the Oasis Diner on page 77. It was manufactured by Mountain View Diners, a New Jersey company, in 1954 and shipped to its original site on US 40 east of Plainfield. It operated there until 2008.

Stainless-steel diners like these were once common on the American roadscape, but have dwindled in number over the years. Indiana Landmarks worked with the City of Plainfield to find it a new place to operate, and new owners who would restore it.

In 2014 the diner was moved about four miles west, still on US 40 but in downtown Plainfield. After an extensive restoration, including a recreation of the original Oasis sign that had been removed many years before, the Oasis Diner reopened for business in November, 2014. I made this photo on my first visit, about a month later.

Oasis Diner
Canon PowerShot S95, 2014

I have thin memories of passing this diner by from trips along US 40 as early as 1984. I first paid real attention to it on my 2006 road trip along US 40 and the National Road in western Indiana. I made that trip again in 2009, which is when I made the featured photograph. See this post for a writeup of this stop on both of those road trips.

When the Oasis Diner was being moved and restored, Indiana Landmarks asked for permission to use my photograph in their publications. I gave it happily. I am a Landmarks member and support their mission. I loved the thought that one of my documentary road-trip photos could find a useful purpose beyond being on my blog. My photo appeared in news articles about the diner, as well as in at least one issue of Indiana Landmarks’ monthly member magazine.

I thought that would be it, but then this year they used it again in an email to members announcing the book. Had they not done that I might never have known they published it in this book!

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27 thoughts on “Published: My photo of a stainless-steel 1950s diner on US 40 in Plainfield, Indiana

  1. Kelly Ray Hugunin says:

    Always liked that old diner. Remember it still being the Oasis when I was a kid. After high school I lived with my brother on a side street right around the corner when it was just the
    Diner. Was glad to see it restored. Wife and I would go there occasionaly on date night. I too hope it survives this crisis.

    • I don’t remember whether it was the Oasis or not when I first saw it in the mid 80s. It’s too bad the first time I thought I might stop in, it was already permanently closed.

  2. Christopher May says:

    Congrats on the publication! Old diners are always atmospheric and fun subjects. I’m glad this one was given another lease on life, replete with the new neon! Here’s hoping that lease continues beyond our current situation.

      • Christopher May says:

        I certainly hope that’s not true, too. One thing I’ve noticed about the whole situation is that a lot of the predictions have had an overtly pessimistic tone. I don’t think the world has had an event of this scale since WWII and it’s easy to extrapolate outcomes to the worst possible scenario because of that. Not saying that it can’t happen but I’m trying to still be a bit more optimistic while tempering that optimism with facts. I’m sure some restaurants won’t make it, sadly. But I’m certainly hopeful that that the number isn’t 80%. If it is, we’re in for some very rough years.

        • This is exactly why I am trying to avoid most of the news – anything that is trying to make a projection has such a likelihood to be wrong.

  3. Neil says:

    Congratulations, Jim! Good thing you’re a member to unexpectedly find out that way. Great neon. Thanks for your back story too.

  4. Nice one. I’ve never had an image published in a book, although I did get one printed in a UK photography magazine – albeit as a pretty small reproduction – which was nice, so I expect you’re very happy about this.

    • This was a real surprise and a treat. This organization asked permission to use this photo several years ago when the diner got moved, and I signed a release happily giving them free reign to use the photograph it anyway they wished. No skin off my nose! And now I have a photograph published in a real book!

    • Oh man I know! I have a long time friend who lives in Hoboken. I haven’t been out to visit in a long time but whenever I used to go she used to take me to some fantastic diners. The book I’m referencing here really is limited to Indiana, and my diner photo is the only one I think.

  5. Amazing how history is important to us, and how each society sees it so differently! History being written before our eyes right now, what will we value from the recent past and what will be discarded?

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