Steel truss bridge, Mill Creek

Steel truss bridge on State Road 42
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2008

This week: ten posts where I look back at lovely scenes from long-ago road trips.

We begin with my 2008 trip along Indiana’s State Road 42, which extends from just southwest of Indianapolis at Mooresville west to the edge of Terre Haute. It’s a narrow highway with several hard turns, making it kind of annoying to drive end to end. But nobody does that, as I-70 and US 40 parallel it nearby and they’re both straight four-lane highways. SR 42 primarily provides local access among the small towns that lie along it.

Two steel truss bridges remain on this highway, one over Eel Creek in Clay County and this one, built in 1940 over Mill Creek in Putnam County. Both, I hear, have been rehabilitated and are now painted light blue. I love to hear that any old truss bridge still serving on a highway has been rehabilitated. I also rather like the patina the bridge had earned in this photo. Still, now I want to make another SR 42 trip to see them.

That’s my little red Toyota Matrix parked at the roadside, the one I wrecked on a road trip the next year. My various road-trip cars (this Matrix, the blue Matrix that replaced it after it was totaled, and my Ford Focus) appear in my road-trip photos all the time.

Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Steel truss bridge on State Road 42

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Music, Stories Told

Headstone’s

I first told this story when this blog was young, eight years ago. I haven’t been back to Headstone’s in almost that many years. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I still have the tie-dye shirt I mention in this story.

Headstone Friends

When I was in college, I should have just had my work-study paycheck direct-deposited into Headstone Friends’ bank account. I spent most of it there anyway on used records and CDs.

Headstone’s is a music store in head-shop trappings. Step inside, and suddenly it’s 1969. Or at least it is after your eyes adjust to the dim light. But you smell the sweet incense the second you enter. Heck, you can hear the loud music way out in the parking lot.

The counter is on the left, offering jewelry and silly buttons and, at least at one time, scales and rolling papers. On the right are ceramic dragons and fabric Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix wall hangings and a rack of incense sticks. Then racks of CDs line the wall all the way to the back where a few bins of records remain. In the corner, next to the drinking fountain that has never worked, is a room aglow with black-light posters.

Things do change at Headstone’s. When I first set foot in the place thirty years ago it was half the size it is now, full of waist-high record bins. They expanded into the building’s back section a few years later, and slowly tall homemade CD racks crowded out most of the record bins. And every so many years, when the building’s mural and sign are faded and worn almost beyond recognition, they repaint. On the day I visited it looked pretty fresh.

Headstone Friends

Headstone’s is seriously old school. They have one location, on Poplar at 12th Street in Terre Haute. They’re not on the Web. They don’t take credit cards. The owners, aging hippies who were younger than I am now when I first visited, work the counter. They keep inventory records on index cards in cardboard boxes. When you find a CD you want, you go to the counter and have someone come unlock the cabinet for you. Then they total your purchases on paper receipts and calculate the tax by hand.

The staff is very low key, but while I lived in Terre Haute I visited so often that they came to recognize me. One fellow named Harold became friendly and came to recognize my buying habits. One day a college friend came by my dorm room and said that I should see Harold next time I was in. He had set aside a promotional poster from a Paul McCartney album for me. The album wasn’t Paul’s best, but the the cover photo, of Paul and his wife taken with the kind of camera used for 1940s Hollywood glamor shots, was outstanding, and larger than life on the poster. “We get this junk all the time and never use it,” he said. “You buy all kinds of Beatles and McCartney so I figured you’d like to have it.” Sure enough! I had it framed. Despite generous offers from collectors, it still hangs in my house.

Tie-dye

Harold was there that day. I hadn’t seen him in at least ten years, but he looked just the same – long brown-and-gray hair curling halfway down his back, reading glasses at the end of his nose, and a round, tan fisherman’s hat covering his head. There was a glimmer of recognition on his face when he saw me, but it had been so long I wasn’t sure he’d remember me even if I did give him my name, so I kept to myself. I didn’t find any CDs I couldn’t live without, but just for fun I did buy a tie-dyed T-shirt. It filled my car with Headstone’s scent all the way home. I hated to wash it.

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Steel truss bridge, Mill Creek

Clearly I still have unslaked road thirst, as yet another bridge shot moved me to post. I think I like truss bridges best of all, because so much of the beautiful engineering is visible right above your head as you drive them. This bridge stands on State Road 42 in Putnam County, Indiana. Putnam County seems to have more than its share of great old bridges.

I was in no hurry and it was a warm day for mid-October, so I spent about a half hour on this bridge, photographing it from many angles. I like this photograph best of all, as the lines guide the eye to where the road curves. Doesn’t it make you wonder what lies ahead?

State Road 42 has one other steel truss bridge and two concrete arch bridges – one of which is breathtaking. See them all on my roads pages.

Photography

Captured: Steel truss bridge over Mill Creek

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Road Trips

Small-town signs of life on Indiana State Road 42

Monrovia and Eminence are two very small towns separated by 13 miles of Indiana State Road 42. They’re actually only 9½ miles apart as the crow flies, but rural Indiana roads provide everything but a direct route, especially between two towns that have but one four-way stop apiece. Yet a fair amount of Hoosier life happens in and near little towns like these.

I drove through Monrovia one early-autumn Saturday morning. A modern school stands on the town’s eastern edge, surprising because so many rural Indiana school systems consolidated in the second half of the last century. Old, abandoned school buildings seem more typical of Indiana’s small towns. I was surprised to find a football game in progress; I stopped to watch for a few minutes.

Saturday morning football

The commercial buildings in Monrovia were all built in the early 20th century. This one was once a bank (notice the depository drawer on the building’s sunny side), and a somewhat unusual one in that its door doesn’t face the corner.

Monrovia, IN

It is probably statutory that every small Indiana town have an Odd Fellows hall. If you click this photo and see it larger in Flickr, you’ll see the telltale “I.O.O.F.” (International Order of Odd Fellows) plaque on the facade’s top center. Hard telling what this building is used for now; it’s sad to see the second-floor windows boarded up.

Monrovia, IN

While the Odd Fellows hall needed a little TLC, the rest of Monrovia’s commercial buildings looked pretty solid, and every one of them was in use.

Monrovia, IN

There isn’t much more to Monrovia – a few homes, a convenience store, and the road out of town.

Now leaving Monrovia

A school is the first thing you see when you enter Eminence, too, a little down the way on Indiana State Road 42. This old high school building is still in service, and appears to be well cared for. A more modern building sprawls behind it. There was no football game in Eminence; perhaps their team was in Monrovia this day.

Eminence High School

There’s less to Eminence than Monrovia, although Eminence boasts one of the little white churches so common on the rural landscape. It is said that you can’t throw a rock in a small Indiana town without hitting one of these.

Church in Eminence

Of course, Eminence has its obligatory Odd Fellows hall. This one has been made into a bank and is probably the only Odd Fellows hall in Indiana with a drive-through.

Odd Fellows Building, Eminence

The only other building at Eminence’s most prominent intersection once housed Gash & Co., but today stands in decay.

Gash & Co.

I liked the rustic look of the chipping and peeling whitewash around this building’s entrance. This is also the photo in which I make my cameo appearance.

Gash & Co. entrance

Nobody was on the street in either Monrovia or Eminence on this morning, although I did encounter a few people when I stopped for a soda at a convenience store next to the church. But really, the best proof of life in these small towns is the graffitti sprayed on Gash & Company’s wall. Where there’s rivalry, there’s life!

Eminence says: Monrovia Sucks!

Read everything I’ve written about Indiana State Road 42 here.

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Music, Road Trips, Stories Told

Headstone’s

Headstone Friends

When I was in college, I should have just had my work-study paycheck direct-deposited into Headstone Friends’ bank account. I spent most of it there anyway on used records and CDs.

Headstone’s is a music store in head-shop trappings. Step inside, and suddenly it’s 1969. Well, it’s 1969 after your eyes adjust to the dim light, although you smell the sweet incense right away and hear the loud music from the parking lot. The counter is on the left, offering jewelry and silly buttons and, at least at one time, scales and rolling papers. On the right are ceramic dragons and fabric Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix wall hangings and a rack of incense sticks. Then racks of CDs line the wall all the way to the back where a few bins of records remain. In the corner, next to the drinking fountain that has never worked, is a room aglow with black-light posters.

Things do change at Headstone’s. When I first set foot in the place twentymumble years ago it was half the size it is now, full of waist-high record bins. They expanded into the building’s back section a few years later, and slowly tall homemade CD racks crowded out most of the record bins. And every so many years, when the building’s mural and sign are faded and worn almost beyond recognition, they repaint. When I was there last Saturday, it looked pretty fresh.

Headstone Friends

Headstone’s is seriously old school. They have one location, on Poplar at 12th Street in Terre Haute. They’re not on the Web. They don’t take credit cards. The owners, aging hippies who were about the same age I am now when I first visited, work the counter. They keep inventory records on index cards in cardboard boxes. When you find a CD you want, you go to the counter and have someone come unlock the cabinet for you. Then they total your purchases on paper receipts and calculate the tax by hand.

The staff is very low key, but while I lived in Terre Haute I visited so often that they came to recognize me. One fellow named Harold became friendly and came to recognize my buying habits. One day a college friend came by my dorm room and said that I should see Harold next time I was in. He had set aside a promotional poster from a Paul McCartney album for me. The album wasn’t Paul’s best, but the the cover photo, of Paul and his wife taken with the kind of camera used for 1940s Hollywood glamor shots, was outstanding, and larger than life on the poster. “We get this junk all the time and never use it,” he said. “You buy all kinds of Beatles and McCartney so I figured you’d like to have it.” Sure enough! I had it framed. Despite generous offers from collectors, it still hangs in my house.

Tie-dye

Harold was there on Saturday. I haven’t seen him in at least ten years, but he looked just the same – long brown-and-gray hair curling halfway down his back, reading glasses at the end of his nose, and a round, tan fisherman’s hat covering his head. There was a glimmer of recognition on his face when he saw me, but it had been so long I wasn’t sure he’d remember me even if I did give him my name, so I kept to myself. I didn’t find any CDs I couldn’t live without, but just for fun I did buy a tie-dyed T-shirt. It filled my car with Headstone’s scent all the way home. I hated to wash it.

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Road Trips

Indiana State Road 42

You can’t quite call Indiana State Road 42 an overlooked gem. Running from Mooresville, just southwest of Indianapolis, to Terre Haute, it cuts awkwardly through a great deal of Indiana farmland, with frequent 90-degree turns frustrating even leisurely two-lane forward progress. Check out this mess:

The road was built around farm boundaries, as was the norm 100+ years ago. But where other roads were smoothed and straightened, State Road 42 had major competition in US 40 and, later, I-70, both of which parallel it to the north. Either of these roads whisk you to Terre Haute in half the time it takes on State Road 42, and that’s where all the non-local traffic has always gone. So the state never spent the money on this unloved little road.

But if you aren’t in a hurry, as I wasn’t on Saturday, State Road 42 will show you how Hoosiers live outside the cities. It takes you through a handful of tiny towns and past farm after farm.

Curve

And if you like bridges, you’ll love SR 42, with two 1939 steel truss bridges…

Steel truss bridge, Mill Creek

…and one drop-dead gorgeous open-spandrel concrete arch span over a lake created by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Bridge over Cagle Mill Lake

You’ll also find that Terre Haute still has its bucolic moments.

Sycamore Farm

It’s a short trip, and you can read all about it here.

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