Photography, Road Trips

The Michigan Road as it crosses the Flatrock River and enters St. Omer, Indiana

After I originally published my long report about my 2008 survey of the Michigan Road in Indiana, I got separate emails from Fred and Estelle Hargitt about what they believed to be an old alignment of the road that passed through their property. Fred and Estelle live on the road in northwest Decatur County, just south of a little town called St. Omer and north of where the road crosses the Flatrock River.

The road’s route has definitely changed over time in this area. Here’s an excerpt from an 1882 atlas. I’ve highlighted the Michigan Road in green. Next to it is a screen shot of about the same area from Google Maps that I made in January of 2022.

From Decatur County 1882, Indiana,
Published by J. H. Beers & Co. in 1882, courtesy Historic Map Works (map here)
Map data ©2022 Google

It looks very clear to me that the Michigan Road was moved slightly west from just south of the Flatrock River to just before its entry into St. Omer.

Fred Hargitt wrote that he moved to this area in 1934 as a small boy, when the Michigan Road was State Road 29 here. He said that it was about this time that the original alignment of SR 29 was abandoned and a new alignment built. He said that traces of the old road still run through his property. I’ve studied the aerial images on Google Maps many times over the years and can’t see with certainty any elements of the old road.

On this excerpt from a current Google Maps aerial image, I’ve marked in green my best guess at where the original Michigan Road used to go here.

Imagery ©2022 IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2022 Google.

I ought to contact the Hargitts to see if they still live on the land and could show me the traces of the original road.

I have been unable to find what kind of bridge was built over the Flatrock River here when the road was moved in the 1930s. Steel truss and concrete arch bridges were typical in that era. I feel certain that the bridge here today is a replacement of that bridge, and is probably a common steel stringer bridge.

As a bonus, here’s some shaky, handheld video I shot in 2008 of me driving the road northbound to cross the Flatrock River.

Unfortunately, when I reached St. Omer I didn’t properly document this small town. I did, however, photograph its schoolhouse, which is a residence today.

School at St. Omer

Next: The Michigan Road as it enters Shelby County.

I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.

Standard

12 thoughts on “The Michigan Road as it crosses the Flatrock River and enters St. Omer, Indiana

  1. I had to look up St. Omer. I discovered that he was a Benedictine friar and later Bishop in 7th Century northern France. He is said to have reinvigorated Christianity in that area after it had gone nearly extinct, and founded a monastery that still exists. Rural Indiana has not traditionally been a place with significant Catholic influences, but that little pocket of southeastern Indiana is an exception.

    • Cool!

      In my travels, I do run into a lot of Catholic churches in southeastern Indiana — even rural ones. Not so much anywhere else.

  2. Decatur county GIS makes it look likely that 600W could have been the michigan road at some point, with the more curved current alignment being the latest.

    • M says:

      This is what I was going to suggest. I don’t know if the Hargitt’s owned property on the east side of 421, but if 600 West continued straight south rather than make that bend to the west, it runs straight into their house on the west side of the road. Is it possible that 600 West did go due south a few hundred more feet and merged back in with the current alignment? As in what Mr. Hargitt was saying was true, but he was referring to a former roadway south of 600 West and not the original Michigan Road shown on the 1882 map? The 1882 map doesn’t show a road on the section line where the short, dead-end 600 West is today, so maybe that was part of the original re-routing.

  3. Joe Rathz says:

    Rural Southern Indiana has historically had a large Catholic presence due to the large German immigrant population.

    From the big ones like St Meinrad Arch Abbey, Oldenburg Monastery, Immaculate Conception Monastery in Ferdinand and St Mary of the Woods in Terre Haute to the small towns built around churches like St Leon, St Henry, St Anthony, St Wendell, and dozens of others. There are stretches of road that it seems every small town you hit has a Catholic Church

  4. -N- says:

    Enjoyed the lushness of your little film. I so miss the midwest, but will be there this summer (I hope)!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.