Road Trip 1926: SR 22

Of the original renumbered state roads, one of the shortest was SR 22. It stretched from US 41 at Boswell to US 52 at Montmorenci. What was unique about this particular state road segment is shown in one of its segments current road number. The entire route of SR 22 was the original US 52. In 1926, the ISHC was already in the process of replacing the US route with a new build. The original SR 22 segment from Boswell to US 52 just north of Templeton is now called SR 352.

Interurbans in Marion County, Where Were They?

In the early 20th century, Indiana, and Indianapolis in particular, was the center of electric traction, or interurban, railroad activity. This was culminated with the building of the largest traction terminal in the United States on Market Street west of Illinois Street. The Traction Terminal acted as a Union Station for interurban trains. But little is known today, without being a serious researcher, about where the traction tracks were and where they went. The source of this information comes from a 1917 map of Marion County available here from the Indiana State Library Digital Collections online.

Along with each map and description, a list of some of the stops is included. It is commonly misunderstood that all stops were numbered. They weren’t. A prime example is on the south side of the city, where it is obvious where the stops were by the names of the roads. Stop 8 Road (now Edgewood Avenue) is 1/2 mile north of Stop 9 (now Banta), which is 1 mile north of Stop 10 Road. Between Stops 9 and 10 was Southport, which had no number.

The most extensive traction company in the central part of Indiana was the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company (THI&E). This company owned trackage that ran from Indianapolis (and Terre Haute) to multiple destinations. The THI&E would ultimately end up owning, in Marion County, the Traction Terminal and the Indianapolis Street Railways, or the city trolley system that ended up, much later, a bus system taken over by Metro, now IndyGo.

THI&E: DANVILLE LINE

The Danville Line used Indianapolis street car lines to a point near what was Central State Hospital. From there, it basically went “cross country” to a point where it connected to the old Rockville State Road (Rockville Road today), close to the survey line that the old state road follows. Keep in mind that the old road connected to the National Road, Washington Street, at what is now the intersection of Holt Road and Washington Street. What is now Rockville Avenue is the original Rockville Road. Stops included Lynnhurst, Statefarm, Stop 4 at High School Road, Stop 6 at Girls School Road, Stop 8 at Country Club Road, and Stop 9 at the Hendricks-Marion County Line.

1937 Aerial photograph of the THI&E Danville Line from Fleming Street to Washington Street. The straight line running across the photo is the location of the trackage. Photo courtesy of the City of Indianapolis-Marion County website MapIndy application.

THI&E: INDIANAPOLIS, CRAWFORDSVILLE & WESTERN LINE

This traction line followed the West Michigan Street railway line until it met the Big Four/Peoria & Eastern Railway line. The traction company then ran along the northern edge of the right-of-way of that steam railroad. West of what is now Speedway, it would be placed between the P&E and the old Crawfordsville Road (which, in 1917, was also part of the Dixie Highway). Stops included Stop 4 known as Olinville, Stop 5 across the Crawfordsville Road (now 16th Street) from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Stop 9 (Rancks) at High School Road, Stop 11 at Girls School Road, and Stop 13 at Country Club Road.

THI&E: LEBANON LINE

This traction line left the city at 38th Street along the Michigan Road, also known as Augusta Road. It ran along the western edge of that road. Stops included Mount Pleasant at Grandview Avenue, Stop 5 near 62nd Street, Stop 6 at Westlane Road, Stop 7 at 79th Street, Stop 8 at 86th Street, and County Line at 96th Street.

INDIANA UNION TRACTION COMPANY:
LOGANSPORT LINE

The Indiana Union Traction Company’s line ran north out of Indianapolis, turning north-northeast through Carmel, then turning to eventually reach Logansport.

The line used street car stops along Massachusetts and College Avenues to 63rd Street in Broad Ripple, which at the time was the northern end of the City of Indianapolis.

Stops on the interurban part of the line included Lilley’s at 71st Street, Williams Creek at 75th Street, Nora at 86th Street, Whitsels at 91st Street and County Line at 96th Street.

INDIANA UNION TRACTION COMPANY: ANDERSON LINE

The IU Traction company also owned the interurban line connecting Indianapolis to Anderson and points northeast of there. This line would serve Fort Benjamin Harrison. It ran along the northern edge of the right-of-way of the Big Four’s Cleveland main, or “Bee Line.” It would follow 38th Street until it met the Bee Line. Stops included Thompsons at Emerson Avenue, Shadeland at the mid point between Shadeland Avenue and 46th Street (roughly 42nd Street), Days near 56th Street, Siding at Fort Harrison (the station at this point still exists as a Mexican restaurant), Oaklandon, and Riley which was less than 1/2 mile from the Hancock-Marion County Line.

INDIANAPOLIS, NEW CASTLE & TOLEDO ELECTRIC RAILWAY

The INC&T line ran along the Big Four’s Springfield Division tracks towards its named cities. Stops included Stop 4 at Arlington Avenue, Stop 5 at Shadeland Avenue, Stop 6 at Franklin Road, Stop 7 at 30th Street, Hunters Station at Post Road, and Stop 10 also known as County Line.

THI&E: RICHMOND LINE

This line connected Indianapolis to Richmond along the National Road (Washington Street). In cooperation with a company in Ohio, service from Indianapolis could reach Dayton and Columbus (Ohio). It was the failure of the Dayton connection that cost most of this road’s traffic counts. Because the National Road from Irvington east had been built up from the early years of the state, the six mile stretch from Irvington to the Hancock-Marion County line contains more stops than any other traction line in the county. Cumberland, for instance, is basically Stop 18. Other stops included Stop 2 at Edmondson Avenue (Warren Park), Stop 6 at Franklin Road, Stop 9 at Post Road, Stop 13 at Mitthoeffer Road, and Stop 15 (called German Church) at German Church Road.

INDIANAPOLIS & CINCINNATI: CONNERSVILLE LINE

The Indianapolis & Cincinnati owned two lines out of Indianapolis, both sharing the same right-of-way along Prospect Street to Stop 1 at Sherman Drive. The Connerville line continued along the line of Prospect Street through the southern edge of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Hawthorne Yards, following the eastern line out of those yards to the northern right-of-way of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad that parallels Brookville Road. Stops, other than Stop 1 listed above, included Stop 2 at Emerson Avenue, Stop 3 at Arlington Avenue, Hawthorne at Fisher Road, Fenton at Franklin Road, Stop 5 at Post Road, Stop 6 at Bade Road, Stop 7 at German Church Road, and Julietta near the Hancock-Marion County Line.

INDIANAPOLIS & CINCINNATI: CINCINNATI LINE

The other I&C line split from the Connersville line at Michigan Road. It then followed the Michigan Road to Hickory Road. Traveling south on Hickory Road, the traction line turned to follow the northern right-of-way of the Big Four Cincinnati Division. Stops included Stop 3 at Minnesota Street, Stop 4 at Raymond Street, Five Points, Stop 10 at Franklin Road (then known as Wanamaker), New Bethel (now known as Wanamaker), Stop 12 at Thompson Road, Hittle at Edgewood Avenue, Stop 15 at Southport Road, Acton Park, Acton, and Stop 16 at the Marion-Shelby County Line.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY: GREENWOOD LINE

The first interurban line to branch from Indianapolis was the Greenwood line. Following Shelby Street from the city limits at Troy Avenue, south to Madison Avenue. It then paralleled Madison Avenue to the Johnson-Marion County Line. This line has two other interesting points: 1) when the Federal government ordered the separation of the power plants supplying the traction lines and the traction lines, the owners kept the electric company. It became Public Service Indiana, which is now part of Duke Energy. 2) In addition to the first interurban to Indianapolis, it was also the last. That story can be read here. Stops along this route were located, at least from Stop 8 south, generally at roads of the same name. This is true today with Stops 10, 11, and 12. Other stops included Stop 1 at Perry, Stop 4 at University Heights, Stop 5 at Longacre, Stop 6 at Thompson, and Stop 7 at the town of Edgewood which is now Epler Avenue. The current Stop 13 Road is actually located 1/4 mile north of the actual Stop 13, which was at the Johnson-Marion County Line.

Across the county line, as an aside, at Stop 14 (Frye Road) was a very large picnic ground and recreation park. It was called Greenwood Park. It is still called that, but it includes the word “Mall” in its designation.

THI&E: MARTINSVILLE LINE

The Martinsville line shared the right-of-way with the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad. Stops included Maywood (at Tibbs Avenue), Stop 3 at Mann Road, Stop 4 at Lynhurst Drive, Stop 5 at Hanna Avenue, Stop 7 at High School Road, Valley Mills (originally called Northport – because it was north of Southport!), Stop 9 at Mendenhall Road, and Camby.

THI&E: TERRE HAUTE LINE

The original line of the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern. The line followed Oliver Avenue until it reached the Pennsylvania Railroad’s St. Louis mainline, which started life as the Terre Haute & Richmond. Stops included Stop 1 at Warman Avenue, Stop 3 at Morris Street, Indianapolis Heights at Lynhurst Drive, Gun Club at Minnesota Street, Ben Davis, Stop 7 at Girls School Road, Stop 8 at Hoffman Road, Bridgeport, and Stop 10 at the Hendricks-Marion County Line.

Thus covers the entire interurban network radiating from Indianapolis.

White River on Indianapolis’ South Side, and its Effects

When the Indianapolis Southern Railroad was authorized to enter the city, the company built their railroad yards on land south of Wisconsin Street along the east bank of the White River. The White River, at that time, included an oxbow channel that curved east of the current channel. This oxbow also caused what is now West Street south of Wisconsin Street to ends at the river. This also shows the reason for the curving route of Senate Street south of Wisconsin Street, as well.

Map of the White River, and pending plans to straighten the channel, from the Indianapolis News, 16 May 1925.

When the Indiana State Highway Commission added SR 22 to its inventory, around 1923, the road would enter Marion County along the old Bluff Road from Waverly to Meridian Street near where the Indianapolis Belt Railway crossed the old roads. At the time, due to the course of White River, the West Street connector did not exist (the section from Wisconsin Street south to where it becomes Bluff Road). With the Great Renumbering, this route would become SR 37. In 1930, the northern end of the Bluff Road (at one point named Bluff Avenue) joined SR 35 as Meridian Street became part of the state highway system.

In 1925, the Indianapolis Board of Works laid out a plan to move the channel of the river, straightening it to match the current channel. As shown in the Google Maps image below, the river was moved 1/4 mile to the west. (Notice that how the old channel of the river can be seen by the route of the railroad tracks and location of the Indiana Railroad yard.)

Indiana Railroad yards and White River. Image courtesy Google Maps, snipped on 27 August 2019.
Indianapolis Union (Belt) Railway bridge over White River’s old channel. Image courtesy of the Indianapolis News, 16 May 1925.

When the Indianapolis Belt Railway was built in 1873 from the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis west, it was a low level track, at grade from the JM&I to connect to railroads on the west side of the city. The bridge over the old channel was closer to the river, height wise, than the current routing of the Belt.

The City of Indianapolis was also in the midst of a track elevation to allow better road traffic. Between 1916 and 1921, the tracks entering Union Station were elevated, finally allowing better access to the south side of the city. (With 200+ trains arriving at Union Station daily, getting south of the station required the use of a tunnel, on Illinois Street, or a high level bridge on Virginia Avenue. The traffic situation was also complicated at the Belt, especially, again, on the south side.

The Indianapolis Union Railway, owner of both Union Station and the Indianapolis Belt, planned a track elevation project for the belt. With the plans of the new White River channel, that elevation would start west of White River east to between Meridian Street and Madison Avenue. The length was to allow for elevation of the tracks and to keep grades at a relative low number.

The bridge over the new channel would be extended a bit to allow a new West Street connector to be built under the railroad, allowing West Street to be extended from the old river channel to at least Raymond Street. As an aside, the original plan for this elevation would have only built a bridge over Meridian Street, but not Bluff Road. The ISHC would come to have a problem with this. In the end, it didn’t happen that way.

In the end, the state would take over the West Street connector, removing the odd angle intersection at SR 35 (135) and SR 37 (Meridian Street and Bluff Road). The Belt was elevated for over a mile, allowing a higher crossing of the river and access to the now landlocked Illinois Central (now Indiana Railroad) yard.

Some State Road Detours of 11 August 1923

From a very early time, the Indiana State Highway Commission made it a point to issue press releases of detours of the growing state highway system. These press releases would be published in the newspapers of the time, listing the current road construction projects throughout the state. Usually, these were listed under the headline “Condition of State Highways.” One of the earliest that I have found so far was published on 11 August 1923.

These updates would usually contain a detailed description of some of the projects, then list the state roads in numerical order.

The above mentioned article listed, for example, a detour of the Lincoln Highway in great detail. “Traffic on the Lincoln Highway eastbound from Valparaiso, will find the road closed east of Valparaiso, west of Westville, and for one mile north of Westville. East-bound traffic from Valparaiso should take the Yellowstone Trail, No. 44, to a point one mile north of Wanatah. From there LaPorte traffic goes north to the south edge of Westville, thence east over the south route to LaPorte. South Bend traffic should go through Wanatah, following No. 44 to Hamlet, thence north and east to destination.”

When the roads were listed in order, not only the number, but the general direction, was listed in the description. For instance, SR 2 (known in press releases as No. 2), the original route of the Lincoln Highway at the time, was listed as follows: “No. 2 (Valparaiso, South Bend, Fort Wayne, Ohio line) – Closed from state line to Ft. Wayne; thence to Churubusco; from five miles east of LaPorte to LaPorte; from one mile west of Westville to two miles west of Westville, and from two miles east of Valparaiso to Valparaiso.” This was the brief description of the same thing listed in the previous paragraph.

Sometimes, the press release would even go into great detail within the state road numbers list. For instance, “No. 4 (Mt. Vernon, Evansville, Seymour, Ohio line) – Closed near Haysville with no suitable detour. North-bound traffic from Jasper go to Loogootee by way of Portersville and Alfordsville. West-bound traffic from Paoli to points south of French Lick turn north to Mitchell, thence west on No. 5. Under construction from Evansville to county line, and from Boonville to Huntingburg. Bridge construction east of Vallonia: drive run-around carefully. Grading approaches to overhead bridge at Mitchell. Heavy grading east of Nebraska. Take run-around in dry weather, detour in wet.” One could safely assume that OSR 4 was mostly a dirt road at that point.

The old Michigan Road and the Indianapolis-Lafayette road, at this point in history, was OSR 6. What is now Lafayette Road out of Indianapolis was “closed just north of Flackville to two miles north of Royalton.” The detour recommended for Lebanon traffic was to take the old Michigan Road, at the time OSR 15, “leaving Indianapolis by way of Capitol avenue and Thirty-eighth street.” This was due to the fact that the “detour starting just out of Indianapolis is very bad.”

OSR 6 was also listed with having “new stone between Osgood and Greensburg, and heavy grading from Greensburg to Shelbyville.” It is also recommended that travelers “take St. Omer run-around carefully.”

Another historic road under construction at that time was No. 42 (Paoli to New Albany). The road is listed as “under construction between New Albany and Floyd Knobs. West-bound traffic detour to old Vincennes road, returning to state road at Galena. Eat-bound traffic detour to left at Spikert Knobs road into New Albany.”

Unlike INDOT state road detours today, most of the detours put in place by the ISHC would use local roads most of the time. With the current better conditions of INDOT maintained roads, longer official detours are put in place for travelers. At that time, such road conditions didn’t exist, so travelers would be routed along the closest available road.

The article covers roughly 18 column inches in the newspaper. At the end of the article, the following paragraph is listed: “roads not mentioned and parts of roads mentions but not specified are in excellent condition.” To give an idea of what that entails, the following roads are listed in this press release: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, 37, 40, and 42. Please keep in mind that these are the original state road numbers, before the Great Renumbering of 01 October 1926.

ISHC and Railroad Grade Crossing Removal: 1937

Among other projects, the Indiana State Highway Commission, in an effort to make transportation on its highway even safer, had, very early on, decided that the numerous railroad crossings should be eliminated. Today, I would like to focus on 13 projects that were put in place in May 1937.

These projects, listed by ISHC Chairman Earl Crawford, included “six new overheads and underpasses will be built, a road will be relocated to eliminate three crossings and six more separations will be rebuilt.” These projects “were announced as the federal bureau of roads approved preliminary places. Federal funds allotted to the state will meet costs.”

The following projects, according to the Indianapolis News of 04 May 1937, “on which bids will be taken soon” are listed below.

Reconstruction of overhead on US 27 over the Baltimore & Ohio railroad southeast of Liberty in Union County. Some research is due on this project, as a quick look at a satellite photo of the area shows an old alignment of US 27 at that point.

US 27 crossing of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad southeast of Liberty, as shown on Google Maps as of 26 August 2019.

SR 63, also over the B&O, at Hillside in Vermillion County.

Reconstruction of overhead on SR 2 over the Chicago & Erie railroad north of Hebron in Porter County.

Northeast of Gosport, on SR 67, construction of a bridge over the Monon in Owen County.

Bridge over the New York Central at Longnecker, in Dearborn County, on SR 46.

Another Dearborn County bridge over the New York Central on US 50 east of Greendale to be reconstructed.

South of Noblesville, in Hamilton County, on SR 13 (now old SR 37), reconstruction of underpass of Nickle Plate.

Current view of the Nickle Plate bridge over SR 13 (now old SR 37) south of Noblesville. Image courtesy of Google Maps, snipped 26 August 2019.

Construction of overhead over the Pennsylvania Railroad and relocated US 40 west of Dunreith. This is listed as “part of relocation of Road 40 from Knightstown to Dunreith eliminating present hazardous crossing at Dunreith.” This bridge was removed later, since the PRR, as part of Conrail, at this point was abandoned in the early 1980’s.

Construction of underpass in Lake County, southeast of Crown Point, under the Pennsylvania Railroad on SR 55. This is listed as “part of extension of Road (SR) 55 south of Road (US) 152.”

Construction of overhead on SR 64 over the Southern Railroad at Milltown in Crawford County.

Reconstruction of the SR 13 bridge over the Chicago & Erie railroad south of North Manchester in Wabash County.

Reconstruction of the bridge over the Chesapeake & Ohio south of Richmond, in Wayne County, on SR 21. The number of SR 21 would be completely removed from Indiana eventually. This section of SR 21 became SR 227.

Relocation of SR 60 at Pekin, in Washington County, “eliminating three grade crossings over Monon railroad.”

State Roads Proposed but not Included in the 1926 Plan

For the past several Saturdays, I have been reposting here a series that I did daily on the Facebook Indiana Transportation History group daily in March and April of 2018, the “Road Trip 1926.” That series only includes the roads that were added to the system on 01 October 1926. But the Indiana State Highway Commission had also planned other routes to be added to the system. These were “authorized additions.” These roads would fill in the numbers that some readers will notice are missing. It also allowed for connections of the same roads. It would also allow for the completion of US routes across Indiana. This list only includes those roads that were authorized in 1926. Many more roads would come (and go) later.

SR 1: A note of correction from the already published Road Trip 1926 entry on SR 1. The first several maps of SR 1 on that page, from Elrod to Batesville are actually an authorized addition. That authorized addition continued from Batesville to US 52 at Metamora. From there the road continued, as shown in the original post, from Brookville to Cambridge City, via Connersville and Milton.

SR 2: SR 2 covered the territory of much the original Lincoln Highway from Valparaiso, through Westville, and LaPorte to meet US 20 at Rolling Prairie (the current SR 2 from that point to South Bend was US 20 originally). It then picked back up in Elkhart, connecting Goshen, Ligonier, Merriam, and Churubusco to Fort Wayne. Again, this was the original Lincoln Highway. On the west, from Valparaiso, the road connected Hebron and Lowell, to end at US 41 west of Lowell. The authorized addition left US 41 from Belshaw, traveling southwest to the Illinois-Indiana State Line.

SR 6: Authorized addition was planned from Munster, through Griffith, Westville, Lapaz, and Nappanee to connect to the SR 6 that started south of Ligonier. SR 6 then connected to Kendallville, Waterloo and Butler to the Indiana-Ohio State Line. The whole route would later become US 6.

SR 16: There was no SR 16 as laid out in the original plan. The western section of the road connected the Illinois-Indiana State Line northwest of Enos, through Winamac to meet with US 31 at Rochester. The eastern section connected US 24 at Huntington almost due east through Decatur to the Indiana-Ohio State Line.

SR 19: A Nappanee to Elkhart authorized addition, without any commissioned section.




SR 21: A coming road that connects Marion to Peru through Sweetser, Converse, Amboy and Santa Fe.




SR 22: The authorized addition started at the Illinois-Indiana State Line at Ambia to end at Boswell and US 41. This connected to the in place road that connected to Oxford and ended at US 52 near Otterbein.

US 24: The section between New Haven, east of Fort Wayne, to the Indiana-Ohio State Line wasn’t added to the state highway system originally. The route connecting New Haven to Ohio SR 31 (US 24) was being determined when the Great Renumbering rook place.

SR 25: The entirety of this route is an authorized addition. Starting in Lafayette, the road is to connect to SR 29 (Historic Michigan Road) south of Logansport on the Carroll-Cass County Line via Delphi. From there, SR 25 was to follow the Historic Michigan Road from Logansport to Rochester. The last section took the road from Rochester to Warsaw.

SR 28: The original SR 28 was located in two different pieces. The first section was from US 31 west of Tipton, through Tipton to north of Alexandria. The other section started in Muncie, working its way east through Farmland and Winchester to Union City on the Indiana-Ohio State Line (where it became SR 29 in Ohio). The ISHC was authorized to add from the Illinois-Indiana west of Williamsport, through Williamsport, Attica, and Frankfort to connect to the then current SR 28 at US 31. Another authorized addition connected Alexandria to SR 3 north of Muncie.

SR 34: Originally, this road only ran from the Illinois-Indiana State Line west of Covington, through Covington and Veedersburg to Crawfordsville. The state was already planning to continue the road from Crawfordsville to Indianapolis, taking over one of the routes of the original Dixie Highway.

SR 35: The southern section of this road was a coming addition, connecting the Palmyra to Vallonia road to Corydon.



US 36: Basically, US 36 started at SR 63 at Hillsdale, going east to Indianapolis. The road also started at the Illinois-Indiana State Line and worked its way west. So the ISHC was authorized to connect the two sections of this state, errr, US route. (US highways are actually state highways with the same number crossing a state line. That is covered here.)

SR 38: A new ISHC road connecting New Castle to Richmond, via Hagerstown, Green Fork and Chester.



SR 43: The defined SR 43 on the day of the Great Renumbering started at Spencer, working its way through Cloverdale, Greencastle, Crawfordsville, to Lafayette. From there, the plan was to continue the road through Chalmers, Reynolds, Monon, San Pierre, Lacrosse, Wanatah, Westville to end at Michigan City.

SR 44: The original path of SR 44 was a rather circuitous route from Connersville to Liberty, ending at US 27. Plans were already in place to expand the road from Connersville to Rushville.


SR 45: Starting at Rockport on the Ohio River, SR 45 traveled north, multiplexing with SR 62 near Gentryville, then through Dale, Huntingburg, Jasper ending at Haysville at SR 56. Two additions were authorized at the time: one, connecting Haysville to Loogootee on US 50/US 150; and two, from (authorized) SR 54 at Cincinnati northeasterly to Bloomington.

SR 46: The original SR 46 after the Great Renumbering consisted of two sections: one) the Bloomington-Nashville-Columbus road and two) connecting Greensburg via Batesville, Penntown, Sunman, Manchester to Lawrenceburg. The section from Columbus to Greensburg was authorized to be added to the state inventory.

SR 48: A future state road starting at US 50 in Aurora, ending at SR 46. This road is now SR 148, and the end is at SR 48, which was originally SR 46.


SR 49: The ISHC was going to add SR 49 from Valparaiso to US 12/20 north of Porter.



SR 54: The authorized additions to this state road outnumber, and out distance, the original designated part of the road. The first addition was to connect Merom, on the Wabash River, to US 41 south of Sullivan. At that point, the original designated road commenced. The original route connected to Dugger, Linton, Switz City and Bloomfield. From there, another authorized addition started, connecting to (what was to become) SR 45 at Cincinnati (IN), Springville and ending at SR 37 at Oolitic.

SR 56: Originally commissioned from US 41 at Princeton, through Oakland City, Winslow, Jasper, Haysville, French Lick, West Baden, to SR 37 and US 150 at Paoli. It also connected Scottsburg to Blocher, Madison, Vevay, Rising Sun to US 50 at Aurora. With authorized additions, the completed SR 56 would connect the Wabash River opposite Mount Carmel, Illinois, to Princeton, and from Paoli through Salem to Scottsburg. This would make the total SR 56 span the entire state.

SR 58: A new road running along the Ohio River from SR 56 in Vevay to SR 56 near Rising Sun. Later, SR 58 would be located some place else, with this route becoming a daughter of SR 56, SR 156.


SR 59: This road started at SR 54 northwest of Linton, traveling north through Clay City to Brazil. The ISHC was authorized to add from Brazil to Rockville, where it would connect to the northern section of SR 59.

SR 61: Another short state road with more authorized addition miles than commissioned miles. The route connect SR 56, south of Winslow, to Petersburg and SR 57. The ISHC was adding, at the time, sections from SR 56 south to Boonville, and from Petersburg to Vincennes.

SR 62: This state route started in Mount Vernon, working its way across the state through Evansville, Boonville, Lincoln City, Leavenworth, Corydon, to New Albany. The ISHC was authorized to add from Mount Vernon west to the Wabash River to its inventory as SR 62.

SR 65: Connecting Mount Vernon to New Harmony, Poseyville, Cynthiana, ending at Owensville. The road was authorized to continue north to a junction with the authorized addition to SR 56 between Mount Carmel, Illinois, and Princeton.

SR 66: This road only appeared on the October 1926 map as an authorized addition, connecting US 41 at Evansville to SR 45 at Rockport.


SR 67: The ultimate goal for SR 67 was to connect Vincennes to a state road in Ohio aiming for, most probably, Cleveland. And it made it as far as Muncie. Authorized addition, in 1926, would bring the road from Muncie to Portland, then up US 27 to Bryant, then due east to the Indiana-Ohio State Line, where it connected to Ohio SR 32 west of Celina.

Mammoth Internal Improvement Act of 1836, Briefly

1836. The Indiana General Assembly passed a law so large that it threatened, ultimately, to bankrupt the state. I have covered several projects included in this bill in several other posts. But, you never know exactly what was completely included until you read the whole thing.

Google Books has available quite a few digitized books containing the laws of Indiana passed by the General Assembly. Most of these are small. They vary in size from a little over 100 pages to around 350 or so. But 1836’s book is over 900 pages. Admittedly, there are quite a few pages dedicated to other items, including the creation of several counties. Also, for some reason, the scanned book includes other years’ laws. The Improvements bill is Chapter II, and starts on page 6.

“Chapter II, AN ACT to provide for a general system of Internal Improvements. (Approved January 27, 1836.)” This is the start of one of the largest bills ever passed in Indiana. Sections One through Three cover the creation and organization of the “Board of Internal Improvements.” It consisted of six new members, appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate, and the present Canal Commissioners.

The major part of this bill starts in Section 4, which stated “said Board of Internal Improvement is hereby authorized and directed to adopt such measures as may be necessary to commence, construct and complete, within a reasonable time, the following public works.” This contains eight projects. This list starts on page seven of the Acts of 1836 book. The following is a brief list of the projects included. The text for most of the projects include the amount of money to be expended on that project. I will not be including those in this post.

1) The White Water Canal, commencing on the west branch of the White Water river, at the crossing of the National Road, thence passing down the valley of the same to the Ohio River at Lawrenceburgh, and extending up said west branch of the White Water above the National Road as far as may be practicable. A connection between this canal and hte Central Canal is also authorized. If it can not be completed by a canal, then a railroad is authorized from the National Road to the Central Canal in Madison or Delaware county.

2) The Central Canal, commencing at a suitable point between Fort Wayne and Logansport on the Wabash and Erie Canal, thence to Muncie(town), Indianapolis, and then down the White River West Fork to the East Fork of the same river. From there, the most practicable route to Evansville.

3) An extension of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the mouth of the Tippecanoe River to Terre Haute.

4) A railroad from Madison, through Columbus, Indianapolis, Crawfordsville to Lafayette, called the Madison and Lafayette Railroad.

5) A McAdamized Turnpike Road from New Albany through Greenville, Fredricksburgh, Paoli, Mount Pleasant, and Washington to Vincennes.

6) Resurvey of a route from Jeffersonville, via New Albany, Salem, Bedford, Bloomington, and Greencastle to Crawfordsville. It is determined whether it is more practicable to construct a railroad or a McAdamized road. If it is to be a road, then it is to connect to the Salem and Ohio Turnpike Company.

7) Removal of obstructions to navigation in the Wabash River from Vincennes to the mouth of the river.

8) A survey to determine whether it is more practicable to build a canal or railroad from the Wabash and Erie canal at Fort Wayne by way of Goshen, South Bend, and LaPorte to Michigan City, to be called the Erie and Michigan Canal or Railroad.

The bill continues after Section Four. Most of the rest of the bill, contains authorizations for bonds to be issued and loans to be taken to accomplish the projects listed in Section Four. There were a total of 41 sections of the law. In the Acts of 1836 book, the last section is listed on page 21.

Early Railroad Projects, Even Some Became Roads

In the early days of Indiana, much attention and money was spent on transportation facilities. Most of Indiana was a wilderness, and connecting remote places in the state became a priority. Starting in 1832, the General Assembly started passing laws creating railroad companies. In those early days, railroad technology wasn’t as advanced as it would be in the decade or so to come. Some of these projects would be dumped as railroads, becoming toll roads instead. One even took over, in the eyes of locals, the routing of the National Road.

On 3 February 1832, an act was passed by the Indiana General Assembly to “incorporate the Richmond, Eaton and Miami Rail Road Company.” However, less than one year later, on 2 February 1833, an amendment to that act had been passed. The amendment stated that the company is “vested with full power and authority to construct a turnpike road, in lieu of the rail road.” (1833 Acts of the Indiana General Assembly, Chapter XCVII) The toll road that would be built as a result of this act and amendment would, in the Auto Trail days, become part of the National Old Trails road. It was treated as part of the old National Road between Richmond and Springfield via Eaton and Dayton.

Chapter CXXVI of the 1834 Acts of the Indiana General Assembly, approved on 24 December 1833, sets forth an act “to incorporate the Evansville and Lafayette Rail Road Company.” The act specified that the railroad should connect Evansville, Princeton, Vincennes, Terre Haute, Covington before ending in Lafayette. While investigating ICC reports from 1917-1922, I can find no reference to this company whatsoever. The part of the route south of Terre Haute would be followed by what would become the Chicago & Eastern Illinois.

Two chapters after the last one, an act “to incorporate the Indianapolis and Lafayette Rail Road company.” This railroad was different than the one that would eventually be built through Lebanon and Thorntown. This route was laid out to connect Indianapolis, through Jamestown, Crawfordsville, Columbia (Tippecanoe County) to Lafayette. The route prescribed roughly follows what became part of the Big Four route to Crawfordsville, then along the Monon to Lafayette.

The 1835 Acts of the General Assembly list several possible railroad or turnpike projects. One section (13) of Chapter XVI, “an act to provide for the further prosecution of the Wabash and Erie Canal and for other purposes,” would allow the governor “to employ a competent engineer or engineers” for the following projects: a railroad or turnpike from Madison, by way of Indianapolis, Danville and Crawfordsville to Lafayette; a rail or turnpike road from Crawfordsville by way of Greencastle, Bloomington, Bedford and Salem to New Albany; and a railroad from Evansville to Vincennes via Princeton.

Section 16 of the same act provided that “engineers shall examine a route for a canal from or near Indianapolis to the Ohio river, at or near Jeffersonville, and if found not practicable to construct a canal between said points, then said engineers shall survey a route for a rail or turnpike road from Jeffersonville to intersect the rail road line in this act (mentioned in Section 13 above) directed to be surveyed from Madison to Indianapolis, at or near Columbus.” Both a toll road and railroad would be built in this case…the road would become part of US 31 later, and the railroad would become the Jeffersonville. The Jeffersonville would end up buying the railroad that it was to connect to “at or near Columbus.”

Section 18 allocated money for surveying a railroad from Terre Haute to Vincennes. The “report the same with an estimate of the probably cost of constructing the same, to the next General Assembly.” Section 19 allowed the same for the Lawrenceburgh and Indianapolis railroad. All of the money spent on this act was to come from funds allocated for the Wabash and Erie Canal.

This is the total list of railroad projects put forth by the Indiana General Assembly prior to the massive projects that would ultimately nearly bankrupt the State of Indiana implemented in 1836. Part of that plan was covered here.

Pendleton, Crossroads Town

Early in the history of Indiana, what is now called Fall Creek was a very important landmark for many that came after. (The name Fall Creek comes from, according to some sources, an interpretation of the Native American name “Soo-sooc-pa-ha-loc,” or “Split Waters.” Other sources state that it comes from a Native American word meaning “makes a noisy place.”) Indianapolis, for instance, was platted to be one mile east of the mouth of Fall Creek at White River (Fall Creek’s mouth was originally just northwest of what would become the Washington Street crossing of the White River). But 28 miles upstream, where the stream acquired its name, became a meeting point for several early state roads. That location became the town of Pendleton.

The town of Pendleton was platted in 1830. It was named after its founder, Thomas Pendleton. The location of the town, in addition to the “Falls of Fall Creek,” was also the junction point of several major state roads. These roads were located to connect to a point near those Falls.

The first of these roads was identified in the “Laws of the State of Indiana, Passed and Published at the Thirteenth Session of the General Assembly,” from here on referenced as the 1829 Indiana Laws, in Chapter LXVIII. That act was “an act to locate a State Road from New Castle to Crawfordville.” This act was approved on 9 January 1829.

The act stated that “William Dickson of the county of Henry, Daniel Heaton of the county of Hamilton, and David Vance of the county of Montgomery, be and they are hereby appointed commissioners to view, mark and lay out a state road from New Castle in the county of Henry, thence the nearest and best route to Crawfordsville in Montgomery county, by way of the Falls of Fall Creek in Madison county, and Noblesville in Hamilton county.”

The commissioners were to meet in New Castle “on the first Monday of April next,” that being 6 April 1829. They were then charged with the task to “view, locate and mark said road.” After laying out the path of the road, they were to file their reports with the each of the counties where the road is to be located.

The section of this road from Noblesville west to Crawfordsville became part of SR 32 in 1926. The section from Noblesville to New Castle was an authorized addition to the state highway system in 1930. From New Castle to Pendleton was added as SR 38 in 1932, with the remaining road added in 1933.

Another law in the 1829 Indiana Laws, approved 23 January 1829, appeared as Chapter LXXXII. This was “an act to establish a State Road from Shelbyville, by way of Marion in the county of Shelby, Greenfield in the county of Hancock, to Andersontown in the county of Madison, and for other purposes.” Other purposes that affect this entry is a relocation of the state road that connected New Castle to Lafayette, which from five miles west of New Castle to Noblesville used the same route as the road mentioned above. West of Noblesville was covered by me earlier here.

Section two of this act states “that William Hawkins of Shelby county, Henry Watts of Hancock county, and Thomas Bell of Madison county, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners, to mark and locate a state road, leading from Shelbyville to Marion in Shelby county, thence to Greenfield in Hancock county, thence to the falls of Fall Creek, thence to Andersontown in Madison county, from thence in a direction to Fort Wayne, until it intersects the state road leading from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne, in Allen county.”

This state road was mostly be accepted into the state highway system in 1926, at least from Greenfield to just south of Pendleton, and from just north of Pendleton to Anderson and further, as SR 9. Pendleton itself would be bypassed by the ISHC in their laying out of the new state road plan. (SR 9, and SR 67, bypasses Pendleton to the east, through Huntsville.) The Indianapolis-Fort Wayne state road mentioned connected to Noblesville (and is now Allisonville Road).

Later, in 1833, listed in the 1833 Laws of Indiana as Chapter CLXIV, Pendleton was mentioned again as a junction point of state roads. The act, approved 2 February 1833, was “an act to re-locate so much of the Knightstown State Road as lies between Pendleton in Madison county and Strawtown in Hamilton county.” The section from Knightstown to Pendleton, as with most early state roads, is hard to nail down most of the route. Leaving Pendleton to the north, part of it became SR 132 to Lapel. Again, however, from Lapel to Strawtown the original route gets hard to nail down.

Also mentioned in 1833, as part of Chapter CLXXIX (“an Act to locate a State Road from Andersontown in Madison county, to Logansport in Cass county”), section five states that the commissioners appointed for the road mentioned in the act “continue the location of said road from Andersontown in Madison county on the most direct and practible route, to the town of Huntsville in the county aforesaid, and from there the nearest and best way to a point where the Knightstown and Pendleton state road intersects the Newcastle (sic) and Crawfordsville state road.” This was an amendment to the original act, approved 2 February 1833. This amendment would be approved on 1 February 1834. This section would become part of SR 9 in 1926.

The one road to Pendleton that I, so far, can not find in any of my sources is the one that is still named for the purpose for which it was designed: Pendleton Pike. This was the Indianapolis-Pendleton state road. About half of the original route was incorporated into SR 67 in 1926, with US 36 following later. From Alfont to Pendleton, the original route ended up north of the railroad, known as the “Bee Line,” and is known as Reformatory Road, since it connects to the Indiana State Reformatory at Pendleton.

Now, Pendleton is still located along all of these original state roads. But the town itself has been completely removed from INDOT maintenance. SR 132 had been completely removed from INDOT inventory. SR 38 was moved to bypass the town using I-69 and SR 9/SR 67 through Huntsville.

Indianapolis Municipal Airport

A topic that I don’t cover very often is the history of air transport in Indiana. While looking for something else, I found some interesting stuff around the current Indianapolis International Airport. But, before it was Indianapolis International, before it was Weir Cook, it was Indianapolis Municipal Airport.

Indianapolis News, 04 December 1928, showing the airports that served Indianapolis at the time.

The year is 1928. Indianapolis is served by three airports at the time. Air travel was really beginning to catch on in the United States. At the time, airports were privately owned facilities. Capitol Airport, listed on West 30th Street, was bordered on the east by the Big Four Railway that runs along the east edge of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was located north of 30th Street. The property on the west was bordered by a line drawn north from the middle of the Speedway property. Mars Hill Airport is now Stout Field, about two miles east of the current Indianapolis International Airport. Hoosier Airport was located between Tibbs and Kessler south of Lafayette Road. The City of Indianapolis decided to get into the airport ownership business. Investment got underway with a $693,000 bond issue by the City of Indianapolis in May 1929. The airport opened for business on 24 September 1931.

1938 saw the Municipal Airport expanded by the Federal Air Bureau of Commerce. With the help of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), one of the runways was to be expanded to 6 thousand feet long and 150 feet wide. This was part of a radio experimental unit at the airport. At the time, the airport covered 1,016 acres. (Source: Indianapolis Star, 17 October 1938, pp 3). The same report mentions the fact that, with the then current expansion, the total investment in Indianapolis Municipal Airport was listed at $4 million.

The 1938 investment by the Federal Government was to create the longest (at the time) runways in the United States. The goal was to make Indianapolis the center of aviation experimentation. This would also create a radio station for airport use with the call letters WIMA, standing for Indianapolis Municipal Airport. At the time of the article mentioned above, the northwest runway was being extended a total of 2000 feet, and would be available for use with the next two weeks. This would allow it to open before November 1938. The experimental unit would be considered a separate field, although it would connect to the rest of the airport using new runways. The new 6000 foot runway would go from southwest to northeast.

1941 aerial photograph of Indianapolis Municipal Airport, courtesy of MapIndy.

In 1939, there was a proposed idea to create a new road to the airport. The airport had already been accessible from US 40 along High School Road. The airport superintendent at the time, I. J. Dienhart, recommended that the right-of-way of the Terre Haute traction line be turned into a highway connecting the airport to downtown. The receiver of the traction line, after it filed for bankruptcy protection, was seeking to discontinue operation of the line. That would require the approval of the Public Service Commission to abandon the service completely. It was reported that should it be approved, the right of way would be donated to the Board of Works and Sanitation for the City of Indianapolis. Construction would be, hopefully, be assisted by the WPA. (Source: Indianapolis Star, 17 May 1939, pp 8)

The traction line idea fell through. However, the State of Indiana decided to create a new state road to connect the airport to US 40/Washington Street. That new road would be called SR 100. I covered the history of SR 100 here.

Another change to the airport was started in late 1943, but this time it was the name of the facility. Colonel Harvey Weir Cook, a World War I ace from Indiana, was killed in action in the South Pacific theater of World War II. He was killed when his P-39 fighter failed to come out of a spin on 21 March 1943. According to the Indianapolis News of 20 December 1943, the Indianapolis Board of Public Works and Sanitation “deem it appropriate that the memory of Colonel Harvey Weir Cook be honored by renaming the Indianapolis municipal airport as Weir Cook Airport.” It was resolved that it be “fitting dedication ceremonies be held at Weir Cook Airport on Tuesday, March 21, 1944.” The Board of Public Works and Sanitation voted unanimously that this honor be bestowed upon Colonel Cook.

1953 USGS Topo Map of the Indianapolis Municipal Airport.

Fast forward to the early 1950s. Indianapolis Municipal Airport, by this time also called Weir Cook Municipal Airport, was feeling its age. And its crowding. Stout Field, practically in the flight path to Weir Cook, was being considered for phasing out of its use by the Indiana Air National Guard (IANG). In 1953, the IANG was considering moving from Stout Field to Weir Cook. This did not go over very well. From the Indianapolis Star, 20 January 1954, Louis Schwitzer (Chairman of the Board of the Schwitzer-Cummings Company) paid for a half page ad discussing the possibility of moving the IANG to the Indianapolis Airport. “About twenty years ago when Weir Cook was not a busy airport, in fact had barely traffic at all, the National Guard did not want to use that field, but insisted on operating their squadron from its own field, so not to be interfered with. They built and equipped at the taxpayers’ expense Stout Field. Therefore, it would be assumed it would be more essential today for the Guard to operate from its own field in view of the heavy traffic on Weir Cook field, which increases every day.” He further states “the Aviation Board and the Mayor, as well as the Council, ought to be congratulated on putting up a fight to save Weir Cook airport as a commercial traffic center for the citizens and business of Indianapolis, and I hope that the board will win out.”

Another problem at the time was the shortness of the runways. 6000 feet, which at the time there were two runways of that length, weren’t long enough for safely landing the new jet aircraft. A runways of 8000 feet were recommended for the airport to increase the safety of takeoffs and landings of these new aircraft. The plans called for the main runway, running southwest to northeast, to be expanded from 7300 to 8000 feet for this reason. The estimated cost of this expansion was $800,000. This after the $1.5 million expansion of the northwest to southeast runway to 6000 feet to be completed in 1962.

Indianapolis Star, 24 September 1961, photo showing the Indianapolis Municipal Airport terminal built around 1931, and demolished in 1956 with the building of a new terminal.

By the time of its 30th anniversary, the Weir Cook Municipal Airport boasted more than 850,000 passengers a year passing through the terminal.

By 1973, local officials were working on getting the U. S. Treasury Department to expand and upgrade customs facilities to allow for Weir Cook Municipal Airport to Weir Cook International Airport. Tom E. Blanchard, U.S. Customs port director at the airport, according to the Indianapolis News of 07 June 1973, warned that, while that could be a step up for Indianapolis, it may not be the panacea that local businesses might think it is. “If the airport is given the international status, warned Blanchard, ‘you would have to accept any flight of any international airlines, anytime, and in any volume.’ He speculated that Weir Cook could be swamped with airplanes and passengers it really didn’t want and wasn’t equipped to handle.”

On 23 July 1976, Weir Cook Airport was officially renamed Indianapolis International Airport. This, according to the Indianapolis Star of 27 July 1976, was “because it now is an international facility with a customs building, it was explained yesterday in response to queries.” It had been renamed the previous Friday from when the article was published (that being on a Tuesday).

Today, the only reference to Weir Cook is the road that leads to the new airport terminal. It is called “Colonel H. Weir Cook Memorial Drive.”

Road Trip 1926: SR 18

Guess what? It’s Saturday again. And the “Road Trip Time Machine” goes back to check out the original SR 18. This road started in Kokomo, going east to SR 9, then north into Marion. After that, it turned east to what is now SR 3. It then turned east out of Pennville, ending at US 27.

The first section became SR 22 from US 31 to SR 9. The section from Marion to SR 3 is still SR 18. The section from Pennville to US 27 was removed from the state road system.

So, using the magic of Google Maps and Microsoft Paint, I present SR 18 as of 01 October 1926.

Indianapolis and Vincennes Railroad

In 1865, a new railroad was proposed to serve the state of Indiana. The face of the project was Major General A. E. Burnside, an Army officer during the Civil War. The project was to start by connecting Indianapolis to Vincennes. But this was only part of the pitch. Ultimately, the goal was to connect Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico, with extensions to the line through Cairo, Illinois, and points further south. Unfortunately, that goal was never realized.

When the Indianapolis & Vincennes (I&V) began construction in 1867, it obtained financial help from the Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette (IC&L) Railroad. That road offered that financing in return for a lease of the line. This would have created a route that branched from Indianapolis in three directions under one company – Cincinnati, Chicago and Vincennes. This lease would not last long.

In 1868, two companies associated with the Pennsylvania Railroad would also had financial help, being added as guarantors of the line. This would help complete the line between Indianapolis and Vincennes in 1869. The Pennsylvania Railroad interests would take control of the line in 1871. This ended the proposed lease by the IC&L. This would come into play later.

Due to the limited scope of the railroad as planned, the I&V was constantly on the verge of failure. It wasn’t a very profitable property. But, with the exploitation of coal reserves near the line, the management decided to build a branch line from Bushrod to Dugger in 1884. This branch was completed in 1885. This helped a bit with the lines finances.

At Vincennes, the road would connect to several routes. What would become the Baltimore & Ohio line across Indiana from Louisville, Kentucky, to St. Louis, Missouri, was directly connected to the I&V. A line to the southwest, to St. Francisville, Illinois, would come to be owned by the Big Four. The other line, stretching from Evansville to Terre Haute would also traverse Vincennes. This would become part of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois.

On 01 January 1905, the Pennsylvania Company, a holding company that maintained the properties of the Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburgh and Erie (PL), consolidated the I&V, the Terre Haute & Indianapolis, the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute, the Terre Haute & Logansport, and the Logansport & Toledo into one overarching company: the Vandalia Railroad Company. This would help the survival of what was the I&V, given the, again, constant financial dire straits of the railroad.

12 years later, on 01 January 1917, the PL consummated further consolidations with the combination of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway and the Vandalia to form the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (Panhandle). This made the I&V part of a system, under one corporate title, that connected the title cities, along with many other locations across Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This further helped hide the questionable financial health of the I&V.

The Panhandle would be affected by the late 1910s-early 1920s elevation of the railroads in downtown Indianapolis. Due to this elevation, the connection of the I&V to Indianapolis Union Station would become a potentially expensive undertaking, since the elevation would require a lot of work at the location where the I&V entered the Indianapolis Union Railway tracks west of the station. This would lead to the construction of the Eagle Creek Connector, a track leading between the I&V near Maywood to the Panhandle St. Louis mainline just north of what is now the I-70 interchange with Holt Road. The original line was relegated to a branch line from the Indianapolis Belt Railroad to downtown Indianapolis.

In 1958, all of the leases that became the Panhandle were assigned, by the Pennsylvania Railroad, to the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington, part of the PRR mainline between New York City and Washington, DC. This would have no effect on the lines involved, as it was just a lease reassignment.

The major change would occur on 01 February 1968 with the merger of two major rival railroads: the Pennsylvania and the New York Central. This would make the I&V a corporate sibling to the railroad that first offered to help build the line, the IC&L. The IC&L had become part of the Big Four (the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway) on 30 June 1889. The Big Four would be aligned, and later absorbed, by the New York Central.

The I&V would ultimately make into the Conrail days in 1976. After that, Conrail would abandon sections of the original line at both the Indianapolis and Vincennes. What is left of the I&V is now part of the Indiana Southern Railroad.

SR 13/37 in Marion and Hamilton Counties

On of the last state roads owned by the Indiana State Highway Commission to be added to the Indianapolis area would cover what was created as the Indianapolis-Fort Wayne State Road in Marion and Hamilton Counties. This road, now known as Allisonville Road, became an authorized addition to the state system in 1930. The following year, the road was given a number: SR 13.

The history of the road goes back to the early days of the state. The original road started at North and Pennsylvania Streets, to this day called Fort Wayne Avenue. The road then followed what is now Central Avenue north from town. There were even articles in the newspaper that Central Avenue be renamed Fort Wayne Road in the late 19th, early 20th century. Eventually, the road branched from Fall Creek where Keystone Avenue now crossed the creek. The road then headed north-northeast towards Noblesville.

With the creation of the State Highway Commission, state roads were to connect every county seat. To connect Indianapolis to Noblesville, the route originally would require a traveler to use SR 32 west to US 31 at Westfield, then south to Indianapolis. The direct route, Allisonville Road, had been a toll pike, then a county road.

With the authorized addition of the route into the state highway system, the ISHC started working on upgrading the future highway. The original path of the new state road through Hamilton County took a circuitous route from Noblesville north to Strawtown. Part of this circuitous crossed White River twice. One of these crossings is in a park north of Noblesville, and known as Potter’s Bridge. The other crossing is at what is now 211th Street. That bridge is now gone, but its location can still be seen.

Out of Indianapolis, SR 13 started at the corner of Fall Creek Parkway and Meridian Street (US 31). SR 13 then followed Fall Creek Parkway to its intersection with Allisonville Road/Keystone Avenue. It then followed Allisonville Road out to Noblesville. The Fall Creek Parkway route would change, routing along 38th Street along with other state roads (SR 67 and US 36).

Some of you might be asking “SR 13?” Yes. This route would have this designation until 1940, when it was renumbered SR 37. SR 13 would be moved to where it is now, with it being extended to Greenfield.

This route of SR 37 was used until the SR 37 bypass through Castleton was built in 1957. Noblesville argued that the original SR 37 should be maintained, even though the bypass was built. The original was redesignated SR 37A. It would remain that way into the early 1980s.

The White Water and Miami Turnpike

On 29 January, 1830, a law passed the General Assembly creating a turnpike, or toll road, from the Ohio State line to a convenient point on the National Road. The law specified that said road would connect the “college township” along the state line through Liberty, Brownsville, and Milton to the National Road. The “college township” was known, for many years, was known as College Corners. It is now called Cottage Grove, located on what is now US 27 on the Indiana-Ohio State Line.

The commissioners for the road were designated as Robert Long, Aaron Stanton, Thomas Cully, Ira Grover, Thomas R. Chunn, and William Youse of Union County, and Jesse Willits, Asa M. Sherman and Samuel Pierce of Wayne County. This was listed in the section one of the law. This section also listed that the road would commence “at the north west corner of the college township, on the line between the states of Ohio and Indiana, thence via Liberty and Brownsville in Union county, Milton, in Wayne county, to some convenient point on the National Road.”

Rough route of the White Water and Miami Turnpike.

The new corporation would, according to section two, be able to sell subscriptions, or stock, for the price of $25 a share. The law went on to state about how the shareholders were to elect a board of directors, establish by-laws, and how elections were to be held. It was even stated that no shareholder could not vote in the elections unless said shareholder had paid 10% of the value of the stock.

Section 11 stated that, if found convenient, that the new company could use any state or county road to locate the road.

Ultimately, most of this turnpike would revert to county responsibility. The ISHC would, in the end, only take the sections from the state line to Liberty, and the section from Milton to the National Road, into the state highway system. From Milton north, it became part of the original route of SR 1 in October 1926.

Greensburg Road, To Where Depends on the Source

Leading southeast out of Franklin, the county seat of Johnson County, is a road that is named Greensburg Road, that connected to Greensburg, county seat of Decatur County. Depending on the source of information, that road is listed with multiple destinations. All of them end, or begin depending on the source, at Greensburg. It’s the other end that goes to who knows where.

The “Indiana Gazetteer, Or, Topographical Dictionary” of 1833, under the entry for Shelby County, lists “a road from Indianapolis to Greensburgh” as running through the central part of the county. Given that most state roads at the time ran in nowhere a straight line between two points, I would almost bet money that this road would be a branch of the Madison-Indianapolis State Road, leaving the Madison at Franklin (and called Greensburg Road). This would make sense.

In the book “Laws of the State of Indiana,” listing laws passed by the legislature during the 1829-1830 session, Chapter LXXIII, Section 3, states “that the sum of five hundred dollars be appropriated on so much of the state road from Greensburgh in Decatur county, through Franklin in Johnson county, Mooresville, and Greencastle in Putnam county, to the state line, in the direction to Vandalia.” So the same Greensburg Road in Franklin now has an end point on the Illinois-Indiana State Line, with the road heading toward Vandalia. I am not sure which road this would be…but the National Road leads from near Greencastle to Vandalia, Illinois. Vandalia, Indiana, is an unincorporated place along SR 46 between Spencer and Bowling Green. So it is unlikely this is the Vandalia mentioned in the law.

Ultimately, the Greensburgh Road (which, strangely, is how it is still spelled in newspapers – especially the Daily Journal of Franklin, Indiana) would become a “turnpike,” or toll road, between Franklin and Greensburg. The route to Indianapolis would have followed the Madison Road, a toll road. The route to Mooresville would follow what is now (in parts) SR 144 between Franklin and Mooresville.

As far as I can tell, it would have followed Vandalia Road (that’s the name) from near SR 9 to Greensburg, through the unincorporated town of Geneva in southeastern Shelby County. Between the Johnson-Shelby County line west of Marietta and the old town of Bynam, at SR 9 and Vandalia Road, the old road is hard to find. This is typical of early Indiana state roads. I am pretty sure that it went south of Marietta, crossing the Big Blue River on a diagonal road that is now a driveway leading to Shelby CR 650S. This diagonal road would connect Shelby CR 600S to Shelby CR 650S. But this is just a guess because I can find no maps to show the old Greensburgh Road.

So, after many years, the very old Greensburgh Road basically goes to the middle of nowhere. Sources in the past show it going to Greencastle or Indianapolis, turnpikes show it going to Franklin. Modern sources show it going to the middle of nowhere.

13 January 1830: A Major State Road Approved

Several laws passed by the 1829-1830 legislature in January 1830 involved what would become the first major north-south road in the state. The idea of the legislation was this: “An act to establish a state road from Lake Michigan, by way of Indianapolis, to some convenient point on the Ohio river.” That act created the Michigan Road, although with just a bit of vagueness in description.

Chapter LXIX, Section 1, Laws of the State of Indiana 1830

The first section of the law mentions that the northern part of the Michigan Road was actually approved by the legislature on 24 January 1828. Section 1 approves the route surveyed by John I. Neely, Chester Elliott and John McDonald. That route was planned from the new town of Michigan City, on Lake Michigan, to Indianapolis. This section also mentions the treaty “made and concluded near the mouth of the Mississinewa upon the Wabash, in the state of Indiana, on the sixteenth day of October, 1828.” This was the treaty where the US Government, and the State of Indiana, purchased a 100 foot right-of-way through Potawatamie territory for the purpose of building a road. It is also mentioned in this section that 1) the approved survey is the second such done for the placement of the road and 2) on 2 March 1827, the road was extended from Indianapolis to Madison, via Greensburgh. (Before you ask, prior to the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, and his spelling reforms, most “burg”s were spelled with an “h” on the end. The spelling reformed removed the “h” from all of these names, among other things. In some cases, the “h” was put back.)

The next section would spell out the commissioners of the road between Madison and Greensburg, and they are to examine the surveyed section of the road to see if they feel it needs to be changed in any way. This led to the old road connecting Bryantsburg and Napoleon directly, where the “modern” Michigan Road connects through Versailles. The commissioners chosen by law were from locations that had no vested interest in the Michigan Road (Wayne, Knox and Sullivan Counties, to be specific).

There are seven more sections for this act, which are shared below. The source for these images is the book “Laws of the State of Indiana,” available on Google Books.

The following chapter in said book reports a law that was approved 29 January 1830. It stated “that so much of said Michigan road as lies between the Wabash river, and the Ohio river, at the town of Madison, shall be, and the same is hereby directed to be cut and opened, one hundred feet wide, between the first day of August 1830, and the last day of November 1831.”


Buffalo Trace

Indiana is crossed by many trails and roads that not only connect local areas to each other, but the state to the country as a whole. Many of them were famous in their day, the best known of these being the Michigan Road and the National Road. But one of the most important of the early trails in what would become Indiana predates the state, the territory, and even European settlement in the United States: the Buffalo Trace.

The Buffalo Trace stretched across Indiana from the Falls of the Ohio, opposite Louisville, to Vincennes. When French settlers migrated into what would become Indiana, they picked a location along the Wabash River where a hard packed trail entered from the east. That trail varied between 12 and 20 feet wide. But to say that this trail was man made is very wrong. The engineers that designed the path were actually buffalo.

While the destinations of this trace are Louisville and Vincennes in modern days, when the path started, it was the path of least resistance between grazing lands in Illinois to salt springs in Kentucky. According to the Indianapolis News of 03 October 1903, “wild buffalo were engineers by nature. In their migrations between two distant points they did not always seek the most direct route, but the route over which they could travel with the greatest ease.” As such, while not in a straight line between the two points, it was relatively level. Or at least as close to level as it can be in that area of the state.

Since the buffalo used the route so much, so did the Native Americans that would hunt these animals. As such, it had been used by people long before Europeans even knew of the “new world.” Several native settlements appeared along the trace. Hunting was good, apparently.

When the first Europeans came to that section of the state, a settlement was started by the French at a point on the Ouabache (Wabash) at the old trail. That settlement would come to be known as Vincennes. As the United States expanded to the west, settlers would use the Buffalo Trace as a major thoroughfare. When the first areas of what would become Indiana started coming into the hands of the US Government by treaty, it was specifically mentioned that the entirety of the Buffalo Trace would be given up by the Native Americans.

The first post road across Indiana would be set up along this route. The posting of soldiers along the road was necessary during the War of 1812, to protect residents of the Indiana Territory from both Native Americans and British spies that might be wandering around the area. Many taverns were established, and many fortunes won and lost. Towns sprung up to serve the large numbers of travelers that would use the Buffalo Trace to connect to the Illinois Trace that would take them to St. Louis, Missouri.

The Buffalo Trace would remain an important part of Indiana transportation even into the days of the Indiana State Highway Commission. Most of the original path became parts of the original State Roads 4 and 5. The section from Paoli to New Albany was also part of the Dixie Highway. Original State Road 42 covered the Dixie Highway section in 1920. With the Great Renumbering, most of the original Trace would become parts of US 50 and US 150. But not all of it.

In 1936, Governor Paul V. McNutt created the Buffalo Trace Commission, an organization that “established the exact course of the trace as far as was possible.” (Source: Indianapolis Star, 27 November 1940, pp 21) This helped lead to more of the original path added to the state highway system.

Today, the old Buffalo Trace has been bypassed in several sections in its travel across Indiana. But very few transportation facilities in Indiana as so little known, but so important to the State of Indiana.

The Quaker Trace

Many early state roads in Indiana were built to connect, usually, one county seat to another. These early roads, as mentioned before, were authorized by laws passed in the state legislature and paid for by the state, but then became the responsibility of the county afterwards. The only exception to this, as far as state roads go, is the Michigan Road. Most of these roads were named for their destinations. Occasionally, they would also acquire another, more common, name. One such route was the Fort Wayne-Richmond State Road. It was known locally as the Quaker Trace.

What became the Quaker Trace was started in 1817, named after the religion of the people that volunteered to build a market road between the two official title cities. At the time, Wayne County extended to the point of the treaty line that came southwest out of Fort Recovery, Ohio. At the time, Wayne County included parts of Fayette, Union, Randolph and Jay Counties. (Historic side note: The current Wayne County is the second such named county in the Indiana Territory/State of Indiana. The first Wayne County covered most of the northern section of the Indiana Territory. That Wayne County would be removed from the Indiana Territory to become the new Michigan Territory. Yes, the first Wayne County in the one that contains Detroit.) The road was built by private parties then turned over to the county. Later, the state would pay to improve the road, then turned it back over to the county.

Google Map of the Quaker Trace, created 07 August 2019.

Unlike the future route of US 27, connecting Richmond and Fort Wayne, the Quaker Trace ran closer to the Indiana-Ohio State. Out of Richmond, it travelled north along what is now Arba Pike. It follows that rough line up to, and through Jay County. At the Jay County line, there was a town called Salem, also known as Jordan Post Office. The old road continued north from there to a point near New Corydon, where it crossed the Wabash River. In Adams County, CR 450E roughly follows the old trail. North of Adams CR 700S, Salem Road becomes the rough route to Decatur.

In the Richmond Weekly Palladium of 02 July 1836, references to the Quaker Trace were made in an advertisement for the sale of lots in the new county seat of Adams County, Decatur. The location of the new town is on “the state road from Fort Wayne to Richmond (commonly called the Quaker trace) passes directly through this place.” The ad also mentions that “the State road to Winchester also intersects the Quaker trace near this place.” The Winchester State Road would become, roughly, US 27 in the 20th Century.

Out of Fort Wayne, the Quaker Trace followed the old Wayne Trace south out of town. The Winchester State Road ran west of the St. Mary’s River, with the Quaker Trace being on the east side of the river.

When the state highway system was created, the old Quaker Trace was left out of the state system in favor of the route that is now US 27 between Richmond and Fort Wayne. Most of the old route was very rural, while the Winchester State Road connected the county seat towns of Richmond, Winchester, Portland, Decatur and Fort Wayne. This was more in line with the laws that created the State Highway Commission (connecting county seats). Today, only two small sections of the Quaker Trace is part of the state highway system: a section of US 27/US 33 from the town on Monmouth to the county road known as Minnich Road; and US 27 from downtown Richmond to Arba Pike.