In my early road trips I focused heavily on the road and its alignments, and hardly at all on the built environment along the road. When I made my 2006 road trip along US 40 and the National Road in western Indiana, I took almost no photographs of anything that wasn’t road! It took me a few years to realize I should photograph the cities and towns, as well as the buildings and homes in the rural areas.
When we reached Brazil, a town in Clay County, we drove right through it, stopping only when we reached State Road 340 at the town’s west edge. This is the most obvious and accessible segment of old US 40 and the National Road in the state. It begins on the west side of Brazil and ends at the Clay/Vigo county line.
Not surprisingly, Indiana 340 is the straight shot off the US 40 roadbed; to stay on 40, you have to bear left. (Since 2006, this intersection was heavily redesigned, and now you must turn right here to follow SR 340.) Here’s the beginning of SR 340, westbound.
Here’s the eastern end of SR 340 facing eastbound. The newer alignment of US 40 was built in 1939 as part of a bigger project to widen the road to four lanes across the state. I don’t know why a new alignment was built here, rather than four-laning the original alignment.
The road is really pleasant to drive — it’s fairly straight, but it rolls a bit, so cruising at speed feels good. Unfortunately, there was no good place to pull off so I could photograph it and show you.
SR 340 is as close to the original two-lane US 40 experience as you’ll get in Indiana. The surroundings become more rural the farther away you get from Brazil until finally the road meets US 40 again.
As the photo shows, the western terminus of SR 340 is on the same line as the westbound lanes of US 40. SR 340 is also signed as the Historic National Road.
Looking back eastward on SR 340, the Marathon station looks like an oasis in the middle of nowhere. Indeed, we both got something to drink here.
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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