Road Trips

Photograph it now

I’ve been driving and photographing the old roads for long enough now that some of my photographs qualify as “then” images versus what the same places look like now.

On the National Road near Norwich, Ohio, stands Baker’s Motel. When I drove by in 2011, it looked like this, with its interesting sign:

Baker's Motel

Here’s a closer look at that sign:

Baker's Motel

Sadly, this sign has been altered. It was damaged in about 2012 according to the Roadside Architecture site. It remained damaged until about 2017, when the top was lopped off and the arrow and letterboard were covered with plastic panels. It looks a little strange, but it does the job.

©2021 Google

Sometimes the built environment changes suddenly, sometimes it decays slowly. But it changes, and the only records we have of how it once was, is our photographs. You can’t go back and photograph something after it’s changed — do it now.

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Tall angular building

Tall angular building
Canon PowerShot S95
2016

I’ve made a lot of photographs this year, but few that please me, or that I think are good.

I’ve been doing a lot of camera therapy this year. It has felt good to make photographs, or it did until recently. The disappointment I’ve experienced with my compositions is now greater than the pleasure I feel when I press the shutter button.

I’ve been making photographs while I’ve been doing other things, mostly taking bike rides or walks to help me lose these 15 stubborn pandemic pounds. I’m not out primarily to make photographs; I’m sneaking photography in along the way.

I’m also bored of my subjects. I’ve shot them all a hundred times now.

It’s possible to make great photographs while doing other things. I made this one in Manhattan while there with Margaret in 2016. We made photographs as we walked to wherever we were going. But Manhattan was largely new to me, and exciting.

I think I need to make some photo walks for their own sake, at places that are new and exciting to me.

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Photography

single frame: Tall angular building

Looking up at a building in NYC.

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History, Road Trips

Whispering Winds on the Brookville Road

Some years ago I photographed this old house on Brookville Road, US 52, in southeast Indianapolis.

House overlooking abandoned Brookville Road

I was with my buddy Sherrel, and we were on our way back from The Kopper Kettle restaurant on our Indiana Fried Chicken Tour. What we didn’t know is that for many years, this house was also a family restaurant that served fried-chicken dinners.

We stopped here because I saw an abandoned segment of the old highway, and because I’m a roadgeek I wanted to photograph it. This photograph is westbound. The photo of the house above is from about the same place, but I was facing the other way.

Abandoned Brookville Road

This house used to be the Whispering Winds restaurant. I didn’t know that until someone found information on my site about Brookville Road, and emailed me to ask if I knew anything about the Whispering Winds restaurant. She ate there many times while it was open, and wondered if the house still stood. I did a little research and found this photograph on a Facebook group. The poster said that the people in the photo were her grandparents and aunt, and they owned and operated the restaurant.

The house was built by Andrew Morehouse, although I’m unable to find exactly when. Morehouse’s family was said to live here for many years, and his wife died in 1864, which leads me to think the house predates that. Indiana University Library posted online a newspaper article telling some of this house’s story here.

Brookville Road is a historic road from Indiana’s early days. It connects Indianapolis to the town of Brookville, which is near Cincinnati. A historic marker is posted at this abandoned alignment that tells the road’s story in thumbnail.

Abandoned Brookville Road
Abandoned Brookville Road

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New old-style barn

New old barn
Canon PowerShot S95
2021

I took a 25-mile bike ride recently. I’m toying with doing a multi-day bike tour late this summer, and I need to both train for it, and also see what it’s like to take long rides on a 35-year-old bike as a 53-year-old man. I discovered that the wide, springy seat on my Schwinn is comfortable on a long ride. I also discovered that my lower back starts to ache at about mile 20. I’m going to see if raising my handlebars helps with that.

My route took me up the Michigan Road for about 4½ miles. Here the road is US 421 and therefore a fairly busy highway. The tour I am considering will be all along a highway, so I want to build familiarity with riding on them.

I slipped my Canon PowerShot S95 into the little bag that hangs off my seat. I have passed this barn a number of times while driving by, but never really studied it before. Doesn’t it look like a new barn built in an old style? I didn’t photograph this barn as part of my 2008 survey of the Michigan Road, but Google did for Street View. Have a look here. It looks like this is an old barn with a new skin. I don’t know anything about barn preservation but this seems like a cool way to go about it to me.

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Photography

single frame: New old barn

A new barn on an old road.

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Road Trips

Michigan Road historic marker in Boone County, Indiana

Not long ago I shared photos of the new historic marker on the Michigan Road at Sycamore Row. It’s one of several historic markers along the 270-mile route built in the 1830s.

One marker is not far from my home in Boone County. Placed in 1966, it tells the road’s story in thumbnail.

Michigan Road marker

This marker received a restoration since I first photographed it in 2008. The Indiana Historical Bureau, which manages these markers statewide, seeks volunteers to repaint faded markers. This one found its volunteer somewhere along the way.

Historical marker

This marker stands on the west side of the road, at Valley Meadow Road, which is north of E CR 550 S and south of E CR 500 S in Boone County.

Michigan Road marker

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Just arrived at the club

Just arrived at the club
Canon PowerShot S95
2015

The Columbia Club is the best-known private club in Indianapolis. It is arguably the most visible, as well, given its prime location on Monument Circle in the heart of Downtown.

Its current building was completed in 1925. Designed in the Tudor style, it features a gothic arch over its entrance.

Margaret and I stayed here once, in early 2020, when her company held their annual party there. (The company’s owners are members.) I shared photos from that visit here.

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Photography, Preservation

single frame: Just arrived at the club

A photo of the Columbia Club in Indianapolis.

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