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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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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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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Leeper Park bridge

Leeper Park bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2008

My hometown of South Bend, Indiana, has many lovely bridges. This one, built in 1914, carries Michigan Street, the city’s main street, over the St. Joseph River. That road was US 31 for many years.

This bridge borders beautiful Leeper Park, which is a historic landmark. My mother grew up in the well-to-do neighborhood behind the park to the southwest and spent many hours here as a girl.

The lights on the bridge are replicas of the lights installed when the bridge was new, and were added sometime in the last 20 years. The original lights were removed before I was born. During the years I grew up in South Bend, the bridge had no lights.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Leeper Park bridge

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Steel truss bridge, Mill Creek

Steel truss bridge on State Road 42
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2008

This week: ten posts where I look back at lovely scenes from long-ago road trips.

We begin with my 2008 trip along Indiana’s State Road 42, which extends from just southwest of Indianapolis at Mooresville west to the edge of Terre Haute. It’s a narrow highway with several hard turns, making it kind of annoying to drive end to end. But nobody does that, as I-70 and US 40 parallel it nearby and they’re both straight four-lane highways. SR 42 primarily provides local access among the small towns that lie along it.

Two steel truss bridges remain on this highway, one over Eel Creek in Clay County and this one, built in 1940 over Mill Creek in Putnam County. Both, I hear, have been rehabilitated and are now painted light blue. I love to hear that any old truss bridge still serving on a highway has been rehabilitated. I also rather like the patina the bridge had earned in this photo. Still, now I want to make another SR 42 trip to see them.

That’s my little red Toyota Matrix parked at the roadside, the one I wrecked on a road trip the next year. My various road-trip cars (this Matrix, the blue Matrix that replaced it after it was totaled, and my Ford Focus) appear in my road-trip photos all the time.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Steel truss bridge on State Road 42

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Photography, Road Trips

Ten years ago on the Michigan Road

It was ten years ago this summer that I surveyed the entire Michigan Road, a project that contributed directly to a later project I co-led to have the road named a Historic Byway in Indiana. My wife and I wanted to re-survey the entire road this summer to document it as it is now. Given all that’s happened this year, we have yet to start. Other priorities continue to fill our summer. We will be fortunate to drive one or two segments of it this year. Perhaps we can finish it next year.

I drove the road to South Bend last Wednesday for a Historic Michigan Road Association board meeting. I noticed how much has changed just on that section of the road in ten years. It led me to think about changes I’ve noticed as I’ve driven other sections of the road over the years. I’m itching to start the new survey!

I made a quick pass through my 2008 photos and selected ten that pleased me as photographs. I was a beginning photographer then. Have a look.

NB Michigan Road

Madison, near the Michigan Road’s southern end.

Fairmount House

The Fairmount House, Madison.

Stone bridge, Michigan Road

Stone bridge, Ripley County.

Michigan Road, Decatur County, Indiana

A curvy section of road in Decatur County.

Dodge in Pleasant View

Old Dodge parked just off the road, Shelby County.

Waterman Hardware in Five Points

Waterman Hardware, one of Indianapolis’s oldest businesses.

Dunkin' Donuts

Brand new Dunkin’ Donuts preparing to open — it has since closed — Indianapolis.

Bar-B-Q Heaven

Bar-B-Q Heaven, Indianapolis.

1884 building

1884 building, Plymouth.

Approaching South Bend

Approaching South Bend. The Michigan Road is no longer US 31 here; a new-terrain US 31 was built nearby.

Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom

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