Road Trips

Nature always wins

When I was a boy, I saw a TV movie about a group of people who had survived World War III by going underground. A few years after the nuclear holocaust they emerged to see if the land was habitable. They got into a car they found, started it up, and drove it down a highway.

Nonsense! First, a car left sitting for that long would probably have all sorts of problems – dead battery, gummed-up gasoline, corroded wires – that would keep it from starting. Second, years of the roads getting no maintenance would have left them crumbling at the edges and full of potholes. Yet these people zoomed around in this car on deserted but otherwise perfect roads.

If you leave a road alone long enough, nature eventually reclaims it.

Abandoned US 40

This abandoned and crumbling alignment of US 40 and the National Road lies between Plainfield and Belleville in Indiana, just west of the Oaktree Golf Course. It was left behind in the early 1940s when US 40 was widened to four lanes. I suspect that the Highway Department decided the existing bridge over White Lick Creek was too narrow to be kept in the widening, so they built two new ones, moved the road, and forgot about the old one.  Here’s what it looks like from the air.

Abandoned US 40 bridge

Here’s what the bridge looks like.

Abandoned US 40 bridge

You can see the bridge clearly as you whiz by on US 40 maybe 50 feet away. I’ve visited this spot several times – it was the first abandoned alignment I ever found. I still remember how excited I was to come across it, and it remains the coolest abandoned road I’ve ever experienced. I took this next photo on my first visit back in 2006. This is what happens to a road when it’s left untended for 70 years. Nature always wins!

Abandoned US 40 segment

I wonder how many more years before you can’t tell the road was ever there.