Preservation, Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Rising Hall, a true gem on the National Road in Indiana

Rising Hall on US 40

On the National Road in western Indiana, overlapping the Hendricks-Putnam County line you’ll find Rising Hall. It’s an Italianate home built 1870-72 by Melville McHaffie, a son of pioneer Putnam County settlers. McHaffie and later his son farmed the surrounding land.

In the decades after the McHaffies owned the house, it passed through several owners before being abandoned. It was in deplorable condition by the early 1980s when Walt and June Prosser bought it, completely restored it, and got it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Here is its nomination application.)

Rising Hall on US 40

In 2000, the house and its restoration was profiled on television. The video tells the house’s story and shows the stunningly beautiful restoration the Prossers undertook.

As the video explains, the Prossers gave the home its current name, after all of the staircases (“rising halls”) inside.

Rising Hall on US 40

It’s not common to see a barn made of brick in Indiana.

Rising Hall on US 40

Walt passed away in 2010 at age 86. I am unable to find information about his wife, June, so I presume she is still alive. Here’s hoping the Prosser family continues to give this home loving attention.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

The original paths of the National Road and US 40 in Putnam County, Indiana

The National Road, aka US 40, in Putnam County, Indiana, is an old friend. I first documented it in 2006 and have visited several times in the years since. What I like about it is all of the old alignments of the road you’ll find there, with pavement that’s now pushing 100 years old.

The first is about halfway between Mt. Meridian and US 231. You can’t drive it anymore, as it’s on private property. It’s a short segment of brick pavement, the only such pavement left that was part of US 40 in Indiana. I failed to find it on my recent bike trip across Indiana, but I found it on an earlier trip and documented it here.

The next is between US 231 and Putnamville at Deer Creek. There you’ll find a bridge over the creek, and leading away from it a long stretch of concrete pavement. I documented this segment in detail here and here, and shared a 1928 photo of the bridge here. This photo is westbound from the bridge.

Old US 40 concrete alignment with bridge, Putnam Co.

This photo is eastbound towards the bridge

Old US 40 concrete alignment with bridge, Putnam Co.

The next old alignment is just west of Putnamville, and it runs through the grounds of the Putnamville Correctional Facility. Here’s where it emerges from under current US 40, its concrete face still showing.

Old alignment US 40/NR at Putnamville Correctional Facility

This road is used within the prison and was covered over with asphalt at some point.

Old alignment US 40/NR at Putnamville Correctional Facility

A little west of Manhattan is a short concrete road signed as CR 775 S.

Short concrete old alignment

You’ll find a confluence of old alignments near Reelsville. One of them is gravel, and I didn’t want to ride my bike on it. The rest is concrete. I’ve documented the Reelsville alignments extensively here. The paved portion is in two segments. Here’s a photo from the east segment. This was originally a concrete road but it was paved over in asphalt.

Old US 40/NR alignment near Reelsville

Concrete remains on the west segment. It gets very little use and is well overgrown. It looks abandoned.

Old US 40/NR alignment near Reelsville

There’s a bridge back here, over Big Walnut Creek.

Old US 40/NR alignment near Reelsville

This is quite a difference from the character of the modern highway in Putnam County!

US 40 WB Putnam Co.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Then and now: Abandoned US 40 bridge west of Plainfield, Indiana

My first ever trip to explore an old road was on July 15, 2006. My friend Dawn and I drove the National Road and US 40 from downtown Indianapolis to the Illinois state line.

Even though I had researched the trip beforehand and knew this abandoned bridge was there, as a road-trip newbie I was still blown away by the sight of it. My experience with this bridge was so exciting that it has propelled me to explore the old roads to this day.

Abandoned bridge/road of US 40 west of Plainfield
Olympus Stylus Epic 80, Fujicolor 200, 2006

I’ve visited this bridge at least a dozen times since then. Almost every time I am out this way, I stop and make at least one photograph. It’s amazing to me how intact this bridge has remained over the last 15 years.

Abandoned US 40 bridge west of Plainfield
Canon PowerShot S95, 2021

This bridge was built in 1923, but served only until 1940 when the modern four-lane US 40 was built alongside it. It’s been abandoned for 80 years now!

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Then and now: The Oasis Diner

On a 2009 documentary trip along the National Road and US 40 in western Indiana, I stopped to photograph this diner, which had been closed for some time. The stainless steel portion of this structure was manufactured by the Mountain View Diners company of Signac, NJ, and was shipped via railroad to this spot just east of Plainfield, Indiana, in 1954.

The Diner
Minolta X-700, 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD, Fujicolor 200, 2009

In 2014, this diner was purchased by new owners and relocated to downtown Plainfield. It opened in November after a restoration and the construction of a new extension behind the original stainless-steel diner. I visited in December of that year for dinner, and made this photo.

Oasis Diner
Canon PowerShot S95

Here’s the Oasis Diner from my bicycle trip across Indiana this year. I had stopped for lunch elsewhere; had I remembered about the Oasis’s outdoor seating, I would certainly have lunched here! (I always wanted to be near my bicycle, as everything for my trip was loaded onto it. So I wasn’t eating inside restaurants while riding.)

Oasis Diner
Apple iPhone 12 mini

It’s too bad they chose to plant trees in the streetscape; they block the view of this delicious old diner.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Then and now: Original National Road/US 40 alignment in Plainfield, Indiana

On the far east side of Plainfield, Indiana, within sight of the west border of Indianapolis, used to be an old alignment of the National Road and US 40. This is what it looked like in 2006, when I first visited. Eastbound:

Old National Road east of Plainfield

Westbound:

Old National Road east of Plainfield

Notice the orange Road Construction Ahead sign in the photo above. Ahead, the road was closed as the Ronald Reagan Parkway was being constructed. I didn’t know that the plan was to close this alignment permanently; it would not provide access to the new Parkway when that road was completed.

I further didn’t know that the plan was to remove this road entirely. Here’s the scene from my Ride Across Indiana this year. Eastbound:

Fmr NR/US 40 alignment, Plainfield IN EB

Westbound:

Fmr NR/US 40 alignment, Plainfield IN WB

I wonder why the city went to the expense of removing the road. They could have simply closed it at much lesser expense.

Pro roadgeek tip: whenever you see a line of utility poles like this, you may be looking at a place where a road used to be.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Bicycling the National Road across the White River in Indianapolis

As I bicycled through Downtown Indianapolis on my way across Indiana on the National Road, I had a challenge to solve: how to get across the White River. The White River State Park and the Indianapolis Zoo were built over the original path of the National Road and US 40 there. I shared the history of this alignment, and the many bridges that used to cross the river here, in this post.

In the map excerpt below, the National Road (Washington Street) enters and exits just above the center of the image, but curves south to skirt the park and the zoo. The bridge that once carried traffic on the original alignment still stands and is visible in the image.

Imagery ©2021 CNES/Airbus, IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2021 Google.

If you read the post about the history of the road here, you know that the original path of the National Road here is now the walking path that passes by the NCAA Hall of Champions marked on the map excerpt above. Here’s the beginning of that path, which begins at the Eiteljorg Museum. Here, the path is part of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

It also passes by the Indiana State Museum. I remember when this museum was in the old City Hall on the other side of Downtown. That was 25 years ago, and the new museum was built shortly afterward. I still think of this building as new, even though it’s not.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

The path crosses a road that leads to parking. Those are the signature Cultural Trail crosswalk markings in the road. This is about where the path becomes the White River Trail.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

The White River Trail shortly crosses the Central Canal over a narrow bridge. That’s the NCAA Hall of Champions on the right. On the left, way in the distance, is the Washington Street bridge that used to carry US 40. It’s marked by the rows of lamps.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

Here’s where the original National Road alignment ends at the White River. Once upon a time, there was a big covered bridge right here, on the left, at about a right angle to the riverbank.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

From that spot I turned to the left to about the angle of the former covered bridge here. This was the view. My understanding is that in the covered bridge’s era, the White River was narrower than it is now, and the west bank would have been closer in.

Washington St. Bridge, Indianapolis

From here, I backtracked and rode over to the Washington Street bridge, which is now open only to pedestrians.

Washington St. Bridge, Indianapolis

Here’s the view from the deck, as I bicycled westward.

Washington St. Bridge, Indianapolis

At the end of the bridge I faced a choice: follow the White River Trail around the zoo’s north edge, or backtrack all the way to where I started and follow current Washington Street back over the river. I chose the former because it was shorter and avoided a lot of traffic.

White River Trail behind Indianapolis Zoo

Shortly the trail opened up and followed the White River.

White River Trail behind Indianapolis Zoo

Soon the trail met the White River Parkway, a local road. I followed it south to where it intersects with Washington Street, which resumed its original path following the old National Road.

Railroad overpass, WB Old US 40

Until this point, the National Road was pretty neatly an east-west road across Indiana. From here on out, it runs west southwest all the way to Illinois.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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