Friday, June 15, 2012

Welcome to the new and improved B-Line Trail

We have had a recent run of beautiful weather,
so after my massage yesterday
I decided to treat myself to a walk on the B-Line.

 The B-Line is a delightful trail that bisects
the urban areas of Bloomington.
Daily one can find walkers, joggers, bikers and skateboarders out enjoying the trail.

Parents take their children out on the B-Line,
workers walk the trail on their lunch hour,
friends exercise together.
This trail is popular with the people of B-town.

It is so successful that the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis have designated the B-Line as a “National Recreation Trail.”
The National Recreation Trail designation “recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks."

This is quite the honor.

Lovely planters dot the trail.

Informational signs are posted along the trail.

This one talks about the old State Seminary school,
the precursor to Indiana University.
When it first opened on April 4, 1825
only Ancient Greek and Latin were taught.

Bloomington's population was around 500 at that time.
In 1828, State Seminary became Indiana College,
and Andrew Wylie became its first president.
By 1838 Indiana College had become 
Indiana University.

A fire in 1883 prompted the university to
purchase Dunn's Woods and relocate the 
university there.
The remaining building at this site
served as Bloomington High School until 1967.

When limestone was king.
Beginning in the late 1800s the demand for limestone skyrocketed:

  • The 1871 Chicago Fire made inflammable limestone the building material of choice.
  • The invention of the steam-powered channeling machine that could quickly cut through the limestone.
  • The arrival of railroads that could transport the heavy blocks of stone to distant locations.
  • A new architectural style, Beaux Arts, became popular with governmental buildings across the nation.  Limestone was the perfect material.
 At one time, eleven limestone mills lined the railroad tracks between 2nd street and Grimes Lane.  Finished limestone would be moved out of the mills and directly onto waiting railroad cars.  As you walk this stretch, try to imagine the sounds of machinery, voices and trains that were once a part of this neighborhood.

You are standing in the heart of Bloomington's early industrial area.  Goods manufactured here were shipped to all areas of the region, state, and nation.  

Along with this growth came growth of the community.  Neighborhoods, schools, and churches flourished as successful businesses provided economic stability to Bloomington.

The McDoel Switchyard
Just south of Grimes Lane the B-Line travels through what was once an over 30-acre railroad switchyard.  A switchyard is where the trains are broken up and reassembled for various destinations.  A switch engine pushed and pulled cars to get them in the right order.  Multiple tracks provided space for coupling and uncoupling train cars.

The McDoel Yard (named for Monon President W. H. McDoel) replaced existing yards in 1920.  The new yards included a turntable, a round moveable circle that allowed an engine to be turned in any direction.  It also had a roundhouse where engines and boilers were repaired.  The McDoel roundhouse had bays for 17 engines.  

The switchyard also included water and coal stations, shops for small repairs, and storage buildings.

I'm starting my walk.
Looking south across 2nd Street.

As if walking, jogging, or biking weren't enough exercise,
IU Bloomington Health has set up some exercise stations
along the path.

Thanks, but I think I'll pass this time.

More info on the old Bloomington High School
at Seminary Square.
It too was destroyed by fire and Bloomington now has 
two high schools at different locations.

Seminary Square is now a public park.
You might recall that it was hit by a tornado a year ago.

Stately old house (for sale by owner) across from the B-Line.

This decrepit and abandoned old building has been purchased by a developer who has plans to clean the place up and is thinking of turning the building into a beer garden.

From the looks of things, it's going to take some major work.
Good luck.
If he can accomplish this, it will be a nice addition to the area.
From what I have seen, this part of town can use some 

And I've finally arrived at the bridge over Grimes Lane 
(now called Patterson).

Looking to the west.

Looking to the east.

And the trail continues south.

The switchyard lies ahead.

The bridge over Grimes Lane.

Brain Extravaganza!

Brain #3 sits along the trail.

Thanks for coming along on my walk.

Next time, find out why I walked up to 7th Street.
Hint: I was hungry after all that walking!

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