A sunny, late-summer Sunday afternoon is a perfect time to explore Parke County. Backroads wandering is the ideal social distancing adventure. The beauty of Indiana is everywhere!
With no particular destination in mind, my friend and I recently headed for “slab roads.” Five stops delighted us throughout the afternoon.
If you wander enough backroads in Parke County, you’ll undoubtedly encounter ‘slab roads’ and creek fords. You might even end up on Slab Road. These interesting little crossings provide a glimpse into a slower pace of life. With 31 covered bridges in the county, the scenic road trip is likely to offer a pretty photo or two of a bygone yet vibrant era.
The term “slab road,” at least among people in the area, refers to either a concrete slab providing a stable creek crossing or merely a shallow, through-the-water crossing. When next to a covered bridge, these concrete slab bypasses allow large trucks and farm machinery to get across the creek without having to detour.
According to Lisa Mock, director of the Putnam County Museum, slab roads were originally slabs of lumber covering wet stretches of road and the adjacent ground in the 1890s. Slabtown, Indiana, located in Decatur County, and also Homer (formerly Slabtown) in Rush County, had sawmills that produced wooden planks for slab roads. As cement became cheap, concrete slabs replaced wooden planks for road material. By the 1930s, cement became more expensive than other types of road materials.