US 50 in Indiana

The Jim Grey PageRoads

Which road to drive?

I generally have no trouble choosing a road for a trip. I have a running mental wish list of old roads I want to explore – Ohio’s National Road, Indiana’s two Lincoln Highway alignments, State Road 37 south of Bloomington, and US 50 across Indiana and Illinois are at the top of the list. I am also very curious about the Buffalo Trace, which was cut by buffalo across Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois; and the Vistula Trail, an Indian trail that ran from about Pittsburgh, PA, through South Bend, around Lake Michigan, and up to Green Bay, WI.

Detour Conwell St.But as this road-trip season began none of them seemed any better than the others, and I was quite stuck, unable to choose which to follow. But after I received an e-mail about the Eilas Conwell house which stands on the Michigan Road in Napoleon, and learned a few things about Mr. Conwell, the choice was easy. Conwell was a prominent businessman in the Ohio River town of Aurora. Not only does US 50 pass by Aurora, but an old alignment may have run through town along a road in town that bears Conwell’s name.

That was enough of a nudge for me. US 50 it would be! I made my first US 50 road trip in June from the Ohio state line west to about Seymour, my second from Seymour to Shoals in July, and my last from Shoals to Vincennes, the Wabash River, and the Illinois state line in August.

US 50 is one of the original US highways from 1926. Like all highways with numbers that end in zero, it originally stretched across the nation – Ocean City, Maryland to Sacramento, California. It was extended to San Francisco in the 1930s, making it a coast-to-coast road; but then in the 1970s, the road was truncated to West Sacramento as Interstates overtook the old road west of there. Despite this, US 50 has suffered less at the hands of Interstates than most of the original nationwide highways.

DillsboroAcross most of the nation, US 50 has roots in roads much older than 1926. In Indiana, US 50 began as a series of auto trails and local roads. In 1917, Indiana stitched many such roads statewide into its first numbered highway system. When US 50 came to life in 1926, it was signed along the entire length of old Indiana State Road 4 from the Ohio line west to Shoals, and along the portion of old Indiana State Road 5 from Shoals west to the Illinois line.

Like so many highways, US 50 has been straightened and widened in some places and outright moved in others, leaving behind a wealth of old alignments. But even with all my old maps and road guides, I found it challenging to trace US 50′s original route in some places, in no small part because the original route doesn’t exist in some places anymore. But where I was able to find the old road, I found plenty of great things to see. I photographed them with my usual obsessive-compulsive thoroughness and share them here with you.

As usual, to see the entire road, use the navigation links at the bottom of each page. Use the prev and next links to move back and forth, or just click on the county you want to see.

US 50 in North Vernon


Start • 01 Dearborn County02 Ripley County03 Jennings County04 Jackson County
05 Lawrence County06 Martin County07 Daviess County 08 Knox County


Created 2 January 2011.
Photos subject to the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic license unless otherwise specified.

Text copyright 2011 by Jim Grey. (Replace # with @ if you click that link to send me e-mail.)
Maps are screen shots from Google Maps. All copyrights acknowledged.