In 2008, I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end, documenting the road and its built environment. Here is an installment of that trip report. While this article refers exclusively to the Michigan Road, another historic highway, the Lincoln Highway, was routed along this portion of the Michigan Road.
At Michigan Street and La Salle Avenue in South Bend, the Michigan Road hangs a hard left. Where it had always been a north-south road, here it becomes an east-west road. It also ceases to be the Dixie Highway and becomes the Lincoln Highway. This is westbound La Salle Avenue.
Shortly, La Salle Ave. curves and becomes Lincolnway West. Before the Lincoln Highway came in 1913, however, this road was called Michigan Avenue.
This little building on La Salle Ave. was the South Bend Hat Bleachery in the 1930s and a women’s clothing shop into the 1970s, I’m told.
While the road is signed “Lincoln Way” today, until recently it was signed “Lincolnway,” and many businesses adopted that spelling. This building, at the corner of Cushing St., was once an A&P grocery at which both my father’s and mother’s families shopped. Today, it is Lincolnway Foods.
Rather, it was Lincolnway Foods. It burned to the ground a few days after I took the previous shot.
Lincolnway passes through an old part of South Bend, with many of its brick streets still intact. This is Cushing St. Of all the brick streets I’ve driven on, South Bend’s are the rumbliest.
The imposing Oliver School is today the Colfax Cultural Center, which houses space for artists, performers, and related businesses. This is what it looks like as you drive toward it on Lincolnway.
Many older homes stand along the road here.
This is the Elizabeth Memorial Church of God in Christ, but I suspect that this building housed another congregation previously.
A former service station along Lincolnway.
This is the westbound road. Notice the “SUPRKET” sign on the storefront on the left. When I was a kid, that sign read “SUPERMARKET.” Somewhere along the line it lost its ERMA.
From the air, this recording studio building looks like a guitar pick.
This neat little apartment building was named after the Lincoln Highway.
This monstrosity was once the Hoosier Brewery.
Kreamo Bread was once a South Bend bakery, and its headquarters are on the Michigan Road (and the Lincoln Highway).
The 1911 Epworth Memorial United Methodist Church, hidden behind trees. I’d have better luck taking photos in the winter, when the leaves are down.
The Lincolnwood Motel.
The South Bend Regional Airport needed to extend its runway a few years ago, and to do so it took out part of the Michigan Road’s original route. This shows the road curving slightly south around the new runway, but originally it went straight through here.
Google Maps’ imagery isn’t up to date. It still shows the Michigan Road on its original route. The road markings show the current route, though, on which there are two roundabouts. (Since then, the new Lincolnway West route was extended even further, bypassing another 2,000 feet or so of the original Michigan Road. While the section of the Michigan Road east of Mayflower Road no longer exists, you can still drive the section west of Mayflower. It dead ends whre the new Lincolnway West curves back around to resume its original path.)
I took this westbound photo from where the road curves away from its original route. You can see the road pick up on the other side of the airport.
This eastbound photo is from the west side of the airport. If you view this at full size and squint, you can see the stoplights at Sheridan St. glowing red. The road in the middle of the photo is the original Michigan Road path, left behind in the runway expansion.
Here is where travelers curve back onto the road’s original path on the west side of the airport. (Today, this is the section of Michigan Road I mentioned before that dead ends.)
The road becomes US 20 outside of South Bend. Just beyond the city limits stands the Kenrose Motel, which didn’t appear to be very busy this day.
The Michigan Road narrows to two lanes as soon as it leaves South Bend.
The road passes through the Terre Coupee prairie on its way to New Carlisle. I’m told this building was once a school and later a store.
The Michigan Road next comes to New Carlisle.
Notice how the road curves wide on the east side of town. Until 1926, the road ran straight here, crossing the railroad tracks at an awkward and dangerous angle that was the scene of many accidents. Four tracks crossed the road here then, two owned by the New York Central Railroad; one by the Chicago, South Bend, and Northern Indiana Railway; and one by the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad. The tracks were even at different levels, the interurban tracks a few feet lower than the New York Central tracks, making the crossing even more challenging. This drawing, courtesy Rob Heinek, shows the original configuration of the tracks. The road’s original path is shown with red dotted lines. Heinek also provided the story of the viaduct I’ve shared here.
Negotiations with the railroads to build a viaduct and reroute the road for safer passage dragged on for several years but kicked into high gear when New Carlisle passed an ordinance limiting trains to eight miles per hour. The terms worked out, a viaduct was built and the road curved. A retaining wall on the southernmost curve touts New Carlisle’s virtues today.
Here’s what it’s like to enter New Carlisle under the viaduct.
This eastbound photo shows the road as the curve returns to the road’s original path. The driveway that begins where the road curves is the original road.
On the edge of downtown New Carlisle, this mural of the town from about 1941 is painted onto a building.
Here’s the same scene in modern times.
Downtown New Carlisle makes a hodgepodge of its buildings, which seems typical of towns of this age and size.
New Carlisle is better cared for than many other Michigan Road towns of its size, however.
A longtime bank building, today a Wells Fargo branch. Somehow, I doubt the drive-through is original to the building.
I find it interesting how these two mirror-image buildings ended up differently decorated.
The only reason I’m including this photo is because I happened to go to public school with this podiatrist, and I haven’t seen her in over 20 years. I was surprised to see her name again after so long.
New Carlisle is rich with older homes.
The sign says, “God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.”
Another older home along the way in New Carlisle.
The road’s name tips its hat to its heritage. Richard Carlisle founded New Carlisle in 1837 along the road.
New Carlisle’s park.
Outside New Carlisle, on the border with La Porte County, stands the 1863 New Carlisle Cemetery.
Next: The Michigan Road in La Porte County – and the end of the Michigan Road.