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What’s the story about the curve on Bentley Road north of Bluffton?

By Fred Steiner

Why is there a “curve” on Bentley Road just north of Bluffton where the road crosses Riley Creek?

There’s also a curve on Tom Fett Road and on Phillips Road at about the same location.

On Phillips Road it's a serious twist, instead of being just a curve in the road. That’s because the Tom Fett and Bentley “jogs” have been modernized. Phillips remains the same at it was when it was originally laid out.

The simple answer to the question in the opening sentence is that the earth is round and that the early surveyors were trying to run straight lines on a sphere.

The little jogs are correction lines. As a result, every six miles the lines going straight north were corrected for the curvature of the earth with the resulting jog.

Originally, the Bentley and Tom Fett roads were 90 degree corrections. So, vehicular travel required an extreme reduction in speed at those jogs.

In the past 35 years as roads were widened and improved the jogs became curves thanks to the various county road departments.

On State Route 235 just south of U.S. 30, as you drive to Ada you’ll find another curve in the road. That curve, in the lifetime of viewers 65 and older, will also be remembered once upon a time as one of those 90 degree corrections. Image driving to Ada today and coming to an almost complete stop to navigate that jog that is now a curve.

The late Dr. Howard Raid, Bluffton University professor, explained this in greater detail in an essay in “Town at the Fork of the Riley’s.” That booklet was a collection of Bluffton historical stories put into one book in 1961 for the centennial of the Village of Bluffton. 

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