The Beginning, and End, of SR 534

As the Indiana State Highway Commission’s inventory of state roads was growing, the thought of putting a bypass around the city of Indianapolis hit the planning sheets. The original plan started appearing on official highway maps in 1932. But little would be done for almost a decade. In 1941, the start of a bypass road was contracted…and built. But there was more to it than just a section along the east side from Fort Harrison to Nora.

Yes, that’s right. From Fort Harrison to Nora. The original road that was started in 1941 followed 56th Street from Fort Harrison out to a new construction road along what was, and still is, the Shadeland corridor. At the time, it was Shadeland Road. But that corridor only ran from 10th Street to 56th Street, creating a dead end road north of 56th Street into the Woolen Gardens. A complete history of the road is available as “SR 100: How did it come to be?

The Indianapolis News, 24 July 1941
Legal notice for contract to build SR 534 from
56th Street to Castleton.

Things started happening on the bypass route in 1941, when the first contracts were let. As is typical of the ISHC at the time, the road was contracted separately from the bridges. The first contracts for the road were let in July 1941. The legal notices were published for the contract, as shown on the left. The bids were to be in the hands of the ISHC by 5 August 1941 at 10 AM Central Standard Time (the time zone Indianapolis was in at the time). The plan was for a reinforced concrete road surface north from 56th Street to the old state road that turned west along what is now 82nd Street.

The bridge over Fall Creek was let out for contract in September 1941, with the description “structure on State Road 534” details as a five span arch bridge “over Fall Creek, 2.7 Mi. North of Lawrence.” Those spans were to be, in order: one at 40 feet; three at 80 feet, and one at 40 feet. The bridge was to be of reinforced concrete arch design. Bids were to be at the ISHC by 10 AM CST on 7 October 1941.

The next leg of the road was published for contract in December 1941, with a due date of 16 December 1941. It was to include 4.578 miles of reinforced concrete from Nora to Castleton. (For the route prior to SR 534 construction, check out 82nd and 86th Street Before SR 534 (SR 100).) This would complete the first opened section of SR 534 in Indiana.

Then World War II started.

The Indianapolis News, of 21 December 1942, opined that the ISHC was in a holding pattern when it came to the building of the bypass road. The road was not mentioned by number, but the route was discussed. “One link, approaching Ft. Benjamin Harrison by way of Allisonville and Castleton, has been completed and is in use. The belt highway, discussed for years, will extend south, intersection Roads 40, 52 and 29, until it reaches the Thompson Road, where it will continue west, intersecting Roads 31, 37 and 67.” With the Shadeland Road corridor only extending as far as 10th Street, this would require the acquisition of right-of-way and building of four miles of new road from 10th Street to Troy Avenue/Southeastern Avenue/SR 29. South from here, the road was already in place as the Five Points Road.

“At Valley Mills it will turn north, crossing roads 40, 36 and 34, eventually intersecting Road 52, where it will join the northern east-and-west link that has been built.” This would put the road along the High School Road corridor on the west side. This would also include a state road that connected US 40 to the Indianapolis Municipal Airport. That state road was designated SR 100 when it was commissioned.

“The practical value of such a construction program has long been recognized, both for ordinary traffic and for commercial vehicles that will be enabled to by-pass Indianapolis without contributing to traffic congestion be traversing the downtown streets.”

The article concluded as follows: “A belt line around Indianapolis has been considered ever since the old days of the “Dandy Trail” when gravel roads were marked and motorists wore linen dusters. The successor to that trail is one of the numerous tasks that are being held in abeyance until the war is won.”

The designation of SR 534 would be applied to the east leg from Washington Street north to 82nd Street, then along the 82nd/86th Street corridor to SR 29, Michigan Road. In the summer of 1949, the following was published in the Indianapolis News: “Some of our highways are known by name as well as number. Thus the route called State Road 534 could be more easily found if you called it Shadeland Drive. This road, leading north from Road 40, east of Indianapolis, intersects with Roads 31, 431, 37, 52 and 29 and is part of what, some day, will be a belt line around the city. But what we started out to say is that on the new Indiana highway maps it is 534 no longer. The new number is 100.”

And with that, the ISHC removed one of the “daughters” of State Road 34, stretching the SR 100 designation from a short section of High School Road to the entire bypass. Or, at least, the sections that would be completed before it was entirely replaced by Interstate 465.

Interurban Freight Service

In the Golden Age of Electric Traction, the interurban lines covered quite a bit of the state of Indiana. This is a subject that I have covered several times in Indiana Transportation History. However, today, I want to cover more than just Indiana, in a way. In 1924, a freight service was created using the interconnected electric traction lines across several states. It was given the name of “the Minute Man of the Traffic World.”

The freight system set up, covering 4,728 miles of electric traction track, covering an area from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York, in the east to Chicago and beyond in the west. It was entirely possible to ship something, via interurban, across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

A statement, issued on 18 July 1924, by Harry Reid of the Central Electric Railway Association, “described the position of the interurban railway as that of a minute man always ready to rush out on a hurry call.” The interurbans were in an ideal place to serve industries and their workers. (Source: Muncie Evening Press, 18 July 1924, pp 15)

“The development of the motor car has taken much local traffic off the hands of the electric and steam roads, but the demand for speedy service has more than repaid the electric lines, at least, for the loss of that business.”

One of the advantages the electric railroads had over the steam roads was less than carload deliveries. Steam railroads would spend a great deal of time and money on the creation of truck trailer service and less than carload service. Traction lines used free space to move parcels.

Fresh fruit, for instance, was shipped by rail into places like Indianapolis. Then the interurbans could deliver that produce to smaller towns along the line. Even livestock was transported by interurban. Indianapolis itself, in 1923, received 10,510 car loads of livestock…and sent out 1,086.

The Indianapolis traction freight yards, also in 1923, handled 229,150 tons of freight. “With the development of the new Indianapolis electric freight terminal, and the addition of new rolling stock by all lines, this total should be greatly exceeded this year.”

This freight service would find itself in trouble in less than a decade. With the Federal Government ordering the separation of electric utilities and electric traction companies, and the Great Depression, the traction lines would start failing. Private automobiles also helped in the demise. The Traction Freight Terminal, located on Kentucky Avenue near White River, didn’t last long. And the interurban was completely gone from Indianapolis in 1941.

Pigeon Roost Route

Today’s entry will be short. Just a little shorter than the road I am writing about. In the Auto Trail era, not all routes were long, cross country experiences. Today’s route, the Pigeon Roost Route, would clock in at 57.5 miles.

Labelled as “96” on this 1920 Rand McNally Auto Trail Map, you can see that the route only ran from Seymour south to New Albany. This is one of those roads that is going to take some time to look into. The southern part of the route, from Crothersville to New Albany looks to be along the route of US 31. It is not. While it connects some of the same places, it actually runs, for the most part, east of the current US 31.

According to newspaper accounts of the time, specifically from 1922, this route was the original State Road 1.

Towns that were included on the Pigeon Roost Route was Seymour, Dudleytown, Crothersville, Scottsburg, Vienna, Underwood, Henryville, Memphis, Sellersburg and New Albany.

It looks like I will be planning a road trip along this old route. Since I do have a dash cam, this will make documenting the Pigeon Roost that much easier.

The name of the road comes from the Pigeon Roost massacre, that occurred near Scottsburg. On 3 September 1812, a settlement named Pigeon Roost was attacked by native Americans. 15 children and nine adults, according the the State Historic Marker at the site, were killed. One family escaped to spread the alarm. I have read that the people of Scott County never found the ones that committed the killings.

Just a short blub today about the Pigeon Roost Route, a short Auto Trail that became part of the bigger state highway system…as its first inclusion.

The Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way

In the Auto Trail era, I have mentioned many times that there where many roads that crept up all over the state. Many of these Auto Trails connected Indiana to far flung locations across the United States. Today, I want to discuss a road that connected Cincinnati, Ohio, to Kalamazoo, Michigan, through the eastern part of Indiana – the Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way.

On old Rand McNally maps of the era, the OIM was listed as number nine in their list. I was never sure why Rand put the roads in the order they did. It certainly wasn’t in any kind of chronological order, since the Dixie Highway and the Lincoln Highway, two of the longest, most important and oldest Auto Trails around, were numbers 25 and 34 respectively.

Most of the original road is still followable today. From the south, it entered Indiana at College Corner, Ohio, southeast of Liberty. After passing through Cottage Grove, it made its way into Liberty. In Liberty, from what I can tell, it followed Liberty Avenue, Union Street, turning north on Main Street, then followed Market Street north out of town. Since it entered Indiana, it followed the route now covered by US 27. North of Liberty, an old bypassed section of the same US 27 is the original route of the OIM.

Just north of Potter Shop Road, or Old Indiana 122, the OIM turned northeast on Esteb Road, which it followed until it connects back into US 27. South of Richmond, the old road and US 27 split again, with the old road following Liberty Avenue on its way into the Wayne County seat.

Leaving north out of Richmond, it again follows what is now US 27 towards Chester. Before reaching that town, the old road turns north to follow Arba Pike, then turns northwest on Martin Road to again connect to the current highway.

After leaving Fountain City to the north, a small section of the road is now out of service. At Bockhofer Road, to follow the old OIM, turn left and then turn right on Hough Road. This trip will keet the traveler off of the modern highway for a little over 2 miles, when the old road and the current highway come together again to travel to Lynn.

At Lynn, a westerly turn onto Church Street will take the traveler out of Lynn. At the end of Church Street, at County Road 100 East, the OIM turned north. Here it followed that county road for five miles, where, at CR 300 South, it connects, once again, to US 27. Just north of CR 200 South, it followed what is now Old US 27 into, and through, Winchester.

The section through Geneva gets a little hard to follow. North of Geneva, however, the road veers to the northeast, following Covered Bridge Road to CR 0, which it follows to north of Monroe. Again, the old OIM connects to the current US 27 north of the town. At Decatur, the old road turns onto Winchester Street, the through town follows Second Street. Again, it connects to US 27 for its journey toward Fort Wayne.

At Fort Wayne, Decatur Road is the original path of the OIM…while US 27 was rerouted to the west. It’s best to follow US 27 through Fort Wayne. North of the city, the road changes to become SR 3. South of Huntertown, the old path veers off onto Lima Road and old State Road 3 until the two come back together north of Avilla. South of Kendallville, turn onto Main Street to enter that town. Here, it basically follows US 6 to SR 9, where it turns north bound for Michigan.

The next major detour from a state road occurs south of Valentine, where the OIM turned west on what is now County Road 500 South. At LaGrange, the OIM followed what is now Old State Road 9 north out of town to what is now SR 120. Here it turned west to connect back to the current SR 9 for the last of its journey to the Michigan State line and points north.

Fort Wayne Street Name Changes

The last entry, 1878: A Fort Wayne Street Guide, led me to looking up the subject of this entry. Indianapolis had gone through a major change of street names from 1894 to 1897. Fort Wayne, it appears, did the same. The following was reported in the Fort Wayne Daily News of 9 December 1897.

“The Names of Many of Our Thoroughfares to be Changed Next Month.”

“Last night the committee on streets and rules and regulations, a special committee appointed to change the names of all streets and avenues where the same name appears twice in the city streets, met and concluded it labors. Several new streets were names and some streets and avenues which were continuous or extensions of other streets, all experience changes of names.”

  • Fox Street, second east of Broadway, and Shawnee Avenue, extensions of the same street, changed to Fox Avenue.
  • Taber Street became Taber Avenue.
  • Pritchard Street changed to Lavina Avenue.
  • Nelson and Metz Streets changed to Nelson Street.
  • Trentman and Kinnaird Streets to Kinnaird Street.
  • Johns Avenue to Nutman Avenue.
  • Griffith Street, a continuation of Fairfield Avenue, to Fairfield Avenue.
  • Oneida Street, in South Wayne, to Wayne Avenue.
  • Locust Street to Chauncey Street.
  • Duryea Street to Poplar Street.
  • Dawson, Colerick and Charles Streets all to Masterson Street.
  • Allen Street and Park Place to Woodland Avenue.
  • Koch Street to Dawson Street.
  • Crescent Avenue (Bond’s Addition) to Meyer Avenue.
  • Hoffman Street to Hoffman Avenue.
  • Wells Street to Wells Avenue.
  • Ninth Street to McKee Street.
  • Tenth Street to Colerick Street.
  • North Street to Fairmont Avenue.
  • Ann Street to Ferguson Street.
  • Park Avenue (Nebraska) to Thieme Street.
  • Grace Street (Esmond’s Addition) to Esmond Street.
  • Grant Street to Findlay Street.
  • Shoals Street to Simons Street.
  • Lake Street (Aarcher’s Addition) to Maria Street.

This was after a first round of name changes that were recommended in April 1897. That list was much shorter. But it also looks like some of them never occurred. Especially the original recommendation of Ninth and Tenth Streets.

  • Hamilton Street, from Calhoun to Lafayette, Wallace Street.
  • Thomasetta Street, from Gay to Thomas, Hurd Street.
  • Julia Street from Thomas to Holton Avenue, Hurd Street.
  • Alliger from Pioneer Avenue to New Haven Road, Grant Avenue.
  • Winch from Pioneer to New Haven Road, Wabash Avenue.
  • Maumee Road to Maumee Avenue.
  • Penn from Alliger to Lumbard, Winch.
  • Hugh from Walton to Alliger, Alliger.
  • Eliza from Walton to Alliger, Penn.
  • Bowser Street, from Wells to Barthold’s Addition, Second Street.

A resolution was put forth at the time to change Ninth Street to Capital Street and Tenth Street to Manhattan Street. That resolution went nowhere, as the names of those two streets were changed, in January 1898, to McKee and Colerick Streets.

1878: A Fort Wayne Street Guide

In fairness to the rest of the state, I have decided that I will share the street guides from other places around Indiana from the same year as last week’s Indianapolis street guide. Today, it’s Fort Wayne. Now, it doesn’t have the same information available as the Indianapolis City Directory. There is no addressing in this list. But it does list every street in the city of Fort Wayne…at that time. I find such lists interesting…and helpful when you are doing genealogy.

For those that are interested, you can see a list of available Fort Wayne City Directories at this link:

Indianapolis Street Car Saturday: Going South

The south side of the city of Indianapolis has always suffered from a sort of neglect when it came to the infrastructure of the city. It started with the very design of the town of Indianapolis. The main drag of the tow was south of the circle…therefore the south side was smaller than the north. The south side of the mile square had been swampy and almost unusable land. Railroad depots used the south side because it was cheaper to buy than “dryer” land north of Washington Street.

When it came to trains, that would also be a big damper on the expansion of the south side. With the large number of trains coming in and out of Union Station, transport to the south side was hindered by delays. Two projects, both of which were not the greatest, allowed passengers and street cars to pass the roadblock that was Union Station: the Illinois tunnel and the Virginia Viaduct. Street cars would use both of these to get to the south side in a timely manner.

Let’s start with the South East Street line. The mule car line ran from Virginia Avenue to McCarty Street along East Street when it was opened in 1892. Two years later, when it was electrified, it was extended to Morris Street. Additions in 1905 and 1906 took the route to Terrace and Lincoln, in that order. The last day of the tracked trolleys was 22 August 1934.

That was not to be confused with what would become the Garfield Park line. Started in 1879, the line would follow South Street from Illinois to Delaware, then turn south to McCarty. That was extended in 1888 along Delaware Street and Madison Avenue to Nebraska (Terrace). As the last line to be electrified, in 1896, it was extended from Madison and Terrace to Madison and Lincoln, then east to East Street, south to Raymond Street, then east to Singleton, where there was a loop to turn the streetcar towards downtown again. 13 February 1937 would see the end of the use of tracks for the Garfield Park line.

The Shelby Street line started operations in 1888, when it branched from the Prospect line at Fountain Square to the car barns on Shelby Street. When electrified in 1892, it was extended to Beecher Street. 1900 saw the line extended to Southern Avenue. Two years after that, the Southern Avenue end of the line was connected to the Garfield Park loop. The line grew to it greatest extent in 1920 when the Indianapolis Street Railway company purchased from Interstate Public Service Company the tracks that were laid in Shelby Street from Southern Avenue to the Perry Avenue loop. The Perry Avenue loop was known as Stop 1 on the Greenwood interurban line…the first location where the famous “Stop” roads south of Indianapolis get their names.

In 1915, a line was branched from the Shelby Street line to run along Minnesota Street east to Harlan. The Minnesota line was removed from tracks on 20 April 1938. That was followed almost a decade later, on 2 March 1946, by the removing of track running on the Shelby Street line.

Next week, we are going southwest when it comes to street car lines.

1878: Indianapolis Street Names and Addressing

When Indianapolis was being expanded, neighborhoods were just added to the city in a very piecemeal fashion. And as such, street names were erratic. Also, addressing was a lot different than it is today. This entry of Indiana Transportation History shows the Indianapolis City Directory street guide from 1878. The reason I chose this one is that it was the first to not only show the street names and locations, but the cross streets and house numbering. This was before the major street name changes and the readdressing of Indianapolis in the late 19th Century.

One of the things I have fun with is trying to place the street names. Most of the streets still have the same name. Some don’t. Some have just been completely removed for one reason or another. Agnes Street listed on the first page has been completely removed for the building of IUPUI. Japan Street started at the corner of Morris and East, and continued south to Raymond. Later, the name Japan was changed to East with the 1894 street name changes.

How many can you find? And how many changed your way of looking at the early history of Indianapolis?

Railroading in Indianapolis, 1868 City Directory

Today is going to be a graphics intensive entry…showing pages from the Indianapolis City Directories.

In the very back of the book, the City Directory lists the railroads in Indianapolis…and the distances to different cities across the state and across the country. Here is the two page list.

The Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway. This ad, as mentioned, is for the “late Bellefontaine Railway.” Connecting to the east coast via what would become the New York Central system, as the railroad itself would become part.

The Baltimore & Ohio. At this point, just a railroad company that, with connections, can get you to the east coast. But what connections? Well, in 1868, they told passengers that they could reach the B&O if they left Indianapolis on the Columbus & Central Indiana. Strangely, when the B&O came into Indianapolis, it used a line that paralleled the Columbus & Central Indiana. The C&CI would become part of the Panhandle/Pennsylvania. The Junction would become part of the B&O.

The Cincinnati, Connersville and Indianapolis Junction Railroad. As mentioned above, when the Baltimore & Ohio came to Indianapolis, it was through the Junction. And this is the Junction in 1868. The CC&IJ claimed no connections in their ad…just a trip to Cincinnati. Twice a day. When it opens, which was scheduled for August 1868.

Another railroad that was working the crowd when it came to connections. Use the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis to get to Louisville, Nashville, Memphis and Mobile. This ad, was, however, for the connections that could be made in Louisville, on the Louisville & Nashville and the Louisville & Memphis. 24 hours to Memphis, and 48 to New Orleans!

New York City. And how to get there. The New York Central, in 1868, was not a railroad that operated in Central Indiana. However, you COULD get to the NYC via the Bee Line. And catch the only trains to New York City that didn’t have to be ferried into the city.

Above I mentioned the Columbus & Indiana Central Railroad. Here the ad for that railroad, although it is called the Columbus & Indianapolis Railway. The line would align itself with the Panhandle, and thus, the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The Indianapolis & Chicago Airline. Actually, it was the Indianapolis, Peru & Chicago. It would later become the Lake Erie & Western…and even later, the Nickel Plate line into Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis & Saint Louis Short Line. Today, it is the major railroad west out of Indianapolis, having been part of the Big Four, New York Central and Conrail. It was a joint venture, originally, involving the Pennsylvania and the New York Central. But when control of the Vandalia finally came into the PRRs hands, they got out of this venture. This line still exists…the Vandalia is long gone.

Dec 1917: Main Market Roads Officially Announced

When the law creating the Indiana State Highway Commission was passed in early 1917, the announcement was also made that there were would five main market highways, later known as state roads, designated by that commission. There was a general idea of which roads would be involved, bot nothing set in stone. That is, until December 1917.

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of 12 December 1917 announced the selection of the new main market highways. ISHC officials traveled throughout the state deciding which roads would be part of the new, and yet controversial, system. “A former election of four of the five routes was tentative, and although the general directions of the four roads announced formerly have been adhered to in the official selection, many changes have been made.”

The plan was to create a system which was typical of Indiana’s general demeanor: serve as many people as possible with as little cost and intrusion as possible. Due to the shape of the state of Indiana, it was decided that there would be three roads crossing the state, west to east, from the Illinois state line to the Ohio state line. One north-south road would be designated through the middle of the state. This was the basis of the first four main market roads. A fifth road would connect the fourth road to the Illinois state line in the southern part of the state. The December 1917 system included roughly 800 miles of roads.

The main market highways were officially described as follows: “No. 1. The highway beginning at the Indiana and Michigan state line, thence southerly through South Bend, Plymouth, Rochester, Peru, Kokomo, Westfield, Carmel, Indianapolis, Franklin, Columbus, Seymour, Scottsburg, Sellersburg, New Albany and Jeffersonville.” In the Auto Trail era, there was no one highway this route followed. It seems that it was planned very early to have a split in the highway at the south end, with one branch going to New Albany, and one going to Jeffersonville. And although the route numbers have changed, that split has existed in one form or another since that time.

Main Market Road #2: “The highway passing through the northern part of the state, beginning, at the Illinois and Indiana state line, thence easterly through Dyer, Valparaiso, Laporte, South Bend, Goshen and Fort Wayne via the Lincoln Highway to the Ohio and Indiana state line.” Depending on how one reads that, it could be that the Lincoln Highway was only used from Fort Wayne to the Ohio state line. This is far from true. It was decided that the entire original route of the Lincoln Highway through the state would be used for Road #2.

Main Market Road #3: “The highway crossing the central part of the state, commonly called the old national road trail, beginning at the corner of the Illinois and Indiana state line, thence easterly through Terre Haute, Brazil, Putnamville, Plainfield, Indianapolis, Greenfield, Knightstown, Cambridge City and Richmond to the Ohio and Indiana state line.”

Main Market Road #4: “The road crossing the southern part of the state, beginning at Evansville, thence easterly through Boonville, Huntingburg, Jasper, West Baden, Paoli, Mitchell, Bedford, Seymour, North Vernon, Versailles, Dillsboro, Aurora and Lawrenceburg to the Ohio and Indiana state line.”

Main Market Road #5: “The road connecting Vincennes and Mitchell, via Wheatland, Washington, Loogootee and Shoals.” Basically, this road was designated to connect main market road 4 to Vincennes. Again, this is due to the shape of the state. A (more or less) straight line across Indiana from Cincinnati west would, as is shown by the route of the current US 50, connect to Vincennes, leaving people south of there without a main market road. Evansville was, and still is, one of the top five largest cities in the state, population wise. So ignoring that city would not have been possible.

The article ends with the following: “The total mileage of the roads represents less than one-half of the total 2,000 miles of ‘main market highways’ which the commission may designate under the new state highway commission law prior to 1921.” The law that passed in 1917 created a state highway system so that Indiana could benefit from federal money for good roads. It wasn’t until the law was redone in 1919, with all of the 1917 law’s Constitutional questions answered, that the Indiana State Highway System was officially made part of the landscape.

Fort Wayne Bypass

If one looks at a map of Fort Wayne, the first thing you would notice is the interstates that flank the city. I-69 flanks Fort Wayne to the west, and I-469 to the east. Between the two, it forms a circle around Indiana’s second largest city. But the designation of I-469 was a late comer to the whole plan.

When the idea of a bypass of Fort Wayne was floated, the idea was create a bypass removing US 24 and US 27 from the downtown area. The location of the new bypass would route both of those US routes far outside the bounds of the city. Most of the new bypass would be built outside the distant city limits.

The bypass would be constructed starting at Lafayette Center Road southwest of the city at I-69. The first section of the route would be built from that point to connect to US 30 east of New Haven, a distance of 19 miles. The contracts were let for this project starting 12 June 1984.

1989 Indiana State Highway Official Map showing the Fort Wayne area. The first completed part of the bypass is US 24.

But it wasn’t an interstate project at the time. When it was assigned a number, it was given the designation SR 469. Contracts for the road, posted in 1987, all referred to the route as US 24. What is so important about the designation as SR 469 is the financing for the project. As a state road, the state would have to pay 25% of the total project costs. If it were an interstate, that share would only be 10%.

By late July 1989, the project would acquire an interstate designation. However, that designation would not come with the boost in financing from Washington that would normally be expected. Since the project started as a state project, it would be continued to be funded the same way. When the type of road switched from state to interstate, it was expected that the road would be completed by 1992. The section from Minnich Road to Lafayette Center was expected to open in October, 1989.

In September 1989, it was publicly announced that the Fort Wayne bypass was the important project when it came to state. An additional $9.6 million was allocated to Indiana from Washington, DC. Of that, three-quarters of the money would be applied to a single interchange at Fort Wayne – SR 469 and US 30.

Work came to a screeching halt on SR 469 in June 1991 when workers found a wooden lock from the Wabash & Erie Canal while excavating for the new US 24/SR 469 interchange. This was unique in several ways. One, there weren’t any locks from the canal that were believed to have been still intact. None were thought to have survived the removal of the canal. Two, the lock was pretty much in tact, even though it had been buried. Having been built in the 1840’s, it was quite a find. INDOT agreed to halt construction until a plan was put in place for preservation ideas. The choice was redesign the highway, or remove the locks. This particular lock was called the Gronauer Lock, measuring 15 feet wide and 100 feet long. It was one of the largest on the canal. And while the rest of the locks along the canal deteriorated, this one was saved by the fact that it was buried between 10 and 15 years after the canal was abandoned. The canal was only used for a few years after opening in 1853. Corruption, mismanagement and the railroads saw the end of the londest canal built in the United States.

For a project that started percolating in the minds of INDOT in 1984, and started being built in 1987, the Fort Wayne Bypass was finally opened completely to traffic on 23 October 1995. With the completion of the road, the designation SR 469 was removed, and all signs were replaced with the shield of Interstate 469.

1944: South Bend/Mishawaka Bypass – Ireland or New Road?

13 January 1944. A meeting for the next day at 3 PM was reported in the South Bend Tribune. That meeting, including Mishawaka Mayor Joe Brady, the city board of public works, the Chamber of Commerce, and “other Mishawakans,” were to meet with the Laporte District Engineer of the Indiana State Highway Commission, Frank E. Bernoske, concerning a bypass of the city of Mishawaka to the south…and where it should be placed. They were pushing the bypass to be a number one post-war project. And their preference was to push the bypass to Ireland Road, as opposed to New Road that had been recommended by others.

The original bypass idea gained footing in the spring of 1939, when, as reported in the South Bend Tribune of 19 May 1939, “construction of a primary system of state roads by which heavy traffic would be shunted around South Bend and Mishawaka probably will begin in 1941 and be completed about two years later, T. A. Dicus and C. W. Siniff, two of Indiana’s three state highway commissioners, said Thursday afternoon in a meeting of representatives of the two cities and of St. Joseph county after a luncheon in the Oliver hotel.” (Source: South Bend Tribune, 19 May 1939, pp 15)

The bypass made progress in 1943 when there was concern about the large number of trucks pounding their way through South Bend and Mishawaka. The South Bend Tribune of 23 November 1943 discussed plans of such bypass. The entire bypass would be a system of roads that created a rectangle around South Bend and Mishawaka. The plan was: to use Ash Road on the east from New Road to Cleveland Road; on the north Cleveland Road from Ash Road to Mayflower Road (an extension thereof, since it didn’t run to Cleveland at that time); on the west the extended Mayflower Road, Sumption Road, and Oak Road south from Cleveland Road to New Road; and on the south, New Road from Oak Road to Ash Road.

“The huge rectangle surrounding the South Bend-Mishawaka area by the by-passes would enable all heavy traffic to be rerouted around the two cities as all main arteries from every direction would intersect with its perimeter, Mayor Pavy pointed out.” (Source South Bend Tribune, 23 November 1943, pp 9) “Diversion of truck traffic from the cities is essential to reduce traffic congestion within the communities, eliminate undue noise and prevent deterioration of buildings shaken by the heavy vehicles, the mayor added.”

The purple lines drawn on this Google Map of the South Bend-Mishawaka Area show the proposed truck bypass of the two cities, as of reports in November 1943. Only parts of this proposed bypass exist today, with Mayflower Road truncated at the Lincoln Highway/Michigan Road on the west, and Ash Road not being complete, even then, from New Road in the south to Cleveland Road in the north. The Mayflower Road would have been across the grounds of what is now South Bend International Airport. The orange line stretching across the map 4.5 miles north of New Road is the Ireland Road corridor, which also never actually completely existed.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, the city of Mishawaka had other plans. Instead of using the New Road corridor for the truck bypass, the Mishawakans recommended using Ireland Road. “Those favoring the Ireland road will argues that this project was approved locally two years ago and that the right-of-way for construction of approximately two miles of new highway from the eastern end of Ireland road at Union street east to a point on Dragoon trail had been obtained.” (Source: South Bend Tribune, 13 January 1944, pp 27)

“The Ireland road was favored two years ago by the road committees of the local Chamber of Commerce and the South Bend Association of Commerce. Some engineering work was done at that time, which it was reported showed that the Ireland road bypass could be completed without difficulty or excessive cost.”

As it turned out, the plan for the “number one post-war project” that the South Bend-Mishawaka bypass was supposed to be, the state highway commission had other ideas. A story in the South Bend Tribune on 21 September 1947 reported that “a truck by-pass through Mishawaka, a local issue of some five years, and originally designed as the city’s No. 1 postwar project, moved a step closer to a solution Saturday with the assurance from Gov. Ralph H. Gates and H. D. Hartman, a member of the state highway commission.” Part of the request was that US 33 through Mishawaka and South Bend be rerouted, cutting down truck traffic on that major thoroughfare.

I only scanned the newspapers between 1937 and 1950 for reports concerning this article. As of 17 June 1950, the South Bend Tribune reported no progress whatsoever on a truck bypass of South Bend and Mishawaka. The bypass west of South Bend, the St. Joseph Valley Parkway, started construction in the mid-1950’s. East of US 31 south of South Bend, near the Ireland Road intersection, the bypass would be in a holding pattern until the 1990s, at least according to USGS topo maps. It turned out that the road would become part of US 20, and bypass not only South Bend and Mishawaka, but Elkhart, as well. On the south and west sides of South Bend, the Parkway became part of US 31.

Indianapolis Street Car Saturday: Alabama, Central, Brightwood and Brookside

In 1873, the Alabama line was originally a branch from the Illinois Street line. It would leave Illinois Street at Seventh (16th) Street, running east Alabama Street, then north to Exposition Avenue (19th Street) to the main entrance of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds, at that time, were located at what is now 19th and Alabama. In 1888, the line was moved, starting as a branch from the Massachusetts line, going north on Alabama to Exposition Avenue, where it turned east to New Jersey, turning south to go to the barn. The line would be electrified in 1891. The last railed trolley car would run on 22 May 1937, and the line would be abandoned completely 17 February 1941.

The Central line would be put in place starting in 1888, when the line was completed to carry trolley cars from Christian Avenue (11th Street) to a turntable at 10th (20th) Street. It was rerouted the following year, staying on Alabama Street to Home Avenue (13th Street), then crossing over to Central. Electricity was added to the line in 1892, but it ceased running up Central at that time…at least most of the way. The line would be routed along College Avenue to 16th (24th) Street, turn west to Central, then north to 26th (34th) Street. Another round of electrification would see the line rerouted again, this time crossing over from College at 10th (20th) Street, then north to end at 16th (24th) Street. The last car to run on the rails on this line would do so on 20 March 1937.

With operation starting in 1889, the Brightwood line would take riders to the Big Four Repair Shops in Brightwood. The line would technically start at Home Avenue (13th Street) and Columbia Avenue, where Hill Avenue (now Roosevelt Avenue) began. It would follow what is now Roosevelt Avenue to Gale Street, north to Brickman (25th) Street, east to Brightwood Avenue (Sherman Drive), then north to what is now 26th Street. Five years later, in 1894, the line was electrified. The line was extended to 30th Street in 1911. On 19 September 1934, the last tracked trolley would run on the line.

A late comer to the Indianapolis Street Car system was the Brookside Line. Now, this line actually got its start in 1904, around the same time that the Union Traction Company built its line to Anderson and points beyond. The Brookside line was built to allow the UTC to complete its trip into Indianapolis. The line ran out Brookside Avenue (parallel to Massachusetts)from 10th Street to a “Y” at 18th Street. In 1920, the city street car company bought the trackage from the Union Traction Company to get to a turntable at Olney Street. The tracks for this line would be used by trolleys until 6 June 1934.

End of Year 1940: ISHC Projects and Contract Bidding

On 13 December 1940, it was announced that the Indiana State Highway Commission was about to open some bidding on projects, and that the bidding would be received by 31 December. These projects included four grade separations, eight bridges and thirty miles of paving and resurfacing.

Sherman Drive and Big Four, 1937
Sherman Drive and Big Four, 1962

One of the biggest projects on the bidding list involved a city street in Indianapolis. Sherman Drive, a major thoroughfare three miles east of the center of Indianapolis, crossed the Big Four Railroad northeast of the railroad’s major yards at Beech Grove. That yard is just over one mile southeast of the Sherman Drive. According to the press release from the ISHC, “among the grade separations to be built are a 13-span structure on Sherman Drive southeast of Indianapolis, to carry traffic over the CCC & St. Louis Railroad yard.” As shown in the picture to the left, this was an at grade crossing of multiple tracks. The picture at the right shows the same area of Sherman Drive in 1962.

Another bridge project opened for bidding at this time was grade separation on the Marion State Road 9 Bypass, crossing over the Chesapeake & Ohio and the Pennsylvania Railroads. That bridge was planned to be a seven span structure. Another bridge to be built in the Marion area was a 392-foot structure over the Mississinewa River on the same SR 9 bypass. The bridge was to have a 28 foot roadway and sidewalks.

Paving projects included in this round of bidding were: 1.291 miles of US 50 realignment in Washington, Daviess County; 4.938 of SR 1 paving from Leo north to Allen-Dekalb County Line in Allen County; and paving 2.391 miles of SR 9 bypass (Baldwin Avenue) from Second Street in Marion, Grant County.

Another SR 9 project in Grant (and Huntington) County included widening and resurfacing 21.30 miles of SR 9 from 1/2 mile north of Marion to Huntington. The road was to be widened to 22-foot wide. Also in Madison County would be the widening of three miles SR 9 from SR 67 north to the Anderson city limits.

The last road project would be the widening and resurfacing of US 31 from the north edge of Franklin to the south edge of Greenwood, through Whiteland and New Whiteland. This contract would include 9.1 miles of highway.

Guard rail projects were also part of the bidding. Those installations would be in Adams, Allen, Dekalb, Elkhart, Floyd, Franklin, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Henry, Huntington, Jackson, Jennings, Johnson, LaGrange, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Miami, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Randolph, Steuben, Union, Wabash and Whitley Counties. These were on roads 3, 6, 9, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 24, 27, 29, 31, 37, 44, 50, 52, 67, 109, 128, 150, 209, 327, 427 and 434.

The Southern End of the Indianapolis and Peru

1854. The Indianapolis & Peru Railway is completed to Indianapolis. Looking at a map today, it is easy to tell that the old I&P, which would eventually become the Nickel Plate, shared the same right-of-way with the Bee Line and what would become, in time, the Monon. However, that wasn’t always the case.

1870 Map of Indianapolis showing the I&P and Bee Line.

The original route of the I&P ran as shown in this 1870 map, at the point where the Bee Line turned from north-south to northeast-southwest, the Peru turned south-southeast. Here, the I&P ran through the middle of a city street, at that point called Peru Avenue. Then the railroad would turn due south of North Street, again running down the middle of a city street. This time, it was called Railroad Street. But the original Bee Line wasn’t where it was in this map, either. The original Bee Line continued on Massachusetts Avenue to Railroad Street. Originally, the two railroads joined right of ways at North Street. By 1870, as shown in this map, the right of ways of the Peru and the Bee Lines would join just north of Market Street. The current property lines along the old railroad right of way still show this.

By 1880, the railroad had been removed from Railroad Street, and the right of way was moved for the Indianapolis & Peru to join with that of the Bee Line. The section that ran in Peru Avenue ended just shy of the intersection of Peru Avenue and Davidson Street.

The line of the current right-of-way of the three railroads on the east side of downtown is the survey line that is the line of Shelby Street to the south, and, above 38th Street, what is now the Monon Trail below Broad Ripple.

The street name of Railroad Street would be changed in 1893, prior to the mass street name change in Indianapolis, to Fulton Street. Peru Street, which ran north from what is now 10th Street, was changed to Cornell Avenue. Peru Avenue, the angled section that ran from North and Railroad Streets to Massachusetts Avenue, was changed to Davidson Street later. Most of the area of the original rights of way of the Peru and Bee Lines are still intact. But the location of Peru Street, and the north end of Peru Avenue, are currently under the north split of Interstates 65 and 70.

Rights of Way on the National Road…

Indianapolis News, 16 December 1890

1890. The Postal Telegraph Company was placing telegraph poles and wires connecting Indianapolis and Terre Haute. Looking at a map, even then, it is quickly noticed that fastest way between the two is the old National Road. Oh, but not so quick.

The National Road was built by the Federal Government in the early to mid 1800’s. The road was built on land that was already owned by the Federal Government. The path of the road had changed from what was planned, but it did connect the seats of government in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois at the time. In 1848, it was ceded to the states.

In Indiana, the road was sold to Curtis Gilbert and others in 1850. They sold the road to the Western Plank Road Company. By 1890, a Terre Haute attorney, Joseph H. Blake, owned the majority of the stock in the Western Plank Road Company. This would come into play when it came to the Postal Telegraph Company.

Indianapolis News, 16 December 1890

From Greencastle to the Vigo County line, farmers were having none of the telegraph installers. Some farmers were threatening telegraph company workers. Some were cutting down the poles as they were put up. One farmer filed a lawsuit against the telegraph company. The company counter sued.

This brings us back to Mr. Blake, owner of the Western Plank Road Company. As owner of the company, and the National Road, Blake claimed the right of the road for traffic, such as street car lines, telegraph lines, and the like. It all came down to Mr. Blake not allowing the telegraph company to install lines along the National Road without paying for the privilege.

The Postal Telegraph Company would detour their construction before getting to Greencastle, running southward to follow the Bloomington Road into Terre Haute. Such behavior would continue when it came to the right of way on roads until facilities like the National Road would be purchased back by the counties.

SR 37, A Review

One of the blogs that I follow everyday is that of Jim Grey. I started reading his blog over a year before I created the Indiana Transportation History Facebook page. It was because of that blog that I asked him to help me admin that group. He was also the one that encouraged me to start this blog…telling me, correctly, that it would be easier to keep track of the information I have been sharing in blog form than in a Facebook group. His blog is called “Down The Road.”

Jim had been sharing his passion for photography and road trips in the Facebook group. His topic has been that of SR 37. Due to those posts, I decided to put together a collection of posts that I have shared over the past 16 months that cover the same subject. Check out his photos on the subject at his blog, or through links on the Facebook group.


In the early years of the state of Indiana, a small village located at the Bluffs of the White River became the meeting place for commissioners that set out to determine the location of the new state capital. Two years before that, in 1818, a trail was cut through the wilderness from Brookville that came to be known as the Whetzel Trace. Later on, a road was built north to the new state capital at Indianapolis. Because it went to the Bluffs of the White River, it was called Bluff Road.

Paoli State Road

When the Bluff Road was built, it was included in a longer “state” road that stretched from Indianapolis, through Martinsville, Bloomington and Bedford to Paoli. It would become the basis for original state road 22, and later, the original path of State Road 37.

White River on Indianapolis’ South Side, and its Effects

This article focused more on the effects of the Indianapolis Southern/Illinois Central Railroad, but it DID affect the routing of State Road 37. When SR 37 came into being, it ended at Washington and Meridian Streets, following Meridian Street south to Bluff Avenue (now Road) for its journey out of Marion County. The White River was moved, and the state built a new SR 37 over the old river.

Road Trip 1926: SR 37

On 1 October 1926, the entire state road system was renumbered. State Road 37 was given to what had been State Road 22 from Indianapolis south. The new State Road 37 was designated only south of the capital city.

Winners and Losers, Routing the Dixie Highway Through Indiana

When the committees met to create Carl Fisher’s Dixie Highway, political and personal gain played a part. Especially south of Indianapolis. While Fisher wanted the route to go directly from Indianapolis to Louisville, someone else wanted the same thing…just with a detour through Paoli. The latter won.

Original SR 22 – The “Fight” For the Way to Martinsville

The fastest way to Martinsville from Indianapolis wasn’t always the Bluff Road. When the state started taking over roads, a discussion was had to decide what road would be taken over to get to Martinsville. The choice was between the Vincennes Road and the Bluff Road. Eventually, it would be both.

Removing the Bluff Road Bridge Over the Illinois Central/Indiana Railroad

The Indianapolis Southern Railroad was chartered in 1902, and it crossed the old Bluff Road at an odd angle. The Dixie Highway used the route starting in 1914. In 1923, it became State Road 22. In 1925, a bridge was built over the railroad due to increased traffic on both the road and the railroad.

The Dixie Highway In Morgan County

One of the most bypassed roads in the state is SR 37. And very few more so than SR 37 in Morgan County. But this article focuses on the Dixie Highway through the county…and how it was originally routed through the area.

State Highway Department Construction Plans for 1963-1965

This article is included because part of the plan was to build a new SR 37 through the west side of Indianapolis, and connect it to I-465 at Harding Street. The Harding Street connection would be made. It would be a complete reroute of SR 37 from I-465 south to Martinsville. It ended up that SR 37 would be routed along I-465 from Harding Street to East Street (US 31), and be multiplexed with US 31 all the way to 38th Street on the northside of the city.

Expanding SR 37 from Martinsville to Oolitic

The last article about the routing of SR 37 I want to share is the latest one posted. In the 1970s, SR 37 was being moved and widened from Martinsville to Bedford. The section north of Martinsville had already been moved and widened…in conjunction with the construction of I-465 around Indianapolis.

The Central Canal

16 January 1836.  The Mammoth Internal Improvement Bill passed the Indiana General Assembly.  With it, many projects were created to serve the residents of Indiana.  Two directly affected Indianapolis.  Those were the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad and the Indiana Central Canal.  Today, I want to focus on an article printed in the Indianapolis Jounral of 12 August 1900, which was actually a paper read by Mr. William H. Smith to the Indiana Centennial Association.

“At the time Indianapolis was a straggling village in the wilderness, containing less than than two thousand inhabitants.”  “It had been selected as the capital of the new State, but was located in the dense forests, without a cleared farm within twenty miles of it.”  At the time, there were no wagon roads in the state.  A buffalo trace connecting Vincennes and New Albany, and an Indian trail from the buffalo trace towards the center of the state.  Jacob Whetzel had obtained permission to build a trace from Brookville to the Bluffs of White River at what is now Waverly.  Transportation was very limited.  And hence, the call was put out to create infrastructure to open the state up.

The call for improvements started when the Federal Government built “a military road from Cumberland, Md., to St. Louis.”  The bill that passed the General Assembly consisted of a “number of canals, a railroad or two, and two or three turnpikes.”

The Central Canal was going to connect the Wabash and Erie Canal between Fort Wayne and Logansport to itself near Evansville via Muncie and Indianapolis.  The Wabash and Erie Canal “was being constructed under the aid of the general government.  It had been one of the dreams of Washington, the father of his country.” 

Two routes were considered for the canal.  The lawmakers preferred a route through Delaware County, as written into the law.  But another route, coming almost directly south from Logansport through Indianapolis.  This one was called the Pipe Creek Route.  To attach to Muncietown, as Muncie was called at the time, a feeder route would run to the town if the Pipe Creek Route was chosen.

Hundreds of men started work on the Central Canal almost as soon as the $3.5 million was allocated.  Real estate prices went through the roof.  A dam was built at Broad Ripple to funnel water into the future canal.  The canal was finished from Broad Ripple to downtown Indianapolis by the spring of 1839.  The water, turned directly into the new canal, took several days to get to Indianapolis from Broad Ripple.  This was due to the construction of the canal.  The water was seeping though the gravel bed where the canal was built.  “After the water was turned in at Broad Ripple the people of Indianapolis spent their days on the banks, watching for the coming of the tide to tell them that the first section of their canal was complete.”

The first excursion along the canal from Indianapolis to Broad Ripple happened on 27 June 1839.  The canal packet was drawn by two horses.  But the canal was never used for navigation purposes.  “Once and a while a boat loaded with wood would come to town, and on one or two occasions hay was brought, but as the canal was never completed it failed of ever being of any use for navigation.”

“Suddenly the whole scheme of internal improvements collapsed.  The financial panic of 1837 made it impossible for the State to secure any more money, and much of what had been obtained had been recklessly wasted by bad management.” 

The State tried to sell the improvements for private completion…only to find that the only project anyone wanted was the railroad from Madison to Indianapolis.  The Canal turned into a water power source for industry.  A woolen mill, two cotton mills, two paper mills, an oil mill, two flour mills and two saw mills were located along the canal.  “The supply of water was not sufficient, and the canal was damaged several times by freshets, and those who had leased water power refused to pay their rent.”  In 1850, the Governor started suing those that would not pay their rent. 

A series of private owners, starting with the original $2,400 given to the state by Shoup, Newman and Rariden, led the facility to be ultimately to come into the possession of the Indianapolis Water Works.

“In the original construction many of the owners of abutting property gave the right of way, while in some instance the right was condemned under the law.  Through Indianapolis it had appropriated Missouri street it full width of ninety feet.  If the town ever gave any assent to this appropriation it was lost when the records were destroyed by fire some years afterward.”  “Along Missouri street the ditch was filled up, and finally the railroad to Lafayette was constructed along that thoroughfare.”

“As to the Central Canal, it was a great oversight that the city did not buy it in.  With it the city could have owned its own water works, its own lighting plant, and would have had power to rent out that would have more than paid the cost of maintenance.”

Indianapolis Street Car Saturday – Getting to Irvington

1870. Sylvester Johnson and Jacob Julian laid out a town four miles east of Monument Circle on the National Road (or, at that time, the Cumberland Turnpike). They named their town after Washington Irving, hence Irvington. In the fall of 1875, the North Western Christian University moved from its home at College and Home Avenues (now College Avenue and 13th Street) to the southwest corner of Irvington between the Panhandle (Pennsylvania Railroad) and the Junction (Baltimore & Ohio) tracks. At the same time, there was a mule car line being built to the new suburb.

1889 Map of Irvington, Indiana.

The Irvington Street Car line was planned along the following route: From Virginia Avenue and South Street, east on South Street (now Fletcher Avenue) to Reid Street (now State Street), north on Reid to English Avenue, east to English to Butler, north on Butler to Burgess, east on Burgess to Audubon, and north on Audubon to end just south of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The line, according to the Indianapolis News on 25 February 1875, was expected to be in operation in June 1875.

On 2 August 1875, a small paragraph was in the Indianapolis News mentioned “the construction of the Irvington street railway has not come to a standstill, owing to a lack of funds, as stated in the Journal, but on account of the wet weather. The Stratford bridge has been washed away and it is impossible to ballast the track.” Two weeks later, the News reported, in a story about the new college campus, that the Irvington line was quickly nearing completion.

The line opened later in October 1875. The trip from downtown to North Western Christian University, using mule cars, was 45 minutes. It wasn’t long before the Irvington street car line found itself closed to service. A freight train on the Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette jumped the tracks, causing a large section of the street car line to be ripped up. The IC&L crossed the street car line at English Avenue just east of Reid Street (now State Street). “In consequence no cars are running to-day on that line.”

Some might be wondering why service to Irvington was routed along English Avenue. As mentioned in my last blog post (Toll Roads in Marion County), Washington Street was a toll road outside the city limits. English Avenue was called a “shun pike,” a road that was improved and extended to avoid paying tolls to the toll road companies. That, and I believe that the toll road would have charged the street railways to use the road.

The line route was changed in 1881, when it was removed from Burgess to University Avenue between Butler Avenue and Audubon Avenue. That would be the last change in that line until the power lines stopped being used on 15 August 1934.

The East Washington line was mentioned in the last “Indianapolis Street Car Saturday.” The franchise for the Citizen’s Street Railway East Washington line extension to Irvington was issued on 20 September 1889, the day after the National Road was purchased by the county from the toll road company.