This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A curmudgeon's look at the interstate intersection

A couple weeks ago I took a close look at the intersection of I-65 and SR 114 and I was not impressed. At the eastern end, quite a distance from the interchange itself, are three buildings, the Dairy Queen, an empty building that has housed a number of restaurants over the years, and the Knights Inn.
Over the little creek west of the Dairy Queen is a large, ugly parking lot with a tall, blank sign. The sign suggests that there was once something here, but I have vague and confused recollections of something here once. Was there ever anything in here?
On the south side of SR 114 there is nothing for more than a fifth of a mile. When I came to town, there was a burger place called Burger Chalet owned by Wayne Erickson there, but it shut shortly after McDonald's opened up across the street. Interstate intersections are no place for eateries that are not part of chains or franchises--brand recognition is everything.
Looking at who owns what in the area, I noticed that GasAmerica owns about an acre in here. I wonder why they have not built.

(According to a rumor I recently heard, there are plans for a large gas station to open up in what is now the parking lot of McDonald's. But rumors of possible openings usually are wishful thinking.)

The widening of the road may be where the access to Burger Chalet once was.
Crossing over I-65 gets us to the biggest eyesore of the area, the abandoned Grandma's restaurant. The part of the roof where the shingles have come off seems to have been recently painted--I remember it used to look much worse.
Behind Grandma's the old diesel pumps remain, though they have lost their shells. (I thought stations had to remove these when they were no longer in use. What are the rules?) The repair building behind them also seems empty.
Driving through the parking lot of Trail Tree Inn on the southwest side of the intersection brings you to what was once Biggs Catfish farm. It has not been a catfish farm for quite a few years. SJC has some mammoth or mastodon bones that were found here--they are sometimes on display in the display cases by the SJC Theater.
We may no longer have a catfish farm, but Benton County now has a shrimp farm.

More abandoned signs and trash are visible from the parking lot.
The interchange has stagnated and other interchanges in the area have grown. But none of our eyesores compare to the shuttered hotel or motel on the SR 43/I-65 interchange just north of Lafayette.

(More rumors--Newton County apparently is having some financial problems because the use of the landfill is down. It is not that people have stopped throwing things away, but that trash from Chicago has found someplace cheaper and closer. The county was getting about a million dollars per month from tipping fees, but is now only getting 75% of that. And I also heard a good rumor--the landfill in White County may only have another ten years of life. However, with the money involved, I would not be surprised if the people in White County find a way to extend that landfill. When it closes, SR 114 will be almost empty.)


Anonymous said...

The large lot and tall highway sign markwhere there was a Gulf Gas/service station. It was Don's Gulf, owned and operated by Don Hayworth for many years. He retired and it closed down when Carter oil changed from the Texaco brand to Amoco (currently Family Express). The Gulf station was closed, sold and torn down for truck parking for McD's/

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! Don's Gulf - I haven't thought about that in years. My brother worked there in the mid-to-late 70's while in high school. Used to go all the way out to the interstate to buy gas because Don was a family friend. I am vaguely remembering it was like .56 a gallon. The good ole' days!

Anonymous said...

It is a mess. What could be done to, at least, clean up the crud?

Anonymous said...

Also if you look just west of Trail Tree, you will see a new sign for a new Resturant coming. Has it always been there or maybe it's an old sign.

Old WPUM Engineer said...

Nickerson Farms and the 1776 Steak and Pancake House are memories of the 70's when the Trail Tree, KFC and DQ were our dining choices. Rummaging through my desk, I found a matchbook from the long gone Carson Inn. I attended a log home seminar when that hotel relic in W. Lafayette was the Holiday Inn and Holidome.