Photographing two of Indiana Landmarks’ 2019 Ten Most Endangered

Every year, historic preservation organization Indiana Landmarks publishes a list of ten historic places across the state that they consider to be “on the brink of extinction and too important to lose.” This year’s list of the 10 Most Endangered is just out; see it here.

Two of the places on this year’s list have found themselves in my camera’s lens. Traveling the state’s old roads as I do, I’ve photographically documented historic structures in a growing number of Indiana’s communities.

Mineral Springs Hotel

Mineral Springs Hotel in Paoli, on the Dixie Highway, was built in 1896 — before Paoli had electricity. So the owners built a power plant in the basement to light the hotel, and they sold excess power to their neighbors! Named for the area’s mineral-water springs that were thought to cure all ails, the hotel did big business for many decades. As the mineral-springs fad passed, however, the hotel’s fortunes declined. It stopped taking guests in 1958, although businesses populated its first floor for a few more decades. Today it’s vacant, its roof leaks, and many of its windows are broken. Indiana Landmarks hopes to find someone to restore it.

I visited Paoli during my 2012 excursion along the Dixie Highway in southern Indiana. The hotel sits on Paoli’s delightful square. Read about my visit here.

The Crump

In Columbus, the Crump Theater has stood here since 1889. As you might guess from these photos, this is not the theater’s original facade. Indeed, the Crump underwent three major remodelings in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Its art-deco facade was added during the third remodeling.


The facade is distinguished by pigmented structural glass panels known as Vitrolite.

Columbus, IN

The Crump featured live shows until the 1910s when movies began to supplant them. Eventually the Crump became a movie house, and stayed one until 1997, when it showed its last picture. But by then it was already in deplorable condition with a partially collapsed roof and a non-functioning boiler. The theater has only deteriorated more since then, despite several attempts to save it. The city of Columbus would like to see it saved, and Indiana Landmarks is interested in finding a developer who can restore the building and find a good use for it.

The first two photos are from a 2017 and the third from 2008. Both times I was following the Madison State Road, an 1830s route that connected Madison to Indianapolis via Columbus and was an alternative to the Michigan Road, which ran through Greensburg and Shelbyville to the east. Somehow, I’ve managed never to document my Madison State Road trips, an oversight I must one day correct. Meanwhile, you can see more photos from my visits to Columbus here.

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Road Trips

Back to Hanging Rock Hill

You don’t expect to come upon a place like this in Indiana. This is Hanging Rock, on a section of State Road 7 known as Hanging Rock Hill. It’s in the Ohio River town of Madison.

Hanging Rock Hill

If you want to head north out of Madison, you’re going to have to go uphill. The original town plat from its 1809 founding is deep in the river valley.

Hanging Rock Hill

When I say uphill, I mean seriously uphill. Here’s a northbound shot from under the rock.

Hanging Rock Hill

Now southbound. If you want, you can pull off SR 7, drive under Hanging Rock, and then get back onto the highway. Long ago the road was routed under the rock, as photos on this page show.

Hanging Rock Hill

Water runs from the cliff above. I’ve never seen it at more than this trickle. But I hear that after the area gets a couple inches of rain, this turns into quite a waterfall. Under especially heavy rainfall the flow here can spill out onto the highway itself.

Hanging Rock Hill

I called this post “Back to Hanging Rock Hill” because I’ve visited it before and blogged about it. See that ten-year-old post here. Nothing has changed — as you’d expect, given how permanent rock tends to be.

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Hanging Rock Hill

Hanging Rock Hill
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom

As you look out across Indiana, the primary feature is the horizon. This is a pretty flat state.

Except in the southernmost counties. The Ice Age’s glaciers stopped short of them and therefore did not flatten them. There are quite some hills down there.

You’ll find a few rock formations in southern Indiana. Like this one, Hanging Rock Hill, on State Road 7 in the Ohio River town of Madison. My little red car in the photo gives a good sense of this outcropping’s scale.

Much of the year water falls down the face of the rock, but on this visit a hot, dry spell had dried up the water.

There are old photographs of Hanging Rock Hill that show the road running under it! Those photographs show a steep dropoff at road’s edge, suggesting that constructing the modern highway meant considerably building out this hill.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Hanging Rock Hill


Road Trips

Hanging Rock Hill

Have you ever come upon a place so striking and beautiful that seeing it made you gasp?

Hanging Rock Hill

This is Hanging Rock Hill on State Road 7 in Madison, Indiana. I drove through here a couple Saturdays ago and even though this wasn’t my first visit, I was surprised to hear myself saying “Woooooow!” when it came into view. Water usuallly pours off the rock and drains in the large grate (next to my car in the photo), but it was only trickling this day.

Hanging Rock Hill

The stretch of State Road 7 on Hanging Rock Hill is steep and curvy. It doesn’t stay that way for long, but it’s fun while it lasts.

Hanging Rock Hill

The photo in this link shows the rock formation and the road as it was in around 1920. Notice how the road used to run under the rock, behind the waterfall – where the shoulder is today. What a view that must have been!