East Mount Carmel, Indiana. A train stop along the Southern Railway connecting Louisville, Kentucky, to St. Louis, Missouri. The town was also located on an Auto Trail called the Atlantic-Pacific Highway. Across Indiana, it would connect East Mount Carmel on the Wabash to Cincinnati via Princeton, Jasper, Paoli, Salem, Scottsburg, Madison, Vevay, Rising Sun, and Lawrenceburg.
But at East Mount Carmel, traffic was still fed across the Wabash River via ferry. As mentioned in other articles here on Indiana Transportation History, getting a bridge across the Wabash or the Ohio River, given that it would cross a state line (usually – the US 41 bridges actually are all in Kentucky, although they cross the Ohio), was a long process that often met with delays.
Hope was to be had when it was announced on the front page of the Mount Carmel (Illinois) Daily Republican-Register of 10 April 1930 that “Bridge Will Soon Span Wabash – Illinois-Indiana Highway Bridge That Will Span the Wabash River at Mt. Carmel.”
The bridge was the work of many years of planning. The State of Indiana wanted a bridge at Vincennes. They also wanted the State of Illinois to help with the cost. Illinois, however, had other plans. They wanted a bridge at Mount Carmel. And Illinois wanted Indiana to help pay for it. Neither state would budge on their plans…until the agreement was made that both bridges would be built.
Money for the Mount Carmel bridge was allotted by the Illinois General Assembly in 1927. A total of $225,000 was set aside for the construction. This new bridge would connect Illinois State Road 1 and Illinois State Road 15 to the Indiana State Highway system. This would become an extension of Indiana State Road 64.
The new bridge would be located 1000 feet south of the Southern Railway bridge that crosses the river near Mount Carmel. It would consist of a 22 foot wide roadway on twelve 225-foot spans. The bridge would provide 25 feet of clearance from the low steel to the high water mark of 1913. The Illinois approach was to be built at an elevation of three feet above the 1913 high water mark.
The bridge would be completed in 1932. By 1985, the bridge had fallen into disrepair. A plan to renovate the bridge was created while waiting for both Illinois and Indiana to decide to replace the bridge…which it did. The new bridge was placed just south of the original bridge.
Many highways were given names in the Auto Trail era. One that always intrigued me, and I have yet to find a good history for, is a road that led from Indianapolis to Chicago. It was called the “Adeway.” The best map of the route that I have found, however, shows the road only going from Crawfordsville to Chicago. That map is from 1923, and is available at the Indiana State Library online.
The Adeway left Crawfordsville via Lafayette Avenue, traveling northeast before coming to Old Oak Hill Road near the intersection of current US 231 and Lafayette Avenue. The old auto trail would follow Old Oak Hill Road, and Oak Hill Road, until it becomes what is now Old State Road 55. It would follow what would become SR 55 in 1932 all the way to just east of Wingate. The original route crosses private property now, as it would connect directly to Crawfordsville Road in Wingate. Today, it turns west onto Wabash Street. The Crawfordsville Road intersection has been moved to make a perpendicular junction between the two roads. The original route can still be seen in grass markings in the following Google Maps snippet from 25 October 2020.
From Wingate, the original Adeway would follow what is now SR 55 to Newtown. From Newtown, the road would turn north along what is now SR 341, following that current state road to what is now SR 28. The auto trail turned west along the current SR 28 to Attica. At Attica, instead of turning onto Jackson Street, as SR 28 does now, it continued along Main Street, then Mill Street, and would cross the Wabash River along the old Mill Street bridge. The current state road, and US 41, crosses at Jackson Street.
After crossing the Wabash, the original auto trail would turn on what is now Old SR 55…but that route goes into private property today. It is best to use current SR 55 north of US 41 to approximate the old road. There are places where the current state road was straightened for ease of use and safety, but it is still very close to the original country road that would become part of the Adeway.
At Warren County Road 600 North, the Adeway turned west. It would curve several times, then turn west again on Warren County Road 650 North heading towards Rainsville. The old highway follows what is now Rainsville Road to just before SR 26. The road had been moved for safety at this point. The old Rainsville Road was part of SR 26 before the move. It can be clearly seen on this Google Map snippet of 25 October 2020.
The Adeway then turned north along what is now Meridian Line Road, right at the end of the current bypassed section. This would take travelers (mostly) due north through Fowler, where the street is still called Adeway. After crossing the current US 52, the street becomes known as Washington Street, but also happens to be SR 55 once again for its trip northward through the Benton County countryside.
In an effort to maintain its own way, the Adeway would turn west on what is now Newton County Road 1700 South. This is one mile south of the Illinois Corn Belt Route, which would later become part of US 24 across northern Indiana. The highway would follow SR 1700S until it would turn north along what is now US 41, travelling into Kentland.
Although the road had been straightened in places, the US 41 route approximates the old Adeway route. At Benton County Road 900 South (which east from US 41 is SR 16), the Adeway turned west again…to enter the town of Ade. One might assume that this is where the road got its name…but I am not going to jump to that conclusion until I have more facts.
From Ade, the old highway followed CR 275 West and CR 300 West north through Morocco and onto what is now US 41 (again) northward to Enos. The distance from Ade to Enos is 10 miles according to the Rand McNally Auto Trails Map of 1920. At Enos, the old route leaves the current state highway system again, this time for a short jaunt along CR 100 North to CR 400 West. Five miles later, the old route turns east, along CR 600 North, to connect to CR 300 West, which is still US 41. Just north of the intersection of US 41 and CR 600 North was a place called Conrad. The name still exists there, but not as a town of any kind.
The Adeway still follows US 41 north until just south of Lake Village. Here, the new road bypasses the town, while the old road, called Old 41, enters the town, as did the Adeway. North of Lake Village, the old road connects back to US 41, but doesn’t share that route long. Just south of Schneider, US 41 veers off to the northwest, while the old route continued straight through the town along what is now Parrish Avenue. At what is now 219th Avenue, the Adeway turned east, then north again along what is now Austin Avenue for its journey towards Lowell.
The journey continues along Austin Avenue until the junction of Belshaw Road, where the Adeway turned northeast to Cline Avenue, one-half mile east of Austin. The route entered Lowell on Cline Avenue, but left on Morse Avenue. Here the old highway followed Morse Avenue north and then west along the northern edge of Cedar Lake. It followed what is now Lake Shore Drive until it turns into 135th Avenue. There, it followed what is now 135th Avenue west across US 41 again, until Calumet Avenue near Brunswick.
Turning north along Calumet Avenue, the next turn would be at what is now 101st Avenue near Keitzburg. West along 101st, the Adeway then turned north again on what is now Sheffield Avenue. It then followed Sheffield Avenue/Hart Avenue (Dyer)/Sheffield Avenue until it became what is now Columbia Avenue. The old route then connected back to Calumet Avenue, which it followed all the way up to Indianapolis Boulevard, for a northwesterly turn towards Chicago. From the connection of Columbia and Calumet Avenues, the road is not part of the state highway system. At I-94, Calumet Avenue becomes part of US 41, and the Adeway follows that road designation into Chicago.
As is typical of the Auto Trail era, the journey of the Adeway from Crawfordsville to Chigago is nowhere near a straight journey. It winds through the northwestern Indiana countryside, meandering its way from point a to point b. But it would make one heck of a road trip, should one want to do such a thing.
A Facebook direct message from a reader of the blog started the research bug going again. Now, while I am still looking up information on his particular subject (transportation to Center Valley in Hendricks County, particularly a possible railroad there), part of his subject did come up. As well as a few others. Today, I want to look at the things that I have found while researching that topic…while not finding much about the topic.
The “town” of Center Valley is along the route that would become State Road 39 just north of the Morgan-Hendricks line. A post office existed there from 1855 to 1902. But what is important is the route that rumbles north to south through the town…the aforementioned SR 39. It wouldn’t be until 1932 when that section of SR 39 was added to the state highway system. But, the designation “state road” goes back quite a bit…like 1833.
The 17th General Assembly of Indiana passed into law several state roads. The first I want to mention would be the one that would make Center Valley (or, more to the point Centre Valley) a place. The route that would eventually become SR 39 was built as the Martinsville-Danville-Frankfort State Road. The southern end would be part of the state highway system from 1920 – the bridge over White River west of Martinsville. The northern end would be part of original State Road 6, connecting Lebanon to Frankfort. As original SR 6, it would become SR 39 with the Great Renumbering.
Two more state roads would from Martinsville would be added to Indiana with this meeting of the General Assembly. The first is one that would not become part of the state highway system. It was described as “an act to locate a state road from Martinsville, in the county of Morgan, by the way of Cox’s mill and Solomon Dunagan’s, in said Morgan county, to Stilesville, in the county of Hendricks.” This is an example of how the General Assembly would set up a “state road” through a particular person’s land. I would assume that what is now Tudor Road, southeast of Stilesville, was part of this road.
Another state road project including Martinsville did make it to the state highway system… eventually. The act created “a state road from Martinsville, in Morgan County, to intersect the state road leading from Madison to Indianapolis, at Edinburgh, in Johnson county by the way of Morgantown in said Morgan county.” This state road would be added back into the state highway system in the 1930’s…as State Road 252. A history of that road is available from ITH here.
But Martinsville wasn’t the only beneficiary of that particular meeting of the General Assembly.
A state road was created by the General Assembly to connect the town of Lagrange, in Tippecanoe County, to Logansport, in Cass County. Where is LaGrange? Well, it was a town along the Wabash River at the Warren-Tippecanoe County line. It was founded by Isaac Shelby in 1827…and had a post office from 1832 to 1835. It’s prime was with the Wabash Canal during the riverboat era. When the Wabash Railroad was built on the opposite side of the Wabash River, the town of LaGrange just dried up and disappeared.
Another road that was created at that time would connect Williamsport to the Illinois-Indiana State line via Lebanon (sic), now West Lebanon, and the now abandoned town of Chesapeake (about two miles east of Marshfield). This route will require some research.
Part of the road that would become, in time, SR 46 between Newbern and Bloomington would be added as a state road in 1833. The original road would start at the Michigan Road in Napoleon, travel through Camden (unknown today), Newbern, and Columbus to Bloomington. The section from Newbern to Columbus was part of the state highway system as SR 46, until INDOT truncated SR 9, turning the old SR 9 into SR 46.
Stilesville would be mentioned again as a state road was created to connect it to Crawfordsville via New Maysville.
The last road for this article would be a road that is still in existence, more or less, but not part of the modern state highway system. The description of the act was “to locate a state road from Green Castle, in Putnam county, to Carlisle, in Sullivan county, by way of Manhattan in Putnam county and Bowlingreen and New Brunswick, in Clay county.” Some day, I want to do more research on this road.
Today, I want to show some map snippets of the National Road, and its replacement sections, as of 1910. Now, there is a small problem with this. The maps that I am going to use here are from the United States Postal Service from 1910. And while they are available from the Indiana State Library online, there are two that are noticeably absent from the collection: Clay and Marion Counties.
Marion County is easy to deal with. There are so many historic maps of Marion County available on the web that if I really wanted to, I could get something to cover the area. Clay County is an entirely different story. That is going to take some work.
Many people, today, are used to the straight ribbon of asphalt and concrete that is US 40 through Indiana. But that wasn’t the case when the road was created in the 1830’s. As was the standard operating procedure at the time, roads were built as straight as they could be. There was no heavy machinery to move a hill, or flatten a valley, in the early to mid 1800’s. Surveyors were extremely important at that time, to get the best road possible. If it could come in using less materials, and more importantly, less money, so be it. Most bridges across streams along the way crossed at a right angle to the stream. This was to make the bridge both safer and less expensive.
The hilly terrain of the area southwest of Indianapolis made the National Road surveyors a bit of hassle, as well. Hence, the relatively straight road that we know today was a lot of work and bending the old road into shape…and out of existence. The following maps show the road as it was in 1910. I wanted to give a comparison map from USGS maps…but the earliest available at this time is 1941, meaning that the road has already been replaced in most areas. And looking at Google Maps, there are very few sections that still exist of the original road that was replaced. But, I hope that these maps will start your own research into the original federal highway.
On 25 February, 2019, I posted in this blog an article that I had originally written on 19 August 2014 in the Indiana Transportation History Facebook group about the Fairland, Franklin & Martinsville Railroad. Today, I want to look at the end of the railroad, at least west of Franklin, as reported by the Franklin Star of 24 October 1942. Merchants from Trafalgar, Morgantown and Martinsville were trying to save their 89-year old railroad. But the newspaper article brings up more memories and history than it does any real news.
“While merchants of Trafalgar, Morgantown and Martinsville fought hard today to preserve an 18-mile western section of the Big Four railroad from abandonment, residents of cities along the line turned their thoughts to fond memories of gayer days when ‘Old Jerkwater’ was the proud possessor of most of the passenger and freight business between Fairland and the Morgan county seat.” Thus starts the article that appeared on the front page of the Evening Star that day.
Abandonment hearings were held for the section of the railroad on 21 October 1942 in the Franklin City Hall. But the newspaper laments the fact that most of the old timers of the area “unfortunately, most everyone has referred to ‘Old Jerk’ with a touch of laughter, calling it ‘Old Pumpkinvine’ and other names certainly unbefitting to such a fine old institution.”
The first memory shared was that of Tom Sommerville. Sommerville had been a conductor, superintendent and paymaster of the railroad. He is described as “practically the ‘whole show.'” Sommerville had worked on the railroad so long that he was well known by “almost everyone in towns along the line.” One story is related that morning rides from Morgantown to Franklin, a group of men, with Sommerville, would walk to two or three saloons in downtown Franklin. This was after the train had stopped at the Jefferson Street crossing. The stop at Jefferson Street would end with the remark “Well, Ferd ought to be about ready now.”
Ferd Baldwin, the brakeman that would later become conductor, was known to have a vocabulary that would rival a sailor. His description in the newspaper included the words “had the reputation of being the wickedest man in his talk who ever lived, but a pretty good fellow otherwise.” Ferd was a very polite gentleman, unless something on his train went wrong…especially on a cold day.
Once Sommerville thought that Ferd should be ready, he would walk the men back to the station via Water Street. There, they would board the train bound for Fairland, and the trip to Indianapolis. The return to from Indianapolis to Fairland to Morgantown would be repeated that afternoon/evening. No date was described in the telling of this tale. I would have to think that either a) the men made it a ritual to use the Big Four for their journey, or b) it was before the Indianapolis Southern Railway (later Illinois Central, now the Indiana Railroad) made it to Morgantown.
Another story about Tom Sommerville was related by a Mr. Freeman. “Sommerville was one who always had the safety of others foremost in his mind at all times, and Mr. Freeman recalls coming from Martinsville once, ‘bumming’ a ride on a car loaded with pipe. When Uncle Tom finally noticed him at Morgantown, he made Mr. Freeman go back and take a seat in one of the coaches.” It was also stated that “if any of the youngsters wanted to get home, all they had to do was to walk to the railroad and, regardless of whether or not they had the fare, Uncle Tom would always stop the train to pick them up.”
There were times that special trains, especially for basketball fans, were added to the schedule. Several hundred Martinsville High School basketball fans chartered a special train to take them to Shelbyville for what was described as “an important contest.” The train would haul the spectators from Martinsville, through Fairland, to Shelbyville. The train ride home was, apparently, miserable. On a very cold (sub-zero) night, the slow plodding of the train as it carried the downtrodden fans and team back to Martinsville after a sound beating in Shelbyville. The defeat was still in the minds of those onboard the train as it “chugged slowly through Franklin in the wee small hours of the morning on its return journey, the feelings and spirits of the Martinsville supporters at a very low ebb as a result of hte setback and the slow speed of the train on such a cold and disagreeable night.”
The Franklin Evening Star then goes into more of a history of the line.
On 20 January 1846, the State of Indiana incorporated the Martinsville & Franklin Railroad Company. A special act was passed on 13 February 1851, and the railroad opened for traffic on 17 May 1853. At that point, it was operated, under five year lease, by the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad. It ended at the M&I in Franklin. After the lease, the railroad was in such bad shape that on 19 October 1858, it was abandoned due to poor physical condition.
On 19 May 1859, the line was sold at foreclosure. It was conveyed, by deed, by United States Marshall to Franklin Nichols on 28 November 1859. The new railroad, the Franklin & Martinsville Railroad Company, would not be operated during its entire life, stretching from 20 December 1859 to 26 September 1865.
The latter date was when the Indiana General Assembly reincorporated the railroad under the control of General Ambrose E. Burnside and associates, creating the Cincinnati & Martinsville Railroad. The new company would revamp the line between Martinsville and Franklin. On 14 June 1866, the line would be opened between Franklin and Fairland. General Burnside, also in 1865, would propose, and get chartered, the Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad.
The entire line would eventually fall into the Big Four due to the fact that it was leased when completed to Fairland, to the Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette Railroad. Or, actually, that company and the people that would end up with the same through receivership.
The property would be sold once again under foreclosure on 9 May 1877 to become the Fairland, Franklin & Martinsville Railroad. It would be operated by the receiver of the Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette Railroad. The IC&L would become part of the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago Railway on 6 March 1880. Thus the FF&M would be operated by the predecessor company of what would become the Big Four until 7 June 1889. Then it would become operated by the Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis) Railway.
The lease of the Fairland, Franklin & Martinsville would end on 16 June 1915, when, with delivery of the deed dated 17 December 1913, the ownership of the line would become property of the CCC&StL. One last change of “ownership” occurred on 2 January 1920, effective 1 February 1930, when the New York Central Railroad Company leased the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis. The latter would eventually become absorbed into the former.
Today, I want to focus on rail yards in the Indianapolis area. I chose this area because I have access to aerial photographs of the area. I chose the year 1941 because it is the earliest I can find complete photos. There are some available from 1937…and you can check them out at the MapIndy site.
Yes, it is basically only pictures. It also includes links to articles that I have already written…and gives me some future topics to cover.
One of the most interesting places when it comes to railroad history in Indiana is the hill leading out of Madison, Indiana. Madison was the starting point to both the Michigan Road and the first long distance railroad in the state, the Madison & Indianapolis. The problem with Madison is that its location, in the Ohio River bottoms, had always been a detriment to transportation connections to the rest of the state. The hillside behind Madison climbed as much as 400 feet above the town. When the railroad was built, there was no way to accomplish the feat without a serious gradient…a gradient that was very difficult for locomotives at the time to conquer.
As shown in the topographic map above, the city of Madison is at an elevation of 450 feet above sea level, and lower toward the Ohio River. Just north of the city limits, just east of SR 29, the top of the Madison Hill is at an elevation of 850 feet.
The route that is marked SR 29 on the map is the original Michigan Road. It was built to connect the Ohio River at Madison to Lake Michigan at Michigan City. The route of SR 7 was originally the Madison-Indianapolis State Road, which would connect Madison to Indianapolis via Vernon, Columbus and Franklin.
Below is another topographic map of the area, this time from North Madison and the year 1956. It shows in more detail the rise in elevation of the massive hill that was a hinderance to Madison’s growth over the years.
On the 1939 map, it shows that State Road 7 is also called Hanging Rock Road. The map above shows where Hanging Rock actually is. It also shows that SR 29 has become US 421, with the SR 29 designation disappearing from southern and most of central Indiana.
The most “famous” part of the Madison hill is that of the route of the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad. The route of the railroad was cut through the hillside, creating the steepest railroad grade on any Class I railroad in the United States. Over a span of 7,012 feet (1.33 mile), the railroad gained 413 feet in elevation. This created a grade of 5.89 percent, or roughly one foot of elevation every 17 feet traveled.
To put this into perspective, many railroads would build long and winding sections of track to avoid grades higher than, say, two percent. One of the most famous examples of this is Horseshoe Curve outside Altoona, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Railroad built, in 1854, a track that would cross the Kittanning Gap with an elevation change of 1.45 (now, according to Norfolk Southern 1.34) percent. The maximum grade between Altoona and Gallitzin is 1.85 percent.
The steep grade of the Madison Hill was quite the show stopper. In the beginning, train cars were lowered down the grade in an incline car fashion. This meant that the cars were normally disconnected from the locomotive, and pulled up or down the hill using horses, then a cog-wheel system. These methods would be used for the first 20+ years of the lines life. In 1868, the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis Railroad, successor to the Madison & Indianapolis, would introduce the most powerful locomotive built to that time. It was called the “Reuben Wells,” after the man that designed her. The Wells was a wood fired locomotive, built by the railroad at their shops in Jeffersonville. Her sheer weight, around 50 tons, and the fact that all that weight was on driver wheels, made the Wells able to handle the steep grade by adhesion to the track alone. The locomotive would be on the downhill side of every train it worked, slowing the descent, or pushing during the ascent. The Wells would perform this feat for 30 years before being retired in 1898.
In 1926, the Pennsylvania Railroad discussed the likelihood that the Madison cut would be leveled on each side to avoid landslides onto the road bed. The cut would be widened for just that purpose. But the grade has always remained.
While the railroad had changed owners several times, it was not to be part of the 1975 Final System Plan creating Conrail from its constituent parts, including the bankrupt Penn Central. The City of Madison, through the City of Madison Port Authority, would purchase the route from North Vernon to Madison, operating it as the Madison Railroad.
The Reuben Wells, the most powerful locomotive built at the time, still exists and can be visited. In 1968, 100 years after it was built, the Penn Central gave the locomotive to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, where it is on display to this day. After its life on the hill that gave it purpose, it floated around the Pennsylvania Railroad system for many years. It had remained in a Pennsylvania Railroad yard from 1949 to the time it was donated to the Children’s Museum.
Dedicated passenger service to Madison would be discontinued by the Pennsylvania Railroad on 15 August 1935. A passenger coach, attached to freight trains bound for the city, would do that function until they too were discontinued on 10 October 1938.
The Madison Hill that still remains today would have been bypassed completely had a plan started in 1853 not run into financial problems. That plan called for a 4.75 mile detour through the Clifty Creek valley to the top of the hill. $309,479 was spent on the plan, which would have included two tunnels, before the railroad ran out of money for the project.
Modern engineering, including the US 421 bypass, have made the rise out of Madison less noticeable and intimidating. The best ways to experience the hill today, at least by car, are using the State Road 7 entrance to Madison, or following the Historic Michigan Road Byway.
It should be noted that the reason that Madison was picked for Indiana’s first railroad was that it was the closest point to Indianapolis on the Ohio River. It was, at the time of statehood, also the second largest town in the new state. The Michigan Road was designed to end at the town…but not by complete consent. The vote to end the road at Madison was 11 for and 10 against. The Madison-Indianapolis State Road was built to connect county seats to the new state capitol. Today, Madison is a historic town, with many things to see and do. It is always worth a visit.
Today, I want to cover two things that have a close relationship. Recently, I covered the end of SR 100 and US 52 on the southeast side of Marion County, and why it was the way it was. (See: US 52 And the End Of SR 100.) But not much has ever been written about the other end of SR 100’s north and east bypass of Indianapolis. Part of that is because the road just ended. But where it ended was interesting. And right near the end of SR 100 is the community of Royalton, a location on the old Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road that received a post office in 1832, but is now the location of a subdivision and the junction of Interstates 465 and 865.
The first thing to realize is that the end of SR 100, at the old Lafayette State Road (now just Lafayette Road), was a relatively modern invention, much like its counterpart on the other side of the county. I have covered, in great detail, the creation of SR 534 and SR 100 (both are the same, by the way) with the article SR 100: How did it come to be? Suffice it to say that construction had begun on the non-existent road in 1948 when it was still SR 534.
The new construction would be completed in time for the 1950 Indiana Official State Highway map to have been published. Now, one could skirt Indianapolis from the northwest corner of the county to US 40 due east of the state capitol. At that time, US 52 also became a divided highway. At least for the intersection of the two state roads. (Yes, US 52 is a US highway…but it really is a state road.)
The intersection of the two roads wouldn’t change much from 1956 until sometime before 1995, when the grassy area was removed from Lafayette Road. By that time, both the US 52 and the SR 100 designations had been removed, as they were both replaced by new roads. US 52, through this section, would be moved to duplex with Interstate 65. SR 100 was expanded, and replaced by a complete bypass loop called Interstate 465.
Now, I have seen some maps of SR 100, from the Indiana State Highway Commission (meaning those maps are official), showing that SR 100 did not end, for a few years, at US 52. The designation SR 100 would be continued along Lafayette Road to outside Whitestown, where it ended at SR 334. (I scanned those maps, but can’t find them at this point.) This made US 52 and SR 100 a duplex through the community of Royalton.
The community of Royalton is in Boone County, just north of the Hendricks County line. When the state built the road connecting Indianapolis to Lafayette, now called Indianapolis Road in Boone County and Lafayette Road in Marion, there were two different kinks in the road that the state would, when it reclaimed the facility, remove. The first would be north of 88th Street where Stones Ferry Road is today.
The other was an “S” curve that started just outside Marion County, in Hendricks County, but crossed over the Boon County line shortly after it began. it would swerve to the north, then almost due west to turn north again. When the state came through to straighten US 52, the new road went right through the middle of the “S” curve.
That wasn’t the last of the destruction of the old “S” curve. In 1960, Interstate 65 was also built through the area…crossing over US 52, which it was replacing, in the exact spot where the then new US 52 crossed the “S” curve. This finally split the curve into two separate parts, divided by an interstate.
A Google Map satellite image, snipped on 15 October 2020, shows that not much has changed in the area, although there is a subdivision north of Royalton proper. The three maps that I have used (1953 topo, 1964 topo and the 2020 Google snip below, cover the same area…from the intersection of Indianapolis Road and Boone County Road 750 South to the intersection of Lafayette Road and 88th Street in Marion County.
Over a year ago, I wrote a blog entry about the Michigan Road at Logansport (“Michigan Road at Logansport“). In that article, I made a pretty good case for the route of the Michigan Road through the town, using an 1836 map of the towns of Logansport and West Logan (“Plan of the town of Logansport and West Logan“). This articles is not to counter that article. I want to show that source materials are important…and their distance from the original source, whether that be in distance or time, is also very important.
In 1914, the Indiana State Board of Accounts published a book called “Development and lands of Michigan Road.” I have mentioned this several times over the history of this blog. It is a very important research tool for those studying the Michigan Road in its entirety. The detail that the Board of Accounts gave to the book is incredible. And, because of the authoring organization of the book, it would be almost impeachable as a source. After all, the Michigan Road was built by the state of Indiana, which should have records of surveys, deeds, cash outlays, etc. And the Board of Accounts would have had those records.
If one looks at the map of the Michigan Road through Cass County (which is the link I provided above for the book from the State Board of Accounts), the map shows that the Michigan Road separates from what would become called the Burlington Road in Section 2, Township 26 North, Range 1 East, and heads due north to cross the Wabash River west of the town of Logansport. In today’s terms, this would be where Lynas Avenue turns away from Burlington Avenue.
Another important note. The Burlington Road was the same as the Michigan Road. The route out of Logansport, towards Burlington, would eventually be sold to a toll road company that would change the name. In Logansport, it was called Burlington Avenue because that’s where Third Street in town headed…to Burlington.
What is now Cicott Street from West Clinton Street to Wabash Avenue, is what is shown as the Michigan Road route through Cass County. This Board of Accounts book shows that the Michigan Road does not enter Logansport at all, but bypasses it.
Now this is where I said distance, in both time and location, are important. The Board of Accounts book was, as mentioned before, written in 1914. No matter the number of records available, it was still 80 years after the road was constructed.
The second thing at play is that nothing ever went completely to plan when it came to roadbuilding projects at the time. It is entirely possible that the surveyors purposely bypassed Logansport at the time. Granted, there was very little in that area of the state at the time. It would not have been like later road projects that were “encouraged” by local government and business officials to run the road through this town or that. (I call this the “oh, look at all the money I dropped” plan. It happened quite a bit…especially in the Auto Trail era.) There were very few people there.
I tend to err on the side of the 1836 Logansport map linked to above. First, it was created in 1836, while the town of West Logan was being planned. Two, the people making the map want it to be as accurate as possible, since it is a real estate company trying to sell lots in the aforementioned West Logan. Three, and most important, road builders, especially in that era, knew the importance of not skipping a town if they could at all help it. Logansport, no matter how small, would be an important place to get food, sleep and maintenance along the miles of vast forests and farms in northern Indiana at the time. Logansport, like Indianapolis, predated the road. Other points between those two came up because of the road.
Now, I know, there is nothing specifically showing in the 1836 map of Logansport that the route went through town. The closest thing to it is the word “Michigan Road” north of the Eel River, east of the Canal, and the fact that there is a bridge at Wall Street in West Logan to connect to Logansport. Oh, and the fact that the bridge from Biddle Island south is labeled “Michigan Road to Indianapolis.”
But these facts will keep my thought process as this being the original route of the Michigan Road.
Last year about this time, I was going through a series of articles called the “Road Trip 1926,” where I traced the routes of the roads maintained by the Indiana State Highway Commission, and their new numbers, as of 1 October 1926: the day of the Great Renumbering. It was nearly a year ago I covered the new US 52. I was always intrigued by the route that was assigned the number 52, especially at its northern end. US 52, originally, started at US 41 in Boswell, although the road was under construction to have US 52 end at US 41 northwest of Fowler, as it has been reported to have done since the beginning.
But the route to get to Boswell is what intrigued me. And in researching that, I discovered that Fowler has had a state road running through it since 1920, the first year the ISHC had added roads to its inventory after the first five were added in 1917. But then, it wasn’t what I thought, either.
Let’s just tackle this one road at a time, numerically.
Original State Road 6: When this road was originally added to the state highway system, it started in Madison, following the old Michigan Road out of the city to Bryantsburg. At that point, it then used the old Madison-Versailles State Road to connect to Versailles. The next part of the trip connected Versailles to Napoleon, where it would follow the old Michigan Road to Indianapolis. If this sounds familiar, it is because it is still the rough route of US 421 today, and it was the route of the Michigan Road Auto Trail…although Versailles was never on the original Michigan Road.
From Indianapolis, the original SR 6 left Indianapolis via the original Lafayette State Road. At Lebanon, it turned north through Frankfort, Rossville, Delphi, ending at original SR 7 at Monticello. Now, you may be asking, “what does that have to do with the area you said you wanted to cover?” In 1923, the first state road renumbering occurred. OSR 6 turned west at Rossville onto what had been OSR 29 to end west of Oxford, south of Fowler, at OSR 9. But by 1923, OSR 9 had become OSR 10. More on that later.
The OSR 6 route would, on 1 October 1926, become part of US 52 and SR 22. The US 52 designation was a temporary one, as the road was already was a proposed relocation on the Great Renumbering map of October 1926.
Most websites that cover the US highway system have US 52 ending northwest of Fowler in the 1926 plan. To be fair, as shown on the 1926 map above, it did…or would. The whole thing can be a bit confusing.
Original State Road 9: The only reason that OSR 9 is on this list is because that is what the road was in 1920. OSR 9 started, in 1920, in Rockville, heading north to meet the then Dixie Highway at Hillsboro. It then left Veedersburg, through Attica, Williamsport, Boswell, Fowler, ending at OSR 7 west of Goodland. In 1923, the number would change to OSR 10.
Original State Road 10: Starting, in 1920, in Evansville, travelling north through Princeton, Hazelton, Vincennes, Sullivan, Terre Haute, Clinton, Newport, and ending west of the Wabash River at OSR 33 (Dixie Highway) west of Covington. In 1923, the designation would change. OSR 10 would end at Clinton, where the old OSR 10 would be designated OSR 54 from that point north. OSR 9 would become OSR 10 starting in Rockville and heading north. Instead of ending at OSR 7, the OSR 10 designation would takeover the route that had been Original State Road 49 from Kentland north into the Chicago Metropolitan Area on the Indiana side of the state line.
OSR 10 would become the rough original route for US 41 in October 1926, with a newly constructed road heading north from Boswell to a newly constructed road halfway between Fowler and Earl Park heading into Kentland. Fowler itself would be off the state highway system for maybe two years while the new US 52 was being built through the area. Both US 41 and US 52 would be completely hard surfaced before the maps came out in late 1928 for the 1929 travel season.
Around the near center of Indianapolis is the Indianapolis Belt Railway. It never actually made it completely around the city, but it did make it enough to serve almost every major outlying industry in it. Today I want to focus on one part of the railroad…and one junction in particular: Dale.
Dale is located between Madison Avenue and East Streets, just south of Beecher. Visiting the junction is quite easy, as one could literally walk right up to it. It is still legally trespassing, so I recommend you do it at your own peril.
Dale junction is where the Indianapolis Belt meets the old Madison & Indianapolis. When the Belt was originally being constructed, Dale was the end of the line. The Belt came from the west, dead ending at the Belt just east of the old Madison State Road. Construction past this point, and to be honest the majority of the Indianapolis Belt Railway, began in 1876 heading east from Dale. Connections to the Madison went both ways from the Belt.
With the completion of the Belt east of the Madison, the two tracks connecting to the Belt heading west fell more or less into disuse. Most maps I have seen show the connections running east, both north and south of the Belt most of the time. The western connections vary. Some have the northwestern connection, some have the southwestern connection. Very few have both at the same time. And, hence, very few maps I have seen show all four connections in place.
By the time the first aerial photos are available, in 1937, the northwest corner of Dale no longer contained any connection tracks. It is hard to tell in the southwestern connection track was in place. It does, however, look like if it wasn’t in place, it hadn’t been gone for long. Also apparent in the 1937 aerial is the concentration of industrial tracks entering the Stokely plant that was at the Belt and East Street. This factory would go on to be the Gatorade Bottling plant, before it was moved in the late 1990’s – early 2000’s.
The northwestern connection track would never be put back in place. A factory was built in that section of the right of way, coming really close to both sets of tracks. The southwestern connection track kept coming and going. In 1941, it looks to be there, but the resolution isn’t the greatest. In 1956, it is mostly there…but again, with the resolution, it is hard to tell. That section of the map is unavailable in 1962. But it is in place in 1972, as shown below.
The southwestern connection track would finally be permanently removed sometime before 1978, probably under Conrail. The question that comes up when discussing this is: why not connect all the tracks in all directions? From what I can tell, there are two answers to that question. First, is, honestly, why connect them in all four directions. Train movements can be made, as long as the track isn’t overly busy, in all four directions using just two connecting tracks. Going west simply required some backing movements.
Second, tax purposes. For the longest time, railroads were getting hit really hard for property taxes across the United States. It was no different in Indiana. Some locations were jacking up the assessed value of the railroad rights of way, or, most often, charging much higher rates for those rights of way. Eliminating some of them cut taxes for the railroad quite a bit.
Sometime between 1979 and 1986, the Belt Railway was single tracked through the Dale crossing. It remains that way to this day. It does make for some interesting stories at times. One time, in 2000 or 2001, I was standing at the East Street crossing of the Belt watching trains. Two of them as a matter of fact. One was heading westbound on the Belt, just east of East Street. One was going eastbound, sitting in the middle of Dale crossing. I didn’t stay to see which of the long trains won that argument, as it was late at night, and I was tired.
I have, over the past 18 months, done several articles about the Interstate Public Service electric traction line that would run south from Indianapolis, ultimately connecting to Louisville. From the Indianapolis end, it would follow what is now Shelby Street south to connect to the old Madison State Road (Madison Avenue) on its way to Greenwood. From there, it followed either the Madison Road right of way, or that of the old Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis (later Panhandle and Pennsylvania Railroad) right of way. With slight detours in towns, it would hold true to those rights of way.
While doing other research, I found a 1942 USGS topo map showing the route of the old IPS route from north of Edinburgh to north of Seymour. What I found was interesting. Yes, the Interstate Public Service line followed the Pennsylvania Railroad to a point south of Columbus. From there, it blazed its own trail across the Bartholomew County landscape on its way to Azalia, where it shared the right of way with the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific, familiarly known as the Milwaukee Road.
It would follow the Milwaukee into Seymour, where it would split again for its southbound journey to the Ohio River.
The only map of the route that I have found, so far, is the one to the left. This is a section of that 1942 USGS map with the interurban route highlighted in red.
It should be noted here that this map was released the year after the last train would run along the line, as mentioned in this article: Interstate Public Service.
Edinburgh itself was .3 miles south of Stop 42, known as Irwin Siding. Irwin Siding was 31.5 rail miles south of the Indianapolis Traction Terminal. The next numbered stop, Stop 43, also known as Elk Siding, was .7 miles south of that. This put Elk Siding at milepost 32.5, along the Bartholomew/Johnson County line. Stop 44 was located at the intersection of the traction line and what is now Bartholomew County Road 900 North.
Another stop, King Siding, was located halfway between County Roads 900N and 800N. The list of stops shows that there was possibly a passenger stop here. This siding would have been at what is now the south end of Edinburgh, near where there is a private drive coming from Walnut Street towards the railroad tracks. The above topo map shows no farmhouses in the area, so I lean toward it being just a passing siding.
From there, south to Columbus included: Stop 45 (34.5) at CR 800 N Stop 46 (35.6) at CR 700 N Taylorsville, 36.1 miles from Indianapolis, at Tannehill Road Stop 47 (37.1) at CR 550 N Stop 48 (37.6), CR 500 N Stop 49, CR 450N Perry Siding (Stop 50) at CR 400N Lowell (Stop 52) at Lowell Road Washington and 10th Streets, also known as Corn Brook Siding Columbus, located at Washington and Third Streets, 42.9 track miles from Indianapolis.
It is not hard to find the location where the interurban tracks crossed the Flat Rock River to enter Columbus. Keep in mind that electric power service entered the city via the power lines that served the interurban. It was kind of a two for one deal. The lines that supplied power to both the city and the electric traction now belong to Duke Energy. Those lines were once part of the Public Service Indiana company before being purchased by Duke Energy. They started as part of the Interstate Public Service company, serving the electric traction lines that crossed at that location.
One of the things that makes interurban lines so generally easy to follow, especially in rural areas, is the remnants of the power feed lines. Many of those lines are still there because the electric company that put them there still has the right of way. When the interurbans were built, the electricity that was provided to run them was a bonus to the company. Or so it was thought. Turned out, the electric traction roads were always losing money by themselves, and staying afloat by selling electricity. When the Federal Government ordered the separation of the traction lines from the electric utilities, the choice for the companies was easy. Bye-bye traction lines.
In places southeast of Columbus, where the electric lines no longer exist, the remnants of the traction lines do still stand out. Some property lines along the way still exist, and can be easily seen in both Google Map’s satellite imaging, and in the closer up views of the regular maps.
From Columbus to Azalia, while the traction line went cross country, there were eight stops: Stop 53; Stop 54 (Troy Siding); Stop 56; Stop 57 (Newsom Siding); Mineral Spring; Stop 58; Stop 59 (Morris Siding) and Azalia. Azalia is unique (sort of) in that before the town was Stop 59 and after was Stop 61. Most of the time, towns were not counted in stop numbers.
The Interstate Public Service lines joined the Milwaukee Road at what is not County Road 800 South, which the IPS considered Stop 61, which was 52.3 miles south of the Indianapolis Traction Terminal. The next town along the way was Reddington. It was after Stop 62 (Gravel Pit), Stop 63, Stop 64 (Gibbons Siding), and Stop 65. The line crossed the Bartholomew-Jackson County line at Gibbons Siding. Reddington was not Stop 66, that was nearly a mile south of the town.
At some point, between Stop 66 and Stop 67 (57.4 and 58.5 miles south of Indianapolis respectively), a stop was added half way between the two. This was known as Stop 66 1/2. This was done occasionally, as sometimes roads and/or farms were added between the original locations. Most stops were at county roads in the rural sections. If a new road or farm was built along the line, then adding a stop at that location was often done.
After Stop 67, there were only four more before reaching Seymour. They were Stop 68, Stop 69, Tople and Seymour. The last two would also be considered numbered stops, strangely. Stop 71, called Seymour, was 62 miles from the Indianapolis Traction Terminal. This would put that station almost half way to the Louisville Terminal, which was 116.8 rail miles from Indianapolis. The last stop number used, Stop 106, was 14.4 miles north of Louisville. From that point, stops were named, and rather close together…being that there were 24 stops in that 14.4 miles.
This is a brief overview of the Interstate Public Service from Edinburgh to Seymour. As more maps become available, I plan to cover this further.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today marks the 500th entry in the Indiana Transportation History blog. I have said it before, and will say it again: I want to thank each and every one of you for your support. You make this a very fun project to work on. I appreciate you spending time with my ramblings on Indiana history. Thank you, very much.
Recently, a picture was posted in the Indiana Transportation History Facebook group of a railroad crossing in Griffith, Indiana. Actually, it was three railroad crossings. In different directions. Across a street. That picture, as shared to the group by Randy Wilson, is available here. One of the comments to the picture was “what logic told to have all the tracks cross at that point?” You know, it’s a good question. But I want to focus on how they got there in the first place.
First of all, where and what is Griffith? Griffith is a town in Calumet Township, Lake County, Indiana. (Although as of 2020, the town was looking to legally remove itself from Calumet Township, moving either to St. John Township or North Township, both of which it borders.) The town itself claims to have been established in 1904. It had appeared on maps prior to that. It is in the Chicago Metropolitan area. As such, it became in the crosshairs of transportation facilities.
The town came into being in 1880, with the completion in the area of the Grand Truck, shown on the map above as moving from east-southeast to west-northwest. The town’s very name, apparently, came from the surveyor of that section of the railroad, E. P. Griffith. That section of the Grand Trunk started life as the Chicago & State Line Extension Railway Company. This company was formed by the state of Indiana by law of 17 April 1879. By 8 September 1879, the Chicago & State Line Extension Railway had been consolidated into the Northwestern Grand Truck Railway Company. Between the two companies, 24 miles of railroad were built from Valparaiso to the Illinois-Indiana State line. This was, according to the Interstate Commerce Commission, was completed in 1880.
The Northwestern Grand Trunk would not last long, either. It would be consolidated with four other companies on 6 April 1880 to form the Chicago & Grand Trunk Railway. This would fall into receivership 3 January 1900, and be sold at foreclosure to the Indiana & Illinois Railway on 31 October 1900. 22 days later, it would become a part of the Grand Trunk Western Railway Company.
The Michigan Central rails through the area were also built by another company originally. But not one that would become part of the Michigan Central. Completed in 1854, 36 miles of track were constructed to connect Michigan City, Indiana, to the Illinois-Indiana State Line through the area that would become Griffith. This track was built by the New Albany and Salem Railroad. Yes, the same company that would later be known as the Monon. It would be acquired by the Michigan Central on 4 October 1878.
Two railroads that show up on that 1900 map that are hard to nail down are the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway and the Erie. Both are well documented…but I always want to make sure that I have every bit of my information nailed down. ICC reports from both of these lines is sparse. I will be looking more into this.
Four years after the printing of the map above, the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad company completed a railroad track of almost 14 miles from Beatrice to Griffith. This track was completed on 7 February 1904. The railroad worked its way out of Griffith to the Illinois-Indiana State line, a total of just shy of eight miles, in October of the same year. The Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville would be sold at foreclosure on 23 June 1910, becoming the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company of Indiana on 5 July 1910.
As shown in the above USGS map, Griffith became quite the railroad junction town by 1956. At that time, five rail companies would cross the town: New York Central (Michigan Central); Elgin, Joliet & Eastern; Chesapeake & Ohio; Grand Trunk; and the Erie. By 1968, the Erie would become part of the Erie-Lackawana, and the New York Central would merge with longtime rival Pennsylvania to form Penn Central.
The Grand Trunk Western had been a part of the Canadian National since 1923, when the Canadian government formed the Canadian National out of several properties that were consolidated and taken over by that government. In 1971, the Grand Trunk found itself more free of CN influence, as a new holding company was formed to contain the GT’s losses. This would last two decades, when the Canadian National would reassert its control over the GTW. The Canadian National would, 16 years after the reimaging of the GTW to CN, would purchase the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern. The CN would announce the purchase in 2007. On the first day of 2013, the EJ&E name was officially removed from being a corporate entity for (at least right now) good.
Below is a 1992 USGS Map of the area. It shows the old Michigan Central, EJ&E, Erie and C&O as old railroad grades.
More research is needed. But this is a brief overview of how a little town in a swampy area of Indiana became a railroad center.
When one looks at SR 37 northeast of Indianapolis, it is most often seen through the eyes of Interstate 69. And, honestly, I can understand that. But the current location of SR 37 through the area predates the interstate by at least 15 years. Looking through the history of the road, its purpose might not have been what I had always assumed. I know it was built to bypass Noblesville and Fishers. Let me explain.
Rumblings started when the state was planning to rebuild SR 37 through Fishers and Noblesville. This plan started in 1949. In 1950, it was reported that the citizens of Noblesville demanded a bypass of their city. At the time, SR 37 entered both Fishers and Noblesville along the old Fort Wayne (Allisonville) Road, and passed through Noblesville as Tenth Street. The traffic volumes along the state highway were getting higher and higher, especially in Noblesville. One plea came from Mrs. Alan Tener, representing the Parent-Teacher Association. She noted that “1,000 pupils attend three school buildings located on the present Ind. 37 in Noblesville. She said the Boy Scout traffic patrols have done an excellent job in preventing injury to the pupils, but that it is too great a responsibility for 11-year-olds.” (Source: Indianapolis News, 18 January 1950)
Flash forward to 26 April 1952, it was reported in the Indianapolis Star of that day that “Ind. 37 To Be 4-Lane; Gas Tax Hike ‘Needed’.” The Indiana State Highway Commission planned on making a four-lane limited access highway from Indianapolis to a point northeast of Noblesville. The entire plan consisted of, as reported by the Star, “12 miles of new construction in a Noblesville by-pass and 13 miles of reconstruction following the present highway in large part.” The cost, in 1952, was estimated to be $5,625,000.
But the limited amount of money from the gas tax was causing the ISHC to get behind on maintenance, let alone allow for new construction such as that on this project. It was estimated that the section of road between Noblesville and Indianapolis saw an average of 6,000 to 7,000 cars a day in 1952.
The new road plan called for “two one-way strips of pavement, each 24 feet wide, and 15 feet apart to a point about two miles north of Road 100” (then 82nd Street). “Then the division between the pavements will be widened to 30 feet.” The plan was for SR 37 to veer to the northeast from about three miles south of Noblesville, running 1.25 miles east of the city, and connecting in a straight line to the then current SR 37 northeast of Noblesville. The right of way would be between 120 and 150 feet wide through the project zone, requiring some property purchases.
This was after the State Highway Commission had stated in March 1952 that construction could be started that year. The proposed location was to be .25 east of the Hamilton County Home. This was the plan that Hamilton County government officials liked the best, as other surveys put the new road closer to the home.
Moving forward, the SR 37 bypass would have a contract bid date established: November 1955. But it wouldn’t for a complete bypass of Noblesville. The bid was to build a two lane bypass east of Noblesville starting at SR 32, working 2.6 miles north to connect to the then current SR 37. (It should be noted that two other projects were to be bid at this time, as well – two railroad underpasses on the Madison Avenue Expressway and the SR 46 bypass north and east of Bloomington.)
The results of the bidding for the project were announced on 22 November 1955. Grady Asphalt Inc., of Indianapolis, placed the low bid of $362,556.87 for the 2.6 mile section of new road. The engineering estimates at the time were $423,883.63.
The plan was, according to reports, to build the new SR 37 from the point 2.6 miles north of SR 32 to a point on Keystone Avenue, in Indianapolis, near 44th Street. According to the Tipton Daily Tribune of 17 September 1956, a detour at the northern end of the above let construction area would be in place for 30 days, forcing traffic along the “new” State Road 19 (which had been proposed and built when the proposal for the new SR 37 bypass was released) and into and through Tipton. The closure was due to the fact that the old SR 37 intersection with the new construction area was to be moved south to connect to the new SR 37 at a right angle. This required that one half mile of the old road be removed, and, according to the newspaper, the new intersection be moved south by one quarter mile.
After the first contract was let, the rest of the road’s contracts soon followed. This encouraged several articles in the Noblesville Ledger about pending rash of accidents that were soon to follow on this “excellent” road. Especially concerning was the intersection of SR 37 with SR 32/38. The original state plan was to allow SR 37 to be free flowing, with stop signs controlling the SR 32/38 multiplex. This was seen by the newspaper, Hamilton County government officials, and ordinary citizens in general as not one of the best ideas.
While the people of Noblesville demanded that SR 37 bypass their city due to traffic concerns, they weren’t exactly ready to give up a state road though there. After the completion of the new SR 37, the designation SR 37A was applied to the old SR 37 route along the Allisonville Road. That designation would last into the 1980’s before the state finally put its foot down to remove it from the ISHC maintenance list. More about that can be read in my article “SR 13/37 in Marion and Hamilton Counties.”
After World War II, two of the largest railroads in the Eastern United States were fighting for survival. Both had been hit hard by massively increased traffic and deferred maintenance during the war years. How each dealt with it, however, was a different story…and led to some very bad feelings over the years. Those railroads were the Pennsylvania and the New York Central. Bitter rivals, until they couldn’t afford to be anymore. Bitter acquaintances which caused them to afford it even less.
It all started in the 1950’s. Both railroads were floundering. They were, by far, the largest companies east of the Mississippi. The Pennsylvania, at one point, hired more people than the Federal Government. When rail traffic was dying after the war, and the Federal Government controlled what rail companies could charge, these two companies had two choices when it came to spending what little money they had: employees and maintenance. (There were more places to put money, yes, but these were the major two!) The New York Central, brought up to be a businessman’s railroad, tried their best to split these down the middle. The Pennsylvania, always known as a railroadman’s company, often erred on the side of the employees. This led to a shortage of cashflow, for the PRR, for the maintenance that was really needed. And this led to some major problems.
So the two railroads went out to find partners to help with the little thing called survival. The New York Central owned a big chunk of the Chesapeake & Ohio. The Pennsylvania owned a large share of the Norfolk & Western. All they needed was for the government to approve mergers along those lines. Which didn’t happen. As they scrambled for a way to survive, both companies realized that the only way to survive was to combine forces. Combining forces happened…the survival not so much.
But before the merger, the PRR/NYC management started working on joint projects in case the Interstate Commerce Commission should, at hearings in August 1962, seriously consider letting these two giants get together. One such project was proposed for the New York Central’s Big Four Yards in Avon.
The State of Indiana was important to both railroads. Those two companies, by far, were the largest railroads in the state, with the Pennsylvania being the bigger of the two. If the two were to go ahead together, it would certainly affect a lot of the state.
The Indianapolis News of 17 July 1962 described that the “officials of the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroads announced plans here today to build a $4,285,000 diesel engine maintenance terminal at the Big Four freight yard in Avon.” The Avon yards, at that point, weren’t even two years old, having been dedicated on 15 September 1960. The News continued “construction of the terminal hinged on approval by the Interstate Commerce Commission of the proposed merger which has been requested by the two systems. ICC hearings on the merger proposal are scheduled for late August.”
The new repair facility would require three years to build, and would provide for the maintenance of 570 locomotives.
More cost-saving plans were announced at the meeting announcing the planned maintenance terminal. In the Indianapolis area, most of the measures would lean toward New York Central facilities.
First, a major expansion to the Big Four Yards in Avon. Since it was new, and one of the world’s largest and most modern railroad yards, it was decided that Avon would become the gateway to the southwest for the combined system’s freight.
Second, consolidation of passenger equipment maintenance would be done with the New York Central’s Beech Grove shops being the beneficiary. Most major repair of freight equipment would be moved to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, to the Pennsylvania Railroad shops there. All major passenger equipment maintenance would move to Beech Grove.
Third, the Pennsylvania’s two major yard facilities in Indianapolis, Hawthorne and the Transfer Yards, would see major sections abandoned in an effort to save money on maintenance and taxes. Which leads to the fourth item on the NYC/PRR management list, availability of the abandoned facilities for industrial development.
Fifth, use of NYC’s Hill and west side yards, as well as the unabandoned portions of Hawthorne and Transfer, for freight service to support local industries.
And last, but not least, total removal of the Indianapolis Union Railway as a separate corporate entity. The IU owned trackage in and out of Union Station, the station itself, and the Indianapolis Belt Railway. However, due to the way that the Indianapolis Union was built, the Pennsylvania Railroad owned 60 percent of the company, with the other 40 percent being owned by the New York Central.
The railroad management stressed that potential job losses in the Indianapolis area, under this plan, would be around 256. It was also stressed that this compares to the 11,000 employees that have been laid off annually by both railroads over the previous decade. Also, the 256 employees would have job protection under the ICC plan. Those 110,000 people laid off previously had no job protections at all.
Ultimately, the New York Central/Pennsylvania merger would occur on 1 February 1968. The resulting company, Pennsylvania New York Central Transportation Company, or Penn Central, would stagger around for approximately two years before becoming the largest bankruptcy in the United States to that time. Avon would become the largest yard facility in the area. Hawthorne and the Transfer Yard would be scaled back. Beech Grove would take over passenger maintenance…and would go with the passenger service when Amtrak was created. The Pennsylvania’s east-west mainline through Indianapolis would be abandoned in favor of the New York Central’s.
And, ultimately, the company created out of the ashes of the Penn Central debacle, Conrail, would be split up among the two major eastern US railroads: CSX and Norfolk Southern. And when that split happened, the equipment of Conrail was marked to denote which equipment would go which direction. The letters NYC were used to denote equipment going to CSX, a descendant of the Chesapeake & Ohio. The letters PRR were used to mark that which was going to the Norfolk Southern, the descendant of the old Norfolk & Western.
While looking through old USGS topo maps, I found one that caught my interest almost immediately. I have talked over the past year or so about how the current state roads came to be as old county roads from early in Indiana’s history. One that shows this very well is what would become SR 10 in 1919 and US 41 in 1926.
The map to the left shows the county roads between Fort Branch and Hazelton in 1903. Yes, 1903. This is the USGS map, 1903 Edition of the Princeton, Indiana, 1:62500 scale. I have used Microsoft Paint to draw lines of two colors on it. The green lines show where US 41 is today, using the roads as they were in the turn of the 20th century. The blue lines show roads that would be, through history, part of US 41 before it was bypassed. The area in Princeton is harder to nail down, so I included two routes through the town. Both are possible, and since at the time of this map there was no US 41, it didn’t matter which way travelers went.
As is typical of the USGS, no new maps were truly drawn after 1903 at this scale…at least none that are accessible. What is shown to the right is the 1903 map updated to 1942. It shows several changes in the routing of US 41 between its creation in 1926 and 1942.
First, starting at the top, is the Hazelton Bridge. Construction started in 1921 to replace a ferry near that location. The bridge, as mentioned in the link above to another Indiana Transportation History article, carried SR 10 (and the Dixie Bee Highway, as it was known at the time) over the White River near Hazelton. The bridge was massive. Said to be one of the largest ever built (to that time) by a state highway department in the midwest.
Another section that would be moved before 1942 would be south of Patoka. The road that is now Old US 41 between Princeton and Patoka is actually a replacement. During the 1930’s and 1940’s, the Indiana State Highway Commission made it a point to shorten and straighten state highways. A lot of this put the new location of the state highway next to a section of railroad tracks.
If you have any doubt about this building technique, check out SR 67 southwest of Indianapolis (Kentucky Avenue – moved 1936), SR 67 northeast of Indianapolis (Pendleton Pike, or actually, its replacement), SR 44 from Shelbyville to Rushville (railroad tracks were in place until 1980 or so), and SR 135/252 from Trafalgar to Morgantown (road was built around 1940-1941, tracks were abandoned at very near the same time, although some remnants of those tracks still remain 80 years later).
US 41 would run beside the Chicago & Eastern Illinois tracks between Princeton and Patoka, entering Princeton north of the old route by about two blocks. South of Princeton, the old route was followed toward Fort Branch.
By 1962, several changes were made again to US 41. From Patoka to Hazelton, the route was moved to its current location, replacing the old Hazleton bridge and widening and straightening the road most of the way. There was one section of road that was still two lanes according to the USGS maps of 1962…and that was being rectified.
The old Hazelton Bridge remained in place for years after its replacement by the Indiana State Highway Commission. It would be given to the counties for their maintenance.
At the same time, the current routing of US 41 was also completed. The USGS shows the year of the map as 1961 on the Princeton 7.5 degree quad. (The map to the left is the 1962 update of the 1959 Patoka 7.5 degree quad.)
The major point of this article is to show how the country roads looked in 1910, and before the state started taking over, to give an idea of how one got from point A to point B at that time. These maps, especially those of 1903, really show off the routes that were depended upon early in the history of Indiana. It also shows that, in Indiana, the fastest way between two points is not always a straight line.
County road names. Most people don’t give it much thought. A year ago, I wrote an article about the names used around the state for the county roads. Today, I want to look at some of the histories that I have found about the subject.
The subject of naming rural roads was taken up at different times in different parts of the state. Until that point, roads may or may not have had names…but not as some sort of system. Marion County, for instance, had names like Wall Street Pike (West 21st Street from Speedway west) or the name of the resident that paid to have the road maintained. There really was no pattern to any of it.
The Cambridge City Tribune, of 9 August 1900, described the rumblings like this: “In some parts of Indiana a plan is being discussed for having all the county roads named. At the road crossings the names will be placed on posts, something like the old fashioned finger boards. In addition to that each farmer will have his name displayed on a post at the road side at the entrance to his grounds. Something of the kind will be done in all rural districts with the next few years, and it is very much needed. Farmers are beginning to discuss the matter at their meetings.”
St. Joseph County, according to the South Bend Tribune of 2 April 1918, had been working on names for the county roads since the summer of 1917. A plan was accepted and adopted by the St. Joseph County commissioners on 4 March 1918. The current names were placed on the county roads then. In 1934, the South Bend Tribune made sure to point out that rural roads in St. Joseph County were all marked the same way city streets were…with signs hanging high above the road.
The reasons for naming county roads involved things like mail delivery and safety. In the days of the automobile, it made sense to name the roads for travelers to be able to find places. But it started out as an attempt to be able to speed mail delivery. With rural routes all over the state, it was not unheard of that someone’s mail would be delivered to the wrong part of the county. Giving houses numbers, and roads names made mail easier to locate. As for safety, it goes without saying that if the farmer on such and such road had a structure that was on fire, unless the emergency crews where such and such road was, and where the farmer lived, that fire was going to be completely destrucutive.
The most common method of naming county roads in Indiana was called the “Purdue Grid Coordinates.” It is a system where every place in the rural areas of the county are assigned a location based on a central point in the county. This system often involves the north-south middle of the county to be called “Meridian,” and the east-west to be called “Division.” But that is up to the particular county, actually. Some counties do use “00” for the center.
The system was created by researchers for Purdue University’s Joint Highway Research project in the School of Civil Engineering. The plan was to create a system that would allow easier directions for rural areas. For example, the Lafayette Journal and Courier of 9 Jan 1954, used the following example of Doc Smith trying to find Ben Miller’s farm: “take this highway north about five miles, and then instead of turning with the highway at the big pear orchard, continue straight ahead on the County Farm gravel road. It winds a bit, but after about two miles you’ll come to a five-point intersection. Take the road that cuts slightly to the left, follow it to the second crossroad, then turn left. It’s only about a mile from that corner to Wahoo. You’ll have to inquire at the grocery store for Ben’s farm.”
Franklin County, in 1953, was still considering a naming system for the roads of that area. It had been recommended several years earlier, but nothing was ever done.
Hamilton County decided to start looking at their road names in 1958. It started with a report by the Jaycees. That took several years to work on. It was decided that Hamilton County would not use the Purdue grid system, since most people preferred names to numbers. Numbers were assigned from Indianapolis, giving rise to street numbers above 96th to 296th. Each county road, however, that went north and south was given a secondary number to show how far east and west of Indianapolis’ Meridian Street you were. While names were decided upon in the early 1960’s, most addresses weren’t completely determined until the 1990s.
On 10 October 1961 the Rushville Republican printed the following question when it came to county road names: “Is Rush County going to be among the last in the state to get its county roads named and numbered and house numbers for its rural residences? Decatur County is the latest to join the fold. It’s not a costly procedure and it makes it so much easier to locate places in the country. All it takes is a nod, and a bit of cash, from the county commissioners to permit this community to keep up with its neighbors.”
It would be 1962 when all counties in Indiana finally had a system in place, and signs posted. Indiana had passed a law in 1961 requiring all county road intersections to have road name signs posted.
In the early days of the automobile, the Hoosier Motor Club created a scenic tour of Marion County. That tour, an 88 mile journey through the countryside around Indianapolis, was named the Dandy Trail. When one looks at a map, the only part of Dandy Trail that exists by that name is in the northwestern part of the county. And almost none of it was part of the original scenic tour route.
Starting off with an overview of the section of the original Dandy Trail from about 65th Street south to its original connection with Crawfordsville Road from back in 1953. Above 56th Street, it wandered through the Eagle Creek valley on the west side of that stream. It crossed the creek at 56th Street, then followed the lay of the land on the east side of Eagle Creek. From 56th Street south, it was also mostly a dirt road…never having been improved over its 30+ years of existence.
The connection to Crawfordsville Road was made at what is now called Salt Lake Road, although, as one can tell by looking at the map, that name was actually applied to what is now 34th Street. The current westerly bend of the road, connecting it to the dotted line in the bottom left corner of the snippet, came later. I will cover that. That dotted red line is County Club Road.
The next snippet shows the next point of interest…crossing Eagle Creek. Now, I have shown this several times, but I have not been able to do so with maps that actually show the lay of the land before the reservoir was built.
The northern end of the interest area shows the town of Traders Point. The following snippet is from 1953, as well. Traders Point was located on the old Lafayette Road, just north of Big Eagle Creek.
Several changes occurred in the path of the Dandy Trail between 1953 and 1967. First, the building of Eagle Creek reservoir. Second, the building of Interstate 74. And, as show in the following map snippet, the almost complete removal of Dandy Trail between 38th and 46th Streets. Also, the southern end was connected to Country Club Road, as it is today.
And as shown in this map, from 46th Street north to the northern end of this particular quad of USGS topo map, most of the original route was either placed in the flood plain, or in the actual reservoir. One can still see the outline of the old bridge over Eagle Creek near 56th Street in the topographical data. At this time, Dandy Trail didn’t connect between 46th Street and 56th Street.
The northern end didn’t fair much better. Traders Point, a town prior to the building of the reservoir, was no more. But it wasn’t because it was in the reservoir…it was in the flood plain. I will post a link to that particular map to show exactly how much area the reservoir was expected to cover in case of emergency. This particular map shows the area in 1966. The road that is broken by Interstate 65 in the center of the snippet is the original Dandy Trail. Notice that it skirts the northern bank of the reservoir. It is still there today, although accessibility is questionable.
The last image I want to share is the 1967 topo map that had been updated showing conditions in 1980. The purple marks on this map show the updates. A new map was not made, just modifications to the old one. This shows the new Dandy Trail from 38th Street north to 56th Street.
In 1980, 46th Street became Dandy Trail as it turned north toward Eagle Creek Park. Today, that traffic situation is reversed, as 46th Street turns south to become Dandy Trail. Also, the intersection at 38th Street, which was 38th Street ending at Dandy Trail, has been changed over the years to become 38th Street westbound turning south to become Dandy Trail.
Very little of what is called Dandy Trail today is what was originally given that name. But the name survives…as if there is still a connection to the past. The name Dandy Trail seems strange on the Hoosier landscape. But it remains, even if we have to explain why it’s there.
Northeast of where Kentucky Avenue crosses the White River, there is a short, and barricaded, street that connects south southeast to McCarty Street. It is used as access to a parking lot for Lucas Oil Stadium today. Looking at it closely, one can see the remnants of the old stone paving. It is called Sand Street. And where it is today isn’t always where it was. But throughout the history of the city of Indianapolis, it has been really close to where it is today.
The general location of today’s Sand Street was, at one point, actually in the White River. In 1875, the original Sand Street formed the end of Kentucky Avenue at the time. It was crossed by a branch from the Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad that extended south to Pogues Run, located at the corner of what is now S. Dakota Street and Terrace Avenue (if it weren’t private property). Looking at the 1875 map to the left, one would notice that the intersection of McCarty and Sand Streets doesn’t exist, as it would be in the river.
Due to its “insignificant” nature, Sand Street found itself on and off maps for many years. The 1889 Atlas of Marion County shows that the White River channel had been moved, but that Sand Street was not included on the map. The location of the street, however, is, as shown by the lonely little line connecting to Kentucky Avenue and the Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad. Notice that crossing the White River was done at River Avenue, which connected the intersection of River and Oliver Avenues to a bridge that connected south of Greenlawn Cemetery. This bridge had been in place for many years, and would be for years to come.
Sand Street would again appear on maps in 1894 and 1898. It would be shown as running along the original path, not a straight line between Kentucky Avenue and McCarty Street, which still didn’t connect past one block west of West Street. It should be noted that a second crossing of White River was completed in the years between 1894 and 1898, as the Kentucky Avenue bridge was built.
The earliest map reference that I have seen that shows Sand Street in its present location is this 1926 snippet. The previous map that I have found, 1914, doesn’t show Sand Street at all. It should be noted that the two crossings of White River are still River and Kentucky Avenues, although the River Avenue crossing is labelled as Oliver Avenue on this map. Within a decade, the river crossing situation would change.
The first aerial photograph of the area that I have found comes from 1937, and is included below. It shows the new Oliver Avenue bridge across White River, connecting to Kentucky Avenue just south of the intersection of Sand and Kentucky. At this time, the entire area is very industrial in nature, and two branches from the Panhandle (formerly Vandalia, and before that, Indianapolis & Vincennes) curve across Kentucky Avenue on either side of Sand Street. The one on the east side of Sand still heads south towards industrial areas along Dakota Street (have to be careful, it is just Dakota Street…the fact that it runs north and south can create confusion!).
With the exceptions of widenings of Kentucky and Oliver Avenues, and the curving of the Oliver Avenue bridge (between 1956 and 1962) on the east end to connect to the intersection of Kentucky Avenue and McCarty Street, not much changed in the area of Sand Street for many years. Yes, the plants along the street became abandoned and in poor shape, and the railroad connections that cross on either side of the street were removed, the street itself continued in place, and in use.
In 2009, the industrial buildings on either side of Sand Street were demolished, leaving the street itself as an abandoned reminder of what was. 2010 saw it fenced off from the McCarty Street end for the first time. The Google image below shows the Kentucky Avenue end as it appeared in 2009.
As mentioned above, Sand Street is still accessible…on days where parking downtown is needed. It is a privately owned street now, and has the consistency of an alley anywhere else in the city. Since it was basically vacated by the City of Indianapolis, maintenance is taken care of by the owners.
As an aside, the Indianapolis News, on 16 September 1979, ran a story called “Paving the Way to Yesteryear,” which included two photos of the granite paving of Sand Street. I will share those here.
My last blog entry focused on getting in and out of Bloomington using maps from 1910. Today, obviously, is part two. Quick overview. Bloomington was a founded as the county seat in Monroe County, set in a location that was fairly accessible, and given a state university.
First, I want to focus on the Bedford Pike, shown on the map to the left as the red line. Yes, by the name, it is obvious where this road was going when it left Bloomington. However, it was a continuation of the North Pike mentioned in Part One: the Paoli State Road.
Bedford was merely the next county seat on its way to the town of Paoli from Indianapolis. By the time the road had acquired the name “Pike,” toll road companies, or “turnpikes,” had carved the original road into many pieces. From Bloomington, those pieces included the North Pike and the Bedford Pike.
With the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission, the road would fall into state possession in 1920 as State Road 22. With the Great Renumbering, it would become the original route of the much moved SR 37.
The Bedford Pike leaves Bloomington to the south using Rogers Street. South of the city, it connects to Walnut Street, which started life back south of Bloomington as the next subject road.
The blue line on this map shows the South Pike. Sections of this old turnpike to Chapel Hill have been moved and removed over the years. The South Pike starts on Walnut Street, but before it gets to Winslow Road, the old road turns to the southeast on what is now Walnut Pike, to carry over to what is now called Walnut Street Pike, the southern extension of Henderson Street. It follows this Pike to the end, where it turns east on what is now called Fairfax Road. The old road then travelled its way across the Monroe County landscape to Chapel Hill, an unincorporated community in the southeast corner of Monroe County.
Part of this old road is now completely gone. In 1960, the Army Corps of Engineers started damming Salt Creek to create Lake Monroe. This deluged part of the old South Pike near Fairfax Beach.
Two other roads leaving the town of Bloomington at that time were the West Pike and the Rockport Road.
Although it starts heading southwest from Bloomington, the Rockport Road turns move southerly as it makes its way towards Springville. Today, the old road is still called Rockport, starting at the old Paoli State Road (Rogers Street).
The West Pike, the purple line on the map, leaves Bloomington to the west, on roughly the same route as what is now Bloomfield Road. The West Pike was part of the state road connecting Bloomington to Bloomfield. Today, it forms the basic route of what is now SR 45 to a point west of Stanford, an unincorporated community in Van Buren Township
The two railroads that connected Bloomington to the rest of the state were the Monon (actually, the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville) and the Indianapolis Southern (later Illinois Central).
The first railroad to town appeared as the New Albany & Salem, which had been completed between Salem and Crawfordsville in 1854, connecting Bloomington. Five years later, the name of the road was changed to the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railroad, to better show its expanse. As the road expanded, it acquired access to Indianapolis, but not from Bloomington directly. In 1897, the road changed its name to the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville.
Direct access, by rail, from Bloomington to Indianapolis was the Indianapolis Southern Railway. It was chartered in 1899 to build from Indianapolis south to Greene County. It would not be allowed to build in Indianapolis until 1902. The rail lie was completed in 1906 from Indianapolis, through Bloomington, to Effingham, Illinois. The Indianapolis Southern wasn’t a strong railroad, and had been loaned much money by the Illinois Central to complete the route. When the Indianapolis Southern fell into receivership, it became solely owned by the Illinois Central. This happened in 1911.
Today, the only railroad that serves Bloomington is the Indiana Railroad Company, the successor to that section of the Illinois Central. The Monon had been removed, as it was mostly duplicate routes to its successors: Louisville & Nashville; Seaboard Coast Lines; and CSX.