Parke County Bridges

Driving through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois crosses some of the most boring stretches of freeway in the United States. I don’t mean to insult these so called “flyover” states. In reality I think they are probably some of the nicest places to live and raise a family, but for just driving through the scenery leaves a lot to be desired. I remember taking a road trip across northern Indiana as a kid and my mom would fall asleep for hours. When she awoke she would say it looked as if we hadn’t even moved. The same endless fields of corn and a red barn dotted the horizon.

In order to make our trip a bit more interesting we opted to cross the southern part of the state and work our way up through Parke County— known for it’s great beauty and historic bridges.

The drive through the southern parts of these states was a bit more interesting. We spend the night in Columbus and then stopped in Indianapolis on our way to see the Parke County Bridges. We though we would try Mug N Bun, a vintage drive in with homemade root beer, in the Speedway section of town. The root beer was fantastic– not too sweet with a deep root beer flavor. The rest of the food was ok. Just typical burgers and chili cheese dog type food. The atmosphere really made up for what the food lacked in flavor though. I have fond memories of visiting my grandparents in Akron, Ohio as a child and stopping at Skyway Drive In; the Mug N Bun was the same type of experience and it brought me back forty years or so.

Once back on the road we noted that in addition to corn it seems they grow a lot of soy in this part of Indiana. So instead of just corn and barns there is soy, corn and barns. It’s beautiful for the first fifty miles. After that it’s some kind of cure for insomnia.

Once we left the freeway though things improved. Parke County is dotted with small charming towns just past their hey day but not yet run down.

Bloomington, Indiana
Now I know where they store all the corn and soy– beautiful grain silos in the small town of Bloomington.

Finding the bridges is a bit of an adventure as the further you go from the highway the more the roads deteriorate until you find yourself on a gravel lane surrounded by corn and soy with no cell signal.

Parke County Bridges
The roads in Parke County quickly become gravel.

Finally we found the bridges which are remarkably close to each other. It makes for a lovely drive. One thing I found odd though is that they are all painted the same. Not entirely what I expected, but it was a really fun side track.

My daughters were laughing at us the whole way saying it seemed like we were driving into a horror movie and we would never actually find the bridges. (Probably because they have never lived in a world without GPS so to them navigating dirt roads without one is a true horror movie. lol) Even the dog was a bit skeptical.

Road Trip with a dog
Are you SURE you know where we are going?

For us traveling to Alaska during a pandemic just driving around the area was a welcome break from the endless hours on the freeway. I feel like we definitely created some memories here. We have to keep moving, but if you had a bit more time I think Parke County would be a relaxing quiet destination where you could do some hiking, stop at a local winery and visit the quaint little towns.

Click here to read the entire story of our move to Alaska.

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About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website penciltreks.com. Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

1 Comment

  1. Nancy King on August 19, 2020 at 11:56 am

    I remember when Jayne Besjak and I took the Odyssey of the Mind boys (and Meredith) to Ames, Iowa. We stopped at a Subway about 2 hours from Ames (after 2 days of driving) and there was a lonely widow in the Subway who had just retired from working at the John Deere plant and came to Subway everyday to meet new people (how lovely!) She suggested we take the “scenic” route which would only add 20 minutes to the trip but was beautiful. After hours of cornfields, we were excited. At least Jayne and I were. “Put away those game boys. Enjoy America. This is the scenic route!!” After another 30 minutes of cornfields (I guess I’m not a connoisseur of cornfields and didn’t see the difference between the highway cornfields and these cornfields) “Ok, take out the gameboys. Sorry for the interruption.”

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