On three Saturdays in the summer of 2010, I drove as many old alignments of US 50 as I could find in Indiana, from Ohio to Illinois. I wrote about that trip on my old Roads site, but now I’m bringing that material to this blog.
As US 50 passes into Ripley County, it becomes wooded and a little twisty.
It’s a fun drive. This is also the original 1926 alignment of the road.
Soon the road enters Versailles, which is pronounced verSALES. (I did not know when I made this trip that the original alignment of US 50 here came in from the east on the current alignment, but then turned north on the road just east of Laughery Creek, and then took the first left. There the Busching Covered Bridge, which still stands, carried US 50 over the creek. This road is County Road 25 South today. US 50 continued on this road to Perry Street in Versailles, and then west on Perry Street.)
This is where US 50 intersects with US 421, which is the “auto trails” alignment of the Michigan Road. You’d think that this would be the heart of a bustling downtown, but Versailles built its downtown just north of here. It made sense at the time, as the major north-south road wasn’t US 421 or the Michigan Road, but a plank road that followed Adams St. north out of town. That route was bisected when the lake north of town was created by the Army Corps of Engineers.
US 421 and US 50 briefly run concurrently in Versailles.
West of Versailles, US 50 intersects the Michigan Road’s original alignment. At a quick glance, you’d never guess you were crossing a historically significant road.
If you look to your left, though, you might notice this historical marker. It could use a little TLC.
Update: On a visit to this spot in early 2022, I found that the marker had at last gotten that TLC!
Since my 2008 Michigan Road trip, Ripley County erected this marker on this corner, as well.
Shortly the road comes upon tiny Holton. Or, should I say, the road bypasses tiny Holton. (I did not know when I made this trip how the original US 50 alignment rejoined the current alignment. I do now; it’s outlined in red on the map excerpt below.)
Here’s where the two roads diverge.
The 1916 Automobile Blue Book talks about crossing a bridge at 61.6 miles. When I trace the route and count the miles, there’s a bridge on modern US 50 at that point. But Google Maps shows something else just south of the current bridge – an older, abandoned bridge! I was pressed for time and had not done full research before I made my recent trip along this portion of US 50. I didn’t know about this bridge and so missed the opportunity to photograph it! Fortunately, a bridgefan passed through here before me, photographed the bridge, and shared his findings at bridgehunter.com. Here’s the bridge from the air. See it there, just below the current bridge?
Next: US 50 in Jennings County.
To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!