Originally published 24 March 2015.
When the Good Roads movement started in the late 19th century, the primary focus was on, more or less, two things: bicycle transportation and mail delivery. Cars came later into the discussion.
Indianapolis was already a crossroads city. Unfortunately, most of that was eclipsed by being a major crossroads in the world of railroads. While you could get to the city using the trails at the time, Indianapolis really took off when the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad came to town. And to be honest, Indianapolis WAS a town until the railroad was built. 1847 not only marked the coming of the M&I, but the incorporation of the City of Indianapolis.
When the named highways started appearing on the scene, they naturally followed the paths that were already there. The major roads into Indianapolis became a hodge-podge of named routes linking the city to far away destinations.
But what WERE those roads before they became the Dixie, or the Jackson, or any other of the names. That is the purpose of this post.
The National Old Trails Road for 80 years had a shorter name here: the National Road. For those that don’t know, the National Road was built along its route to connect the (then) capital cities of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. (The irony is that there STILL is a road to connect Indianapolis to the now capital of Illinois, it’s just not US 40, it’s US 36).
Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean: The original route from the west connects Indianapolis to Springfield, IL. (See above.) It came into town as the Rockville Road, leaving as the National Road to the east.
Dixie Highway: One route entered from the west along the Crawfordsville Road. The other route entered from the north along Indiana’s first state road, the Michigan Road. One route left the city along the Bluff Road (named for going to the bluffs of the White River at Waverly), the other, again, followed the National Road towards Richmond.
Jackson Highway: Entered from the northwest along the Lafayette Road, left southeast along the Madison Road.
Hoosier Highway: Entered from the northeast along the Oaklandon Turnpike (changed and shortened to Pendleton Pike), left southwest via the Mooresville Road.
Hill & Lake Trail: Entered from the north along the Fort Wayne (Allisonville) Road, left via the Three Notch Road.
Range Line: Entered from the north along the Range Line (Westfield) road, left south via the Madison road.
Some of you may notice that road names are still the same in some cases.