Road Trip 1926: SR 3

Now, through the use of Google Maps and Microsoft Paint, is the route of State Route 3 on 01 October 1926. The maps are shown from north to south, Fort Wayne to Greensburg.

SR 67 – Why?

When the Great Renumbering occurred on 1 October 1926, the general rule was that roads were basically north-south and east-west. There may have been a little out of true cardinal directions, SR 34 and SR 29 come instantly to mind. But they were generally in the cardinal directions. But there was one that didn’t quite fit the scheme. And this was done purposely. That state road was SR 67.

SR 67, at its greatest extent, connected Vincennes (in southwestern Indiana) to the Indiana-Ohio State Line east of Bryant (in east central Indiana) via Indianapolis. Basically, it is a northeast-southwest road, crossing (more or less) diagonally across the state. Unlike all the other renumberings that happened in 1926, SR 67 crosses many state roads, both odd and even numbered. There are too many similarly numbered (i.e. odd numbers) routes that SR 67 crosses to list here.

And this was done, again, purposely. On top of that, it was done with a bit of hope from the Indiana State Highway Commission.

So, how did SR 67 get that number? In 1925, while the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) was laying out the United States Highway system, there was a plan for a US 67. But the original plan called for US 67 to have a northern terminus of Cairo, Illinois. Highway officials in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio hoped that US 67 would be continued from Cairo to Cleveland, Ohio. This would make US 67 cross Indiana in basically the same place as SR 67 does now. The ISHC hoped, with this routing, that all they would have to do is change the signage from a state route to a US route.

As it turned out, US 67 was located in an entirely different area, entering Illinois at Alton, north of Saint Louis, Missouri. It would basically head (more or less) due north through Illinois. This left SR 67 in the lurch. Instead of renumbering (again) the entire route to more closely match the state numbering system, the ISHC just left it. Today, we are left with this legacy to the hope of another US highway in Indiana.

The PRR at Logansport

The Pennsylvania Railroad. At one time, it was the largest industrial employer in the United States, and the largest railroad company in Indiana. The “Pennsy,” as it is still called, called three cities “home” in Indiana, with major facilities in all of them. First was Indianapolis on the St. Louis mainline, and a connection point for railroads to Louisville, Madison, Vincennes and (eventually) Chicago. Second was Fort Wayne, on the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline, with connections south to Cincinnati and north through Michigan. The third, and subject of this post, was Logansport. This post will be covering how the railroads connecting to Logansport came to be.

First it should be mentioned that there were three companies that were part of the Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburgh and Erie in Indiana: the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago; the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (aka the Panhandle); and the Vandalia. Two of these three companies would connect to Logansport. There were connections to the third from the city.

The following is a timeline of the building of the railroads calling Logansport home.

Became part of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati,
Chicago & St. Louis in 1890

1853: Cincinnati, Logansport & Chicago built from Richmond to New Castle.

1857: Cincinnati & Chicago finishes New Castle to Logansport. This line was under construction by three companies before finished by the Cincinnati & Chicago: Cincinnati, Cambridge & Chicago Short Line; Cincinnati, New Castle and Michigan; and Cincinnati, Logansport & Chicago.

1859: Logansport, Peoria & Burlington built from Logansport to Effner, Indiana.

1861: Cincinnati & Chicago Air-Line completes the Wabash River bridge near Logansport and track connecting to the Chicago & Cincinnati. Also, the Chicago & Cincinnati completed from Logansport to a point east of Valparaiso.

1865: Chicago & Great Eastern connects La Crosse, Indiana, to Chicago.

1867: Columbus & Indiana Central completes work done by the Marion & Mississinewa Valley and the Union & Logansport from the Ohio-Indiana State Line west to Marion, Indiana.

1868: Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central completes work done by the Marion & Logansport, the Marion & Mississinewa Valley, the Union & Logansport and the Columbus & Indiana Central from Marion to Anoka Junction.

Became part of the Vandalia in 1905

1874: Logansport & Toledo completes work done by the Auburn & Eel River Valley, the Toledo, Logansport & Northern Indiana and the Detroit, Eel River & Illinois from Butler to Logansport.

1875: Logansport, Crawfordsville and South Western opens from Rockville to Logansport.

1884: Terre Haute & Logansport completes from Logansport to South Bend.

The line from Terre Haute to Rockville is leased from the Chicago & Eastern Illinois.

Further Mergers & Leases

1917: Vandalia is merged into the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis.

1921: PRR gains total control of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis by lease.

1956: PRR assigns the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis to the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington.



Indianapolis to Winchester Road in Hamilton County Vacated

On 18 January 1845, the following notice was posted in the Little Western (newspaper) of Noblesville, Indiana: “Notice is hereby given that a petition will be presented to the board of commissioners of Hamilton county, at their next meeting, to vacate that part of the Indianapolis and Winchester state road, which lies between the point where said road branches off from the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne state road (on the farm of William Conner) and where said Indianapolis and Winchester state road crosses the state road from Greenfield by way of Noblesville to Lafayette.”

I have made mention of this a few times over the past few months, but Indiana had more than its fair share of roads built by the state in its early years. Everyone wanted a the state to build a road from somewhere to somewhere. The reason for this was simple – the state of Indiana had quite a bit of money that could be used for that purpose. Almost all of the older state roads in Indiana were built with what was called the “three percent fund,” Indiana’s portion of the money collected from the Federal Government originally selling the land in the state, 3%.

The notice that was published that day shows a lot of information. There are several roads mentioned in it, and some of them still exist, more or less, today.

Let’s start with the “Indianapolis and Fort Wayne State Road.” This is one of the few roads within the old city limits of Indianapolis that maintained some semblance of its original name. Near downtown Indianapolis, the old road left the town (remember, Indianapolis was a town until 1847) along what is now Fort Wayne Avenue. The section of the old Fort Wayne Road mentioned in the notice was given a different name above Fall Creek: Allisonville Road. Most anyone from the central part of the state can tell that from another clue in the notice: “on the farm of William Conner.” Today, that would be Conner Prairie.

Next would be the “Indianapolis and Winchester State Road.” As is mentioned in the notice, the Winchester State Road followed the Fort Wayne State Road at least into Hamilton County. Something to keep in mind with this is the fact that state roads at the time were nowhere near a direct route to anywhere. The closest to a direct route from Indianapolis along an old State Road is Rockville Road. And even then, there were curves and turns that were removed after the state takeover in 1923. One would think, looking at a map, that Pendleton Pike would be a more or less direct route. Except that the original Pendleton State Road actually was NORTH of the Bellefontaine railroad tracks from basically Fortville east.

The other road mentioned in this notice is the Greenfield to Lafayette State Road, which went through Noblesville. This road, west from Noblesville, was mentioned in my blog here. West from Noblesville, this road was called “Lafayette Road,” and still is called that, at least in a small section. East of Noblesville, the old road is called “Greenfield Avenue.” Before Hamilton County started moving roads in the area of I-69 at Campus Parkway, Greenfield Avenue was connected almost directly to Fortville and Greenfield. For the longest time, this was an Indiana State Highway Commission state road, as SR 238, at least in Hamilton County. The section from Fortville to Greenfield (or, more to the point, to the edge of Greenfield) was numerous road numbers, including SR 13. SR 13 was originally assigned to, ironically, the Indianapolis-Fort Wayne State Road (or, again, Allisonville Road).

As best as I can figure, the closest thing that exists to the section of the Indianapolis to Winchester State Road that was to be vacated with this notice is now 131st Street across Hamilton County. I can’t even be sure that this road was vacated. But, keep in mind that once the state built a “state road,” it was given over to the county to own and maintain. As a “state road,” these roads were generally higher priority when it came to county road money. As such, removing a “state road” made sense if the road served an obscure or duplicate purpose. Like the Indianapolis to Winchester State Road.

Richmond Palladium, 9 February 1833 – Road Laws Galore

Early in the history of the state of Indiana, the General Assembly made it a point to flood the chamber with laws concerning the creation of transportation facilities. It would be, partly, due to this flooding that a) the state would go bankrupt and b) the state would ultimately write a new Constitution in 1851. This post is to focus on one newspaper article on one particular day…showing the number of state road laws that would be introduced to the General Assembly. All spelling and grammar are as they appeared in the Richmond Palladium, 9 February 1833, pp 2.

1) An act to locate a state road from Salem via Middletown to Orleans in Orange county.

2) To incorporate the Charlestown and Ohio turnpike county.

3) To locate a state road from South Bend in St. Joseph County, via mouth of Elkhart and seat of justice in Lagrange county to the east line of this state, in the direction of Vistula on Maumee Bay, in the State of Ohio.

4) To repeal an act to locate state road from New Albany to Lexington; approved February 2, 1832.

5) To establish a state road from the Ohio line in Union county to Richmond in Wayne county.

6) To declare the post road passing Allensville in Switzerland county, a state road.

7) To establish a state road from Rockville in Parke county, via the narrows of Sugar Creek in said county, to Lafayette in Tippecanoe county and for others purposes.

8) For the location of a state road from Chambersburgh in Fountain county to Williamsport in Warren county.

9) To provide for establishing a state road from Covington to Russellville.

10) To locate a state road from Martinsville in the county of Morgan, by the way of Cox’s mill and Solomon Dunagan,s in said Morgan county to Stilesville in the county of Hendricks.

11) Supplemental to an act entitled an act from the location of a state road from Wood’s ferry, on the eastbranch of White river, in Lawrence county, to Bloomfield in Green county, approved January 24, 1832.

12) To establish a state road from John R. Crook’s in Lawrence county, to intersect the Rockport state road at Mark Trueblood’s in said county.

13) To establish a state road from the Tobacco landing, in Harrison county, by way of Laconia to Corydon, in said county and for other purposes.

14) To amend an act providing for the erection of a bridge across Rattlesnake creek in Owen county.

15) Supplemental to an act entitled an act to locate a State road from Merom, in Sullivan county, to a point on the Terre Haute and Bono State road, approved, January 20, 1832.

16) To locate a state road from Lafayette in Tippecanoe county, to intersect a state road leading from Delphi in Carroll county, to Lake Michigan.

17) To locate a part of the State road from Rockport to Boonville.

18) To establish a State road from Greencastle, in the county of Putnam, to the county line of Parke.

19) To establish a state road from Salem, in Washington county, to Leesville, in Lawrence county.

20) To locate a state road from the Ohio line near Hillsboro, Wayne county, to intersect the Winchester and Newcastle state road in Henry county.

21) To locate a state road from Montezuma.

22) To change a part of the state road from Leavenworth’s mill to Orleans in Orange county.

23) To locate a state road from Stilesville, by the way of New Maysville, to Crawfordsville.

24) To establish a state road from the Ohio line to Dalton near the west boundary of Wayne county.

25) To locate a State road from Greencastle in Putnam county to Carlisle in Sullivan county, by way of Manhattan in Putnam county, and Bowllinggreen and New Brunswick in Clay county.

26) Changing the direction of a road from Judge Lowrie’s farm to Paris, Illinois.

27) To establish a State road from Napoleon in Ripley county, via Camden, Newbern and Columbus in Bartholomew county to Bloomington in Monroe county.

28) To relocate part of the State road leading from Spencer in Owen county, to Danville in Hendricks county.

29) To locate a state road from Martinsville, in Morgan county, to intersect the State road leading from Madison to Edinburgh, in Johnson county, by way of Morgantown, in said Morgan county.

30) To legalize the proceedings of the commissioner appointed to mark and locate a State road from the town of Lagrange in Tippecanoe county, to Logansport in the county of Cass, by an act, approved, Feb. 3, 1832.

31) To establish a State road in Vigo county.

32) To locate a State road from where the Michigan road crosses Yellow river, by the way of the county seat of LaPorte county, to the mouth of Trail creek.

33) To locate a State road from Williamsport in Warren county by the way of Lebanon and Chesapeake to the State line.

34) To establish a state road from Bloomington in Monroe county to the Great Falls on Eel river.

35) To provide for the location of a state road from Newport in Vermillion county, via Springfield, Eugene and Perrysville to the northern boundary of said county.

36) Supplemental to an act entitled “an act to provide for selling the Michigan road between Logansport and Lake Michigan , and for other purposes,” approved Feb. 2, 1832.

37) To establish a state road from the town of Michigan to the town of Jefferson, by the way of Frankfort, in the county of Clinton, Indiana.

38) For the location of a state road.

39) To relocate a part of the state road leading from Martinsville, in Morgan county, to Danville in Hendricks county.

40) To amend an act entitled an act for the location and opening a state road from Logansport via Turkey creek and Elkhart prairie, to the northern line of the state in the direction of Pigeon prairie in Michigan Territory, approved Dec. 29, 1830.

The following line reads “Concluded next week.” There were 40 different road laws in just this newspaper. Imagine, if you will, that there were numerous years of these laws from at least 1821. Remember, the only state road that Indiana actually owned was the Michigan Road. All the other roads listed were built by the state, but given over to the counties immediately thereafter.

House Bill 253 of 1937

The Indiana State Highway Commission, created in 1917, had a very specific mandate when created. It was made even more specific with the law of 1919 formally cementing the ISHC. That mandate was simple: connect to each county seat and every town in Indiana with a population over 5000. The important word there is “connect.” By law, state roads start and end at town corporation limits. The route would go through the city or town, with state signage, but the maintenance belonged to the city or town. This was changed with the introduction of House Bill 253 of 1937 on 17 February 1937.

The primary focus of H. B. 253 was three fold. The first purpose was to increase the total mileage maintained by the ISHC to 12 thousand miles by 1 July 1939, with 500 miles to be added in both 1937 and 1938. It also specifies that no county road be added to the state highway system that has a daily traffic count of less than 200.

Noblesville Ledger, 5 Apr 1919, pp 6. From the article “Outline of the New Laws Dealing with Highways in Hoosier State.”

The second focus was what was described in the opening paragraph. The ISHC, as originally created, was not allowed to maintain any street inside the corporate limits of a city or town. The specific language, from 1919, states “if any state highway connects at the corporate limits of any city or town with an unimproved street, the state highway commission may improve the street as a part of a state highway. After a street is thus improved it shall be maintained and repaired by the city or town.”

Noblesville Ledger, 5 Apr 1919, pp 6. From the article “Outline of the New Laws Dealing with Highways in Hoosier State.”

There was an additional clause made to the bill creating the ISHC. Known as House Enrolled Act No. 352, it amended the highway law of 1905, providing: “no street in any incorporated city or town shall be improved under the provisions of this act without the consent of said town or the common council or (sic) such city, by resolution duly adopted.”* It does on to state “after any street shall have been improved hereunder, the trustees of such town or the common council of such city shall have control of the same.”

Tipton Daily Tribune, 18 February 1937, pp 5. From the article “New Bills,” listing all actions before the Indiana General Assembly started on 17 February 1937.

To the left is the notice of H. B. 253 as published in the Tipton Daily Tribune the day after the house bill was introduced. As was typical of most legislation at the time, the words “except in Indianapolis” were included in this bill. In this case, I have been unable to determine what made Indianapolis special and why it was left out of this state maintenance bill. When I do, I will post a short update.

Around the same time, there was another law passed about the distribution of gas tax money, fixing “the basis on which all motor vehicle fees and gas tax shall be allocated among the state and counties, cities and towns for the construction and repair of highways and streets.”

Bremen Enquirer, 22 April 1937, pp 1.

The third part of this bill, that was added later and made part of law, allowed for the lighting of state highways. A trial section was, as shown on page 1 of the Bremen Enquirer of 22 April 1937, on US 20 west of Michigan City. More lighting projects along rural highways would be put in place over the years thanks to this law.

Road Trip 1926: SR 2

The second of the “Road Trip 1926” series of maps that, with the help of Google Maps and MS Paint, I created.

A little history. In 1917 (1919), the original SR 2 was applied to the 1913 route of the Lincoln Highway. It would be changed in 1923, when the SR 2 moniker was applied to what would become US 30, or, the 1928 route of the Lincoln Highway.

In 1926, with the “Great Renumbering,” SR 2 was once again applied to the original Lincoln Highway. Or, at least, most of it. At the western end, SR 2 was extended from LaPorte to US 41 west of Lowell.

The first nine images are those of the western section of SR 2, from Lowell to US 20 outside Rolling Prairie.

The next images are of the eastern section of SR 2 of 1926 from Elkhart to Fort Wayne.

Why are State Road Signs Shown as Round on Maps?

One thing that always puzzled me is why state roads are marked on maps with round markers. Indiana has never had round state route markers (unless they were installed by mistake, such as one that was at the I-465/SR 37 interchange [exit 4] on the south side of Indianapolis). Why are they shown that way on maps?

Prior to 1925, state route numbers were shown on Indiana maps as just numbers written along the side of the route. The state road markers installed were painted on poles along side the road in the rough shape of the state on a rectangular background, with the word “STATE” above the number and “ROAD” below it. In 1925, the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) came out with a manual of recommendations for signs so that they may be uniform across the country. These were, after all, recommendations. The only “must” in the manual was the shape and design of the new markers for the United States highway system. This was the shape of the shield, with the name of the state above a line horizontally between the two curves of the sign, and the letters “U S” and the number below that line. These recommendations stated that state road markers should be round.

This was one of the few exceptions in the way signs were designed. People also ask why railroad crossing warning signs are round. The original idea was that the more dangerous a situation is, the more sides a sign would have. It was determined, especially with the number of trains running throughout the United States at the time, that railroad crossings were the most dangerous traffic situation. Round signs have, technically, 360 sides. Cross bucks, the “X” shaped signs at the crossings themselves, have 12 sides.

Indiana changed their state road markers at the time to be more cost effective (this might stem from the fact that they had to create a massive number of such signs for installation on 1 October 1926), removing the words “STATE ROAD,” but keeping the shape of the state on a rectangular sign. The new maps of Indiana issued by the State Highway Commission showed US routes with the new US markers, with regular state roads just numbers like before.

In 1927, AASHO created the first “Manual and Specifications for the Manufacture and Display and Erection of U.S. Standard road markers and signs” for use on rural highways. This created a stronger recommendation for states to use a round sign to mark their state roads. While the MUTCD would be followed for the most part, states still used a state marker that they decided on their own to use.

This was to be followed by the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety issuing an “urban manual” in 1930. Some of the signs matched those in the 1927 manual. But there were conflicts between the two.

The Indiana State Highway Commission started using round markers for state roads on maps in 1930.

Finally, these conflicts were resolved with the AASHO creation of the “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)” in 1935. Again, it was strongly recommended that state route markers by round. And, again, most states ignored that recommendation.

In the late 1940’s/early 1950’s, Indiana changed the state route markers to be even more cost effective than before. The became square with the state name at the top. These were flat painted signs, as opposed to the embossed (pressed) signs that were in use before. (US Markers were also embossed up to that point.)

So the answer to the subject question is this: the markers on the maps are MUTCD standard, the markers on the roads are not.

As an aside, the MUTCD for many years recommended that urban street signs be green with white letters. Indianapolis, for many years, had black on white street signs. Until the 1970s, they were embossed. In the mid 1970s, they were replaced with bigger flat signs, still black on white. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that Indianapolis started changing to white on green. Other cities that I have been to, such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Norfolk (Virginia) have white on blue. Pittsburgh’s street signs have helped contribute the new standard used today: signs now have lower case letters on the street name legend.

The Indianapolis end of the Brookville (State) Road

One of the “state roads” created in the early history of Indiana was a route connecting the town of Brookville, where the Federal Land Office selling plots of Central Indiana was located, to the new capitol city of the Hoosier State, where that land office would move in the 1820s. Most of the road still exists as part of the Brookville Road, or US 52, with small sections that were bypassed for safety and efficiency reasons. One such section was mentioned in a blog post recently (link here). Another is a short straightening in Marion County about two miles from where I am sitting right now.

But the end of the road, on the Marion County end, ended up being changed not once, but twice. Once by railroads, once by the Indiana State Highway Commission.

The original end of the Brookville State Road. Image courtesy of Google Maps. The orange line shows the original route of the road, and where it crossed both the Junction Railroad (future B&O) and the Indiana Central (future PRR).

The original end of the road connected to the National Road almost three miles east of downtown Indianapolis. As shown in the map above, the Brookville State Road was a pretty much straight line through to the end. What is currently Ewing Street, behind a shopping center, was part of the original road. Sherman Drive was added later, as it is along a survey line (three miles east of Meridian Street). The road was in place when two railroads were built through the area, the Junction Railroad (which runs parallel to Brookville Road to the southeast) and the Indiana Central Railway (which ran, before abandonment, parallel [mostly] to the National Road). This created a very dangerous crossing at or near what became Sherman Drive.

As was typical at the time in Indiana, such a dangerous crossing was mainly dismissed due to the fact that the railroads became more used than the dirt trails that were “roads” at the time.

Fast forward to the mid-1910’s. Track elevation through most of Center Township, Marion County, led to both an overpass of the railroad at Sherman Drive and a slight “correction” of the original state road. Brookville Road was moved to go more westerly to connect south of the Sherman Drive overpass. Ewing Street, named as a continuation of the street north of Washington Street, would be bent more easterly to connect to Sherman Drive north of the overpass.

When US 52 was originally commissioned on 1 October 1926, it would follow the Brookville Road route, then turn north on Sherman Drive to connect to US 40 at Washington Street. From there, it would multiplex with US 40 west into Indianapolis. It would follow this route for almost a decade. By 1936, US 52 was routed along English Avenue from Brookville Road to Southeastern Avenue (at the time, SR 29). It would then multiplex with SR 29 (later US 421) into downtown Indianapolis. The original end of the old Brookville State Road would end up being a minor residential street for its last 1.5 miles. This is shown by the fact that both English Avenue and Brookville Road east of the intersection, are four lanes wide, while the old end of the road, including the Sherman Drive connection, are two lanes wide.

US 52 would follow that route until the completion of I-465 to SR 100 (Shadeland Avenue). At that time, the state route was moved to SR 100 and I-465 to bypass the city along the south side. In 1999, this was changed again with the (finally) completion of a direct connection to I-465, taking US 52 north on the interstate in a more direct connection to US 52 in Boone County.

Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railway

In working on genealogy, particularly that of my wife and her family, ties to the railroads of northern Indiana became readily apparent. One branch of my wife’s family comes from what I call “over the mountain.” My family is from the Westmoreland County, PA, area. Hers are from Somerset and Cambria Counties, which are on the east side of the Laurel Mountain ridge which marks the boundaries between the three counties. The one thing that Cambria and Westmoreland Counties have in common is the mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad. That, in turn, has a direct connection to northern Indiana from Pittsburgh to Chicago along the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago (PFtW&C).

The railroad line that would become the PFtW&C was built in three sections from Pittsburgh west. The main part in Indiana started life as the Fort Wayne & Chicago, incorporated in 1852. The Fort Wayne and Chicago (FtW&C) was to connect the Ohio & Indiana (O&I) Railroad, connecting Fort Wayne to Crestline, Ohio, to Chicago. The Ohio & Indiana, in turn, connected to the Ohio & Pennsylvania (O&P), which connected Crestline to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. (Allegheny City is now known as the north side of Pittsburgh.) By 1856, the FtW&C had managed to build to Columbia City, 19 miles west of Fort Wayne.

Due to financial difficulties in the O&I and the O&P, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) found itself investing heavily into both roads. The O&P was in dire need of a bridge from Allegheny City to Pittsburgh across the Allegheny River. The FtW&C and the O&I also found itself building a railroad through sparsely populated, unimproved areas, limiting business availability. The FtW&C had also spent all of their credit in building the 19 miles between Fort Wayne and Columbia City. The total debt of the three lines was estimated, at the time, to be $800,000. It was later found to be $1.4 million. That, on top of a combined mortgage debt of $5.75 million, and the three lines were in serious trouble.

The only answer that the owners of the three lines could come up with to fix the problem was to consolidate the entire complex into one line: the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago. This would happen effective 29 July 1856. With an infusion of cash from both loans from the PRR and the Harrisburg & Lancaster, and new mortgage bonds, the PFtW&C managed to complete building to Plymouth by the end of 1856.

Connections and conditions along the line were getting better. 1857 saw the completion of the Allegheny River bridge, but it would be another year until political considerations in Pittsburgh allowed the connection of the PFtW&C to the PRR. It got better in 1858 when a new Chief Engineer was assigned to complete the 78 miles of track from Plymouth to Chicago. That Chief Engineer was J. Edgar Thompson, who also happened to have been the first Chief Engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. (His greatest feat was the “Horseshoe Curve,” track west of Altoona, PA.) By the first day of 1859, the line was completed to a station at Van Buren Street in Chicago. This station was not far from, and was replaced by, Chicago Union Station.

When the road was completed, it still found itself in financial difficulties. In 1860, a lawsuit in Cleveland, coming as a complete surprise to the company, ended with the railroad to be sold at foreclosure. This caused the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Rail Road Company, in 1861, to be reorganized as the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railway Company.

Ultimately, the PFtW&C would become a jewel in the crown of the Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburgh and Erie, the holding company that controlled all PRR owned properties outside of Pennsylvania. As Chicago expanded, especially due to its logical location connecting the eastern railroads to the western railroads, traffic exploded. Chicago ended up “hosting” what would be a daily “race” between to the two best known passenger lines between it and New York City. Those two lines were, first, the “20th Century Limited,” the New York Central limited train leaving Chicago, through South Bend, Toledo and Cleveland along the “Water Level Route” through upstate New York. The second eventually would be named the “Broadway Limited,” taking a PRR train from Chicago through Fort Wayne and Pittsburgh to New York City.

There are many pictures available on the internet of both of these named trains leaving side-by-side from Chicago. At the New York City end, the NYC would pull into Grand Central Station, and the PRR would connect to Penn Station.

The PFtW&C would also make Fort Wayne a major rail hub city. Major yards and shops were built there, earning the city the nickname of “Altoona of the West,” after the largest railroad facility in Pennsylvania of the PRR.

After World War II, assorted problems began to show along the route. Deferred maintenance, and a slowing of freight and passenger traffic began to take its toll on the PFtW&C. In 1957, the PRR assigned its interests in the route to the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore, its mainline between New York and Washington, DC. Also assigned to the PW&B at the time was the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, aka the Panhandle. A little over ten years later, the PRR would be no more. On 1 October 1968, the PRR and NYC would become one company, known as the Pennsylvania New York Central Transportation Company, or Penn Central. Three years later, the Penn Central became part of the largest bankruptcy proceedings in United States history at the time. (Only to be surpassed by that of Enron years later.) 1 April 1976 saw the folding of the Penn Central into the Consolidated Railroad Company, or Conrail. In later years, most of what was once the Pennsylvania’s mainline between Chicago and Pittsburgh would be sold off to short lines or abandoned completely.

1937: Future State Roads that would never be.

Over the past 100 years, the predecessors to INDOT have placed a lot of different roads on the Official Highway Maps that never really came into being. A lot of them really never made sense, hence the reason they were never built. Some made too much sense, and hence, the reason they were never built. This post will show some state roads that were added to Official Highway Maps in 1937, and disappeared in 1938.

There were several roads on this map that never came into being. Let’s start with the one on the right, SR 75, connecting (the soon to be Old) SR 67 at Gosport to SR 46 between Spenser and Ellettsville. One will notice that SR 67 is being rerouted at this point.

Another state road that connected to SR 67 is SR 39 at Martinsville. The 1926 version of SR 39 only connect SR 37 to SR 67 across the White River at Martinsville. Eventually, it would connect Martinsville to Michigan City. But there were plans to connect Martinsville to SR 45 between Bloomington and Bean Blossom. (This does not include the far south section of SR 39 from south of Brownstown to SR 56.)

Another section of SR 39 planned in 1937 connected Henryville to Charlestown. Unlike the previous two sections of road, this one would come into being, although it would not be another section of SR 39. Today, this is SR 160.

Two roads near Crown Point in Lake County were also placed on the map only to disappear in 1938. These are SR 108 and SR 73. SR 73 out of Lowell north to Cedar Lake was the authorized detour for US 41 in 1926 when the US highway was being hard surfaced.

One road south of Terre Haute makes the 1937 list as well. SR 259, connecting SR 159 at Blackhawk to US 41 near Youngstown.

Another road that was (kind of) built connected Mooresville to Bargersville. That was SR 144. The two sections of “authorized addition” SR 144 shown on the 1937 map disappeared on the 1938. The section between SR 135 and SR 37 would never become part of the state highway system, although the road is there to connect the disconnected sections.

The last example is SR 334 along what is now 116th Street through Carmel and Fishers from SR 29 to SR 238. I posted an entire entry discussing this route, as well as the SR 329 shown on the left, back on 22 May 2019. It can be reached here.

The Lafayette State Road In Downtown Indianapolis

The Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road. It is quite obvious through most of Marion County where the road (more or less) is. It is called Lafayette Road from 16th Street to the county line in northwest Marion County. The original Lafayette Road was created in the 1820s. But in downtown? It doesn’t go downtown.

Keeping in mind that the town of Indianapolis was platted in 1821, there weren’t a lot of years between the time the town and the road were created. At that time, the town of Indianapolis was one mile square (because Alexander Ralston, designer of the town, said that it would never get any bigger, so why use the four square miles provided for the capitol city?). As a general rule, the “state roads” did not enter the termini towns. They were built to the border of the town…because that meant the town was connected to the road. The “state roads” at the time were mostly rural affairs.

1831 Map of the town of Indianapolis, showing the northwest corner of the original Mile Square. This shows the Lafayette State Road as a continuation of Indiana Avenue.

As such, the state roads would, in the late 1820s and early 1830s, start at North, South, East and West Streets. The map at the left shows the northwest corner of the original Mile Square of Indianapolis. By this time, Indianapolis had expanded beyond that Mile Square (oops, Alexander Ralston!). At the corner of North Street, West Street and Indiana Avenue, and branching away from the town, are both the Michigan Road and the Lafayette Road. At least according to this map. A map of 1855 shows the same thing…Lafayette Road starts at the six point intersection at North, West and Indiana. An 1870 map shows Indiana Avenue extended to Fall Creek (aka, the city limits at the time). One thing that is important to remember here is that Fall Creek didn’t turn west at what is now 10th Street. It continued more southerly. Historically, this plays into the location of the town of Indianapolis, as it dumped into White River just north of the National Road bridge. (The town of Indianapolis was platted to be one mile east of the mouth of Fall Creek. Being almost at the location of the old Washington Street bridge, that explains why the Mile Square is where it is.)

1855 Map of Indianapolis showing the mouth of Fall Creek.
1855 Map of Indianapolis showing the end of the Lafayette Road.

At some point after 1870, the “Lafayette Road” would be called its other state road given name: Crawfordsville Road. Both roads, following the same route at this point, would start at the six point intersection, travel northwest to the banks of Fall Creek (now at 10th Street and Indiana). The old road crossed Fall Creek in a straight line connecting Waterway Boulevard north of the creek to Indiana Avenue south of it, as shown in the next map. Waterway Boulevard is the fourth name of this section of Indianapolis city streets. Obviously, it was Lafayette Road. Then it became Crawfordsville Road, Speedway Avenue then Waterway Boulevard.

Google Map, sampled on 15 June 2019, showing the area of Indiana Avenue, 10th Street and Fall Creek. The orange line shows the path of the original Lafayette/Crawfordsville Road.
1870 map of Indianapolis, showing the Indianapolis end of the Lafayette Road. Notice the “toll gate” at the foot of the bridge. Also, this is the area of the City Hospital. This would later become Wishard Hospital.

The crossing of the White River occurred at the Emrichsville Bridge, which crossed the river at a right angle near 16th Street. The bridge’s landing point on the west bank of the White River was right where the current bridge makes landfall, with the bridge running more northeast than the current one. On the west bank of the river, the two state roads split, with the Crawfordsville Road heading due west along a half-section line (currently 16th Street), and the Lafayette Road turning to the north-north-west, then northwest.

1898 Polk Indianapolis City Directory Map of Lafayette and Crawfordsville Roads.

There are also some maps showing the Lafayette Road not crossing the river, ending at what is now 10th Street about two blocks west of White River. These maps show Lafayette Road ending under what is now Kindred Hospital Indianapolis, west of the Belt Railway. By the turn of the 20th Century, maps show the name “Lafayette Road” had disappeared again below Crawfordsville Road (16th Street).

From there, the Lafayette Road followed what is currently Lafayette Road most of the way. There are places where curves in the road were removed. Those are beyond the scope of this post.

Old US 52 in Franklin County

Indiana has a ton of old roads that are marked “Old whatever.” Some of them are really old. For instance, there is an “Old SR 34” in Indiana, although there is no SR 34…and hasn’t been one since 1951. But while roaming Google Maps, I found an old state road that never was…Old US 52 northwest of Metamora.

Old US 52 from Lake View to SR 121. Map courtesy of Google Maps.

The above image shows a Google Map that was snipped on 14 June 2019. It shows a road called “Old US 52.” This interested me. Those that have read this blog, or the Facebook group, know that when I glom onto something that grabs my interest, I stick with it to the best of my ability. Well, with a road name like this, I was going to be interested. And what I found was, well, enlightening.

As usual, I will start with a brief history. The road that became US 52 in 1926 was part of the original Brookville State Road from Brookville to east of Indianapolis. On the Marion County end, it is still called Brookville Road. This road connected in Marion County to the National Road almost three miles east of downtown Indianapolis. Most of the old road traveled through rural areas, with only two bigger towns on the route: Rushville and Brookville. And, so, the Brookville State Road was used for this purpose for around 100 years.

1919 Rand McNally Auto Trails map showing the section of the old Brookville State Road from Rushville to Brookville. The circled and highlighted section shows that is now called “Old US 52.”

In 1923, the old Brookville State Road became Original State Road (OSR) 39. It included part of the above highlighted section. The road shown as OSR 39 on this map appears to be completely gone at this point. But the 1924 Indiana Official Highway maps shows that this section of OSR 39 was rerouted to roughly the current route of US 52.

Indiana Official Highway Map, 1923, showing OSR 39 between Rushville and Brookville.
Indiana Official Highway Map, 1924, showing OSR 39 between Rushville and Brookville.

On 1 October, 1926, what was OSR 39 became part of the United States Highway system as Route 52. This was basically a sign change, as the route changed very little between 1924 and 1926. OSR 39/US 52 fulfilled the same purpose as the original Brookville State Road, albeit a bit shorter route. It still does to this day.

But this also begs the question: why is the subject road called “Old US 52” when it, apparently, never was part of US 52. My bet, and this is only a guess, is that it all stems from the old Brookville State Road. The rerouted version became US 52, so the original road was “old” US 52. Again, this is only a guess.

The original route connected again to the current US 52 at the junction of US 52 and SR 121.

Road Trip 1926: SR 1

On the ITH Facebook group over a year ago, I started a series of posts called the “Road Trip 1926.” Due to circumstances, I have decided to post the first two here today. I hadn’t planned on moving these over here. But, to be honest, time is not my friend today. The posts were originally all pictures, actually Google Maps that I played with in Microsoft Paint. The maps are copyright Google.

If you like this type of post, let me know. I will post more if you do.

The purpose of the original post was to show the original 01 October 1926 routing of the new State Road 1. The original route started at US 50, going north to Batesville. The northern section started again at Brookville, ending in Cambridge City at US 40. There was an authorized addition to the state highway system connecting Batesville and Brookville via Metamora. That authorized addition roughly follows SR 229 and US 52 today.

A quick look at the maps will show that SR 1 has changed quite a bit over the last 90+ years.

Black lines show roads that were existing, according to Google Maps, at the time of the original post in 2018. Orange lines show the original route that can not be followed any more. The map snippets below work their way from south to north, so the top edge of snippet one connects to the bottom edge of snippet two, and so on.

Interstate 64

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the interstate era had started full throttle in Indiana. The Indiana Toll Road had already been in place for a few years when the construction started on the freeways that would criss-cross the state. Some of those freeways would have been planned as toll roads. Those toll roads would never come to be. Indiana Official Maps of the early 1960s showed the built and future routes of I-65, I-69, I-70, I-74, I-80, I-90, I-94, and I-465. It wasn’t until 1965 that the last two digit interstate appeared on official maps. That was Interstate 64.

In its completed state, I-64 connects St. Louis, Missouri, with the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. In keeping with the “defense highway” designation of the interstate system, I-64 connects one of the largest Navy complexes in the world with the national limited access highway system. The Hampton Roads area, particularly Norfolk, is home to many military facilities. The biggest of which is the Naval Station Norfolk.

In the original plans for this highway across Indiana and Illinois, it was to follow the US 50 corridor across Illinois and into Indiana. A part of this plan was actually built. It now functions at the US 50 bypass of Vincennes. Residents across Illinois in the planned route area were not happy with the decision. This lead to I-64 to continue to follow the US 460 corridor which it does more or less from Norfolk, Virginia.

This routing had the advantage of lower costs and mileage. It was the completing plans for I-64 that caused it to be the last of the “major” routes that was finally confirmed as being added to Indiana. Due to the routing, after leaving New Albany, the entire interstate is a rural highway. It does not directly connect to any other major metropolitan area in Indiana. It was also because of this routing, it led to the construction of the only completed “spur route” interstate (i.e. an odd numbered interstate route) built in the state: I-164.

Admittedly, there were two spur routes originally planned in the Indiana Interstate system. The second would be in the Indianapolis area, connecting the I-65/I-70 north split to I-69 at Castleton. This would be I-169. It was scrapped relatively quickly in the planning stage.

The I-164 spur route no longer exists, having been made a part of, and renumbered to, the new Interstate 69 out of Evansville.

Construction on I-64 started from New Albany working its way west. By 1967, the interstate connected New Albany to Louisville via the Sherman Minton Bridge. The bridge had been built as part of US 150, completed in August 1962. The new interstate was built to connect to the already extent bridge.

The next section of construction was started between SR 165 and US 41 north of Evansville. This was shown on the 1967 official map. 1968 shows construction underway from the Wabash River east to SR 57, including the previous mentioned section. It also shows the completion from SR 64 east to Louisville. By 1969, a connection between SR 65 and US 41 was completed. A year later, one could use the new highway to travel from Illinois SR 1 to US 41.

Construction would continue, with 1971 showing the construction underway from US 41 to SR 61, and from SR 337 east to the open interstate at SR 64. The section from US 41 to SR 57 was also opened for travel. One year later, the new road would started being built from both ends, showing the section from SR 162 to SR 66 being still in a pending status.

The entire route was listed under construction in 1974, with the ability to travel from Illinois SR 1 to Indiana SR 61, and from SR 135 to Louisville. By 1976, the ends of the completed sections were at SR 37 (west end of east section) and US 231 (east end of west section). The entire route would be complete by 1977. This, along with the completion of the I-65/I-70 section in downtown Indianapolis, would mark the end of the two digit interstate construction in Indiana. That is, until the I-69 extension was finally approved.

Interstate 164 started showing on the Indiana Official Maps in 1987. It is shown as complete in 1990.



How Many Blocks To A Mile? In Indianapolis, It Depends.

When I was growing up, my mother kept saying that there were ten blocks to a mile. And I, not knowing any better, believed her. But as I started doing research along the lines of surveys and histories, I found that the answer, at least in Marion County, can be a little more complicated than that.

Before Indianapolis came into being, the entire area was survey into “Congressional Townships.” These townships were (roughly) six miles east to west (there are correction lines every six sections, meaning some “miles” are smaller than others), and six miles north to south. East to west are called “ranges,” north to south are called “townships.” Most major streets in Indianapolis are along these lines. The exceptions are usually the original “state roads,” for example Pendleton Pike or Crawfordsville Road. The major exception is Washington Street, which as it goes east, varies from the survey line to the north. The survey line that would be Washington Street runs right behind my back gate, and I live 1/4 mile south of Washington Street.

The survey center of Marion County is located on 10th Street one mile east of Meridian Street. On the southside, that line is Shelby Street. Things get kind of dicey above 62nd Street, as that is a major correction line. That survey center is known as the line separating Townships 15 and 16 North and Ranges III and IV east. So it too is a double correction line.

Going east from Meridian Street, the mile lines are as follows: Shelby Street (1100 E), Keystone Avenue (2400 E), Sherman Drive (3800 E), Emerson Avenue (5100 E), Arlington Avenue (6000 E), Shadeland Avenue (7000 E), Franklin Road (8000 E), Post Road (9000 E), Mitthoeffer Road (10000 E), German Church Road (11000 E) and Carroll Road (the county line, or 12000 E). This makes the miles per block a little odd (11, 13, 14, 13, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, and 10). Only after Arlington is it ten blocks to the mile.

The southside is a little more regular. The mile lines are: Morris/Prospect Streets (1100 S), Raymond Street (2200 S), Troy Avenue (3000 S), Hanna Avenue (4000 S), Thompson Road (5000 S), Edgewood Avenue (6000 S), Southport Road (7000 S), Stop 11 Road (8000 S) and County Line Road (9000 S). From Troy Avenue south, not only are there ten blocks to the mile, the x000 block is also how many miles south of downtown you are. For example, Southport Road, at 7000S, is (really close to) seven miles from downtown. The actual survey line is just south of Washington Street by less than 100 feet.

On the north side, counting gets a little fun. The survey lines are at: 10th Street (1000 N), 21st Street (2100 N), 30th Street (3000 N), 38th Street (3800 N), 46th Street (4600 N), 56th Street (5600 N), 62th Street (6200 N), 71st Street (7100 N), 79th Street (7900 N), 86th Street (8600 N), and 96th Street (9600 N). The numbered streets continue through Hamilton County, where every tenth street is one mile from the last. But that makes the north side blocks per mile at 10, 11, 9, 8, 8, 10, 6, 9, 8, 7, and 10. The streets on the northside ended up being built in a random manner, causing the differing number pattern.

The west side is a little on the strange side, as well. The mile streets are: Drover Street (1000 W), Belmont Street (2100 W), Tibbs Avenue (3400 W), Roena Street (4200 W), Lynhurst Drive (5300W), High School Road (6300 W), Girls School Road (7300 W), Country Club Road (8300 W), and Raceway Road (Hendricks-Marion County Line, 9300 W). The major difference on the west side is that very few of the roads actually go through anywhere. These roads run in sections. But a look at a map will show the locations of the survey lines, as most subdivisions in Marion County end at the survey lines.

Because of the way Indianapolis was built above 62nd Street, very few of the mile roads exist in any length. The survey line that is Meridian Street south of 62nd Street becomes College Avenue above it. The Range Line, that matches Shelby Street on the south side is Westfield Boulevard above 91st Street…and Range Line Road in central Carmel.

Indiana’s post-1926 US Highways

U.S. highways came to Indiana in several waves. The first wave was 1926, with the creation of the United States highway system. At that time, highways 12, 20, 24, 27, 30, 31, 36, 40, 41, 50, 52, 60, 112 and 150 were thrust upon the landscape of the Hoosier State. This played well into the “Crossroads of America” moniker that Indiana had for years. Over the next 27 years, eight more were added to the state’s collection of US Highways.

The first addition was made in 1934 with the commissioning of US 224. The entire route of this highway was created in 1934. In Indiana, it replaced SR 16 from Huntington east to the state line. The entire route isn’t very long, basically connecting east northern Indiana to west northern Pennsylvania through northern Ohio.

Another road that was created in 1934, but didn’t get to Indiana until 1935 was US 35. Since there already was a SR 35 in Indiana, it was changed to SR 135. US 35 entered Indiana near Richmond on the Eaton Pike, a road that had taken the place, locally, of the National Road to the east of Richmond. It then followed SR 21 from Richmond to Gas City (ultimately, the designation SR 21 was completely removed from Indiana, having been replaced by US 35, and the section from Marion to Gas City being changed to SR 15). The road then multiplexed with SR 22 across the state to SR 29, aka the Michigan Road. It then multiplexed with SR 29 all the way through Logansport, Knox, and LaPorte to almost Michigan City. It ended at JCT US 20 just outside Michigan City. Ironically, SR 29, which was the state’s designation given to most of the historic Michigan Road route (except the Versailles detour) from Madison to Logansport, then pretty much straight to Michigan City, ended up being a more direct route between Michigan City and Madison than the 1830s Michigan Road. But swamps had more to do with that than anything.

1935 also saw (the then) SR 53 north from Montmorenci to Crown Point and (the then) SR 8 from Crown Point to US 41 removed from maps to be replaced with US 152. From Montmorenci south to Indianapolis, US 152 multiplexed with US 52. This road only existed until 1938, and only in Indiana. There are some references in The Times of Munster, Indiana, to US 152 in July 1939. These references are for a service station with “120 ft. frontage on U.S. 152 (Indianapolis Blvd)” for sale for $6,000. The section from Montmorenci north would be reverted to the State Roads (53 and 8) that went away with the creation of US 152. Don’t worry, they won’t stay long.

In southern Indiana, in 1938, a state road connecting SR 60 at Bennettsville to US 31W at New Albany would be renumbered SR 111. Another couple of renumberings occurred at the same time, causing the SR 33 to SR 111 change. SR 527 from Decatur to the Ohio State Line, and SR 2 from Fort Wayne to South Bend would be renumbered US 33, making the original SR 33 a conflict. US 33 would then multiplex with US 31 north from South Bend to Hagar Shores, Michigan. It was truncated twice in Indiana. First, US 33 was changed to end at the JCT US 31 in South Bend in 1997. Two years later, it would be dragged back to the current end of US 33 near Elkhart.

Almost a decade later, in 1947, another US highway was extended into Indiana. This highway would connect St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Beach, Virginia, through southern Indiana as US 460. This new highway would be multiplexed with SR 62 from Evansville to New Albany, and SR 66 from New Harmony to Evansville. US 460 existed in Indiana (Illinois and Missouri) until decommissioning occurred in 1976. By that time, most of US 460 west of Frankfort, Kentucky, had basically been replaced by I-64. The four states agreed to remove the designation in November of that year.

At New Harmony, US 460 crossed the Wabash River on a toll bridge that would be shown in the James Burke series “Connections 2” in 1994. That bridge would be closed permanently in 2012 when it was discovered that it needed $6 million in work. For some reason, although Illinois SR 14 connects to the bridge on the west, and Indiana SR 66 starts where the bridge touches ground in Indiana, the bridge itself was owned by the White County (Illinois) Bridge Authority, a private organization. It was authorized by Congress in 1928 and built without state or federal funds. When the bridge got too bad, the Authority just closed it, leaving the two state road in the lurch.

In 1951, saw the complete removal of a state road from Indiana with the creation of US 136. This saw the removal of SR 34 from maps. This road created something that I have not seen in Indiana in other places. There are places along the route of US 136 where there are junctions with “Old State Road 34.” These were sections of the original road that were bypassed before 1951, and kept the name they were given when the bypass was built. At the time of this road being commissioned, there was a SR 136, connecting Danville with North Salem and Roachdale to end at SR 43 south of Raccoon. This would become SR 236.

Also in 1951, SR 29 from SR 28 east of Frankfort to Madison would be completely replaced with US 421. This new designation would multiplex with SR 28, SR 39 and US 24 to Reynolds. Then US 421 would then replace SR 43 from Reynolds to Michigan City. This would make US 421 a complete replacement, and more direct route, for the road it was attached to from south of Boyleston to Madison (with one exception): The Michigan Road.

Two years later, the last US highway was added to the map of Indiana: US 231. This route would cross the Ohio River from Kentucky on the Indiana SR 75 bridge at Owensboro, Kentucky. It would then be multiplexed with SR 45, with brief multiplexes with SR 62 and SR 56 to Scotland, Indiana. It would then use SR 157, SR 54, SR 57 and SR 67 (all in multiplexes) to reach Spencer. From that point north to Lafayette, US 231 would multiplex (and later replace) SR 43 through Cloverdale, Greencastle and Crawfordsville. Originally, the road would turn east on SR 35 south of Lafayette where it would follow 25 to the junction with US 52. From this point on, US 231 would follow the route of what had been US 152 in the 1930s.

One US highway that I didn’t mention entered Indiana in 1963 along what was then SR 15. This was US 131. For years, US 131 ended at the Indiana-Michigan State Line. In 1963, it was extended in Indiana to the Indiana East-West Toll Road, although there was no connection between the two. US 131 just started (or stopped depending on your direction) right under the toll road bridge. On the 1964 map, it went away again (notice, there is a typo on that map, because in Michigan it is listed as US 103). The road connecting Indiana SR 13 at the state line to US 12 and US 131 in Michigan was labelled, on the typo map, as M-131. (Michigan state roads, or trunk highways, are referred to up there as “M-whatever.”) That meant the end of US 131 was in Michigan again, this time at US 12. The “US 103” would appear on Indiana Official Highway maps until 1969, when it was changed to M-103. US 131 would pop its head into Indiana again in 1980, again only to the Indiana Toll Road. This time, however, it would have a connection to the toll road as it replaced SR 13.

And, there, my friends, is a brief history of the US highways that came after the originals.

Why Do Indianapolis Street Numbers Start at 9?

A look at street names in Indianapolis shows an (almost) orderly method to street names. As a general rule, streets in the same general location have the same name (i.e., 600 East is usually Park Avenue). But Indianapolis is also a city that started as an orderly grid…and went warp speed downhill from there. Additions to the city were not as orderly as the start of the city. As divisions were added, they were designed as if they were a separate town. As such, originally, street names weren’t as organized.

Another look will show that the northside has numbered streets. The numbers, depending on where you stop counting, end at either 96th (in Indianapolis/Marion County) or 296th (Hamilton-Tipton County Line). Going down in numbers, the lowest street number of a major road is 10th Street. 10th Street is 10 blocks north (in theory) of the center street of the city (Washington Street and/or Rockville Road). Below 10th, the number streets don’t continue very far. As in, Ninth Street is the end of the number line.

But it wasn’t always like that.

As the town of Indianapolis started migrating past the mile square, and hodge-podge additions were made, the continuation of “named” streets continued. The first numbered street added to Indianapolis was placed 10 blocks north of the circle/center of the town (ahem…sound familiar?). This street was given the name “First Street.” Then streets progressing northward were, usually, given progressively higher numbers. The line separating Center and Washington Townships was called 30th Street. The same line actually serves as the boundary between Wayne, Center and Warren townships on the north and Pike, Washington and Lawrence townships on the south.

1891 Polk Indianapolis City Directory map of Dillon
Street/Shelby Street.

The strange thing about Indianapolis streets until the 1890s was that there really was no rhyme nor reason to the naming. For instance, I posted about the Shelbyville State Road a while back. I mentioned that the road is called Shelby Street in the city. And it is. But what I failed to mention is that Shelby Street STARTED at the end of Virginia Avenue in what is now Fountain Square. North of Fountain Square, it was not Shelby Street, but Dillon Street. (As a sidenote, addressing was weird at the time as well. Shelby Street’s addressing started at 0…at Fountain Square. Anyone that pays attention will know that Fountain Square is at 1100 south…not 0.)

Street names, especially north-south ones, could (and would) change names at almost every major street…usually about one mile or so. Also, most of the “state roads” changed names at the city limits. For instance, the Pendleton State Road (which became Pendleton Pike) started at Clifford Street (which became 10th Street), after having been Massachusetts Avenue in the city. I use this example because it explains why Massachusetts Avenue becomes Pendleton Pike, now, at 38th Street, the old pre-UniGov city limits.

1891 Polk Indianapolis City Directory map of the north side
of Indianapolis.

The 1891 map to the right shows the area from the corner of Michigan Road and Twelfth St. to Meridian St. and Pratt St. It shows the first 12 numbered streets in Indianapolis. This area would now be bounded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, 21st Street, Meridian Street and Ninth Street. A quick glance at this map shows that even the numbered streets didn’t line up with themselves. Follow the line from Michigan Road and West Tenth Street. It ends at the Big Four (Lafayette Line) Railroad. Continuing east from there, west of Mississippi Street (Senate Avenue) east to Meridian Street, the same line is Ninth Street. Hmmm….oops. But this also shows the willy-nilly way that parts were added to the city.

The changing of street names in the city happened in several steps through the mid-to-late 1890s. The first batch would happen in 1895, as some street names were changed to make continuous streets along a line. For instance, Cornell Avenue. Several streets would change there name to Cornell: Alger, Forest, Greenwood, and Peru. (As a side note, the last one, Peru, got its name for being along side the Peru & Indianapolis Railroad. The street next to the “Bee Line” was, and still is, called Bellefontaine.)

1895 Polk Indianapolis City Directory listing of street name changes and additions.

The 1895 changes show that Massachusetts Avenue was extended, along the old Pendleton Pike, from Tenth Street to Brightwood (most likely, because I haven’t seen a map to prove it, what is now Sherman Drive – then called Brightwood Street).

A ton of street name changes occurred in 1896/1897. So many that the city directory street and avenue guide listed both the old street name and the new one. The next snippet will show the entries for “Tenth Street” in the 1897 directory. “Old Tenth” from the Lafayette Line west to Michigan Road (mentioned above) became 18th Street. From Highland Place (west of Meridian) east to Central became 19th. From Central to Martindale, old Tenth became 20th. Meanwhile, Old First, Davis, St. Mary, Cherry and Clifford became “new” (um, current?) Tenth Street.

1897 Polk Indianapolis City Directory listing
for “Tenth” street, both of them.

Also mentioned in the 1897 is the coming (although listed as possible in 1897) change of addressing. Every block increased the house numbers by 50, not 100. The “new” Tenth Street was actually 500N, what Michigan Street is now, depending on what street you were on. This was a pending change before the City Council. This would also make all streets numbered from the corner of Washington and Meridian. Up to this point, streets were numbered from the beginning of the street, not from a central point in town.

So, now (1898), Indianapolis has numbered streets starting at ten, and house numbers to match. But the numbered streets start at 9, not 10. Along the way, Pratt Street, for some reason, was renamed Ninth Street. This would occur around 1932. I have never found any reason for it…it just happened. But no number was used below 9.

So when you look at an Indianapolis map, as see no numbers below nine, it’s not that the city government can’t count. It’s just that First Street just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Washington Street.

By the way…the above mentioned township line street that was 30th. It’s now called 38th. And ended up being a state property (US 36/SR 67) from Michigan Road to Pendleton Pike for over 40 years.

Researching Comes Hard Some Times

Over the four months of the existence of this blog, I have covered quite a plethora of topics. I really love doing this, no matter how much time it takes or how much brain freeze I go through to create something that I think might be interesting to you, my audience. Sometimes I hit, sometimes not. I like to believe that there are more hits than bombs.

There are subjects that I would really like to cover. But, even with my numerous sources, there are things that I can’t find anything about. It can be discouraging at times. Admittedly, some of the topics that I have covered have come from my looking up other things that I can’t find. While researching some of those topics, I do something that I very rarely do: give up.

One of the topics that I have chomping on for the past few weeks stems from a map of Allen County of 1876. On that map, there is a road called “Illinois State Road.” It is now called Illinois Road, also known as State Road 14. One would think that there would be some information somewhere as to where this road got its name. I haven’t found anything about it.

There are other things on that map that interest me. Indianapolis Road (which I will research at some point as it may be the same as the Fort Wayne Road on the Indianapolis end), two Huntington Roads, Yellow River Road, among others. There is also the Pennsylvania Railroad center of Fort Wayne (called the Altoona of the West).

Some of the biggest obstacles to researching is, honestly, the lack of specific resources in an ocean of resources. My biggest resource, newspapers.com, has a TON of Indiana newspapers. But there are gaps. Not complaining, mind you. I love what I find there. But there are some things that I would kill to have access to here at my house. One can go to the state library and get almost every newspaper in Indiana history on microfilm. Microfilm, though, leaves a little to be desired in the search department. It also gets to be a problem with working nights. (I guess the old line “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a little less true when you pass half a century old. I have found that, when I can, I really like sleep.)

Map information can be spotty, as well. Again, the state library web site is very good. But there are things that would be really nice to be able to see, if they exist anywhere. I personally own a reproduction of the 1876 Atlas of Indiana, as well as something like 60 or so Indiana Official Maps. But, to be honest, I would kill for early 19th century maps of Indiana. I just haven’t been able to find them.

As I continue to find things to share, I still open the doors to you, my audience, to recommend what you would like to see. I will admit it. I can’t think of everything. You can always drop me a line at the ITH Facebook Group. I am working on acquiring a contact e-mail for the blog. You can also comment to any of the blog entries with suggestions.

Let me end by saying, once again, that I appreciate the fact that you have spent your time here. Thank you very, very, much.

Indiana Official Highway Maps

One of my most prized collections is that of my Indiana Official Highway Maps. The Indiana State Highway Commission, and it successors, has been publishing maps of the state since 1919. I have many of these in my personal collection. They are something that I look at on a daily basis.

The earliest in my collection is shown at the left. It was officially issued by the Indiana Commission in 1933. When you look at the inside, there is little difference between it and the Indiana Official from 1933, which you can look at here. The copy that I have is printed in the same green as the cover. (The Indiana State Library has digitized a large collection of these maps.) Due to the age and condition of the one in my collection, I tend to use the one available at the State Library for research.

The State Library digitized versions have the advantage of being downloadable.

Some people ask why I collect “official” maps almost exclusively. The reason is simple. Honestly, they tend to be more accurate than most maps. Other maps may have slightly outdated information, or even misinformation, on them. The maps that come from the state tend to show the very latest information, since the same people that issued the map are also the ones making the decisions about where those roads are.

The first “official” Official I own is pictured at right. It was two years before this map that the State Highway Commission added railroads to the official map. Prior to 1937, the ISHC only put state roads and some major county roads on their maps. The big difference between roads and railroads on these maps was the accuracy of the mapping. The ISHC didn’t always get the current information about the status of railroad lines in the state. They were usually on top of it, but sometimes, they missed.

One of the things that this map did that would change later is the use of color. On this map, the color red was used for any road that was “over 2-lane pavements.” This would change on the very next map in my collection: 1940. Red was used for US highways, blue for everything else. 1940 also started a standard size for the maps that would be used for the next 40+ years – 4.5 inches by 8.75 inches folded.

A lot of the official maps had artist drawn covers. But some of them showed off the latest additions to the state highway system. Some of my favorites are shown below.

The 1953 shows the “new” intersection of US 52 and US 136, or what is now the corner of 16th Street and Lafayette Road in Indianapolis. The 1956 shows the “Cloverleaf” interchange at US 40 (Washington Street) and SR 100 (Shadeland Avenue). The 1957 shows SR 420, aka the Tri-State Expressway, in Lake County. The 1959 cover showed the new Madison Avenue Expressway, the replacement for about a mile of US 31 on the south side of Indianapolis.

The current size of the Indiana Official maps started to be used with the 1984 issue. It was a bigger form factor than those used before. The only thing that has really changed since then was the fact that, starting in the mid-2010’s, the city insets that used to appear on the back went away for the placement of advertisements.