28 July 2009

half of Elkhart County's Lincoln Highway


With all of the attractions Elkhart County has to offer with its stretch of original LH, I decided to break this post into two parts. Following the LH in Elkhart County can be a little confusing with all of the changed alignments in Goshen and Elkhart. For original flavor, though, the stretch entering the county line from Noble County and leading northwest into Goshen can't be beat. Between Goshen and Elkhart the road gets overwhelmed by modern development-though a few jewels still remain.

The LH enters Elkhart County on County Road 50 from Noble County. It continues west until it reconnects with Highway 33 again, heading northwest. A short section is bypassed once it reconnects with 33, likely because of a tight curve (above). One of the best Indiana Lincoln Highway buildings is located just south of the little town of Benton. It is the Lee Cabin Inn, constructed in 1926. I had an interesting conversation with the owner written about before on HH here http://hoosierhappenings.blogspot.com/2008/11/finding-jesus-on-lincoln-highway.html.



The small town of Benton is next. The settlement has importance in Elkhart County history because of the Elkhart River ford located at this site that allowed the county to be opened up for settlement.

After a short drive through additional farmland, the LH enters Goshen on its southeast side near the highschool. Highway 33 joins with Highway 15 and heads north through Goshen's downtown. Goshen has a vibrant downtown with some great architecture of the LH period, along with some fantastic older buildings including the 1870 Elkhart County Courthouse.




On the southeast corner of the courthouse green is an Art Deco inspired police booth, constructed in 1939 to keep watch during the bank robbing heydays of the 1930's. I think it may be one-of-a kind.

The LH turns west and follows Highway 33 just north of the downtown for a few blocks before you have a choice to make on which route you want to follow. You can either continue west and cross the river, then make an immediate right onto Chicago Avenue, or you can make a right just before the river and continue following the east and north banks of the river (River Avenue)until you cross this fantastic old iron bridge (this is the original route).



Either route takes you past the Old Bag Factory, which is another must-see. The building houses a number of artisan shops along with an eatery. Chicago Avenue, probably because it was not a part of 33 has some older development including LH-era gas stations and this very old frame traveler's inn. The road reconnects with Highway 33 and continues toward Dunlap....which is part 2.

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