Crossroads of America

Indiana. The Crossroads of America.

In the early days of automobile travel, Indiana ended up with more than its fair share of “Auto Trails.” The reasoning for this makes sense. Let’s face it, to get from New York to Chicago, by land, Indiana is in the way.

The Auto Trails are what I want to focus on today.

One of the earliest Auto Trails maps that I have been able to get my hands on is the Rand McNally (RM) Official 1920 District Number 2. RM broke the country into sections, and most of Indiana ended up in District 2.

One of the things to keep in mind is that the 1920 RM shows the Auto Trails, and state roads for both Ohio and Michigan. It shows nothing as far as Indiana state roads. This is really easy to explain. Indiana didn’t have state road numbers until 1919. And even then, there were only five of them.

Some of the most well known Auto Trails were roads like the Dixie Highway, National Old Trails Road, and the Lincoln Highway.

But there were so many more. Old US 31 south of Indianapolis was part of the Jackson Highway. As was US 52 north out of Indianapolis. The Auto Trail version of the Michigan Road basically follows the original route, with the exception of the section from Napoleon to Bryantsburg, which to this day is still marked as a highway…only now it is US 421.

There are so many more in the Auto Trails system. To have a look, I want to share this link:

http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15078coll8/id/2943

It is a link to the Indiana State Library copy of the RM 1920 District 2 map.

There are far too many Auto Trails to cover in one short blog entry. But trust me, I will be covering them in the future.

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