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

Ride Across Indiana: 150 miles and done

On Day 4, I made it as far as Terre Haute, but declared the trip over about 7 miles short of the Illinois line due to rain.

On an old alignment of US 40 near Reelsville.

Rain at least threatened all day. As the day continued, it stopped threatening and started raining. The rain really picked up as I worked my way through Brazil and was quite heavy when I reached Terre Haute. Not only were my brakes ineffective, but my handlebar grips were too slippery to hold.

But I declare victory anyway. I still rode 150 miles, give or take, in four days.

The McKinley House near Harmony.

I deeply enjoyed riding the old concrete alignments of US 40 in Putnam County and seeing the old homes and barns all along the route. Despite the rain I had good energy and spirits.

Sonka’s, a Terre Haute institution.

In Terre Haute I rode to my old friend Michael’s. Margaret came along to get me and Michael, his wife Merrie, Margaret, and I went out for dinner and drinks at a favorite place from the years I lived in Terre Haute. Then we headed home.

I’ll have more to tell about this trip in posts to come, after I’ve had some time to process the photographs and process my thoughts and feelings.

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Ride Across Indiana

Ride Across Indiana: How long on this longest day ‘til I finally make it through?

Day 3 of my ride along Indiana’s National Road was long – 45 miles and 8.5 hours. I was spent by the 7 hour mark but had little choice but to keep pushing on.

The view down Market Street in Indianapolis west to Monument Circle. I had stayed in an Airbnb a block north of this spot.

I slept nine hours last night, yet when my alarm went off at 7 AM, all I wanted to do was keep sleeping. That turned out to be a harbinger of the day.

I headed west with a ride around Indy’s Monument Circle and then one block south to the National Road. I followed the trail through White River State Park over the one-time US 40 bridge now used to carry only pedestrians. Beyond it, getting through the west side of Indianapolis was little fun. There wasn’t much to see and the road was in bad shape, making for jarring riding.

West Park Christian Church, just north of the National Road on Addison Street on Indy’s Near Westside

It took me almost 3 hours to reach downtown Plainfield, where I stopped for lunch. There was a Dairy Queen there so I went in and got a grilled chicken sandwich and a hot fudge sundae. I figured I’d treat myself! That turned out to be a terrible lunch; within an hour I was having a giant sugar crash. Bleh.

My bike on a US 40 bridge abandoned since at least 1940, west of Plainfield.

I got to visit my favorite abandoned bridge. It’s just west of Plainfield. I visited for the first time in 2006 on my first ever trip exploring the old roads. This was so cool that it hooked me forever on this hobby.

After about four hours on the road, I need to stop frequently to rest. I’m quite saddle sore, and thre were just several times that I just had to get off the bike to give my bottom some relief. Additionally, my lunch didn’t hold me and I needed to stop to snack a couple times. But more importantly, as I headed into Putnam County and the terrain began to become hilly, I struggled up the hills. I’m not too proud to admit that I had to walk my bike up three or four of them. They weren’t super steep, I was just fried. At one rest stop I stood next to a cornfield that was busy whispering as cornfields do. I recorded several seconds of it; I hope you can hear the whispering.

Rising Hall, a gorgeous old home right on the border between Hendricks and Putnam Counties.

Tomorrow is my last day. If I feel as tired tomorrow as I do today, I’m going to end the ride in downtown Terre Haute. That will change a 50-mile day into a 38-mile day! That’s still a long day for this middle-aged man who is in middling shape.

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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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Road Trips

1928 photo of the US 40 bridge over Deer Creek in Putnam County, Indiana

Courtesy, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

Someone posted this image to the National Road group on Facebook and it immediately excited me, because I recognized the scene instantly. This is the 1925 bridge that carries US 40 over Deer Creek just east of Putnamville, Indiana.

This photo is from Frank M. Hohenberger Photograph Collection. Hohenberger lived most of his life in Nashville, Indiana, and made a lot of photographs of his town and the beautiful county that surrounded it. But he also traveled with his camera, including this stop near this newly built bridge in Putnam County. He made this photo in 1928.

Indiana University has placed Hohenberger’s photographs online; see the original of this photo here.

I’ve visited this bridge myself, many times. The scene looks considerably different today. US 40 was rebuilt nearby on a new four-lane alignment between 1939 and 1941. The bridge and concrete road remain, serving a few properties here. Here are some photos I made on a 2009 visit. This first photo is eastbound, as is Hohenberger’s photo.

Old US 40

I leaned way over the side of this bridge to see its arches. I don’t remember for certain, but this might be the north side of the bridge.

Former NR/US 40 alignment

Westbound from the west end of the bridge, here’s the curve in the road you see in the Hohenberger image above. This is the original 1925 concrete.

Former NR/US 40 alignment

Since Hohenberger made his photo here, trees have grown to dominate the scene.

Former NR/US 40 alignment

This 1925 alignment replaced an earlier alignment and bridge. I’ll bet that in Hohenberger’s time you could see the old roadbed clearly. It lay just to the south of this alignment and bridge. Today you can make out the old roadbed when the leaves are off the trees. Here’s a photo I made of it in 2011. I wrote more about this old alignment here.

National Road path

The bridge that used to cross Deer Creek on this alignment still exists and is in use. It was floated upstream and placed on nearby County Road 25. It was built in 1891. I made this photo of it in 2010. I wrote a little more about this bridge here.

Cooper Iron Bridge

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