Classic signage along old and current State Road 67

It’s fun to find classic roadside signage when you’re on a road trip. A lot of it comes from the 1950s and 1960s, when the Great American Road Trip meant driving two-lane highways as the Interstate system either didn’t exist or was far from complete.

First up is Big Dan’s Hamburgers, 5925 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis. This is the last still-operating location of what was once a chain that had several locations, most of them in Indianapolis but in some other Indiana cities as well.

Big Dan's

This is the chain’s third name. It was first named Gay Dan, as its buildings were modeled after Gay 90s circus wagons; its mascot was a top-hatted gentleman. By the 1970s the word “gay” had lost every meaning other than “homosexual.” It wasn’t wise or safe to be out then, or even to be associated with homosexuality, so the chain renamed itself Mr. Dan’s. I’m not sure what prompted the change to Big Dan’s, but it happened in the last 10 years or so.

Big Dan's

During my years living in Indianapolis, a Mr. Dan’s was essentially around the corner from me on Michigan Road on the Northwestside. I’m sad to report I never visited. This Big Dan’s was closed when I stopped, despite its “Open 24 Hours” sign.

Farther along the road in Marion County stands the Motel 6t7, 11551 Pendleton Pike, Indianapolis. We will forgive the owners for using a US route shield shape for a motel named after a state highway. This sign replaced a neon sign that stood here as late as 2007. I drove by it any number of times before it was removed, and never thought to stop to photograph it. Fortunately, someone else did; see it here.

Motel 6t7

Just past Fortville in Hancock County, you’ll find the Colonial Motel. Sadly, its sign is stripped of its neon. On this page you’ll find a photo of this sign with its neon, lit.

Colonial Motel

If you want to see it, drive to 885 E. Broadway, Fortville.

Colonial Motel

Jimmie’s Dairy Bar is in Pendleton. The sign is unremarkable for the most part, but it does have the neon arrow and ice-cream cone up top.

Jimmie's Dairy Bar

The joint was jumping when I pulled in. They may say they have the best BBQ in Indiana, but they’re probably better known for their tangerine-flavored soft serve. 7065 S State Road 67, Pendleton.

Jimmie's Dairy Bar

The Lemon Drop Drive In is on the southeast side of Anderson at 1701 Mounds Road. It’s been doing its thing since 1952.

The Lemon Drop

I reached here at lunchtime, but the word “onionburger” gave me pause. Onions tie my stomach up in absolute knots. So I drove on.

The Lemon Drop

In Chesterfield, which is just beyond Anderson’s airport, is this sign for the defunct Graham Furniture. It’s at 10 W. Plum St.

Graham Furniture

As you enter Muncie you come upon this giant statue of Paul Bunyan. It was built in the 1960s to advertise a lumber company, but now is the enormous mascot of the Timbers Lounge, a bar and restaurant. He’s at 2770 W. Kilgore Ave. if you want to go visit him.

Muffler Man

Finally, I was blown away to come upon this very old McDonald’s sign in Muncie as I left town on the 1937 alignment of SR 67. It faces Madison Street, but its address is 500 E Charles Street. It’s been here since 1958, and has been restored twice. I gather that this is one of only two signs of this style still in use anywhere. The McDonald’s it marks is, unfortunately, one of the modern boxy-looking buildings.

1958 McDonald's sign

Finding old signage is one of the things that makes road trips fun!

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15 responses to “Classic signage along old and current State Road 67”

  1. Ted Shideler Avatar

    The McDonald’s sign is great. It’s definitely a southside landmark!

    Other than that, I’ve been to three of the places featured here. Timber’s is okay. I’ve never had Jimmie’s barbecue, but their soft-serve is pretty good and their weird chili dogs, served on Texas toast, are even better. The Lemon Drop has a toasted cheeseburger (a simple cheeseburger on toast) that’s great for classic diner fare. Colleagues and I used to go there for lunch a lot when I worked in Daleville.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for the experience reports! Funny how I love to stop to photograph the signs at classic places, but I’m wary of trying what they have to offer. There used to be this greasy spoon up in Logansport that I drove by for years before finally going in — the cheeseburger was so good it was a religious experience. It closed for good shortly after.

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Always LOve your signage selections. In my neck of the woods, competition for valuable property, which seems to have morphed farther and farther out beyond the urban ring, has a tendency to rapidly wipe out any previous standing small business signs and buildings. You’d have to go pretty far out to find anything of interest…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Same seems to be happening in Indiana, we’re just not as far along.

  3. Andrew Avatar

    Many years ago, my wife and I came very close to buying a house across the street from the Colonial Motel … on “Motel Drive.”

    As someone who travels this corridor a lot, every one is iconic (and I didn’t realize the Big Dan’s was still around as I don’t venture that far west on Mass Ave very often – I’ll have to check it out).

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I saw the sign for Motel Drive and thought, “Who would want an address on that street?”

  4. Shirley B. Avatar
    Shirley B.

    Thanks for posting, I love to see signs like these!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You’re welcome! 😀

  5. tbm3fan Avatar

    You can find some of these signs in Rio Vista out in the Sacramento Delta complete with neon. Never seen at night since no reason to be out there. Only go out there for yearly anniversary brunch of the Stray Cats Mercury Cougar club. Sign at Foster’s Bighorn where we eat and at Flamingo Lounge across the street which is open early and already busy by 11 am. A few more up Main Street from there. Actually a couple of lounges. I guess things are slow in Rio Vista except for drinking but the town is definitely a throwback in time.

    1. tbm3fan Avatar

      Oh, you know they are lounges as both have a neon lit martini glass on top of their sign. Truly classic. Foster’s inside has dozens of stuffed big game heads on the walls looking down on you eating and they are busy. Leaving at 1:00 in the afternoon and the long bar was filled to capacity besides the restaurant.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve seen plenty of photos of great signage out in California. Lots to see!

  6. brandib1977 Avatar

    Hey! I just saw that McDonald’s sign last month!! Nice collection!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s an awesome sign in terrific condition!

  7. J P Avatar

    I remember that McDonalds sign – it was not too far from where I lived in Muncie around 1980-82. I knew then that it was a real relic, and I figured it would eventually be replaced – I am happy to see that it has not, and that people appreciate the retro vibe it offers.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      In the 80s it would have been just an old sign. Today it’s a landmark!

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