State Roads, 1831 (Part 1)

On my many journeys through the internet researching anything transportation related that I can find, I found a collection of books that contain laws passed by the Indiana General Assembly. Today, I wanted to use one of those books to have a look at what was then, and see how it compares to now. The following excerpts come from Chapter LXXX of the Acts of 1830, effective 10 February 1831. I will be putting the excerpts directly from the book in this post. Some of these roads will show the “special acts” that I mentioned in the Indiana Toll Road(s) post of 25 May 2019. These are roads that were set out for the special interests of a person or small group, with specific locations for that purpose.

One thing that is important to mention at this point. The concept of “state road” was completely different that it is today. Today, a state road is a road that has become the responsibility of the state transportation authority (for instance, now INDOT). Then a state road was a road that was authorized by the state, paid for by the state, but built and maintained by the county through which the road passed. So, basically, the state using Federal land proceeds to pay for, what will be, county roads. Some of these routes DID cross the line between the two different types of state roads.

Section 1: From what I can tell, this road started at what is now Armiesburg, which is on Big Raccoon Creek southeast of Montezuma. (Not sure of this, but given that the start of the road is the Army Ford of the Big Raccoon Creek, it makes sense to me.) Armiesburg is on Parke CR 600W, south of US 36. A quick glance at a satellite image of the area shows where there used to be roads connecting Armiesburg to Montezuma more in a straight line than now. This route connected to Newport and Covington via, I would guess, what became SR 63 and SR 34/US 136. Portland, the next mentioned location on the road, is described in the 1833 Indiana Gazetteer as a “post town in Fountain county. It is situated on the Wabash river about seven miles north of Covington.” From there, the road aimed towards Lafayette. One would assume that it would enter Lafayette along what is now SR 25 and Old US 231. Hard telling, really.

Section 2: This road almost would seem to be straight forward, given that it connects Frankfort (or, Frankford as it is called) to Lafayette. But, nothing could be that easy. There are several routes this route could have taken between the two towns. Some of them might also have been part of the Noblesville-Lafayette State Road that I have also mentioned in another post (SR 38 West of Noblesville, 8 May 2019). My best bet is that it leaves Lafayette along the SR 38 route, then an almost straight line to Frankfort. This is clearly visible on any detailed map.

Section 3: Covington to the Illinois State Line in the direction of Danville. Some of you road geeks out there will notice that this describes one of the routes of the Dixie Highway…and SR 34/US 136.

Section 4: This road may be a little confusing at first. It was when I looked up. It was to connect Greencastle to Chambersburg via Russellville. A quick search on Google Maps will tell most people that this is impossible since Chambersburg and Russellville are in opposite directions; the former being south of Greencastle, the latter being north. This begins to make more sense when it is mentioned that Chambersburg is the old name for a town now called Veedersburg.

Section 5: This is one of the most specifically detailed description I have seen in a road law. The section/range/township mentioned is now where SR 26 crosses the Tippecanoe-Warren County Line. Cranberry Lake (now Cranberry Marsh) is northwest of there. It drains through Holder Ditch. Williamsport, the county seat of Warren County, is southwest of there on the Wabash River. I really need to do some research on this. Going by the maps that I have on hand, this law makes no sense whatsoever. It runs in all directions.

(Note – town charters are this detailed. Most road laws are “go that way, more or less” usually. To give an idea how detailed town & county creation laws can be, the county seat of Marion County, which most know as Indianapolis, really isn’t. The “official” county seat of Marion County is “square 58 in the plat of the town of Indianapolis.” Square 58 is bounded by Delaware, Market, Alabama and Washington Streets. Yes, the location of the City-County building.)

Section 6: Oh, the irony in this one. The location of the northern terminus of this road also happens to be the northern terminus of the Michigan Road: Michigan City. It roughly follows a straight line (very rare) from Lafayette to Michigan City on what is now SR 43 and US 421 (the irony – US 421 is [mostly] the historic Michigan Road from south of Boyleston to Madison).

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