Wheeling, New Wheeling, and the CI&E Railroad

Indiana University says that nearly two-thirds of the 23 million acres that make up Indiana is farmland1. As much as we’re known for corn and soybeans, that wasn’t always the case: pioneers clear cut enormous swaths of forest down in the years after they arrived here, which means tree lines that seem random to us in 2023 are usually anything but! One stretch, visible from Old US-35 in northern Delaware County, hides an old alignment of the Chicago, Indiana & Eastern Railway. New rail during the gas boom meant big money for any town on its path, and the line’s completion convinced an entire community to try and reorganize itself nearly a mile west of where it stood.

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Two flowing wells in Hancock County’s Brown Township

I’ll never forget the first time I came across a flowing well and I’ve been fascinated by them ever since. After finding eleven in Delaware County, I started branching out to other nearby places. I stumbled across one in Hancock County a couple years ago and visited another nearby just the other day.

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Hamilton Township’s Williamson schoolhouse in Delaware County

Delaware County’s original Hamilton Township District 4 schoolhouse was built sometime between 1874 and 1881 on a triangular plot of land owned by Adam Williamson. The plot is now bounded by East County Road 400-N, North County Road 200-E, and Indiana State Road 67. Locals soon referred to the building by Williamson’s name1, and the old Pleasant Grove Church was built nearby shortly afterwards2

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Let’s hear it for rototoms

I started playing drums in the school band in the fifth grade. After I stuck with the standard-issue practice pad and set of bells for long enough to demonstrate some elementary skills, my mom let me use my savings to buy a drum set. The only one I found within my $200 budget was a secondhand kit branded “Percussion Plus.” It was the crappiest set of drums I’d ever seen, but it was mine! Almost as quickly as I learned to play, I started looking for opportunities to expand it. That’s where rototoms come in.

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Harrison Township’s Blackford schoolhouse in Blackford County

Harrison Township’s old District 3 schoolhouse, known as Blackford, sits three miles east of Montpelier on Highway 18. It likely took its name from the county whose students it served which was named for John Blackford, a state speaker of the house and Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. The extant brick structure was built around 1900. In 1905, it sat on the land of S.S. Norton1.

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The sad fate of Delaware County’s Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church

I have a soft spot in my heart for old, country sanctuaries. I’m sure I’ve driven by hundreds of them over the years! Although many are incompatible with the needs of huge, modern megachurches, their continued existence is testament to dwindling congregations that push against the current, passionately committed to the glorification of a higher power. I’ve always morbidly wondered what happens to the actual buildings once their membership falls off, but I’m sorry to say that I found the answer at Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church in eastern Delaware County.

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Resisting a deep dive into Randolph County’s Maxville Swimming Pool

Going swimming is fun! It’s a great way for kids to meet new friends, develop coordination, or just splash around for a while as I tended to do. For forty years starting in the 1930s, tons of kids went to the old Maxville Swimming Pool, which sits about seven miles east of Crystal Pool in Randolph County. I’ll try to resist taking a deep dive today, since spring-boarding into it in 2023 would be a tricky proposition. The place hasn’t operated in forty-five years.

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The Seneca County Courthouse in Ohio (2017-)

It’s rare for a historic courthouse to be demolished, and it’s less common to see a downtown flourish afterward. Nevertheless, both of those things happened in Tiffin, Ohio, in 2017. For a modern building, the Seneca County Justice Center credibly anchors Tiffin’s city center, and its construction led to a historic rebirth of the city.

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