What’s In A Name?

A quick look around Indiana will reveal quite a few names of roads that show a part of the history of the area. Names like Rockville Road, Crawfordsville Road, Fort Wayne Road and the like show destinations from way back when the road was created. I have discussed town named roads in the past on this blog. It is not my intention to get back into those.

But what about road names from other sources. County roads, again discussed earlier in my blog history, at least in most of Indiana, are named after locations relative to the center of the county. Northern Indiana counties have different schemes, such as sequential numbers, alphabetical order or trees.

Then there are roads named after people. An example that I see quite often is “Wilbur Wright Road,” a road in rural Henry County, east of New Castle, that leads to Millville, the birthplace of one of the pioneers of aviation. There are many more examples of this sort of thing all over the state.

Another example, especially given the subjects covered on this blog, is “Lincolnway.” Lincolnway is the street name given to the route of the Lincoln Highway. I experience it especially in South Bend and Mishawaka.

There is a Canal Street in Yorktown, and a Railroad Street in Marietta. Old SR 1 north of Cambridge City is called Brick Church Road. It intersects with a road with a name that I have got to investigate if for nothing else than curiosity: Goose Heaven Road.

There are tons of examples of roads named after other forms of transportation. For instance, the most well known of these are the “Stop” roads in southern Marion and northern Johnson Counties. These were named after the stops on the old “Greenwood line” of the interurban. While today they start at Stop 10, Edgewood Avenue had been known as Stop 8 until at least the 1970s. The “Stop” roads still existing are Stop 10, Stop 11, Stop 12, Stop 13 and Stop 18. (As a historical aside, between the Johnson-Marion County line and stop 14, now Frye Road, on the old interurban – and Madison State Road – was a large recreational area. It was called “Greenwood Park.”)

The road that connects my house to US 40 went from one named after a local family to one named after an interurban stop. What was the Bade Free Gravel Road Extension became Franke Road. Due to confusion three miles to the west (Franklin Road), the name was changed to the interurban stop name, which in turn took its name from the landmark on the corner: German Church.

All over the state are remnants of the 1800’s state roads that are called “State Road.” No number. Just State Road. There are also towns that have both a “Main Street” and a “Main Cross Street.”

US 40 has many names in the towns through which it travels: Main Street, Washington Street, National Road, Cumberland Street (or Road).

In Shelby County, there is a road that directly connects SR 9 at the Flatrock River to Greensburg. This road travels through one town between the two termini: Geneva. The road name? Vandalia Road.

What are some of the road names in your area? How did they get those names? It is an interesting exercise in history to figure them out.

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