Road Trips

An earthen segment of Old State Road 67 and an abandoned bridge

NB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

The original 1926 path of State Road 67 between Edwardsport and Bicknell, in Knox County in southwest Indiana, is jagged.

Courtesy Richard Simpson, https://intransporthistory.home.blog/2020/04/18/road-trip-1926-sr-67/

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.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

This is what Old SR 67 looks like south of Edwardsport.

SB Old SR 67 SW 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.

Dead end

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.

Purdy Marsh Bridge
Purdy Marsh Bridge

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.

Purdy Marsh Bridge

Amusingly, there are stop signs at either end of this segment. As if anyone is going to ever see them.

Welcoming committee

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.

Purdy Marsh Bridge

Here’s the bridge from there, facing northbound.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

Here’s the last bit of Pieper Road southbound toward Snyder Road.

Welcoming committee

The welcoming committee came out again and met me directly.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

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!

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10 thoughts on “An earthen segment of Old State Road 67 and an abandoned bridge

  1. I grew up in an area where the gravel roads were the norm. In the summer tar was laid down to keep the dust in place. There were only 2 paved roads in the neighborhood – and they led out of town!!

    • I wish we oiled or tarred our gravel roads more often in Indiana! The gravel dust not only covered my car’s exterior, but seeped into the interior and lightly coated everything.

      My grandparents lived on a gravel road in rural southwest Michigan. One year the county paved the road — oh happy day!

  2. Darts and Letters says:

    Your dusty little Volkswagen looks sporty on that grassy lane. I’m glad the pooch apparently turned out to be a congenial canine.

  3. Warren W Jenkins says:

    What a great find, thanks for including a link to Mr. Richard Simpson’s fine work. Here in Maryland, there are a few leftover dirt/gravel paths, mostly bypassed or replaced by the 1930s. There is 2 stretches of the original MD77 near me that is either abandoned or farm roads, unfortunately all well-posted. I am very cautious around loose dogs, having been attacked and bitten twice in my youth.

    • Maryland has a rich highway history. I’ve driven the old National Road across Maryland and enjoyed that very much. I wasn’t thrilled that the dog came out to meet me that close, but he turned out to not have ill intentions and all ended well.

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