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Friday, May 6, 2016

Remnants of old 40 still remain

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rising Hall is one of many historic sites that can be found along US Highway 40. The hall was built in 1872 at a cost of $2,500. It is located on the Putnam and Hendricks County Roads.
The historic Old National Road (U.S. Hwy 40) runs across the center of the state of Indiana and stretches from one end of Putnam County to the other. All together it covers 156 miles in the state from Richmond to Terre Haute.

The old road is a proud symbol of our nation's past and boasts a culture, history and tradition unparalleled in Indiana and the five other states that it crosses.

Numerous historic sites can be found along the roadside including some in Putnam County.

On the Hendricks and Putnam County line drivers will see an ornate brick home called Rising Hall. Melville F. McHaffie built this extraordinary Italianate home in 1872 at a cost of $2,500.

McHaffie raised mules and received a commendation from President Lincoln for providing the Union Army with the largest number of mules during the Civil War.

The farm later became training and breeding facility for racehorses. The famous trotter Dan Patch even trained on the farm at the turn of the 20th century. Rising Hall is a private home and is not open to the public.

Behind the old Walker Motel lies a section of the original national Road. One can drive down the hill behind the motel to an enormous concrete bridge over Deer Creek.

If you look to the south you can see where early pioneers forged the river and where the original covered and iron bridges crossed the creek.

The concrete bridge eventually replaced these structures and served as the only way across the creek until the highway was rerouted to its current location.

From this one spot, travelers can see four generations of the historic road.

There are other sections of the old historic road denoted with historic markers along the newer sections of road.

One area about a mile past the intersection of US 231 and US 40 has a small section of the old road running both east and west.

Even the Putnamville prison that not only houses federal prisoners but also contains an old museum is considered a historic spot along the road.

Old abandoned gas stations, stores, towns and motels are all a testament to the passage of time along the road.

As Interstate 70 was completed in the early 1970's the flavor of the old historic highway changed lives forever.

The small towns of Manhattan and Reelsville, like so many towns along the road, slowly lost populations and thriving business and faded into history.

The idea of the road was originally George Washington's although it did not become a reality until 1806 when Congress passed legislation during Thomas Jefferson's administration.

It was the nation's first federally funded road. It was first intended to connect the eastern seaboard in Maryland to the western interior in Illinois.

The road reached Indiana in 1827 and was completed in 1834. It was nothing more than a dirt path with trees cut just low enough for Conestoga wagons to get by.

But, it brought thousands of pioneers to the state.

The Indiana section of the road was designated a State Scenic Byway in 1996 and a National Scenic Byway in 1998. In 2002, the entire road from Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois were all designated an All-American Road because of its historical and cultural significance.

It is the longest byway crossing the greatest number of states to receive this honor.

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I love history story's like this one. Hope you can do more in the future.

-- Posted by mad-mom on Tue, Jul 29, 2008, at 8:34 AM

I second mad-mom's request. There's a lot of history out here that many do not know about, but might find interesting.

-- Posted by Scripted Spontaneity on Tue, Jul 29, 2008, at 10:01 AM

There is an old structure in Reelsville, that at one time, was the busiest Chevrolet dealership in the country. Amazingly, it's still belongs to the same family.

-- Posted by VonMises on Tue, Jul 29, 2008, at 10:48 AM

I "grew up" in the 1960's....when I took driver's ed we "practiced" on both I-70 before it opened,,,as well as US 40...my dad had a rural mail route that delivered from Manhatten Road to the Clay County line.....remember " THE OLD TRAIL INN RESTAURANT"...as well as HUNT'S RESTAURANT?

-- Posted by TNVOLTUT on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 7:51 PM

I have lived in Greencastle all my life, which is a few! I very much enjoyed the History. Thank you. Give us more. Please.

-- Posted by chicagogirl on Thu, Jul 31, 2008, at 10:05 AM

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