State road 252 is a very little, unassuming, state road that spans Morgan, Johnson and Shelby Counties. It is located between two major east-west major state roads – SR 44 and SR 46. For the longest time in its history, it ended at a town called Flat Rock, which is a location between two major state roads – US 31 and SR 9. It just stopped there. It has also been the subject of a planned extension that never happened, moved to accommodate the Army, and ultimately given a proper end.
The road started as a planned state system extension in 1932. At the time, the state road system didn’t include any routes, with one exception, between Indianapolis and Columbus, that being SR 144. SR 144 was built as a secondary route from Indianapolis to Franklin to alleviate traffic on US 31. SR 44 is also on the 1932 map as an authorized extension. (Yes, you are reading that right. SR 144 came before SR 44.)
The official map of 1933 shows that SR 252 was completed from SR 35 to US 31 near Edinburgh. The following map is courtesy of Google showing the original route of SR 252 from Morgantown to Edinburgh.
The section from Morgantown to Martinsville would finally appear completed on the 1937 Official ISHC map. (http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15078coll8/id/1100/rec/10) By that time, SR 35 had been redesignated SR 135 (that having occurred in 1935 with the coming of US 35 to Indiana). By 1941, the ISHC started building a new SR 135 between Morgantown and Trafalgar along side the Martinsville, Franklin and Fairland Railroad (a Big Four route). It would be 1941 when that railroad was abandoned between Trafalgar and Martinsville. SR 252 would continue along the original route shown in the Google map above, with the section of road between Trafalgar and SR 252 being renumbered SR 535 on the 1942 official map. Also in 1941 is the first time that Flat Rock was shown connected to Edinburgh via SR 252.
Although it did not appear on the 1942 official map, a change was coming to SR 252 in the form of Camp Atterbury. With the creation of the Army facility, SR 252 was moved north approximately four miles. This would put the road in its current location from US 31 to Trafalgar. The old SR 252 was, at the time, only an “intermediate type (mulch, stabilized, road oil mat).” SR 135’s new section, built in 1941, was “high type (concrete, brick or high bituminous),” as was the new SR 252 north of Atterbury. The rest of the road (from Martinsville to Morgantown, and Edinburgh to Flat Rock) remained intermediate type.
Another change made with the creation of Camp Atterbury was the short section of SR 252 that shared the road with US 31. Between 1942 and 1945, a bypass was built around Edinburgh. Old US 31 became SR 79 (the highest primary SR number in Indiana history, BTW). The route original SR 252 didn’t change in this renumbering and bypass. SR 79 would remain in place until 1963. The ISHC official 1963-1964 map shows an interesting routing for SR 252. Instead of connecting at US 31 north of Edinburgh, as it does now, this map shows it connecting SOUTH of Edinburgh. But the 1964 map shows SR 79 back. The 1965-1966 shows the route of SR 252 in its current alignment.
Other than paving that was shown on the 1966-1967 official map, no further changes were made to SR 252 until those shown on the 2007-2008 official map. This change was moving the end of SR 252 from Flat Rock to SR 9 at Norristown.
Going back to 1937, the ISHC had added another section of SR 252 to the Official maps as an authorized addition: from SR 9 northwest of Geneva through St. Paul to SR 29 at St. Omer. By the time the 1938 map came out, that extension was gone.
I have never really found a reason for the number 252 being assigned to this route. It has never connected to 52 (in this case, US 52). A straight line drawn from the end of SR 252 to US 52 would put the connection new New Trenton, near the Franklin/Dearborn County line, and really close to the Ohio State Line. Given ISHC/INDOT preferences, no such connection would have ever existed. The only other logical possibility would be the location of the road in relation to other roads in the area. That doesn’t work, either. A X52 would be somewhere south of Columbus, at least.
Personal note: The links to maps used above are for the general public to access through the Indiana State Library. I do, personally, own originals of the sampled maps. However, I want to make sure that it is known that these snippets ARE from the Indiana State Library collection online. I wanted to include links to those maps so that you can explore for yourselves. Thank you.