Why are the exits on I-465 where they are?

Interstate 465. The Indianapolis bypass interstate is an almost 54 mile loop connecting all parts of the Circle City suburbs. (Actually, the loop of I-465 is two different lengths: closer to 55 on the outside, closer to 53 on the inside. The mileage posts are based on centerline mileage, more or less.)

Every exit along the route was chosen for a reason. That much is obvious. But some of the reasons may escape the casual traveler. What I plan to do is give an exit guide, with some history, and some “missed opportunities.” This will start at Mile 0 (I-65 on the southside), and work its way sequentially upwards, to Mile 53+ (again, I-65 on the southside).

Because INDOT has rerouted all through US and state highways onto I-465 around Indianapolis, the “multiplexes” will be shown between each description in this green color.

Historic Note 1: Madison Avenue. From 1917 to 1986, Madison Avenue (the old Indianapolis-Madison State Road) was the responsibility of the Indiana State Highway Commission and its successors. From 1917 to 1926, it was SR 1. From 1926 to 1942, it was US 31. From 1942 to its decommissioning, it was SR 431. An exit was never built here, as it was too close to both the US 31 bypass built in 1941, and the Pennsylvania Railroad built in 1847.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, (future I-69), US 31, US 36, SR 37, US 40, SR 67.

EXIT 2: US 31. The exit here is very straight forward. US 31 is a major US highway connecting northern Michigan to Mobile, Alabama. An exit here would have been a no brainer. At the time of interstate construction, US 31 was a through route. Exit 2A connected to US 31 North, Exit 2B connected to US 31 South. This changed on 1 July 1999, when US 31 North was rerouted along I-465 east/north/west between Exit 2 and Exit 31. Exit 2A became East Street at that time.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, (future I-69), US 36, SR 37, US 40, SR 67.

Historic Note 2: Bluff Road & Exit 4: SR 37/Harding Street. At the time of the construction of I-465, Bluff Road was SR 37. The plans for 465 included an exit about one mile west of SR 37, where a new bypass would be built. Like SR 431, there was no exit built to (what was at the time) SR 37. Bluff Road would remain SR 37 until 1966, when it was completely replaced by the bypass at Harding Street. According to Official Highway Maps, in 1965 both the Harding Street bypass and Bluff Road were SR 37. Prior to that, the bypass was under construction from 1962 (when the exit was built) to 1964. As an aside, a later post will cover the bypass, which when originally built only went as far as the Johnson-Marion County line.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, (future I-69), US 36, US 40, SR 67.

Historic Note 3: White River & Exit 7: Mann Road. These two are related only in the fact that the Mann Road exit helps complete a route that, although I have seen a contract let to build, I can’t find any proof that it ever was: Thompson Road bridge over White River. The original plan for SR 100 was to connect High School Road to Five Points Road using Thompson Road. One small problem existed…no White River bridge existed for Thompson Road. When I-465 replaced SR 100 (although the state DID use the SR 100 label for construction contracts for parts of I-465), the decision was made to build 465 as close to the SR 100 plan of Thompson Road. The Mann Road exit is unidirectional. You can only use this interchange to either enter the interstate to cross White River, or to exit after crossing said river.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, US 36, US 40, SR 67.

Exit 8: SR 67/Kentucky Avenue. Another exit at a state road. Pretty straight forward. It should be noted that this exit is lopsided to the east due to the Pennsylvania Railroad Vincennes route right alongside SR 67. At the time of construction, SR 67 was a through route, connecting to downtown Indianapolis. This wouldn’t last long, as SR 67 was rerouted along I-465 east/north to Exit 42.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, US 36, US 40.

Exit 9: Interstate 70. This exit existed for quite a few years before the major interstate 70 was connected to it. This interchange has changed several times over the years for traffic flow and the airport terminal moving across the property.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, US 36, US 40.

Exit 11: Airport (Sam Jones) Expressway. This exit connected to the Weir Cook/Indianapolis International Airport. It would do this until the airport terminal was moved to the other side of the airport property. At that time, Airport Expressway was renamed Sam Jones Expressway.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, US 36, US 40.

Exit 12: US 40/Washington Street. Another major US Highway connection. When originally constructed, this was a complete cloverleaf interchange. Exit 12A connected to US 40 East, toward downtown Indianapolis. Exit 12B connects to US 40 West. On 1 Jul 1999, US 40 East was rerouted onto I-465 south/east/north to exit 46. Reconstruction cut out exit 12A and 12B, creating just one Exit 12. Entering I-465, there are still directional ramps.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, US 36.

Exit 13: US 36/Rockville Road. This exit was constructed very much like Exits 12A and 12B. Exit 13B connected to US 36 West. Exit 13A connected to US 36 East. US 36 East would be rerouted along I-465 south/east/north to Exit 42. Reconstruction changed the cloverleaf to a (more or less) diamond interchange, removing Exits 13A and 13B for just an Exit 13. I-465 north still has directional ramps from both US 36 East and Rockville Road west.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74.

Exit 14: 10th Street. This ramp was put in place, apparently, as another route to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 10th Street, while part of the old Danville State Road, has never been state responsibility. The original interchange was a modified cloverleaf, with a flyover connecting westbound 10th Street to I-465 South. Reconstruction changed this interchange to a modified diamond, with directional ramps to I-465 north.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74.

Exit 16A: US 136/Crawfordsville Road & Exit 16B: I-74. While reconstruction at this interchange over the years has changed the directions of the ramps, they still connect to the same locations. When built, Exit 16A connected to both US 136 West and East, although not directly. At the time, Crawfordsville Road was US 136 East to JCT US 52 (Lafayette Road) – past the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (US 136 followed 16th Street after the end of Crawfordsville Road). US 136 West was a right turn off of US 136 East. When US 136 was removed east of this interchange, it was truncated to the High School Road intersection at the end of Ramp 16A. With reconstruction, US 136 was truncated again, since the intersection with High School Road was removed.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465.

Exit 17: 38th Street. This interchange was added after original construction of I-465. 38th Street is one of the few roads that connects across (almost) all of Marion County. News reports in the Indianapolis Star talk about this exit being built to connect I-465 to I-65 on the westside, and that westside residents are looking forward to its construction.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465.

Exit 19: 56th Street. Another interchange added after the original construction. This interchange, like the one at Mann Road, is unidirectional. This is due to the closeness of the ramp to the original end of I-465. This interchange was added to allow northbound access to Eagle Creek Park (southbound access is allowed at I-65 & 71st Street).

I-465 Multiplex: I-465.

Exit 20: I-65. If coming from the south to this interchange, it wasn’t an exit for almost a decade. This was the end of I-465 as originally designed. Coming from the north, it didn’t exist at all until 1970 when construction started on what was to become SR 100 connecting I-465 on the west side to I-465 on the north side.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465.

Exit 21: 71st Street/73rd Street. One of two exits built for SR 100 extension between the 465 segments. 71st Street was added as a connection to northwestern Pike Township, Eagle Creek Park, and the pending industrial park named after the road: Park 100. Reconstruction added a flyover ramp to 73rd Street, as well.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465.

Exit 23: 86th Street. This interchange was built to connect SR 100, which ran along 86th Street from US 52 (Lafayette Road) to Shadeland Avenue on the far east side, to SR 100, the connection between the two segments of I-465.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465.

Exit 25: I-865. At this point, I-465 turns east. But not always. Since this section was built as SR 100 originally, this exit didn’t exist originally. What is now I-865 was originally I-465. And it stayed that way for years, although the mileage was started at 900. From the south, the original exit would have been two: I-465 West and I-465 East. From the west, there would have been one exit, to SR 100 South.

As an aside, this can still be seen in the fact that there still is an exit ramp from I-465 West to I-465 South, and I-865 is a straight line. Eventually, the “exit” designation was moved from I-465 South to I-465 (I-865) West. Also, a destination sign at Township Line Road shows the mileage to I-465 South, not I-865 West.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, US 52.

Exit 27: US 421/Michigan Road. This interchange was placed simply because it is a US highway. Originally, US 421 was a through route. This would change when US 421 was rerouted along I-465 East/South to Exit 47.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, US 52, US 421.

Exit 31: US 31/Meridian Street. US 31 again is a major US Highway. Meridian Street was, until 1 July 1999, US 31 to close to downtown Indianapolis. Proceeding east on I-465 means that the traveler is also on US 31, as well.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, US 31, US 52, US 421.

Historic Note 4: Westfield Boulevard & Exit 33: Keystone Avenue. Before the original planning of I-465, this was SR 431. With the planning of the interstate, a replacement for SR 431 would be built as an extension of Keystone Avenue. At that point, SR 431 had already been removed from Westfield Boulevard from Broad Ripple to 86th Street. SR 431 ran along Keystone Avenue from SR 37 (Fall Creek Boulevard) to SR 100 (86th Street), where SR 431 followed SR 100 west to Nora, turning north on Westfield Boulevard. Exit 33 was then built to complete the SR 431 bypass.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, US 31, US 52, US 421.

Exit 35: Allisonville Road. Allisonville Road, at the time of construction, was still designated as SR 37A, at the request of Hamilton County officials. Before it was SR 37A, it was the original route of SR 37. The SR 37A designation didn’t last long after this ramp was built.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, US 31, US 52, US 421.

Exit 37B: Binford Boulevard; Exits 37 & 37A: I-69/SR 37 North. These ramps, and yes, there are three different exit numbers here, connect to the SR 37 Bypass built in 1956/1957. Later, I-69 was built along the same corridor. There is going to be a major reconstruction of this interchange in the next half-decade.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, (future I-69), US 31, SR 37, US 52, US 421.

Exit 40: 56th Street/Shadeland Avenue. This interchange served two purposes…to connect I-465 to SR 100 (Shadeland Avenue) and Fort Benjamin Harrison (56th Street).

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, (future I-69), US 31, SR 37, US 52, US 421.

Exit 42: US 36/SR 67/Pendleton Pike. Originally built to interchange with the through roads US 36 and SR 67, it now serves as the connector from the southside (Exit 8, SR 67) and westside (Exit 13, US 36) to continue those roads out of Indianapolis to the northeast. Pendleton Pike continues westward into Indianapolis (as Massachusetts Avenue after 38th Street).

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, (future I-69), US 31, US 36, SR 37, US 52, SR 67, US 421.

Exit 44: I-70. This is the major exit used by people from eastern and central Hamilton County (and I-69) to get to downtown Indianapolis. I-70 is a major cross country interstate.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, (future I-69), US 31, US 36, SR 37, US 52, SR 67, US 421.

Exit 46: US 40/Washington Street. Another connection to the historic National Road. Heading south from here adds US 40 to the multiplex following I-465. At this point, technically, a traveler is on the following roads: I-465, US 31, SR 37, US 40, US 52, SR 67, and US 421. Add the future I-69, and this makes this road one of the most multiplexed roads in the country.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, (future I-69), US 31, US 36, SR 37, US 40, US 52, SR 67, US 421.

Exit 47: Brookville Road. Another ramp that was added to I-465 after original construction…but for different reasons. The original US 52 connection to I-465 was actually via SR 100 (Shadeland Avenue). With the downgrade of SR 100 to city street, INDOT needed to connect US 52 directly to I-465, hence the construction of this ramp.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, (future I-69), US 31, US 36, SR 37, US 40, SR 67, US 421.

Exit 48 (northbound only): Shadeland Avenue. This was the original connection from I-465 to SR 100, until SR 100 was decommissioned on 1 July 1999.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, (future I-69), US 31, US 36, SR 37, US 40, SR 67, US 421.

Exits 49/49A/49B: I-74/US 421/Southeastern Avenue: This interchange, in its original format, was built long before I-465 ever go to this point because I-74 was already completed from just east of Arlington Avenue to Acton Road in 1961. The Southeastern Avenue ramp turns into Southeastern Avenue westbound towards Indianapolis, which was US 421 for the longest time. One can reach eastbound, and hence Five Points and Wanamaker, by turning left off of the Southeastern Avenue ramp.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, (future I-69), US 31, US 36, SR 37, US 40, SR 67.

Exit 52: Emerson Avenue. The reason this ramp exists to allow interstate access to the city of Beech Grove. Before it was completely connected to Emerson Avenue north of Beech Grove, this street was First Avenue in the city.

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, (future I-69), US 31, US 36, SR 37, US 40, SR 67.

Exit 53: I-65. The end and the beginning of I-465. This interchange has been modified over the years

I-465 Multiplex: I-465, I-74, (future I-69), US 31, US 36, SR 37, US 40, SR 67.

Thus covers Interstate 465 in its entirety.

SR 367

SR 367 sign used before the early 1950s. Image was hand drawn by author.

In the beginning of the “new” state road numbering era, there were very few roads with a three digit number. Like the US highway system, three digit numbers were to be reserved for “daughter” routes of the major, or “mother,” highways. These would be added in the following decade in great numbers. But one “daughter” road that came into being in 1937 really wasn’t a “daughter” road. It could be thought of more as a “grandmother” road, since it was the original route of its “mother.” That road was SR 367.

In October, 1926, SR 67 was created to use the old Pendleton Pike toward Fort Benjamin Harrison. The section that this post concerns started at Delaware and Michigan Streets. From there, it would follow Michigan Street east to Massachusetts Avenue. Looking at a map, it’s hard to picture Massachusetts Avenue being an unbroken road to Fort Harrison. Given that the interstate (65 & 70) has basically been in place for almost 50 years, it’s not easy to grasp that the interstate wasn’t always there. (For example, I was nine years old when the interstate system was completed through downtown Indianapolis. I hardly remember anything otherwise.)

SR 67 would follow Massachusetts Avenue to the city limits, at that time 38th Street, where the name of the road became (becomes) Pendleton Pike. (Historical note: The name Pendleton Pike, and where it was used, depended on where the city limits were at the time. I have seen a map, and maybe even copied it for personal reference, that shows that Pendleton Pike started at 10th Street…because that was the end of the city. As the city limits moved, so did the end of Mass Avenue.) In 1933, the states of Indiana and Ohio came to an agreement to extend US 36 from Indianapolis east. It ended up being multiplexed with SR 67 out of Indianapolis.

By 1935, the Indiana State Highway Commission decided to move US 36/SR 67 to along the city limits at 38th Street from Pendleton Pike to Michigan Road (another street name change at the city limits, it was Northwestern Avenue inside the then Indianapolis limits). The construction would be completed by 1937. When the new US 36/SR 67 was completed, the old SR 67 became SR 367. It would stay that way for just shy of 30 years. In 1965, the state decided that it no longer needed to maintain SR 367. They then returned it to the city of Indianapolis. The “new” US 36/SR 67 would remain in place along 38th Street until the completion of I-465 around Indianapolis.

SR 367 was not the only “grandmother daughter” road in Marion County. Both sections of the former SR 431 (Westfield Blvd on the northside, Madison Avenue on the southside – Keystone Avenue was a bypass of the original SR 431 on the northside) were first parts of US 31 before bypasses were built. The tradition continues throughout the state, although INDOT tends to use 900 series numbers for the old roads. Examples are SR 931 in Tipton, Howard and St. Joseph Counties, and SR 933 in St. Joseph County.

SR 28 – Digging Up A Road to Remove and Replace the Base

When SR 28 was created on 1 October 1926, it only connected US 31 west of Tipton to SR 9 north of Alexandria, and from Muncie at SR 3 to Union City on the Indiana-Ohio State Line. Plans were already in place to connect these two sections. By 1929, the new section of SR 28 between SR 9 and SR 3 had been added to the state system. This road would follow Washington Street and CR 1100 N out of Alexandria in a straight line to SR 67 north of Muncie. Less than a year later, the state was already planning on moving the route. It was listed as under construction on the late 1930 map (there were two that year, one in January and one in September). By 1931, the new road was opened.

Shortly after the state realized there was a problem. It was small at first. But by 1952, the problem had gotten to the point where the Indiana State Highway Commission had to close the road between SR 9 and US 35. Northwest of Muncie, the road had been built on a peat bog. This caused the road to settle over the years in that spot.

I will let the Muncie Star of 25 April 1952 tell the rest of the story via pictures.

Muncie Star, 25 April 1952, pp 14
Muncie Star, 25 April 1952, p 14

Indianapolis and the Interurban

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a new transportation system was appearing across the United States. This system, officially “electric traction railroads,” but mostly known as Interurbans, caught on especially in Indiana…with a major focus on Indianapolis. The Hoosier capitol glommed onto the interurban so much that the city was the home to the largest Traction Terminal in the United States. One could think of the Traction Terminal as the Union Station of the Interurban.

But what is not well known is that, unlike most of the towns in Indiana, the Interurbans only had one stop in the city of Indianapolis itself…the Traction Terminal. Transportation wise, Indianapolis has always been somewhat a lone wolf. Most transportation facilities, technically, had always stopped at the city limits. When the state took over city streets as part of the state highway system, Indianapolis was specifically left out of the plan, by law. The same applied to the Interurbans.

When entering the city, the electric traction railroads had to not only negotiate with the City Council for the right to enter the city, they had to also work with the Indianapolis Street Railway company for trackage rights to downtown. A quick glance at any Interurban time table would show this very strange situation. It was made even stranger when the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern (THI&E) became the actual owner of the Indianapolis Street Railway Company…and the Traction Terminal.

Let’s look at the “Stop 1” locations of the different Interurban routes into Indianapolis.

THI&E – Indianapolis to Terre Haute: This line had two stops at city limits: Stop 1 was at Harris Avenue (milepost 2.9); and Stop 2 was at Tibbs Avenue (milepost 3.4). Both of these locations were on the city limits. (Indianapolis, until Unigov in 1969, tended to annex county territory in a very strange pattern. It never really gobbled up territory in any kind of straight forward fashion. I describe it as “well this looks good, you are in the city now” type of expansion.)

THI&E – Indianapolis to Richmond: Stop 1 along this line was at Sheridan Avenue, milepost 5.7, three blocks east of Arlington Avenue. This location was just outside the former town of Irvington. There was branch from this line at Dunreith that connected to New Castle. Another interesting fact (at least to me) about this line is the fact that it had an effect on Indianapolis street names (like the Interstate Public Service line and the “Stop” roads mentioned seven paragraphs later). Most stops along the Interurban lines were named after the road where it was located. Stop 16 on this line, at milepost 10.5, was at Franke Road. In an effort to not have confusion between the names Franke Road and Franklin Road (originally the Franklin-Noblesville State Road, mentioned here), the road at Stop 16 was changed to the Interurban stop name. It was named after the landmark at that location: German Church.

THI&E – Indianapolis to Lafayette: This one actually had two Stop 1’s, one at 34th Street (milepost 3.7) and one at 38th Street (milepost 4.3). It should be noted that the line ran in a northwesterly direction, hence the 1/2 mile between 34th and 38th Streets, on the railroad, was 6/10 of a mile. It should also be noted that this line had a branch leaving Lebanon headed to Crawfordsville.

THI&E – Indianapolis to Martinsville: The official Stop 1 along the Martinsville line was at Milepost 3.8, which was .8 miles from the city limits at Eagle Creek.

THI&E – Indianapolis to Danville: There were two control points on this line before the official Stop 1. They were at Mount Jackson, milepost 3.0, and at Salem Park, milepost 3.3. The official Stop 1 was at milepost 4.2.

THI&E – Indianapolis to Crawfordsville (Originally the Indianapolis, Crawfordsville & Eastern): This line was a bit strange. The first numbered stop along this track was Stop 5, at Speedway. The city limits, at the time, was at Olen Avenue, officially known as Stop 4.

Union Traction Company (UTC) – Indianapolis to Logansport: This line left Indianapolis via Broad Ripple, connecting to Nora and Carmel on its way to Logansport. No stop numbers were used on time tables, but the first stop listed was at 34th Street, milepost 4.3.

It should be noted that the UTC had a line connecting Muncie and Indianapolis, and was labeled as such. Due to this, the first stop out of Indianapolis was at the end of the city street car trackage at 25th Street, milepost 53.4. This line served Fort Benjamin Harrison, and the station there (at milepost 45.0) still exists. It is now “La Hacienda” Mexican restaurant. (Good food, by the way.)

Interstate Public Service – Indianapolis to Greenwood (Franklin, Columbus, Seymour, Louisville): Known to the very end as the “Greenwood Line,” the Stop 1 was at Perry Street, milepost 4, located three blocks south of the city limits (and Center-Perry Township line) at Troy Avenue. This line has four points that I have found interesting. First, this was both the first and last active interurban line into Indianapolis (more information here). Second, some of the stops along this route are still named as such. Indianapolis has Stop 10, Stop 11, Stop 12 and Stop 13 Roads. Greenwood has a Stop 18 Road. Third, remnants of this company still exist as part of Duke Energy. When the Federal Government ordered the separation of the electric traction roads and their electrical supplier (part of what kept these lines solvent was selling power to customers along the line), the electric company Public Service Indiana was created. And fourth, Stop 13 is the county line separating Marion and Johnson Counties. In newspapers of the time, a large picnic grounds and recreational area existed between Stops 13 and 14. Stop 14 is now called Frye Road. The recreational area was called “Greenwood Park.” (For those keeping track at home, the IPS line ran along Madison Avenue. The area between Stops 13 and 14 is STILL called Greenwood Park. It just has the word “Mall” after it.)

Indianapolis & Southeastern (ISE) – Indianapolis to Connersville: The first stop listed in the time tables was at milepost 4.3, otherwise known as Junction. The second stop was at Hawthorne (the PRR Yards on the eastside of Indianapolis), milepost 7.

ISE – Indianapolis to Greensburg: Just like the Connersville route, the first stop was at Junction. However, the second stop was just east of Emerson Avenue. The stop was called “Heads,” at milepost 5.5. (After that, at milepost 7.8, was Five Points.)

At the height of the Interurban era, there were 55 different lines in Indiana. I plan to cover them in more detail at a later date.

The Hazelton Bridge

In the days of the Auto Trails, a second route adopted the name of “Dixie Highway,” this one being the “Dixie Bee Line.” In Indiana, much of this route followed what became State Road 10, and later US 41. In September 1921, work was started on a bridge over the White River north of the town of Hazelton, where the river forms the boundary between Knox and Gibson Counties. This bridge would replace the last ferry on the “Dixie Bee,” a ferry that had been in place for 40 years at the time of construction.

What makes this bridge special is its shear size. According to the Garret Clipper of 28 February 1924, “the bridge is said to be the largest on a state highway in the middle-west.” The massive size of this bridge is especially shown in its length. Including approaches, the bridge was nearly three miles long. The bridge consisted of a total of 29 spans: eight steel and 21 concrete.

Google Map image of the Hazelton Bridge. This image was snipped on 1 July 2019.

Built by the Stein Construction Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and costing $275,000, the bridge was 20 feet wide for its entire length, including approaches. It was rated to carry up to 20 ton (40,000 pound) vehicles. The bridge itself was 2002.5 feet in length, with approaches of 7448 feet (north) and 3800 feet (south). The bridge was “without draw,” or a non-moving bridge, that was 38.5 feet above the low water mark on the White River.

The steel spans had two different lengths: four were 198 feet; four were 84 feet.

The amount of construction material involved was massive: 1.5 million pounds of steel; 350,000 pounds of reinforcing steel in the concrete; 6,200 yards of concrete; and 13,000 linear feet of timber pilings. In addition, slightly more than 90,000 cubic yards of earth was used in building the northern approach.

The bridge had been longed for by residents of both Knox and Gibson Counties. As mentioned, the Hazleton Bridge replaced a ferry across the White River at this point. The problems with the ferry were typical when it came to Indiana weather. In the spring and fall, the amounts of rain received in the area caused the ferry to be put on hold for weeks at a time, suspending traffic flow at the same times. Again, according to the newspaper mentioned above, “traffic often was held in abeyance for weeks at a time.”

It was reported that this bridge “removes in Indiana the last obstacle on what is said to be the shortest motor route between Chicago, Florida and Gulf points.”

Google Map image of the Hazleton Bridge and southern approaches as of 1 July 2019.

All of the construction did have its problems later. The Indianapolis Star, of 15 January 1930, reports that “turbulent flood waters from White river threatened to destroy the three-mile fill leading to the Hazelton bridge on United States highway No. 41, late yesterday.” It was also stated that “the water was rising an inch an hour and highway officials expected the roadway to be covered before morning.” Members of the Indiana National Guard were sent to protect the Hazleton Bridge during this flooding incident due to reports of people wanting to blow up the bridge to alleviate the flooding problem.

The flooding in question affected not only US 41 at Hazleton, but points all along the White River south of Indianapolis. This especially affected areas around Newberry, Edwardsport, Spencer, Shoals, and Bedford. Highway officials were reporting that most state and county roads in these areas would not escape the flood waters.

The Hazelton bridge was in use from October 1923 until it was closed by officials of Knox and Gibson Counties on 03 April 1989. It had been in the state inventory until a bypass was built in 1961. Knox County officials wanted to close it for structural reasons in 1985, but work was done in 1986 to keep it open a little while longer. The weight limit on the bridge had been lowered in the 1970s to five tons for safety reasons. High water in April 1989, and parts of the bridge sinking six inches or more, helped make the decision to remove the bridge from use. According to the Vincennes Sun-Commercial of 6 April 1989, “the closing means an additional two miles for travelers coming to Vincennes from Hazelton.”

Vincennes Sun-Commercial, 06 April 1989

Now, as shown in the above Google Maps images, the bridge stands in a decaying condition, a testament to what had been one of the greatest bridge building projects in Indiana in the early days of the Indiana State Highway Commission.

The Leavenworth or Three Notch Road in Marion & Johnson Counties

SR 135. The original route that it follows through Marion and Johnson Counties had two names until it was added to the state road system in 1930 as SR 35: Three Notch Road and Leavenworth Road. The latter name comes from the southern terminus of the original state road created in the 1820s, Leavenworth. (Actually, it connected Indianapolis to “old” Leavenworth, a town that is all but abandoned after being wiped out by the Great Flood of 1937.)

The other name, Three Notch, comes from a colonial road naming tradition. Most trails in Colonial America were marked by marking, or notching, trees along the route. The number of notches showed the relative length of the road. Three notches were the longest. Considering Leavenworth is actually south of Louisville, Kentucky, I have no problem understanding the three notches.

In Johnson and Marion Counties, what is now SR 135 follows a survey line one mile west of the range line separating Ranges III and IV East (in Marion County, that range line is Shelby Street, in Johnson County, it is CR 200W). The road follows that survey line until it reaches Trafalgar (at least currently). The old road followed that same survey line even further, to CR 625S . (That is covered here.)

The old road is almost completely straight. There are very few variations in the correction of the survey line this route follows. Correction lines in the survey occur every six miles. From Indianapolis south, the first correction line is at what is now Thompson Road. The second is in Johnson County, at what is now Smith Valley Road. A quick glance at a map will show that the road drifts a little to the west at those points as you are going south. The road migrates east (going south) at the next correction line at SR 300N (at Bargersville). At CR 300S, the last correction line before Trafalgar, the correction line moves a tad bit west again.

Along the original route, the road did swerve a little around a hill just south of the first correction line mentioned above. This hill was later used as a cemetery, a use it still has today. When the state decided to widen the road, it was moved to the east of that cemetery.

At the original northern terminus of the Three Notch Road, it also had two other names before the Auto Trail era: Waverly Road and Bluff Road. Now, both of these names stem from the same location: the Bluffs of the White River at Waverly. (More information here.) Yes, this is where the current Bluff Road started. With the Auto Trail era, this old road, at least to what is now Bluff Road, became part of the Dixie Highway created by Carl Fisher.

With the Great Renumbering in 1926, the first section of the old Leavenworth/Three Notch Road south from South Street, was SR 37. The original SR 37 followed (what is now) Meridian Street from South Street to Bluff Road. (Remember, SR 37, as originally numbered, ended at US 31 – South Street, Meridian Street, and Madison Avenue. It was not numbered north of Indianapolis, and the road that would become SR 37 north of Indianapolis was given the number SR 13…only it was a few years after 1926.) After Bluff Road, the old Three Notch Road was just a series of county roads connecting the Bluff Road/Dixie Highway to points south like Bargersville, Morgantown and Nashville.

When SR 35 was extended into Marion and Johnson Counties in 1930, it followed the old Three Notch Road. In Indianapolis, both SR 35 and SR 37 multiplexed from US 31 south to Bluff Road. It was still a multiplex in this section when SR 35 became SR 135 in 1935. (Wow…lots of 35s there, eh? :D) Eventually, SR 37 was moved to West Street, (almost) bypassing downtown Indianapolis. SR 135 would be pared back over the years. One thing that has remained is that SR 135 has always ended at US 31, no matter where that end is.

But the Three Notch Road has remained. Like most roads in Marion County, the name given to the county section didn’t continue once it crossed the Indianapolis city limits. For instance, when the city limits were at Southern Avenue, north of Pleasant Run the street was Meridian. The name Three Notch Road started at Southern Avenue going south. The name Meridian Street would creep its way down this old road until it reached the county line. This would coincide with the expansion of the city limits to the county line.

Another, non transportation related, piece of history is the fact that the section of the road between Southern and Troy Avenues was in Center Township, not Indianapolis. For those unfamiliar with the difference, Governmental townships in Marion County have their own school districts. Since the city of Indianapolis started, and was mainly contained in, Center Township, most people assume that Indianapolis and Center Township schools were one and the same. Until the early 1960’s, Center Township had their own schools. Four of them, as a matter of fact. With school consolidation, the Center Township schools became part of Indianapolis Public Schools. I share this because one block east of this road, on Yoke Street, is a building marked Center Township School #2.

One of the charms of this old road is the fact that it did take travelers, since the 1820s, through the rugged beauty of Brown County, more or less. It did connect, but not directly, to Nashville. Then again, that’s because Nashville is between Indianapolis and the Ohio River at Leavenworth.

As an aside, in southern Indiana, SR 135 is NOT part of the old Three Notch Road. It is part of another old state road that connected Indianapolis to the Ohio River: the Mauck’s Ferry Road. The road is now called Mauxferry Road. The road connected Indianapolis to Mauckport on the Ohio River via Franklin. It would follow the Madison-Indianapolis State Road to Franklin, then split off to go to Mauckport. That old road was cut in two with the creation of Camp Atterbury in 1942.