Road Trips

Old State Road 67 is the road to Romona in Owen County, Indiana

Romona, Indiana, is a scattering of houses along a railroad track in Owen County, Indiana. A road snakes through, making two hard turns where it crosses those tracks. This road was once State Road 67.

Romona

State Road 67 has bypassed Romona since at least 1938. The old road not only hugged the White River for a stretch, making it subject to flooding, but it also hugged that railroad track all the way, crossing it four times. That’s not the kind of road that’s fit to be a highway long term.

When SR 67 was commissioned in 1926, it followed Main Street west out of town. The road shortly becomes Romona Road, meandering along the tracks through Romona, on its way to meet up with current SR 67. This map shows its path in blue.

Map data ©2022 Google.

Here’s where the southbound road to Romona begins on Gosport’s west edge. As you can see, it’s a narrow gravel road. It’s marked as a dead end because where the road crosses Mill Creek immediately north of Romona, an old bridge there is closed.

Romona Road

I chose not to drive Romona Road toward that bridge. Google Maps satellite view shows a tight, narrow road. I worried I’d get deep in there and have no good way to turn my car around, and perhaps no mobile signal if I were in trouble. The last several hundred yards of this road appears not to have been maintained in ages, anyway. Here’s the satellite view of Romona Road where maintenance ends.

Imagery ©2022 Airbus, IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies. Map data ©2022 Google.

This is the Romona Road bridge, a Pratt through truss built in about 1910. A bridgefan named Tony Dillon made this image in 2009.

Tony Dillon photo, courtesy bridgehunter.com

We drove back to current SR 67 and followed it to the other end of Romona Road. It’s signed as Country Club Road briefly before turning right and being signed Romona Road. From there we drove to Romona; the road was paved all the way.

Romona

Here’s Romona Road southbound from Romona.

Romona Road - SB Old SR 67

We intended to stop, make a couple quick images, and go. I’m never comfortable being an obvious stranger in small, out-of-the-way places like this. But immediately a fellow came out to greet us and find out what we were up to. When I said that we were out exploring Old State Road 67, he smiled and said, “Yes, this used to be the highway! You can walk the railroad trestle up to see the bridge if you want. The deck’s collapsed but otherwise it’s still there.” We said that we had stopped only for a minute and would soon be on our way. He then pointed out the rock by a small tree that spelled out the town’s name, spelled Ramona rather than Romona. I suppose he knows where he lives better than Google Maps does! He told us he made that stone some years back.

Romona

I might not have visited Romona at all, except that fellow roadfan Richard Simpson and I had planned to make this trip together and he was very excited about seeing Romona and the bridge. Unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly in early 2021. I visited Romona in his honor. He wrote an article for his blog about Romona and the old road here; read it here.

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See Rock City

See Rock City
Nikon Df, 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF Nikkor
2022

On State Road 67 just north of Spencer, Indiana, you’ll find this red barn. Rock City features enormous ancient rock formations and the ability to see seven states from atop Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. A number of barns in many states were painted with advertisements like this for Rock City during the attraction’s early days.

I follow the blog of David Jenkins, a professional photographer. One of his major projects was to photograph every Rock City barn that remained. He used paper records that Rock City kept and drove all over to find and photograph them all. He published a book of his photographs called Rock City Barns: A Passing Era. The book is out of print. You can find them used on Amazon but I think David might still have some new copies he’d be happy to sell you. Check out his blog here.

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Photographs, Road Trips

single frame: See Rock City

An Indiana barn advertising a tourist attraction in Tennessee.

Image
Road Trips

Beautiful old bridges on Indiana State Road 42

On October 18, 2008, I explored Indiana State Road 42 from end to end. It begins southwest of Indianapolis in Mooresville and ends in Terre Haute.

As I drove west from Eminence, the road became lined with trees as it approaches Mill Creek. This photo is eastbound.

Eastbound

In 1939, the state built a steel truss bridge over Mill Creek. A similar bridge up the road made the National Register of Historic Places in 2000, but this one has not. I hope somebody in Putnam County picks up the mantle!

Steel truss bridge, Mill Creek

I thought it was standard that these bridges be painted green, but word has apparently not reached Putnam County. (This bridge completed a renovation in 2015, at which time it was painted baby blue, the new standard color for Indiana highway truss bridges.)

Steel truss bridge, Mill Creek

The view of Mill Creek is lovely. I took this photo off the south side of the bridge. But wait – what’s that in the photo’s lower left?

Steel truss bridge, Mill Creek

See it there? That neat row of cut stones?

Steel truss bridge, Mill Creek

Please consider the following:

©2008 Google Maps

Just beyond the bridge is a road that pulls away and then turns to be right in line with current SR 42 after it completes the curve west of the bridge. This fairly screams “old alignment.” Notice how the suspected old alignment, if extended southeast, would cross Mill Creek directly, instead of at a bit of an angle as it does today. In the olden days bridgebuilders’ bags of tricks were fairly limited, leading them to build bridges straight across creeks and rivers. That row of stones has to be part of an older bridge’s foundation, and the stones around it probably bits of the demolished former abutment here.

Incredibly, here’s a small photograph of the previous bridge alongside the newer one, taken at about the time the newer one was built. It was a wooden covered bridge! This would have to be an eastbound photo from the west end of these two bridges.

Courtesy bridgehunter.com

In the excitement over all this, I forgot to drive the suspected old alignment. I did, however, think to take a shot of some of the fall color just west of the bridge.

Fall on SR 42

State Road 42 skirted Cloverdale on its south edge and then the terrain became more challenging. The road stopped the 90-degree-curve nonsense and began to curve around the terrain. At Doe Creek, a narrow concrete bridge awaited.

Old concrete bridge

My experience is that bridges only as wide as the road, with concrete railings like this, were built in the 1910s and 1920s. I could see a clear path down the bank, so I walked down to see what the old girl looked like in profile. Sadly, she was a bit ungainly.

Old concrete bridge

Shortly I came upon Cagles Mill Lake, also known as Cataract Lake, one of many lakes the US Army Corps of Engineers built to control flooding. Here, SR 42 makes a brief dip into Owen County.

©2008, Google Maps

The bridge over the lake did not disappoint.

Bridge over Cagle Mill Lake

As I approached the bridge, there was a traffic signal flashing yellow, and cones everywhere. Clearly, this bridge had just been renovated, and the finishing touches were still being put on. It was built in 1951, when the lake was created.

Bridge over Cagles Mill Lake

I’m not sure how such a minor road warrants such a major bridge, but this one is a real gem.

Bridge over Cagles Mill Lake

I passed through the remainder of the lush lake area and into Clay County. I zipped through the little town of Poland without even slowing down because I knew another steel truss bridge awaited on the other side – but it turns out I missed an old church on the National Register of Historic Places in so doing. I guess my consolation is that the steel truss bridge over the Eel River is on the Register, too.

Steel truss bridge near Poland, IN

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy steel truss bridges? (This bridge, too, has received a coat of baby blue paint since I photographed it.)

Steel truss bridge near Poland, IN

A sure sign of autumn is how low the sun is at midafternoon.

Steel truss bridge near Poland, IN

Next: Vigo County and Terre Haute.

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Preservation, Road Trips

Revisiting the bridge over Cagles Mill Lake

I climbed down the bank to see what kind of bridge this was. I was richly rewarded — it’s a true beauty.

Bridge over Cagle Mill Lake

That was in 2008 when I toured Indiana’s State Road 42, which stretches from near Indianapolis at Mooresville to Terre Haute. Along the way the road reaches Cagles Mill Lake, an Army Corps of Engineers flood-control project. This bridge was built in 1951 to span the lake, and SR 42 was realigned to cross the bridge. Upon my visit, it had been freshly renovated. It looked like new!

In the years since I stopped clambering down banks to see the undersides of bridges. Perhaps after seeing enough bridges I stopped being surprised and delighted by them. I’m sure that as I’ve gotten older I have become more risk averse — climbing down a steep bank can be hazardous! But after I visited the new SR 46 bridge near Bowling Green, I knew I wanted to see the Cagles Mill Lake bridge again, up close and personal. It wasn’t too far away.

It was like old times when I clambered down the bank to photograph this bridge. I had my Nikon F2AS along with a 35-105mm zoom lens attached. This unwieldy kit did not make it any easier to get into position.

Bridge over Cagles Mill Lake

I made one shot at 35mm and another at or near maximum zoom. Neither of these photos turned out as well as I hoped. When I visited last time, the bank was clear except for large rocks placed to retard erosion. This time, the rocks were still there, but so was a considerable amount of brush that made it hard to get a good angle on the bridge. A lot of brush can grow in 12 years! I’m also not pleased with the exposure in either of these photos. But at least I got them.

Bridge over Cagles Mill Lake

The best photo of the visit is this one of the deck. I love how the road disappears into the trees.

Bridge over Cagles Mill Lake

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