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.

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