The original 1926 path of State Road 67 between Edwardsport and Bicknell, in Knox County in southwest Indiana, is jagged.
This isn’t surprising. In the early days, state highways were routed along existing roads. Especially on a road that runs southwest-northeast as this one does, zig-zagging was often necessary. Also, highways often had to be routed around existing farm boundaries.
The state always intended to straighten out these highways. I’m betting the current alignment of SR 67 here was built before the 1930s ended. I say that because so much of this original alignment is a gravel road. Most of the original Indiana highway network was not hard surfaced in its early days, and it wasn’t until the late 1950s that the last gravel highway was hard surfaced in Indiana.
This is what Old SR 67 looks like south of Edwardsport.
To my astonishment, right after I crossed current SR 67 on a north-south segment of this zig-zagged road I found this earthen road. Google Maps labels this as Pieper Road, but as you can see, it hasn’t been a road in a very long time. It looks to me like whoever farms this land uses this to access his fields, but that’s about it.
This mound of debris blocked the way. This is usually a sign that a bridge used to be ahead but is now missing. However, in this case the bridge is still there.
This is the Purdy Marsh Bridge, a Pratt pony truss bridge built in 1905. I don’t know when it closed, but it received inspections through 2013. At that time, the bridge was considered to be in poor condition overall. Its deck and substructure were in serious condition, and the superstructure was in critical condition. In other words, this bridge was a basket case.
Amusingly, there are stop signs at either end of this segment. As if anyone is going to ever see them.
The welcoming committee came out to greet me while I was on the bridge.
I turned my car around and drove north back to SR 67, which I followed to Snyder Road. I turned left onto Snyder, which is also the original alignment of SR 67 until it meets Pieper Road.
Here’s the bridge from there, facing northbound.
Here’s the last bit of Pieper Road southbound toward Snyder Road.
The welcoming committee came out again and met me directly.
Here’s westbound Snyder Road from Pieper Road, the original path of southbound SR 67.
I’ve been exploring the old roads since 2006 and have seen a lot of exciting things — 100-year-old concrete and brick pavement, places where a road was clearly removed, plenty of abandoned bridges. But never have I ever come across an earthen segment of an old highway!