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.

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