Visiting Richmond, on the National Road in Indiana

I’ve documented Richmond before, on a 2009 trip by car down the National Road in eastern Indiana. Read about it here.

As you head west on the National Road, when you enter Indiana you immediately meet Richmond. Since the 1940s, the National Road and US 40 have been a four-lane highway here.

WB US 40, Richmond

After you push through the suburban-style strip malls, you come to Glen Miller Park. Named for Colonel John Ford Miller rather than the famous big-band leader, it’s been a Richmond city park since 1885. Two elements of the 185-acre park face the National Road: the sprawling Richmond Rose Garden and Indiana’s Madonna of the Trail statue.

Richmond Rose Garden on US 40
Madonna of the Trail, US 40, Richmond

At Glen Miller Park, the National Road passes through a section of large older homes. Most of them are well cared for, but a few are not.

Old houses on US 40, Richmond
Richmond

As US 40 heads toward downtown Richmond, it diverges from the original National Road route for several blocks. Westbound it follows Main Street to 16th Street, then 16th north to N. A Street, then west to N. 3rd Street, then south to S. A Street. Eastbound, it follows S. A Street to S. 11th Street, then 11th north to Main Street, then Main Street east. The National Road follows Main Street westbound all the way across the White River, where it then turns south on 1st Street, and then west on National Road West.

Imagery ©2021 IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, US Geological Survey, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2021 Google.

Downtown Richmond looks typical for a downtown of this size in Indiana. For many years, the National Road here was closed to traffic as the area was a pedestrian mall. Today, the road in the heart of downtown offers one narrow lane in each direction for vehicles.

Downtown Richmond, National Road
Downtown Richmond, National Road

On a National Road trip I made in 2015, I discovered Veach’s, a family-owned toy store in downtown Richmond. Sadly, it closed after 79 years in 2017. Here are photos before and after.

Downtown Richmond
Downtown Richmond, National Road

After coming through downtown, the National Road passes by the imposing Wayne County Courthouse.

Downtown Richmond, National Road

The National Road then crosses the Whitewater River on a grand bridge completed in 1920. Before this bridge was built, a steel bridge crossed the road here. Before that, the road curved south here and crossed the river over a large wooden covered bridge. See a photograph here.

Bridge, National Road, Richmond

Just beyond the bridge, the National Road turns left onto 1st Street and then right onto National Road West. On its way out of town, the road passes by Earlham College. In the late 1980s I went to engineering school at Rose-Hulman, at the other end of Indiana’s portion of the National Road in Terre Haute. We were in the same sports conference as Earlham then, and played them often. They usually beat us in every sport.

Earlham College entrance, US 40, Richmond

Shortly past Earlham, the road exits Richmond proper and takes on a country feel.

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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Comments

17 responses to “Visiting Richmond, on the National Road in Indiana”

  1. J P Avatar

    It has been a long time since I was in Richmond. I remember the pedestrian mall fad that hit so many smaller cities, including Muncie and even Fort Wayne. No pedestrian mall ever enticed me to shop there.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The one we had in South Bend was kind of cool, but it was so much nicer when they tore it out and reopened the street to traffic.

      https://blog.jimgrey.net/2014/08/04/remembering-south-bends-river-bend-plaza/

  2. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Jim, I love the photos of the old houses, and the Madonna. Your old Canon still performs beautifully.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! I will keep using the S95 until it dies. Then I will cry, because I’m not sure what can replace it. Maybe a Sony RX100.

  3. Roadtirement Avatar

    Living near Indy, we have been to Richmond lots. You have penned a very nice post piece with lots of familiar scenes. Well done!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks!

  4. Russ Ray Avatar

    My in-laws live near Richmond so I’m very familiar with the area. Veach’s was my go-to spot to check out their model railroad supplies when we were in town, so I was sad when they closed. I was surprised when they announced they were closing because they had just remodeled their store as part of a national TV morning show contest.

    One thing about Glen Miller Park is that there is a natural fresh water spring near the entrance. We’ve visited a couple of times and locals bring numerous plastic bottles and gallon jugs to fill with water. I guess people think it’s healthy.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s very sad when a longtime business like that closes — but it’s also incredibly remarkable when one survives that long!

      I’ve heard about the spring in the park. I should have found it and filled my water bottles!

  5. brandib1977 Avatar

    I really love downtown Richmond, especially that super narrow section of the National Road. The last time I was there the entire downtown was a huge construction zone so I would love to go back and see the finished product. If you get a chance, the Model T Museum is fantastic.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I didn’t know about the Model T Museum!

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Oh no! You have to go! It’s not huge but it’s well done. I’ve always been there on the weekend with the same tour guide who is awesome and really enjoyed it. Here’s a link to a story from a couple of years ago. Also, there’s an old firehouse turned restaurant down the street. Be sure to eat there.
        https://makethejourneyfun.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/model-t-museum-with-dad/

      2. DennyG Avatar

        Now that surprises me. It’s home to the Model T Ford Club of America. In 2008, on the T’s 100th birthday, they hosted a gathering of about 1000 Model Ts. There were only about a hundred at the 110th party but that’s still a lot of cars.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          It’s news to me!

  6. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    When I go back to the towns and cities of my youth I am always amazed at the changes, streetscapes and businesses that seemed so permanent washed away by the passage of time….caused by the accumulation of birthdays I fear!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s definitely the birthdays that does it.

  7. PaulG Avatar

    The Promenade (the walking mall) was the result of the tragic 1968 explosion that happened downtown. It was built in 1972.

    One correction though – the river is not the White River. The White River is in Indianapolis. The river running through Richmond is the Whitewater River.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wondered if the building of the Promenade was tied to the explosion. Thanks for filling in that info. I’ll fix the post to correctly name the river.

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