Road Trips

On the Dandy Trail in Indianapolis: Abandoned bridge in what is now Eagle Creek Park

Along what was the Dandy Trail in what is now Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, you will find an abandoned bridge. It’s hard to reach on foot. Jayson Rigsby recently contacted me to say he made photographs of it on a recent kayaking trip along Eagle Creek.

The Dandy Trail was a 1920s pleasure-drive loop in what was then the country surrounding Indianapolis. I’ve written many times about the Dandy Trail and have driven about half of it; read all about it here. Since the Dandy Trail’s heyday, Indianapolis expanded greatly, and now most of the land around the old Dandy Trail has been heavily developed.

Eagle Creek cuts across northwest Indianapolis and intersects the Dandy Trail near where the town of Traders Point used to be. Read Traders Point’s story here. In short, frequent flooding of Eagle Creek in this area led to a flood-control project in 1967 that created Eagle Creek Reservoir, which led to the creation of an enormous city park surrounding it. It also led to the demolition of almost every building in Traders Point, as it was thought the flood-control work would permanently flood the town. That didn’t happen and Traders Point was destroyed in vain.

Here’s an aerial image of Eagle Creek Park. I’ve pointed out the bridge’s location, and have roughly drawn in the now lost portion of the Dandy Trail. The lost road’s north end empties out into what was Traders Point.

2021 aerial image courtesy MapIndy

Zooming in for a closer look, you can clearly see the bridge. It’s at about the vertical center, and a little left of horizontal center.

2021 aerial image courtesy MapIndy

It’s interesting to me that no trace remains of the Dandy Trail as it led to and away from this bridge. Here’s an aerial image from 1956 that shows the bridge and the road.

1956 aerial image courtesy MapIndy

Jayson first made this image of the bridge from the air, from just west of the bridge.

Jayson Rigsby photo

Then he got into his kayak and rowed in for a closer look. This is the north end and west side of the bridge. This bridge appears to have a pony girder truss design. The Central States Bridge Company of Indianapolis specialized in those, so this bridge might be one of theirs.

Jayson Rigsby photo

Here’s a closer look at the north end of the bridge.

Jayson Rigsby photo

This is the west side of the bridge.

Jayson Rigsby photo

I have heard that at some times of the year this bridge is submerged. I’m happy Jayson kayaked out to this bridge and gave me permission to share his photos.

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Road Trips

19th-century granite pavers on Sand Street in Indianapolis

A couple years ago, the late Richard Simpson wrote about what was once a street in Downtown Indianapolis that was, as far as anyone knows, the last place in the city that still shows the granite pavers that were common in the city in the late 19th century. Read its story on Richard’s blog here.

Indianapolis: Sand Street
Southbound Sand Street toward McCarty Street

This is Sand Street. You’ll find it in the southwest corner of Downtown Indianapolis, right by the White River, connecting McCarty Street to Kentucky Avenue. See it on Google Maps here. Since 2009 this street has been private property and is gated closed on either end.

I trespassed — something I almost never do. But when I saw how little of this granite paving remained on Sand Street, I decided that it was important that I document it before it all disappeared. I moved quickly and left no trace that I had been there.

The Indianapolis News shared a photograph of Sand Street as it was in 1979. If you have a subscription to, you can read the article here. But here’s the relevant photo. In 1979, industrial buildings lined Sand Street — but the pavers were still intact. Notice the fan pattern in which they were laid.

These pavers were laid after 1887, as the 1887 Sanborn fire map shows Sand Street following an earlier alignment slightly to the east. The 1898 Sanborn map shows Sand Street on its current alignment. (You can find both of these maps at the MapIndy site, here.) It seems clear to me that the city laid these pavers when they realigned Sand Street. (The maps also show that the city changed the names of a number of streets in this area between those years. I’d love to know why.)

Since then, the street has been almost entirely covered in gravel. I assume the old pavers deteriorated to rough condition, and adding a layer of gravel smoothed the road. I found only three small remaining patches of the granite pavers.

Indianapolis: Sand Street
Indianapolis: Sand Street
Indianapolis: Sand Street

Clearing away the gravel might reveal much more of this granite pavement. I might have been able to dig down with my foot to find more granite pavers, but like I said earlier, I moved quickly and left no trace that I’d been there.

Today, this property is used for paid parking when nearby Lucas Oil Stadium has an event. Sand Street provides entry and exit to the parking.

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Second Presbyterian Church on Kodak Plus-X

After being sure that my Olympus XA’s meter was performing well enough, I shot more film in this delightful little camera. I’ve been itching to shoot some of the Kodak Plus-X I bought not long ago. This stock expired in February of 2000, but was stored frozen. I shot it at box speed, ISO 125.

I had reason to be at the grand, enormous Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis recently. I went early and brought the XA along to photograph this favorite subject.

Second Presbyterian

Usually I stop here, make one straight-on shot of either the whole church or its massive front, and move on. Only one other time have I walked the grounds looking for details to photograph.

Church doors

Second Presbyterian is perhaps best known for hosting the 1990 funeral of Ryan White, a boy who contracted AIDS via blood transfusion at a time when this disease was ill-understood and greatly feared. His fight to attend school in his hometown of Russiaville, about 45 minutes north of here, made the national news and was instrumental in helping our nation understand that AIDS was not just a “gay disease.”

Church door

Over 1,500 people attended White’s funeral, including then-First Lady Barbara Bush, Michael Jackson, and Elton John, who performed two songs. Elton stopped in Indianapolis last month on his farewell tour. During his show, he said that Indianapolis is a “preeminent feature of my life,” because the Ryan White funeral marked a turning point in his life that led to his sobriety.

Gothic windows

Second Presbyterian might look very old, but the main part of the building was completed in 1960. There have been subsequent additions; I’m aware of one cornerstone that says 1967 and another with a date in the 2000s sometime.


I made these photographs in about the middle of April, before most of the trees were budding. One advantage of early-spring photography is that trees don’t obscure my architectural subjects.

Second Presbyterian

You’ll find this church on the far Northside of Indianapolis, on the city’s main north-south street, Meridian Street. It’s just north of 75th Street. It is a commanding presence as you travel north on Meridian.

Second Presbyterian

I developed this film in Rodinal 1+50. My first scans of these negatives on my Plustek Opticfilm 8200i SE scanner were low in contrast and coarsely grained. I explored VueScan’s settings to see if I could improve the scans. I discovered that reducing the brightness a little, and setting VueScan’s grain-reduction setting to Medium, helped me achieve “that Plus-X look.”

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Indianapolis Michigan Road landmark The Pyramids changes hands

The Pyramids is a distinctive office complex on the Far Northwestside of Indianapolis, along the historic Michigan Road. I shared its history here. The Indianapolis Star reports that it has been sold.

The Pyramids

The buyer is Speedway, Indiana, based KennMar, which plans to revitalize the site by upgrading the facade and enhancing interior common areas.

The Pyramids

KennMar believes that this acquisition complements the company’s in-progress development of a site within the same office park that once contained a large hotel with an indoor water park. The site will contain a free-standing Starbucks and a 10,000-square-feet shopping complex that will include a Panera Bread location.

KennMar is doing this at a time when office occupancy is down considerably thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. They are betting that businesses will return to in-person working over the next several years.

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Road Trips

The Michigan Road and the Dixie Highway in northwest Indianapolis

In 2008, I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end, documenting the road and its built environment. Here is an installment of that trip report.

The Michigan Road begins its journey through northwest Indianapolis at Indiana Ave., where West St. becomes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., St.

Indiana Avenue was an important business and cultural center for African Americans as early as 1890. A woman named Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madame C. J. Walker, moved her business of manufacturing hair-care products to Indianapolis in 1910. By 1917, it was the largest black-owned business in the nation. She had started planning the Walker Theatre as a cultural center and home to her manufacturing operations when she died in 1917, and her daughter completed it. It opened in 1927. It faced decline in the 1960s and 1970s, but was restored during the 1980s.

Walker Theatre

It is here where West St. becomes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., St., formerly known as Northwestern Ave.

Northbound at Indiana Ave.

The Ransom Place neighborhood lies between St. Clair St. and 10th St. The area was platted in the late 1860s and, at first, white immigrants moved in, building modest homes. But between 1900 and 1920, the neighborhood’s population became overwhelmingly black, and as such the neighborhood remains best known. The area has benefited from preservation and redevelopment funds going back to 1945.

Ransom Place

I-65 bisected many old northwest Indianapolis neighborhoods, relegating a few of them to ghettos. This Interstate parallels the Michigan Road for a couple miles before pulling away, headed toward Chicago.

The road here is a major artery to and from Downtown, especially via I-65.

At the split

Unfortunately, I-65’s primacy makes staying on the Michigan Road a bit tricky. You have to take a left-lane exit of sorts to stay on the road.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., St.

The aerial image on the left is from 1937. Compare it to the 2008 aerial image on the right. The Michigan Road is highlighted in color; 10th St. runs east-west across the middle of each image. In the 2008 image, the blue line shows the northbound route to stay on the Michigan Road; the yellow line, the southbound route. I-65 wiped out almost everything in the upper-right quadrant, including some of the canal. Notice also how many homes present in 1937 in the Ransom Place neighborhood, which is in the lower-left quadrant, are missing in the 2008 image.

This photo shows Crispus Attucks High School and the elevated train that links the Downtown IU Health hospitals. The cross street was 11th St. until it was recently renamed Oscar Robertson Blvd. after the school’s standout basketball star.

At Oscar Robertson Blvd.

Crispus Attucks High School was built in 1927 amid controversy as it was to be an all-black school, the first in Indiana. Indianapolis’s high schools were otherwise integrated, and many viewed this to be a step backward. But after the school was built, it became a focal point for Indianapolis African-Americans. It was a source of particular pride in 1955 and 1956 when the school’s basketball team, led by Oscar Robertson, won back-to-back state championships, the second year as an undefeated team. Attucks became integrated in 1967. By the 1980s, however, enrollment was in serious decline across the Indianapolis Public Schools system, placing Attucks’ future in question. It ended up being converted to a middle school. In 2006, in partnership with the nearby Indiana University Medical Center, it was converted into a college-preparatory school, grades six through 12, for students interested in becoming medical professionals. This photo shows the school’s entrance.

Attucks High School

North of the high school begins a long corridor of decay and dilapidation, exemplified by the Revival Temple Church’s makeshift sign and peeling paint.

Revival Temple Apostolic Church

Across the street, the 1920 New Baptist Church building has been well cared for. The church is 100 years old in 2008.

New Baptist Church

At 21st St., the road briefly takes on a light-industrial feel. This photo is southbound, showing how the Indianapolis skyline looms. The Michigan Road was once also known here as the Dixie Highway. The Dixie was a network of roads, organized before the US highway system was founded, that connected Chicago and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Miami, Florida. One branch of the Dixie known as the Northern Connector followed the Michigan Road from 21st St. all the way to downtown South Bend.

Southbound at 21st St.

Fall Creek is next, with its bridge. I couldn’t find a safe place to photograph the current bridge. I’m pretty sure this postcard image, which is from about 1900-1920, is of a former bridge at this location.

Watkins Park lies on the northwest corner of 23rd St.

Watkins Park

Across the street from the park, the homes are in poor repair.

Dilapidated house

Bar-B-Q Heaven stands north of 25th St. Its neon sign seems to be lit day and night.

Bar-B-Q Heaven

The Holy Angels Catholic Church was completed in 1903 on the corner of 28th St. It has grown and prospered through all the changes this neighborhood has seen. (Sometime after I made this photo, this church was razed.)

Holy Angels Catholic Church

I-65 crosses the Michigan Road just north of 30th St. Malaise begins slowly to disappear as you drive north from here.

Michigan Road at I-65

Just after driving under the Interstate, Crown Hill Cemetery appears on the right. On this spot since 1864, it is the third largest cemetery in the United States. Many notable Hoosiers are buried here, but none so honored as James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier poet, who died in 1917.

This is Riley’s gravesite. Even though it is right along the Michigan Road, you can’t see the road from here, and you can’t see this spot from the road. For decades, children have dropped change onto this monument. It is regularly collected and donated to the Riley Children’s Foundation which helps support the Riley Hospital for Children.

Riley's rest

Riley is buried at the highest point in Indianapolis. You can see the Downtown skyline from here.

View from the Riley gravesite

38th St. was Indianapolis’s northern boundary for many years. North of this old boundary the road is once again signed Michigan Road. On the northwest corner stands the Indianapolis Museum of Art, on the grounds of Oldfields, the former country estate of J. K. Lilly, Jr., who was an executive at Eli Lilly and Co. and a philanthropist.

IMA entrance

The Michigan Road was privatized during the late 19th century. It was sold to gravel companies, which covered it in gravel and charged to travel along it. One of the toll houses remains.

Toll house

The Michigan Road is four lanes wide in this part of the city.


This old house stands by as the road nears Crooked Creek.

House along the road

I live in the Crooked Creek area, about a mile from where Kessler Blvd. crosses the Michigan Road. Kessler Blvd. is historic, too; designed by, built by, and named for pioneering city planner George Kessler.

This is where the two roads intersect.

Kessler and Michigan

Across Michigan Road from the Starbucks and the Walgreens stands Crooked Creek School. A school has stood on this spot since 1837. Three or four buildings have served here, and the first was a log cabin. This is the entrance to the previous building, which was torn down in 1985 for the school you see behind it. The entrance was originally behind the last of the cars parked in the photo, but was moved to this spot as a memorial. Many years ago, before the Michigan Road became such a busy road in and out of town, the steps at the end of the entrance led to a wide path that led children right to the Michigan Road for their trip home. Today, walking on the Michigan Road here is like taking your life into your hands. Today, you enter the school grounds via a long driveway on Kessler Blvd. But the original path is still there, serving as a driveway to what is now a back entrance. All three of my children have attended Crooked Creek School.

School No. 7 / Crooked Creek Elementary School

This 1840s farmhouse stands across from 64th St. It was for sale when I took this photo.

1840s farmhouse, 64th and Michigan

This home, which stands at about 67th St., was built in 1852 by the Aston family and served as an inn for travelers on the road. It was common then to see farmers driving livestock down the Michigan Road to the markets in Indianapolis, which was at that time a full day away from here. This was a good place to stop before making the final day’s journey.

Aston Inn

Long before Indianapolis assimilated all of Marion County, this was the spot of a small town named Augusta. Its streets cross the Michigan Road perpendicularly, where Indianapolis’s streets cross it at angles. Augusta lies between 71st and 79th Streets.


Unlike most of the rest of Indianapolis, Augusta was built with Michigan Road as its main street. Its side streets cross at right angles, as this map shows.

Augusta, Indiana was founded in 1832 by David Boardman and James Fee, presumably to take advantage of the opportunities the brand-new Michigan Road would provide. In 1834, Boardman and his son built a house in Augusta on the Michigan Road. It still stands, and is one of the oldest homes in the city.

Boardman and son built this house the hard way. They made the bricks from clay they dug and made the timbers from poplar and ash trees they cut down and sawed at a mill on nearby Crooked Creek. Can you imagine how long that must have taken? Some say the house was built on a bluff overlooking the Michigan Road. I think it’s possible that the house was built at the road’s original level, but that the road was lowered, probably during the automobile age, for faster and safer travel. Whichever story is right, the house seems to tower over the road.

The digital library at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis includes this photo of the house in 1976. You’ll notice some changes since 1976. The Michigan Road was widened to four lanes in 1995 or 1996, which removed a stoop and walkway to the front door. Also, the roof has been modified, the chimneys are shorter, window frames are narrower, and the front door is different.

Boardman House de-ivied

Augusta’s best days were few. The railroad came in a couple miles west in the early 1850s. Smelling greater prosperity, most of the town picked up, moved down 71st St. to the railroad, and founded New Augusta. Today, both towns are part of Indianapolis. When you drive through what was Augusta, it’s hard to tell it was ever a town. It seems only to be a few random old houses that inexplicably interrupt a sea of strip malls. But some clues, like this house, remain.

Speaking of strip malls, they dominate the road through the rest of Indianapolis. This northbound photo was taken just south of 86th St.

Approaching 86th St

The Michigan Road is about to run out of Indianapolis. The road just past I-465 in this map is 96th St., the border with Hamilton County.

Here’s where 86th St. crosses the Michigan Road.

86th and Michigan

This animation shows how this intersection has changed over time, going from rural to suburban. The aerial images are from 1937, 1956, 1962, 1979, 1986, 1997, and 2008.

These are The Pyramids. They’re just south of I-465 and east of the road. On a clear day, you can see these from the Riley gravesite. When they were built, they were way out in the sticks, but instantly became a landmark. I heard that the original mirrored glass reflected the sun so badly that it interfered with air traffic, and so new, less-glaring glass was installed. I used to work in an office complex across from the Pyramids, and at certain times of day every office on the east side of the building had to close the blinds against the killer glare. I worked on the second floor of the middle pyramid for about a year (in 1999 and 2000, I think), and I was surprised by how shabby the place was inside.

The Pyramids

From I-465, here’s a northbound shot of the road as it is about to leave Indianapolis. It becomes US 421 again here. The road is routinely this busy here, as it is a major artery between Zionsville and northwest Indianapolis.

Michigan Road at I-465

Next: The Michigan Road in Hamilton and Boone Counties.

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

Road Trips

The Michigan Road and the National Road in Downtown Indianapolis

In 2008, I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end, documenting the road and its built environment. Here is an installment of that trip report.

The Downtown Indianapolis portion of the Michigan Road follows Washington St., which is the old National Road and former US 40, west. Originally, it turned north on Meridian Street, went around the Circle, and proceeded to Ohio Street. It turned west onto Ohio and then northwest on Indiana Avenue. Unfortunately, that portion of Indiana Avenue no longer exists. But when it did, the Michigan Road followed Indiana Avenue to what is now West Street. To stay on the Michigan Road, you veer slightly left onto Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Street, which used to be known as Northwestern Avenue.

Let’s start at the eastern end of this route. A couple blocks before entering the Mile Square, which is the heart of Indianapolis’s Downtown, the road passes under this hulking railroad overpass.

Railroad overpass at College Ave.

I’ve been fascinated by this structure as long as I’ve lived in Indianapolis because it is so imposing. Travel lanes are narrow, as this shot of College Ave. shows.

Railroad overpass at College Ave.

From about East St., Downtown looms. Since 2008, has been reconfigured to add a bicycle trail and Bus Rapid Transit lanes.

Downtown Indianapolis

The City-County Building went up in 1962 and is now the seat of the merged city-county government. Since 2008, the courtyard in front of the City-County Building has been converted into a park.

City-County Building

Indiana’s tallest building, the Chase Tower, is visible behind the City-County Building.

Indiana's tallest building

The Broadbent Building may look brand new, but its skeleton dates back to 1960. Once known as “the zipper building” because of its trapezoidal windows, the facade was removed in 2007 and this facade was put in its place. But what was here before that was a grand and imposing structure made of cut stone called the Vance Block, which was built in 1875 and razed in 1959. This page has photos of the Vance Block, photos of Washington St. in the late 1800s, and even one photo of the zipper building.

The Broadbent Building

Dunkin’ Donuts was preparing to open in this building on the day I took this photograph. The building once housed a Roselyn Bakery, a popular local chain that went out of business some years ago. The V-shaped sign is adapted from the original Roselyn sign. If you drive around Indianapolis, you’ll see plenty of these veed signs next to buildings that house any number of businesses today. Here’s a 1998 photo of this corner from when this building was still Roselyn Bakery. Since 2008, Dunkin’ Donuts closed. This space is now a Five Guys burger joint. Five Guys adapted and kept the big V sign.

Dunkin' Donuts

All is not bright and shiny in Downtown Indianapolis, unfortunately. Like most cities, Indianapolis lived through years of malaise, and much evidence of it remains. Since 2008, much restoration has happened and this block looks a lot better.


Indianapolis did not get modern skyscrapers until the City-County building was built in 1962, making this one of the city’s tallest buildings for many years.


This mural, “The Runners,” is by James McQuiston. It is on the south side of Washington St. just east of Meridian St. This mural was painted over in 2020, after deteriorating badly.

The Runners

The Victoria Centre building, which I understand is being converted into condos.

Victoria Centre

The decaying McOuat building on the left was supposed to become condos a few years ago, but those plans apparently never materialized. Since 2008, the McOuat building was restored; see it here.

Blighted, not blighted

I couldn’t fit the entire 17-story Merchants National Bank building, built in 1909 and now called the Barnes and Thornburg building, into a frame. This building’s first floor houses a Borders bookstore. Since 2008, Borders moved out and a bank moved in.

Borders in the Merchants Bank building

Until the City-County building was built, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, completed in 1901 at 284 feet, was the tallest structure in Indianapolis. The Statue of Liberty is only 15 feet taller! Imagine how, before Indianapolis’s skyscrapers began to be built in earnest in the 1980s, the Monument had to dominate the Indianapolis skyline. Today, the tall buildings block the view, unless you look down Market St. or Meridian St. at it. This photo looks north up Meridian St. to the monument.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

This building was the flagship of H. P. Wasson and Co., an Indianapolis-based department store chain that closed in 1980. It stands on the northwest corner of Washington and Meridian.

Northwest corner, Washington and Meridian

On the southwest corner stands the shell of the L. S. Ayres and Co. building. L.S. Ayres was Indiana’s premier department store for many decades, but consolidation in that industry and decreasing Downtown shopping ended this store’s Downtown days in 1991. Its suburban and out-of-town locations continued for several more years, but today the Ayres name is gone. All the former locations are now Macy’s. Today, this building is part of Circle Centre Mall. Typical of the mall project, the facades of many buildings were kept and incorporated into the mall. Carson Pirie Scott now uses the first three stories of the building.

Circle Centre Mall

Because the original route of the Michigan Road can’t be fully followed from here, I decided to stay on Washington Street all the way to West Street, and then turn north onto West Street. This is ultimately how we routed the Michigan Road Historic Byway.

Looking west down Washington St., all of these facades front Circle Centre Mall. The Indianapolis Artsgarden spans the intersection of Washington and Illinois Streets.

W. Washington St.

Here’s a closer look at the Artsgarden. The new Conrad hotel is next to it. The Conrad was an empty lot most of the years I’ve lived in Indianapolis. In the background is the Capital Center.


Continuing westbound on Washington St., the Indiana Repertory Theatre building was built in 1927 as the Indiana Theater, a movie house in the Paramount Publix chain. It was refitted for IRT’s use in 1980.

Indiana Repertory Theatre

The Indiana Statehouse was completed in 1888 and continues to house Indiana’s executive offices, the State Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court.


Standing quietly in front of the Statehouse is this monument to the National Road. It was placed here in 1916 as part of Indiana’s centennial celebration to commemorate the Road’s role in Indiana’s settlement. No doubt, many who came from points east followed the Michigan Road from here to settle in northern Indiana.

National Road monument

On the opposite corner stands the Old Trails Building, completed in 1928 to house the Old Trails Automobile Insurance Association. Washington St. was not only part of the National Road and the Michigan Road, but also the National Old Trails Road, which was established in 1912 and connected Baltimore to Los Angeles. Presumably, the insurance company was named for the road. Check out this photo taken just after the building was built.

Old Trails Building

Shortly I came upon West Street, where I turned north. This map shows how West becomes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Street at Indiana Avenue. The National Road continues west on Washington Street, so we leave it behind here.

Military Park stands on the southwest corner of West and New York Streets. It’s Indianapolis’s oldest park, originally used to train the militia and, later, as an encampment for Civil War soldiers. It also hosted the first Indiana State Fairs. This shelter house is the current centerpiece of the park.

Military Park

Next: The Michigan Road in northwest Indianapolis.

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