Let’s return now to my 2007 trip along US 36 and the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway in western Indiana.

Shortly after from Hendricks County into Putnam County is tiny Groveland, with a gas station, a couple houses, and a few decrepit buildings. Immediately west of Groveland, US 36 curves to the north a bit, and a narrow road splits from it following the straight path.

Old US 36 and US 36

It leads to a long old alignment that crosses Big Walnut Creek, as this map snippet shows.

Imagery ©2020 Indiana Map Framework Data, Landsat/Copernicus, Maxar Technologies, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2020 Google.

This is a winding rural road, and it’s a lovely drive.

Old US 36

The terrain through here has some challenging spots, and this alignment’s winding path is typical of the days when roads were built around challenging terrain, rather than through it. My old maps show that this road was US 36 through at least 1932 — and that it was a gravel road all that time!

Old US 36

Soon this alignment became heavily wooded.

Old US 36

I came upon a covered bridge over Big Walnut Creek. J. J. Daniels built a lot of covered bridges in Putnam and Parke Counties. This is a Burr arch truss bridge – if you squint a little at the photo below, you can see the arch bracing the trusses along the bridge’s inside wall.

Old US 36

Here’s the bridge’s west end, which I share just because I really like how this photo turned out.

Old US 36

Just past the bridge I came across a big, old, smoke-belching RV blocking the road along here. Some fellows were standing on it, cutting branches out of a tree in their front yard. I only sat there for a minute before they moved the RV back far enough for me to drive around, but the smell of that smoke stayed in my nose the rest of this segment. Its end looks like this.

Old US 36

In the driveway of the house across the road was a grand old automobile. Do you see it? It looks to be from the late 1930s. I couldn’t tell what kind it was; if you know, leave a comment!

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8 responses to “Old US 36 and the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway over Big Walnut Creek in Putnam County, Indiana”

  1. J P Avatar

    How cool to find a covered bridge. On the car, my guess is a 37 Buick? It looks GM anyway.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      So small it’s hard to tell for sure, isn’t it.

  2. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    I think the nose on a ’38 Buick is a little more vertical, so that’s my guess, but definitely one of those 2 years.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Two votes for late-30s Buick — must be what it is then!

  3. Marc Beebe Avatar

    Ah Groveland! In NY. :D Route 36 goes through Mt. Morris there, though. Otherwise the description is much the same.
    I’m inclined to agree that’s a ’38 Buick Special, customized (chrome wheels and lack of front bumper).
    That covered bridge is really something. Shame about the modern roadway accessories, though. Kind of spoils the picture artistically.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Are all Grovelands decrepit?

      There are a number of covered bridges in Putnam County.


      There are even more in neighboring Parke County, which is famous for its covered bridges.

  4. 14corps Avatar

    Wonderful story and photos.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Why thank you!

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