This is the Big Green Road Sign of its era — a humble highway milestone.
When the National Road was new in the early 1830s, milestones were posted in several states. You’ll still find lots of old milestones along the road in Maryland and Ohio. I’m not aware of any in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Illinois has none.
I don’t know how many milestones were posted in Indiana, but two remain. This is one of them. It’s west of Richmond on the north side of the road, in someone’s front yard. It reads: SL 9M, R 4½, C 1 — that is, State Line 9 miles, Richmond 4½ miles, and Centerville 1 mile. You have to just know that the first two are to the east, and the last is to the west.
The other milestone is three miles west of Centerville, also on the north side of the road in someone’s yard. I looked for it but didn’t find it as I bicycled by on my Ride Across Indiana. I found it on a 2009 road trip, however; see both milestones here.
I had a good first day despite a flat tire right at the beginning, and a knee that started to get sore about halfway through the day.
There’s a great scene in the movie The World According to Garp where Garp and his wife are looking at a house they might buy. As they walk out, a small airplane crashes into it. Garp says, “We’ll take it!” The realtor looks at him as if he were crazy, to which he replies, “It’s been pre-disastered!”
So was my trip this morning when within the first mile I got a flat tire. I changed it without any real trouble, but I lost A bit and a bolt. Fortunately, I was right in front of Menards so I went in and bought a replacement nut and bolt!
I’m learning that with probably 50 pounds of stuff in the saddlebag, bumps and road debris that I used to be able to take with no trouble can flatten my tires in an instant. So I just have to be very careful as I go. Additionally, the saddlebag kept getting caught in my spokes. Fortunately, I had a bungee cord that allowed me to pull the bag out of the way.
I ate the lunch I packed in Centerville in a little courtyard next to the Mansion House. I also stopped for a good while in Cambridge City. I have documented both of these towns extensively before but what the heck, I did it again.
Today was a 35 mile day — but after 20 miles I started really wearing out. My lower back was starting to crab at me a little bit, and so was my left knee. I’ve had a little trouble with that knee in recent years, nothing too serious. But I will listen very carefully to it on this trip. I’m not afraid to scrub the mission if my knee starts to really threaten.
At the 27 mile mark I hit a wall, so I paused for a good long break. I happened upon a concrete culvert, so I sat on it, and even lay back into the grass. I spent easily a half an hour there, just watching the light move across a soybean field as clouds moved through.
One of these days I ought to survey all of the classic motels on US 40 in Indiana. There are quite a few, primarily in Wayne, Marion, and Hendricks Counties with a few others popping up here and there. Many of them still serve guests, even if those guests stay for months or years at a time and call their room home.
Wayne County borders Ohio and so is the eastern gateway to Indiana along what was once the National Road. It still has these operating classic motels.
First is the Holiday Motel, which is within the Richmond city limits. Like all of the Wayne County hotels, it uses a plastic box sign. It once had a larger sign lit with neon tubing, according to an old postcard image I found on the Web (here).
The Holiday Motel’s U configuration makes efficient use of limited city space.
You come upon the City View Motel after you leave Richmond proper. It’s most of the way to Centerville, actually, and has a Centerville address.
In contrast to the urban Holiday Motel, the outskirts-of-town City View sprawls out across a wide lot.
Whenever I see a plastic box sign on a classic motel, I assume there was once a more interesting neon sign in the hotel’s past. A Web search turned up one postcard that showed the City View’s onetime neon sign (here).
The Richmond Motel is even farther away from Richmond than the City View. It’s on the eastern edge of Centerville.
It, too, once had a far more interesting sign. You can see it here.
It also sprawls wide, taking advantage of its more rural setting. I think it’s the most cheerful looking of the Wayne County motels with its red and gray color scheme.
There’s just one more Wayne County hotel, on the very western edge of Centerville. I made just this one photo of it. There’s no sign, which leads me to believe this motel serves as inexpensive apartments now. But at one time this was the Green Acres Motel; see an old postcard of it here.
Motels have been an occasional subject here — click here for photos and stories of all the motels I’ve written about on all kinds of old roads.
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.