The Shelbyville State Road

The state road system in Indiana came about in two different phases. The second phase, which I have well documented in the (short) history of this Indiana Transportation History blog. The first phase, starting in the 1820s, led to many of the roads that would become part of the second phase starting in 1917. That first phase consisted mainly of paths through the wilderness. There have been previous entries about one old road in particular, the early state road that would be replaced by the coming of the National Road. But I wanted to discuss another of these original state sponsored paths: the Shelbyville State Road.

Shelbyville has a distinction of being one of the few towns in the state that had two state sponsored roads connecting it to the capitol of Indiana. The main difference is the routings of those two roads. Strangely, the second of these roads would be a more direct route to the Shelby County seat of government. But only because it really wasn’t built to connect to Shelbyville, per se. It was the Michigan Road, which was designed to cross the entire state.

The first road, authorized half a decade before the Michigan Road, takes a very indirect path to Shelbyville. But it leaves its mark on Indianapolis just the same. It was simply called the Shelbyville Road, a name which some parts still maintain. Some more obviously than others.

A little history is in order. Indianapolis’ location was chosen in 1820, with the town platted in 1821. Shelbyville came into being with Shelby County a year later.

When the state authorized a road to connect the two towns, the routing chosen was nowhere near a straight route. It started by using Virginia Avenue southeast from Indianapolis. That avenue was extended to reach the range line one mile east of the center of the new capitol city. That range line is currently known by a shortened version of the state road name: Shelby Street. There, it would follow that range line south a little over a mile and a half, turning southeast again. The southeast turn is now called Carson Avenue. The road then travels southeast, then due south, a little over two miles to another range line now called Thompson Road. Turning east for one mile, the original route then turned roughly southeast again. Here, the city calls the street Shelbyville Road.

The road continues more or less southeast until shortly after crossing into Johnson County. It then turns due south again. But not for long. At Johnson CR 1100 N, or Shelbyville Road, it turns east again for 1.75 miles to Johnson CR 700E, also known as Acton Road. The old road travels due south along Acton Road to Rocklane Road (side note, Rocklane Road is Main Street in Greenwood).

The Shelbyville Road turned east along Rocklane Road to the end of that road just inside Shelby County at Shelby CR 825W. It then turned south along that road to Shelby CR 400N. East along 400N, the old road travels less than a mile to London Road. Note – here the road has been moved to allow better traffic flow. But London Road takes the road trip into Boggstown. There, the road changes name to what it will keep all the way to Shelbyville: Boggstown. Although there are some other names between the two. First is CR 450W, which goes south from Boggstown Road. Then it turned east on CR 100N to turn south again on CR 350W which becomes Boggstown Road again to Shelbyville.

The end of the old Shelbyville Road is at the original path of the road that would replace it, the Michigan Road. Eventually, the old Shelbyville Road would become a toll road, known as the Shelbyville Pike. This would last until the 1890s, when the toll company was bought out by Marion, Johnson and Shelby Counties to become county roads. Because of the duplication by the Michigan Road, it would not become part of the state highway system.

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