Preservation, Road Trips

Inside St. Joseph Catholic Church, Shelbyville, Indiana

Margaret and I were in Shelbyville for the day a couple weeks ago to meet with a few business owners. Margaret has become the Communications Director for the Historic Michigan Road Association, and she is starting to profile businesses on or near the road for our Web site.

We got to town more than an hour early for our first appointment, so we parked on the square and walked around taking photographs. St. Joesph Catholic Church is an imposing structure on E Broadway St., which is also the Michigan Road. It towers over the surrounding buildings.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

As we photographed the exterior, a car pulled up and a fellow got out. He introduced himself to us as Jack, a member at the church. We got to talking and after a few minutes he asked if we’d like to see the inside. Well, of course we would! He called a staff member to see if a visit could be arranged. It was, and shortly we were in.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

It just goes to show you that you never know what beauty lurks in any town. Shelbyville isn’t the flashiest town on the Michigan Road, but my goodness but does it have this gorgeous church.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

St. Joseph’s stained glass windows are simply stunning. I did my best to capture the deep, rich color.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

I checked: Emil Frei and Associates is still in the stained-glass business, and has been since 1898. Emil may have been from Munich, but he based his business in St. Louis. Today, it operates in Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

We were incredibly fortunate to meet Jack, who unlocked this tour for us.

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Covered bridge at Roann, Indiana

Roann Covered Bridge
Canon PowerShot S95
2014

Indiana is famous for its wooden covered bridges. 98 still stand. Most were built in the mid-to-late 1800s, although some were built into the 1900s, to about 1912. One was built in 2006, after the original was burned in an arson fire. This one, in Roann in Wabash County, was built in 1872.

42 of Indiana’s covered bridges are in Parke and Putnam Counties, which neighbor each other in west central Indiana. You’ll find the rest sprinkled around the state.

The majority are not open to vehicular traffic. This one in Roann is. It creaks and pops as you drive over it, but it holds your car up just fine.

The wooden trusses inside the bridge do the work of managing the load. The wooden sides and roof are there to protect the trusses from the weather, so they last longer.

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Film Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: Roann Covered Bridge

The 1872 wooden covered bridge in Roann, Indiana.

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Bridge at IMA

Bowstring truss bridge at Newfields
Olympus Stylus
Kodak Gold 200 (expired)
2013

This bridge spans the Indianapolis Central Canal on the grounds of Newfields, also known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

It was built in 1873 to span Sugar Creek near Crawfordsville in Montgomery County. It was a two-span bridge. When the bridge was replaced, one span went elsewhere in Montgomery County and this span went unused. After many years, it was moved here and restored.

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Film Photography, Preservation

single frame: Bowstring truss bridge at Newfields

This bridge from 1873 got a new life at Newfields in Indianapolis.

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Bridge on State Road 225

The last one-lane bridge on an Indiana highway
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 (shot at 200)
2018

Indiana State Road 225 runs just four miles, from State Road 43 a few miles north of Lafayette, through the small town of Battle Ground, through Prophetstown State Park, to a road that used to be State Road 25.

This four-span Pratt through truss bridge was built in 1912, before there was any sort of state highway system here. A stoplight at either end controls traffic so nobody has to play chicken on the bridge. Given that only about 950 cars cross it every day, I’m sure the state has never been terribly motivated to build a two-lane bridge here.

But that day might need to come soon. At its last inspection, this bridge was judged to be in poor condition, its structure requiring corrective action.

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Film Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: The last one-lane bridge on an Indiana highway

A barrel shot of a one-lane bridge on Indiana State Road 225.

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National Road and US 40 bridges at Blaine, OH

Two bridges at Blaine
Canon PowerShot S95
2011

One bridge was built in 1826, the other in 1932. One guess which is which!

Both bridges carry the National Road/US 40 over Wheeling Creek near Blaine in Belmont County, Ohio. It’s just five miles from the Ohio River, the border with West Virginia.

The lower bridge came first. It’s the oldest standing bridge in Ohio, and is the longest of the few remaining S bridges in the state. Notice its “S” curvature? This was done in the name of economy: it’s less expensive to build and maintain a bridge that’s perpendicular to the creek it crosses. They merely curved the approaches to meet the road.

This was just fine in the days of horses and buggies with their slow speeds. As automobiles took over, it became a hazard. Drivers had to slow way down to negotiate the S. Some didn’t slow down in time.

Moreover, west of this bridge lay a very steep hill. It was challenging for cars of the day to climb. I’m sure pedestrians and horses didn’t much enjoy the climb either!

The upper bridge made travel easier on three counts: it eliminated the S, it offered a wider deck (38.1 feet vs. 26.9 feet), and it created a gentler rise to the top of the hill.

I know of four other S bridges on the National Road: one in Pennsylvania (here) and three in Ohio (two here, the third here). That last one was still open to traffic when I visited it in 2011, and I drove over it. By 2013 it, too, was closed (here).

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Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: Two bridges at Blaine

Two bridges on the National Road/US 40 in Blaine, Ohio.

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Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge on Route 66 in Kansas
Canon PowerShot S95
2013

Route 66 passes through exactly one county of Kansas on its way from Missouri to Oklahoma. Kansas makes the most out of its 13 miles of this famed road. I’d tell you more, but I’d rather you go see for yourself!

I will show you one thing: this 1923 March Rainbow Arch bridge, designed by James Marsh. Marsh held the patent on this design. Hundreds of Marsh Arch bridges were built from the 1910s through the 1930s primarily in Iowa and Kansas, but also in a few nearby states. 17 are known to still stand. All of them are in Kansas and only one is not still open to traffic.

This one is still open to traffic, although one way westbound. A new bridge was completed 50 feet away in 1992 to handle modern traffic volumes.

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Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: The Rainbow Bridge on Route 66 in Kansas

A Marsh Rainbow Arch bridge on Route 66 in Kansas.

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