The beginning of the Michigan Road

The beginning of the Michigan Road
Canon PowerShot S95
2018

When I surveyed the Michigan Road end to end in 2008, I failed to photograph this marker at the road’s beginning. The Daughters of the American Revolution placed it in 1916, on the occasion of Indiana’s centennial.

Margaret and I have made our first trip on our re-survey of the road. We did not fail to photograph the marker this time!

Sadly, no Michigan Road Historic Byway wayfinding signs were present. One should stand near this rock with a “Begin” sign under it, and another should stand across the street with an “End” sign under it. They have gone missing.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: The beginning of the Michigan Road

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1859 General Dean Suspension Bridge

1859 General Dean Suspension Bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2009

You don’t expect to come upon a suspension bridge over a river in middle America. But nevertheless, here this one is.

It’s in Carlyle, Illinois, about 50 miles east of St. Louis. It’s a block north of US 50 on Carlyle’s east side. It carried vehicular traffic through sometime during the 1930s. I wouldn’t be surprised if this bridge was on US 50’s original alignment here.

Today, it’s a pedestrian bridge.

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Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: 1859 General Dean Suspension Bridge

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Abandoned, never used US 50 bridge

Abandoned, never used bridge
Kodak Z730 Zoom
2009

Here’s my friend Michael standing on the railing of a bridge built to carry US 50 that was never used.

Three such bridges were built, actually. A new section of US 50 was built from Carlyle, Illinois, west for about 22 miles. It was intended to carry four lanes of traffic, divided, but only two lanes were built along most of this span. However, twin bridges were built everywhere US 50 crossed a stream. In each case, only the northern bridge of each pair has ever carried traffic. The southern bridge was simply left to molder.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Abandoned, never used bridge

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At Sycamore Row

At Sycamore Row
Canon FT QL, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FL
Fujicolor 200
2013

Sycamore Row is an abandoned segment of the Michigan Road about nine miles south of Logansport. The old roadbed is closely bordered on each side by sycamore trees that, legend says, grew from green sycamore logs placed here in the road’s early days as a form of hard surfacing.

I don’t remember now why I was in South Bend and left for home first thing in the morning. I do remember that it was a weekday morning and I’d be going directly to work.

I was testing a Canon FT QL camera and it was with me in the car. When I reached the sycamores, the sun had not yet burned off all of morning’s mist. I thought I might find some good photographic subjects here. This one turned out not to be too bad, of one sycamore overlooking a farm field.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: At Sycamore Row

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Ellicott City, MD

Ellicott City
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2009

Two “once in a thousand years” floods have hit Ellicott City, Maryland since 2016. Business owners along its historic main street, the old National Road, had just rebuilt from the last flood when another one in May set them all the way back again. News reports showed the first story of all of these buildings under water.

When my sons and I visited in 2009, we explored this bridge a little and found markings on its piers showing the levels of many previous floods. This year’s flood was the 15th catastrophic flood recorded since the town’s founding in 1766. Ellicott City, being in a valley near a few rivers, is simply flood prone. Ten inches of rain fell in a few hours the day before last Memorial Day and there was nowhere else for it to go.

I want to drive Maryland’s section of the National Road again one day. I hope there’s something left of Ellicott City when I do.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Ellicott City

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Hanging Rock Hill

Hanging Rock Hill
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2008

As you look out across Indiana, the primary feature is the horizon. This is a pretty flat state.

Except in the southernmost counties. The Ice Age’s glaciers stopped short of them and therefore did not flatten them. There are quite some hills down there.

You’ll find a few rock formations in southern Indiana. Like this one, Hanging Rock Hill, on State Road 7 in the Ohio River town of Madison. My little red car in the photo gives a good sense of this outcropping’s scale.

Much of the year water falls down the face of the rock, but on this visit a hot, dry spell had dried up the water.

There are old photographs of Hanging Rock Hill that show the road running under it! Those photographs show a steep dropoff at road’s edge, suggesting that constructing the modern highway meant considerably building out this hill.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Hanging Rock Hill

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