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April 14, 2021

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Historical Bluffton

Take an early-1950s walk up Main Street

Thanks to this photo by Paul Diller and a list of businesses by Richard Jordan

Compare the 1950-era photo with one taken today at the bottom of this story - 

Unlike many small towns, Bluffton's Main Street outlived the malls, survived an interstate bypass and today is home of over 40 small businesses located between the town hall and the public library.

Almost seven decades ago Paul Diller photographed this iconic Main Street scene. When this photo was taken Main Street was also U.S. 25, known as the Dixie Highway. (There existed no interstate highway bypassing town.)

Did you ever cross this Bluffton bridge?

If you are, say 50 or younger, you may not know the location of this photo. Icon viewers 50 and older recognize it as the East College Avenue bridge, looking toward Harmon Field.

Paul Diller took this photo on a foggy morning in the fall. Who knows, perhaps he even posed the farmer on his tractor.

Some things to notice:
• One wooden sidewalk on the north side of the bridge
• No curb or additional sidewalk anywhere in sight
• Although College Avenue is paved, it appears that it could use a upgrade

Bluffton College campus 1949

Here's a look at the Bluffton College campus from the air in 1949. We know the year because Founders Hall is under construction. It's on the top of the photo just to the right of center.

What else is in this photo? 

Screaming steam through Bluffton

Paul Diller snapped this photo and then very quickly stepped aside as this giant Lima-built Berkshire steam locomotive barrelled toward him at about 65 miles per hour.

We can only guess what the engineer and fireman thought as they approached a photographer, standing in the middle of the rails.

Coming from Bellevue, it was westbound to Lima, and onto Muncie, Indiana, and headed perhaps as far west at St. Louis.

You've never seen this view of the Buckeye

Jim Diller shares this late 1930s-era photo of the Buckeye, taken by his father, Paul.

From the Main Street end, here's the famous wooden floating swimming pool. Icon viewer comments are welcome.

West College Avenue bridge ribbon cutting?

Here’s a Bluffton ribbon-cutting photo without any information, but we are working on a theory and we are checking it out with our esteemed list of Bluffton history fact-checkers, so stay tuned.

Jim Diller provided this photo, taken by his father, Paul Diller.

Our guess is this is 1960, based on the yellow-orange license plate on a Chevy station wagon. The tan and white car is a 1959 Pontiac.

The persons we’ve identified from left are William “Kaiser” Gaiffe, Clayton Bixel, _____, _____, Wilbur Amstutz (he was mayor from 1960-65), ___, ___, ___.