Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Abandoned motel near Dunreith, Indiana, on US 40

I probably should have photographed more of the abandoned motels I encountered when I bicycled across Indiana on US 40. I’m sure they will all be demolished one day. It would be good to have a record of them.

I did photograph one, just east of Dunreith in Henry County. See it on Google Maps here. It’s a sprawling property. To fit the whole thing in one photograph, I had to shoot it from a ways back.

Former motel

I zoomed in on the west end of this motel for a closer look. Some abandoned motels are too far gone to ever be used again, but this motel looks pretty solid. Someone’s clearly doing the minimal maintenance necessary to keep this property together.

Former motel

I wish I could have made more images, including some peering through room windows. But I have a strict no-trespassing policy when I’m on a road trip.

Here’s a post card of this motel in its heyday. It was called the Pine Manor. Thanks to Donna Tauber for sharing it with me.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Old National Road from Dunreith to Knightstown in Indiana

I rode my old Schwinn 3-speed across Indiana for a number of reasons: to prove to myself that I could do it; to enjoy one of my favorite old roads, the National Road, at ten miles per hour; and to be able to photograph things along it that were more difficult when I’ve traveled it by car.

I’ve documented the old National Road and US 40 alignment that stretches from Dunreith to Knightstown in eastern Indiana before, here. But I made few photographs of the road itself, in large part because I drove it.

Imagery and map data ©2018 Google.

At bicycle speed, I could keep my little point-and-shoot camera in my hand and make photographs all along the way.

This is the character of US 40 westbound from the center of tiny Dunreith, right by where the original alignment begins.

Dunreith, IN

The old alignment fades in about 100 feet south of US 40. You can reach the old alignment by car using some Dunreith streets. That route is well marked with National Road signs and is easy to follow. Because I was on my bike, I just rode through the grass to this spot.

National Road west of Dunreith

The character of the old road could hardly be more different from modern US 40.

National Road west of Dunreith

Shortly the road crosses State Road 3.

National Road west of Dunreith
National Road west of Dunreith

US 40 was widened in place to four lanes across most of Indiana in the 1930s and 1940s, a story I told here. Six former alignments of the original road were left behind.

Four of them are in Putnam County, all short. Three of them still wear concrete pavement poured in the 1920s when Indiana first upgraded this old road. These Putnam County alignments were bypassed to straighten what had been a quite curvy road.

Another former alignment is in Clay County, and it remains a state highway. State Road 340 stretches from the west end of Brazil to the Vigo County line. I assume that it was not possible for some reason to widen the road here, and so a brand new four-lane road was built to its south.

I’m only guessing at why this Dunreith-to-Knightstown alignment was left behind, but I’d say it’s because of the Pennsylvania Railroad intersection in Raysville, just east of Knightstown. Widening this road to four lanes would have involved rebuilding the PRR overpass. I’ll bet the solution was to build a new road that skirted the rail line.

National Road west of Dunreith

It’s fortunate for us fans of old roads that alignments like this sometimes get left behind. They’re a historic record that shows the road’s original character. The only thing that would make this more authentic would be if old pavement were present — this was likely improved to be a concrete road in the 1920s. But I’m sure that pavement suffered the ravages of time and traffic. The people who live along this road probably very much appreciate this fresh, smooth asphalt.

National Road west of Dunreith
National Road west of Dunreith

This road has a rural character. You mostly pass farm fields and associated buildings until you reach Raysville.

National Road west of Dunreith

This is the east edge of Raysville. A number of houses are here, all set back off the National Road.

Railroad bridge, old NR, east of Knightstown

This is the old PRR bridge on the west edge of Raysville. The rail line was abandoned some time ago, and this portion of it has been converted into a rail trail. I didn’t know about the trail when I was here, or I might have ridden some of it, too, to be able to look down on the National Road from this bridge.

Railroad bridge, old NR, east of Knightstown

This looks to be a very solidly built bridge.

Old NR entrance off US 40, EB E of Knightstown

Shortly past the bridge, this road curves to meet current US 40. I made this photo from US 40 looking at Old National Road eastbound. Originally, Old National Road didn’t curve here; it went straight over a bridge that’s no longer present, right into Knightstown.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Onetime motor court converted to apartments on US 40 in Hancock County, Indiana

It began in the 1950s as the Kaiden Motel, in the small US 40 community of Philadelphia, four miles west of downtown Greenfield. It wasn’t very different from any number of other motels on US 40, or anywhere, really: a spray of small brick buildings, two rooms each, arranged in a semi-circle around a central restaurant and gas station.

I-70 was built to parallel US 40 across Indiana in the 1960s and 1970s, and as it opened, traffic on US 40 dried up. It spelled death to most businesses that depended on US 40’s heavy traffic, including the motels. As you drive US 40 across the state today, you’ll find many hotels simply abandoned and decayed. A few have continued as budget motels, often with weekly rates.

The Kaiden didn’t survive, and was left to slowly rot. But in 2012, a couple bought the property and restored it for use as small apartments.

Here’s that onetime restaurant and gas station. The gas pumps stood between the pillars, under the awning.

Former motor court, US 40

It’s a gorgeous restoration. Just look at all the details the owners paid attention to.

Former motor court, US 40

There are six of these two-unit cottages, plus a small house, in this semi-circle. Behind these units are a few more units; you can see part of one of them in this photo. Google Maps satellite view shows three more back there.

Former motor court, US 40

I believe that at one time, the center part of these cottages was covered parking for cars. Notice how the brick is slightly different in the center section, and how two of the windows have siding under them rather than brick. Those windows were probably where the entry doors were, originally. It wasn’t uncommon for motels of this style to enclose covered parking areas to enlarge the rooms.

Former motor court, US 40

Completing the panorama, here is the east end of the court. Notice how the rightmost building appears to be three units rather than two; the covered parking area was converted into a unit of its own, rather than used to enlarge the other two units.

Former motor court, US 40

As I bicycled into Philadelphia on my Ride Across Indiana, I braked hard when I came upon the Village Apartments and, as you can see, photographed it extensively from US 40’s shoulder. This is a stunning restoration. I’m curious to see what the apartments look like inside!

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Small National Road towns in eastern Indiana

One reason I wanted to bicycle across Indiana on US 40 is because on previous US 40 road trips, there wasn’t always somewhere to put my car when I wanted to photograph something. On my bicycle, I could stop anywhere. Also, taking it at bicycle speed over four days would give me plenty of time to linger.

In reality, I was so focused on the riding that I rode right by some things I wanted to stop and see, unaware that I was passing them. Still, I managed to see many things I wanted.

In eastern Indiana, between Cambridge City and Knightstown lie the three small towns of Dublin, Lewisville, and Dunreith. All three are quite small, but all of them offer something to see.

Dublin is a short distance west of Cambridge City, just beyond the Huddleston Farmhouse. You’ll find this pair of 1800s brick buildings on the town’s eastern edge.

Dublin, IN

I wonder the recent history of this building. My read on it is that it really was J. Burney’s Carriage Shop back in the day, but people have repainted the sign in recent years to keep the memory alive.

Dublin, IN

Closer to the heart of Dublin stands this building, which currently houses an antique store. You can shop for antiques all up and down US 40 in this part of Indiana, although most of the shops are in Cambridge City and Centerville.

Dublin, IN

Lewisville is about 8 miles down the road, and you have to pass through Straughn to get there. But I didn’t stop in Straughn because it’s a bunch of houses and a post office. Lewisville has a small downtown, anchored by this row of buildings.

Lewisville

This is by far the best cared-for building at Lewisville’s main intersection. It appears to be in use as essentially the Lewisville town hall.

Lewisville

Across the street was this little store, which advertises “Harold’s hamburgers.” I wish now I’d gone in to try one.

Lewisville

This is the westbound view down US 40 from in front of the general store.

Lewisville

Dunreith is about 4½ miles down the road from Lewisville. There isn’t much to it.

Dunreith, IN

Dunreith has seen happier times, for sure.

Dunreith, IN

A couple blocks off the National Road stands the Flamingo Motel, an old-time motor court that still operates. This is the only hotel near the road between Richmond and greater Indianpolis, so I stayed here on my bicycle tour.

Flamingo Motel

The room was clean and the attached restaurant offered good diner fare. The restaurant had closed early the afternoon I arrived, which was going to be a problem for me as there are no other restaurants nearby. The owner of the hotel and restaurant took pity on me and made me a cheeseburger and fries.

Flamingo Motel

Here’s my bike in front of my room. My photos inside the room didn’t turn out great so I’ll just tell you that it was small inside and dominated by the bed. The floor was tiled and the small bathroom was spartan. But it was big enough for me and the bike, and the bed was comfortable.

Flamingo Motel

Dunreith is where a four-mile original alignment of the National Road begins. It leads directly to Knightstown.

National Road west of Dunreith

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

A canal in Cambridge City

Cambridge City

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.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Preservation, Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Then and now: Downtown Centerville

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.

Centerville IOOF
Centerville

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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