Let’s return now to my 2007 road trip along US 36 and the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway in western Indiana.
When I worked for a rock radio station in Terre Haute many years ago, once an hour we read a liner that said, “107-5 ZZQ rocks <insert name of town> with <insert name of band>.” It was supposed to make us sound like a regional station. I knew and had visited many of the towns I named — Farmersburg, Poland, Sullivan, Seelyville, Rosedale, Allendale, Riley, Newport, and good old Toad Hop. I occasionally shouted out to a town I didn’t know, such as Prairieton, Pimento (pronounced Pie-men-to, a caller hastily corrected me), Carbon, Fontanet, and Montezuma. Today was my day to meet Montezuma.
The TIB Guide shows the PP-OO taking some hard corners as it made its way to Montezuma.
US 36 makes a much smoother path through this region today. But given the way the existing side roads fall, I was able to make a guess at the PP-OO’s route, where it’s different from US 36. I drew it in blue on the map below. I didn’t actually drive any of that route, though. You’d think those roads would be obvious as I approached from the west, but I found the curve strangely disorienting.
As I entered Montezuma, I immediately recognized that US 36 had been rerouted by several feet to the south at some time to replace a bridge. The approach to the old bridge was still there. I find it interesting that the old bridge was lower than the current bridge.
You can see how the curve into town was made just a little tighter to accommodate the new alignment.
On the other side of US 36 at this cross street was a building proudly proclaiming it was built in 1903. I wouldn’t be surprised if another old brick building did not at one time share its north wall. If so, it might have been demolished to make way for the current US 36 alignment.
Where old US 36 approaches the bridge that is no longer there, the road is concrete, and thus probably dates back to the 1920s or 1930s.
Here’s a 1951 postcard (sourced from Bridgehunter.com) showing both bridges open. The older bridge was built in 1892 and demolished in 1951, and the newer bridge was built in 1949. So these two bridges coexisted for about two years.
Compared to the current bridge, the old bridge looks to be little more than a single lane wide.
There was no traffic, so I walked out onto the bridge.
When I lived in Terre Haute, we sometimes said the word “mighty” before Wabash with a nudge and a wink. The only thing mighty about the Wabash is that it’s mighty brown.
Next: Vermillion County, where US 36 and the PP-OO follow different paths.