Trip to Get Steel For Repairs Turns into Adventure

Hoosier Perspectives

Indiana's hardest town to navigate.

Published on: October 24, 2011

Columbus and Bartholomew County, we love you- we just wish you were easier to get around in! If you live there, it may be a snap, but if you don't go there more than a couple times a year, and go into Columbus on Highway 11 from the north, you run into amaze of semi-roundabouts and one way streets and construction, always construction, and streets that run on an angle. Angling roads due to the French settling Knox County makes it either the first or second easiest county in the state to get lost in- Morgan is the other candidate- you decide. Columbus has to be on the top 10 lists of cities that you can get lost in without really trying in Indiana.

My latest adventure was in my old red pickup, the one I'm nursing the clutch on, to get steel for repair projects at Kroot Steel on the southeast side of town. I knew I was in trouble when a farmer friend who goes to Columbus often started him-hawing on directions. "Well, it's kind of across from Premier Co-op."

I hit the first round-about area, got down to a street I thought was the right one, and headed east. But I couldn't find the co-op, let alone Kroot Steel. I knew I was running on an angle. Pretty soon, I panicked and decided to go back the other way. That meant going up to another one way street to get back where I started. At every stoplight, I had to kill my truck to be able to get it into gear. Truck drivers behind me really loved me.

Finally, I put up the white flag and called the company. "Oh, you just didn't go far enough," the nice lady says. "Go a little further and Second Street crosses State Street (at an angle, of course). Turn on State Street and go to the second stoplight…." My memory fades with every gray hair. I didn't really lock in on the last part of her comments.

So I went back down Second Street, angling all the way, found State Street, and headed on it. I tuned at the second stoplight, because I though that's what she said. Then I realized I was in the middle of big factories, and their address was State Street. I did what I only due in dire emergencies, I called for a second time.

"Oh, you've got to go through the second stoplight, and we're the third business on the right. We're off the road and hidden, but you'll see the big white sign- can't miss it." Want to bet on that?

I got back on State Street, went through the second stoplight, and suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw the sign, but I was already passed the driveway. Not again! This would mean more stopping to turn the truck off to get it in gear, more turning around. Instead, I turned at the next street. To my amazement, it led to Kroot Steel Division, which is where I needed to be. The other driveway I missed actually went into the salvage yard and main office.

I finally got what I needed and headed out. But when I tried to figure out the roundabout to go north on Highway 11, I ended up on State road 46 west instead. Oh well, the Interstate 65 exit was only a couple miles up. Back in familiar territory, I made it home.

The only thing that would have made this trip more bizarre is if I had made it on Columbus Day. After all, the town has the same name as a guy who discovered America, and I can't even spy a steel company without getting directions twice! By the way, I never did find the co-op my friend alluded to earlier.