Brick National Road

Harris Paver
Canon PowerShot S95
2011

If you ever find yourself on a brick street, look at the bricks. You might find some stamped or embossed with the company that made them.

I made this photo near Blaine, Ohio, on the National Road. A bridge dating to the 1830s still stands, closed to traffic. The road leading to and away from it is brick, laid probably in the 1910s or 1920s.

The W.B. Harris and Brothers Paving Brick Co., of Zanesville, Ohio, produced bricks from 1897 to 1929. Zanesville is about 70 miles west of Blaine. It was common for bricks to be produced near where they were used, I presume because they were heavy and challenging to transport.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Harris Paver

A paver brick stamped by its maker, on the National Road in Ohio.

Image
Main Street, South Bend

Main Street, South Bend
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2009

South Bend’s Main Street isn’t the city’s main street. Michigan Street is, one block to the east.

One block of Main Street is paved in brick. I suppose many other blocks were, too, but they were paved over with asphalt at some time.

My brother had an apartment on this block back in the 1990s. Memorial Hospital, which you see in the distance in this photo, was buying out all of the other property owners on this block so they could raze the houses and pave a parking lot. Rick’s landlord, who lived upstairs in the two-story house, would have none of it. He made the hospital wait until he died to get his property. That was long after Rick moved away.

I don’t remember now whether the house still stood when I made this photo, but I remember a time when it and one other house were all that still stood on this block.

Meanwhile, the brick street remains.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Main Street, South Bend

The one block of Main Street still paved in bricks in South Bend, Indiana.

Image
Road Trips

1925 pony truss bridge on Old Indiana State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway

Let’s return to my 2007 trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Windows Live Local map, 2007

Not a quarter mile south of the end of the Martinsville segment, the next segment of SR 37’s old alignment appeared.

This segment began quietly among a field of yellow-flowered weeds. The road seemed unusually narrow. I wondered if it widened when it met the original SR 37 roadway.

Beyond the curve, the road didn’t widen. The road lacked the two-foot “extensions” on either side I had seen since Johnson County.

Old SR 37

Shortly I came upon this wonderful old bridge. This three-span pony truss bridge was built in 1925.

Pony truss bridge

I love this bridge, and have returned to it several times since 2007. Here’s a photo I made of it in 2012.

Pony trusses

The posted 3-ton limit was a big clue that this old bridge was not as strong as it once was.

Pony trusses

Sadly, in 2015 this bridge failed an inspection and was closed. Here’s a photo from the last time I visited it, in 2017. I wrote about that visit here.

Abandoned bridge on Old SR 37

The I-69 plans use a lot of the old SR 37 alignments as frontage roads, but the plans don’t make clear what will happen here. I’m not optimistic about this bridge’s chances for survival.

Let’s return to 2007 now. It seems like this segment, which is about a mile long, just provides access to a couple neighborhoods to the east. The narrow pavement along this segment was smooth and even but unstriped. Soon I reached the end. Most segments of old alignments that end this way clearly complete a line with the current road or pick up on the other side of the road, at least in my experience, but that was not true with either end of this segment.

Old SR 37

Next: A stretch of early-1920s concrete pavement in Morgan County.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Cushing St.

Cushing Street
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2008

Today I begin a “single frame” series on brick streets and highways. As bicycles and automobiles created a thirst for hard-surfaced “good roads” in the early 20th century, brick was one of the surfaces tried. The brick era ended by about 1930; asphalt and, to a far lesser extent, concrete won the contest. Except for some modern brick streets built largely for aesthetic reasons, when you find a brick road, it is 90+ years old.

My hometown of South Bend has a large number of brick streets in its core. The main roads were all paved in asphalt decades ago, often right over the original brick. You’ll still find brick only on the side streets.

My mom grew up on one of South Bend’s brick streets, in a large house just north of downtown. My brother had an apartment for a while on the one block of Main St. that’s still brick.

As a kid, I didn’t enjoy riding on the brick streets. They rumbled the car so! I don’t mind them at all today. What I’ve found as I’ve explored the midwest’s old roads is that South Bend’s brick streets are especially rumbly. Some of the brick roads I’ve driven on are as smooth as concrete or asphalt.

This is Cushing St., on South Bend’s northwest side. I made this photo from its intersection with Lincolnway West — the old Lincoln Highway, which in South Bend was routed along the old Michigan Road.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Cushing Street

A brick street in South Bend, Indiana.

Image
Road Trips

Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway in Martinsville, Indiana

Let’s return to my 2007 trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Windows Live Local map, 2007

My old maps show that State Road 37 used to go through Martinsville. My maps lack enough detail to show the exact route, so I made some guesses.

But I do know where the original alignment breaks off from the old on its way south into Martinsville. The map shows it. Notice on the satellite image that a ridge appears to flow back from Morgan St. all the way to current SR 37 at Teeters Road, which has all the earmarks of an old alignment. Morgan St. goes straight into downtown Martinsville.

Here’s the turnoff from State Road 37 onto Morgan Road, where it then curves to follow the original State Road 37 path.

To Old SR 37

Where Morgan St. finished curving, I looked to the north and was faced with a church’s parking lot. I drove in and found this short segment of road that looked an awful lot like what I had been seeing as Old SR 37 everywhere else up to now. The utility poles running along the road were another clue.

Abandoned Old SR 37

Morgan St. is wide for a segment of Old SR 37. Surprisingly, it lacked striping. This shot is northbound from just south of the church.

Old SR 37
Windows Live Local map, 2007

Morgan St. does not naturally flow back into State Road 37; actually, it ends at State Road 39 on Martinsville’s western edge. But the Martinsville street map showed that if I turned left at Main Street and then veered right at Morton Avenue, I would merge right into current State Road 37 on Martinsville’s southwest side. The map even had this route highlighted, suggesting that it is a major route. I decided it was the likely route for SR 37 and so I drove it.

This photo shows where Morgan St. intersects Main St. at the town square. I drove in from the photograph’s left on Morgan St, turned left at the intersection, and drove out of the photo on the right down Main St.

Old SR 37 in Martinsville
Windows Live Local map, 2007

Where Morton St. merged into State Road 37 wasn’t too remarkable. Because there was a fair amount of traffic, I decided to play it safe. I pulled onto the shoulder and snapped a photo of this merge through my windshield.

Merging with SR 37

Next: A three-span pony truss bridge on an old alignment in southern Morgan County.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Road Trips

Short original segment of State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway north of Martinsville, Indiana

Let’s return to my 2007 road trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Windows Live Local map, 2007

After the police chased me off the abandoned bridge, I shook off a shaky feeling and got back on the road. The next segment of the original State Road 37 alignment came about two miles later. It’s still in Morgan County, southwest of a dot on the map called Adams, just south of Egbert Road. Here’s the map of its northern end.

Notice that there’s no sign of where Old SR 37 went to the north of where the access road meets it. I found no sign when I stood in that curve, either. This photo shows the access road. The curve to Old SR 37 begins at the Marathon station.

To Old SR 37

I revisited this old alignment in 2017 and made this photo of the Marathon station. The project in 2020 to convert SR 37 to I-69 claimed this mom-and-pop business; the building is gone.

Country Marathon
Windows Live Local map, 2007

I wonder how many other businesses I-69 is causing to close permanently. I support the I-69 project overall. It stretches all the way to Evansville, finally giving that city a direct Interstate link to Indianapolis. I-69 already links Indiana to the Canadian border north of Detroit. When it is complete it will link Indiana to the Mexican border in Texas.

But back to 2007 and this road trip. There wasn’t much to this segment, which lasted 1.2 miles. It ended in a curve that met current SR 37. The original road continued beyond the curve. Here’s what it looked like at the curve.

Old SR 37

Unlike at the abandoned portion where the police chased me away, this time the old road was clearly and cleverly marked as private property. I stayed out.

Do you think they wanted me to stay out?

Next: The original alignment of State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway through Martinsville.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!

Standard