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 Other maps may have slightly outdated information, or even misinformation, on them.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.

One thought on “Indiana Official Highway Maps

  1. Cornelius Printing in Indianapolis had the print contract for state highway maps maps for years. Not only did the have a folder that could handle complicated map folds, they were a Union shop. That used to be a very important consideration for any government print job.

    Liked by 1 person

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