Preservation, Road Trips

Kirklin revitalized, on the Michigan Road in Indiana

When I surveyed the Michigan Road in 2008, I felt bad for little Kirklin, a town about 45 minutes north of Indianapolis. Except for its lovely Carnegie library, it was all but dead. Its run-down buildings, mostly vacant, said that Kirklin’s best days were long past.

A page on my old site shows Kirklin as it was in 2008, plus some postcard images of it during its early-20th-century heyday. Click here to see.

A couple antiques dealers operated out of dilapidated storefronts. As I walked up and down Kirklin’s portion of the Michigan Road, my camera in one hand and my two dogs attached via leash to the other, they came out and accosted me. “Why are you photographing our town?”

When I explained about the Michigan Road and my quest to photograph it end to end, their tones softened. “We sure wish we could get more people to make the short drive up here from Indy to visit our shops,” they lamented. “It would make all the difference to our little town.”

Kirklin was in a catch-22: there wasn’t enough to do there to make the drive worth it, but without people willing to make the drive it wasn’t worth adding anything more to do.

And so I’m puzzled, as Kirklin has renovated most of its buildings and added a number of shops. Most of those shops deal in antiques and knick-knacks, but it’s absolutely enough to make it worth the drive from Indy. My wife and I spent a couple pleasant hours browsing here. We met several of the shop owners, who engaged us in very pleasant conversation. We even bought a few things.

Here, have a look at Kirklin today.


It would be lovely if Michigantown and Burlington, two neighboring Michigan Road towns directly north, could find this same level of revitalization. It would make a lovely “antique alley,” a one-tank trip and a very pleasant day. Travelers could start in Logansport and end for dinner in northwest Indianapolis, or start in Indianapolis and take their meal in Logansport. 

I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.

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Strange things spotted in antique stores

I attended a conference about scenic byways a couple weeks ago with my co-founder in the Historic Michigan Road Association. The conference was on the National Road in Cambridge City and Richmond here in Indiana. I got to really luxuriate in the National Road in eastern Indiana! I’ll share lots of photos and stories in posts to come.

But one afternoon during the conference he and I hooky so we could visit the many antique stores along US 40 across Wayne County. We found some unusual things and I thought they’d be fun to share.

This is an actual box of fuse plugs. The slogan on it makes it look more like a Wacky Package or a parody from MAD Magazine.


One shop had lots of old drug boxes and bottles. Apparently a medication called Alcoban is still made. Its active ingredient is disulfiram, which causes you to become physically ill when you drink.


You know you’ve reached middle age when toys from your childhood start showing up in antique stores.


I guess an old teacup isn’t a strange thing to find in an antique store, but I like this photograph so here it is anyway. I love a beautiful teacup. If I could, I’d rescue every lost teacup I find and bring it home. But I don’t drink very much tea, and storage would soon become a problem.


But I promised strange things, so here you go: the strangest, creepiest thing I saw in the antique shops.

Creepy heads