Preservation, Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Grand old houses along Indiana’s National Road

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.

Old house, US 40, west of Richmond

This house is across the street and slightly west of the one above.

Old house, US 40, west of Richmond

This house, a former inn, is on the east side of Centerville.

The Mansion House, Centerville

These two old brick houses are in the same block as the house above.

Centerville
Centerville

This large frame house is on the west edge of Centerville.

Centerville

I found this sturdy brick house in East Germantown, in Wayne County.

Brick house, US 40

This incredible beauty is on the east side of Cambridge City.

Cambridge City

This is the Huddleston Farmhouse, which I toured some years ago and blogged about here and here. Those shutters need some maintenance.

Huddleston Farmhouse

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.

Dublin, IN

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.

Dublin, IN

This old house is at the main crossroads in Lewisville.

Lewisville

You’ll find this house on the original National Road alignment west of Dunreith.

National Road 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.

Knightstown

This beauty is also in Knightstown.

Knightstown

As is this one.

Knightstown

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.

Old house, Hancock County

Many interesting old houses face the road in Greenfield, but this one looks the oldest to me.

Greenfield

There’s a dot on the National Road map called Philadelphia, and you’ll find this house there.

Old house, US 40

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.

Irvington on old US 40

We’re now on the west side Indiana’s National Road, in Plainfield.

Old house, Plainfield

This one is also in Plainfield.

Old house Plainfield IN

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.

Old house on US 40 W of Plainfield

This is Rising Hall, right on the Hendricks/Putnam County line. I will likely write a longer post about this house alone.

Rising Hall on US 40

This house stands alone on the road in Putnam County.

Old house on US 40, Putnam Co.

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.

The McKinley House

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.

Old house on SR 340

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!

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Visiting Richmond, on the National Road in Indiana

I’ve documented Richmond before, on a 2009 trip by car down the National Road in eastern Indiana. Read about it here.

As you head west on the National Road, when you enter Indiana you immediately meet Richmond. Since the 1940s, the National Road and US 40 have been a four-lane highway here.

WB US 40, Richmond

After you push through the suburban-style strip malls, you come to Glen Miller Park. Named for Colonel John Ford Miller rather than the famous big-band leader, it’s been a Richmond city park since 1885. Two elements of the 185-acre park face the National Road: the sprawling Richmond Rose Garden and Indiana’s Madonna of the Trail statue.

Richmond Rose Garden on US 40
Madonna of the Trail, US 40, Richmond

At Glen Miller Park, the National Road passes through a section of large older homes. Most of them are well cared for, but a few are not.

Old houses on US 40, Richmond
Richmond

As US 40 heads toward downtown Richmond, it diverges from the original National Road route for several blocks. Westbound it follows Main Street to 16th Street, then 16th north to N. A Street, then west to N. 3rd Street, then south to S. A Street. Eastbound, it follows S. A Street to S. 11th Street, then 11th north to Main Street, then Main Street east. The National Road follows Main Street westbound all the way across the White River, where it then turns south on 1st Street, and then west on National Road West.

Imagery ©2021 IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, US Geological Survey, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2021 Google.

Downtown Richmond looks typical for a downtown of this size in Indiana. For many years, the National Road here was closed to traffic as the area was a pedestrian mall. Today, the road in the heart of downtown offers one narrow lane in each direction for vehicles.

Downtown Richmond, National Road
Downtown Richmond, National Road

On a National Road trip I made in 2015, I discovered Veach’s, a family-owned toy store in downtown Richmond. Sadly, it closed after 79 years in 2017. Here are photos before and after.

Downtown Richmond
Downtown Richmond, National Road

After coming through downtown, the National Road passes by the imposing Wayne County Courthouse.

Downtown Richmond, National Road

The National Road then crosses the White River on a grand bridge completed in 1920. Before this bridge was built, a steel bridge crossed the road here. Before that, the road curved south here and crossed the river over a large wooden covered bridge. See a photograph here.

Bridge, National Road, Richmond

Just beyond the bridge, the National Road turns left onto 1st Street and then right onto National Road West. On its way out of town, the road passes by Earlham College. In the late 1980s I went to engineering school at Rose-Hulman, at the other end of Indiana’s portion of the National Road in Terre Haute. We were in the same sports conference as Earlham then, and played them often. They usually beat us in every sport.

Earlham College entrance, US 40, Richmond

Shortly past Earlham, the road exits Richmond proper and takes on a country feel.

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Outdoor seating at Auberge

Outside seating at Auberge
Apple iPhone 12 mini
2021

Auberge is a French restaurant on Zionsville’s Main Street. Margaret and I had dinner here not long ago, sitting on the patio out front. Margaret was eaten alive by mosquitoes, unfortunately.

On another evening, Auberge wasn’t busy and their patio was empty. The light and scene were lovely, so I captured it on my iPhone.

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Photography

single frame: Outside seating at Auberge

A look at a restaurant’s patio in lovely light.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Woodside Drive, a former US 40 alignment in Richmond, Indiana

For years I’ve wondered about Woodside Drive, a curved street on the far east side of Richmond, Indiana less than a mile west of the Ohio state line. It begins and ends at US 40, which sure makes it look like an old alignment.

Image ©2021 IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, State of Ohio/OSIP, US Geological Survey, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2021 Google.

Side note: the road at lower left marked “Old National Rd E” is the Dayton Cutoff, which I documented here.

Woodside Drive was never the National Road. The National Road followed a couple different routings from the Ohio line to about this point. Reader Rush Rox left several comments on this post where he did some research into these routings. That spurred me to do a little research of my own. I found an 1856 map of Wayne County here that shows the National Road running straight through, as US 40 does today. Note the Dayton Cutoff at lower right.

Excerpt from Map of Wayne County, Indiana from government surveys and the most authentic sources by Condit & Wright, Land & Greneral Agents ; Middleton, Wallace & Co. Lithogrs., 1856. Courtesy University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Library (here)

Rush Rox supplied the rest of the maps in this post. By 1876, for reasons I haven’t been able to uncover, the National Road’s route was changed here to cross the railroad tracks after a left turn, and follow a road down to the Dayton Cutoff. This might be why that road is signed as Old National Road today.

Excerpt from Map of Wayne County. (Published by Baskin, Forster & Co. Lakeside Building Chicago, 1876. Engraved & Printed by Chas. Shober & Co. Props. of Chicago Lithographing Co.). Courtesy the David Rumsey Collection (here)

This 1910 map of postal routes suggests that the National Road now followed a road east of the tracks to reach the Dayton Cutoff. I’m not an expert in postal maps; I always wonder if they omit roads not germane to postal routes.

Map of Wayne County, Indiana showing rural delivery service, U.S. Post Office Dept. (Washington D.C.), 1910. Courtesy the Indiana State Library (here)

In 1936, the Indiana Highway Survey Commission published a map that shows the Woodside Drive alignment:

Excerpt from Map of Wayne County. Cultural, Indiana Highway Survey Commission, 1936. Courtesy the Indiana State Library (here)

Rush Rox speculates that Woodside Drive was probably built to hug a streetcar or Interurban line. The wide gap between the road and the utility poles on the north side of the road strongly suggest he is right. (Update: commenter TScheidler discovered that it followed the Dayton & Western Traction line that was extended to Richmond in 1903.

Image ©2021 IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, State of Ohio/OSIP, US Geological Survey, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2021 Google.

I bicycled the length of Woodside Drive on my Ride Across Indiana. Here’s where it begins on its east end.

Woodside Drive, Richmond

This road has a width typical of 1920s-1930s Indiana highways.

Woodside Drive

There’s a small concrete-arch bridge on this road, and it looks very typical of bridges the state built on its highways in these years. It looks a little rough.

Bridge on Woodside Drive
Bridge on Woodside Drive

Could the rusty strips of steel be old-style guardrails? When you see old infrastructure like this, it suggests that the road ceased to be a state-maintained highway before more modern infrastructure could replace it as part of regular maintenance. As I found and documented in this post, the four-lane US 40 was built in the 1940s here. Woodside Drive probably served as US 40 for less than 20 years.

Bridge on Woodside Drive

According to the last recorded inspection, this bridge is “somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is.” The data I’m able to find claims that this bridge was built in 1950, which I doubt severely; it looks much more like 1930s to me based on its design.

Bridge on Woodside Drive

Earlier this year, a contract was awarded to replace this bridge. I’m glad I happened by before demolition began.

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Ride Across Indiana

Ride Across Indiana: 150 miles and done

On Day 4, I made it as far as Terre Haute, but declared the trip over about 7 miles short of the Illinois line due to rain.

On an old alignment of US 40 near Reelsville.

Rain at least threatened all day. As the day continued, it stopped threatening and started raining. The rain really picked up as I worked my way through Brazil and was quite heavy when I reached Terre Haute. Not only were my brakes ineffective, but my handlebar grips were too slippery to hold.

But I declare victory anyway. I still rode 150 miles, give or take, in four days.

The McKinley House near Harmony.

I deeply enjoyed riding the old concrete alignments of US 40 in Putnam County and seeing the old homes and barns all along the route. Despite the rain I had good energy and spirits.

Sonka’s, a Terre Haute institution.

In Terre Haute I rode to my old friend Michael’s. Margaret came along to get me and Michael, his wife Merrie, Margaret, and I went out for dinner and drinks at a favorite place from the years I lived in Terre Haute. Then we headed home.

I’ll have more to tell about this trip in posts to come, after I’ve had some time to process the photographs and process my thoughts and feelings.

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Ride Across Indiana

Ride Across Indiana: Light winds and flat roads

Sunny skies and light winds characterized my second day. I encountered few hills and only minor issues with the bike. All in all, it was a pleasant, if uneventful, day.

I began by riding an original alignment that begins in Dunreith, where I overnighted. Except for the occasional dog that barked at this stranger rolling by, this was the most peaceful time of my day.

Soon I reached Knightstown, which was surprisingly choked with traffic. There is construction on nearby I-70; perhaps some traffic bailed off onto the older highway. Beyond Knightstown the highway offered few hills but many typical Indiana scenes.

Greenfield isn’t too far down the road and I reached it at about noon, so I stopped on the courthouse square for lunch. Then I pressed on. Along the way I stopped a couple times to adjust some things on the bike for smooth operation.

When I reached Cumberland, a small town on the border with Indianapolis, I took a detour. I wasn’t excited about heavy traffic amid scenery of strip malls, so I rode south a quarter mile or so to the Pennsy Trail, a rail trail on the bed of the former Pennsylvania Railroad. I rode it all the way to the Irvington neighborhood in Indianapolis, where I rode back up to the National Road and followed it all the way to my Airbnb Downtown. West of Irvington the neighborhood isn’t the greatest, so I didn’t stop for photos.

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