Cambridge City was envisioned as a transportation town when it was platted in 1836. It’s on the National Road, of course, but it’s also on the Whitewater River, the Whitewater Canal, and several rail lines.
I want to focus on the Whitewater Canal for a minute. In the early 1800s, Indiana was figuring out transportation routes in the fledgling state. It may seem obvious today that roads are the way to go, but it wasn’t then. Canals had proved valuable out East, and so Indiana decided to try its hand. One of several Indiana canals to be built was the Whitewater Canal, and it passed through Cambridge City. Read the canal’s history here.
I had never noticed this canal along the north side of the National Road in Cambridge City until I passed slowly by on my Ride Across Indiana. The Whitewater Canal was more or less a north-south canal but this canal runs east-west through town. But whatever other canal could this be? I’m not aware that Cambridge City got more than one canal!
I’ve tried to trace this canal’s route through town, but it disappears. I’m sure some parts of it were filled in.
Once in a while I’ll wind up making the same photograph on two trips down the same road, separated by some years. It’s always interesting to see how things have changed.
Here’s the northwest corner of the main intersection in Centerville, in eastern Indiana on the National Road/US 40, as it was in 2009 and then in 2021. As you can see, these facades have received some TLC.
One reason I wanted to bicycle across Indiana was because when I drive it in my car, I whiz by things too fast to notice them. Even when I do notice them, frequently there’s no place to put the car so I can stop and photograph it. A bicycle stows neatly on even the narrowest shoulder.
The National Road is one of Indiana’s oldest roads, originally built in the 1830s. It opened travel into what was then considered the West from the East. As such, people settled on it. A number of homes from the 1800s still stand on the National Road all the way across Indiana. Here are a bunch of them. Each photo is geotagged on Flickr; click the photo to see it there and to access Flickr’s map.
You’ll find this beauty just west of Richmond.
This house is across the street and slightly west of the one above.
This house, a former inn, is on the east side of Centerville.
These two old brick houses are in the same block as the house above.
This large frame house is on the west edge of Centerville.
I found this sturdy brick house in East Germantown, in Wayne County.
This incredible beauty is on the east side of Cambridge City.
This is the Huddleston Farmhouse, which I toured some years ago and blogged about here and here. Those shutters need some maintenance.
This looks like two adjacent structures to me. They’re commercial businesses now, but I’ll bet they were originally residences. They’re in Dublin.
This house is also in Dublin. It looks newer than any of the others I’ve shared so far, late 1800s or even very early 1900s.
This old house is at the main crossroads in Lewisville.
You’ll find this house on the original National Road alignment west of Dunreith.
I’m no architectural expert but I’ve learned some things over the years that help me date houses. I’m stymied by this one — could be anywhere from 1850 to 1920. It’s in Knightstown.
This beauty is also in Knightstown.
As is this one.
This stylish frame house stands west of Charlottesville in Hancock County. All the times I’ve driven the National Road across Indiana, and I’ve never noticed this house before. Bicycling my way across helped me see it.
Many interesting old houses face the road in Greenfield, but this one looks the oldest to me.
There’s a dot on the National Road map called Philadelphia, and you’ll find this house there.
This grand house in Indianapolis’s Irvington neighborhood has been adapted into a church. It’s not actually right on the National Road, but it’s incredibly visible from it.
We’re now on the west side Indiana’s National Road, in Plainfield.
This one is also in Plainfield.
This house is west of Plainfield and serves as the main building on a golf course. It’s just east of the abandoned US 40 bridge.
This is Rising Hall, right on the Hendricks/Putnam County line. I will likely write a longer post about this house alone.
This house stands alone on the road in Putnam County.
This is the McKinley House, which stands near Harmony in Clay County. I’ll certainly do a Then and Now post about it, as I photographed it many years ago when it wore a different paint scheme.
This appears to be among the newer homes in this collection, but I like it. It’s on State Road 340, the original alignment of the National Road, near Cloverland.
These are the interesting old houses that I photographed. I’m sure I missed some, including several in Vigo County that I didn’t photograph because it was raining. I’ll have to go back and get them another day!
When my friend Dawn and I made our trip along the National Road in eastern Indiana in 2015, we came upon an audacious toy store in downtown Richmond. Family owned, Veach’s had been selling toys in Richmond for more than seven decades. We were astonished and delighted that the store had survived all of the changes in retail since the 1980s. Unfortunately, when I rode across Indiana this year, Veach’s was gone.
On US 40 (aka the National Road) in Richmond, Indiana, you’ll find a McDonald’s on the southwest corner of 18th Street. It features a classic Golden Arches sign from around 1970. Here’s a photo I made of it on my first visit in 2009. The restaurant was a classic red Mansard-roofed design, with a giant PlayPlace tacked on.
When I next visited, in 2015, I hoped the classic sign would still be there. I wasn’t disappointed. But the red roof had been reshingled in a dark color.
On my Ride Across Indiana, the sign was still there (yay!) but the restaurant looks to have been razed and rebuilt. McDonald’s architecture is so generic now.