Old State Road 67 is the road to Romona in Owen County, Indiana

Romona, Indiana, is a scattering of houses along a railroad track in Owen County, Indiana. A road snakes through, making two hard turns where it crosses those tracks. This road was once State Road 67.

Romona

State Road 67 has bypassed Romona since at least 1938. The old road not only hugged the White River for a stretch, making it subject to flooding, but it also hugged that railroad track all the way, crossing it four times. That’s not the kind of road that’s fit to be a highway long term.

When SR 67 was commissioned in 1926, it followed Main Street west out of town. The road shortly becomes Romona Road, meandering along the tracks through Romona, on its way to meet up with current SR 67. This map shows its path in blue.

Map data ©2022 Google.

Here’s where the southbound road to Romona begins on Gosport’s west edge. As you can see, it’s a narrow gravel road. It’s marked as a dead end because where the road crosses Mill Creek immediately north of Romona, an old bridge there is closed.

Romona Road

I chose not to drive Romona Road toward that bridge. Google Maps satellite view shows a tight, narrow road. I worried I’d get deep in there and have no good way to turn my car around, and perhaps no mobile signal if I were in trouble. The last several hundred yards of this road appears not to have been maintained in ages, anyway. Here’s the satellite view of Romona Road where maintenance ends.

Imagery ©2022 Airbus, IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies. Map data ©2022 Google.

This is the Romona Road bridge, a Pratt through truss built in about 1910. A bridgefan named Tony Dillon made this image in 2009.

Tony Dillon photo, courtesy bridgehunter.com

We drove back to current SR 67 and followed it to the other end of Romona Road. It’s signed as Country Club Road briefly before turning right and being signed Romona Road. From there we drove to Romona; the road was paved all the way.

Romona

Here’s Romona Road southbound from Romona.

Romona Road - SB Old SR 67

We intended to stop, make a couple quick images, and go. I’m never comfortable being an obvious stranger in small, out-of-the-way places like this. But immediately a fellow came out to greet us and find out what we were up to. When I said that we were out exploring Old State Road 67, he smiled and said, “Yes, this used to be the highway! You can walk the railroad trestle up to see the bridge if you want. The deck’s collapsed but otherwise it’s still there.” We said that we had stopped only for a minute and would soon be on our way. He then pointed out the rock by a small tree that spelled out the town’s name, spelled Ramona rather than Romona. I suppose he knows where he lives better than Google Maps does! He told us he made that stone some years back.

Romona

I might not have visited Romona at all, except that fellow roadfan Richard Simpson and I had planned to make this trip together and he was very excited about seeing Romona and the bridge. Unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly in early 2021. I visited Romona in his honor. He wrote an article for his blog about Romona and the old road here; read it here.

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Comments

17 responses to “Old State Road 67 is the road to Romona in Owen County, Indiana”

  1. T R Avatar
    T R

    Wikipedia says the place was established as Brintonville in 1819, but then the post office was established in 1886 as Romona, with an “o”, despite being named after the novel Ramona, with an “a” (published just two years earlier). I then looked at an 1870 map and an 1875 map of Owen County and the settlement is called Mundays. On an 1876 map it appears to be called Munday Station. On a 1905 map it is indeed called Romona, with an “o”. Interesting! Would be neat to see an old newspaper clipping talking about the establishment of the P.O. as Romona…wonder if there was any local controversy about choosing a name (changing it from Mundays…using an “o” instead of an “a” in Romona…why they chose to name the settlement after the book (or the character))…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This might explain why the fellow carved “Ramona” into that stone. Thanks for doing this sleuthing!

  2. Warren W Jenkins Avatar
    Warren W Jenkins

    Wish I’d known about this back in 1994, would have been a great place to catch some local railroad action.
    I also found the inhabitants of Owen County (except for my youngest brother’s new in-laws, lol) friendly and welcoming. In one day, myself and another brother who was a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Maryland visited 3 fire departments and the county rescue squad in Owen County, and also took in a parade in Gosport. Was a great experience, and I was able to send back copies of our photos to the members who gave us their contact info.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Nice, it sounds like you found a good thing in Owen County!

  3. Suzassippi Avatar

    The Indianapolis Journal, April 20, 1886, p. 1 reported “The name of the postoffice [sic] at Mundy, Owen County has been changed to Romona and David Torpy appointed postmaster.” There was also a business, the Romona Stone Company, that operated a quarry as early as 1888 and into the early 1900s. I did not find any record of Ramona, Indiana in the historic newspapers.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you for this research! I wonder where the quarry was.

      1. T R Avatar
        T R

        Maps from 1875 and 1912 show a quarry just west of Romona, with a railroad spur connecting it to the mainline through town. While I don’t know if the quarry indicated on the map is the Romona Stone Quarry, it certainly presents a strong case for it, I think. The quarry is still visible today on Google Map satellite view: https://www.google.com/maps/@39.3273331,-86.7316467,577m/data=!3m1!1e3

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Fascinating! What else could that quarry be? I don’t see evidence of other quarries around Romona.

        2. Suzassippi Avatar

          The spur was built in 1896 to connect to the Romona quarries, extending from Owens County to Clay County to connect with the Chicago and Eastern Illinois line. Another news item indicated it was east of Spencer, opposite the White River on the Indianapolis and Vincennes Road.

  4. John Roberts Avatar
    John Roberts

    I lived in Gosport for six years, and occasionally jogged for exercise on the Romona Road. Fascinating to see these pix. When I lived there, that old bridge was still open.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      How wonderful that you got to run across that bridge. I wonder when it closed.

  5. tcshideler Avatar

    Thanks for posting this one. I’d been waiting since I saw you went through those parts! I don’t have any research to contribute here yet, but what I’ve found -as I’m sure that you have, too- is that Indiana’s earliest pioneers followed a more-or-less oral tradition in terms of people and place names. There are so many spelling divergencies in old newspapers articles attempting to reconcile oral and written traditions! I could see the Romona/Ramona debate spanning back at least a century. Thank goodness for that fellow who came out to greet you. I’m sure he tried to set the record straight with that monument he carved, at least as far as what his own tradition ascribed to be the truth.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I agree with you, that fellow must have spelled it Ramona on purpose, because he knows the story.

    2. Suzassippi Avatar

      There was also a Ramona Indian school in Sante Fe, NM named after the book character, and a Ramona, CA community. It is (as indeed was common) also shown as Romona in some of the news items about both of those places.

  6. Suzassippi Avatar

    Okay, last comment on this topic, Jim, but I found a couple more interesting pieces of information. There were other quarries in the area and the Gosport Stone and Lime Co. opened a quarry to the northwest of Romona in 1868, and the railroad bridge was built over the White River to connect the quarry to the Indianapolis and Vincennes Railroad. The bridge was destroyed by ice in 1879 and the quarries shut down. A stone prospector named Mundy bought stone land on the opposite side of the river and built a new town he called Mundy. An Illustrated Gazetteer of Limestone Mills in Owen, Monroe, and Lawrence Counties to 1950 (Clay W. Stuckey, February 2016) cited Stone, Vol.IV, No. XIII, 1892, p. 517 as to the origins of the name Romona. The town was known as Monday Station according to Walter Kessler, the general manager of the Romona Oolitic Stone Co. The name was long and cumbersome according to the railroad and they were searching for a new name. Kessler had been told about the book Ramona, which he obtained and read, and suggested the name to the railroad officials. However, they had not read the book and spelled it Romona in the official notice of the change. Stuckey’s account includes a link to the manuscript, which contains maps and photographs of the quarry locations and is quite interesting. The link to the pdf is 7237528a_a377_e307_1aff_a0c7acf97dfa-1.pdf

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s some excellent research! Thank you for doing it and filling in all of these gaps.

      1. Suzassippi Avatar

        You are welcome. I have fun doing it, and you photograph so many interesting things.

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