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.

5 thoughts on “Old US 52 in Franklin County

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