1931: US 50 – Loogootee to Shoals

When both US 50 and US 150 came into being in October 1926 in Indiana, both roads connected at Shoals. There, US 150 ended its journey from New Albany at its mother road. From there, US 50 would connect to Loogootee on its way to Vincennes. But the current road that connects Loogootee to Shoals didn’t come into being until the early 1930s. And as such, this became one of many reroutes on one of the most bypassed state roads in the entirety of Indiana.

Google Maps image of the area between Loogootee and Shoals, Indiana. Scale of image is to take into view both current US 50/150 and the original route of US 50. Image was snipped on 07 September 2019.

Looking at a map of the area, there are two routes, more or less, between the two towns. First is the current route of US 50 (and US 150…which would come later). The other is the original route of US 50, using SR 550 and Spout Springs Road (marked on the map above with the 63 inside a square). The current route of US 50 was a large construction project that was mostly completed in 1930.

An article in the Jasper Herald of 24 April 1931 explains that “highway bids will be open on May 5th.” The part of the article that applies here is the “6.7 miles of 18-foot pavement” on US 50. It is noted that the new pavement “will be laid on a heavy fill completed last year.” The fill was created from a “70-feer deep (cut) through solid rock, said to be the deepest cut ever made on an Indiana highway.” The cut and fill lead to a hilly, be it somewhat more gradual, travel across this section of the highway.

The newspaper also points out that the paving of this section of the road will complete US 50 paving between the Illinois-Indiana State Line (on the bridge over the Wabash at Vincennes that connected to Main Street in that town – not the current Vigo Street bridge) and Shoals. But there were three things that had to be completed before this contract came up for building. First, the fill had to settle. Second, a bridge over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was built. And third, a bridge over Boggs Creek needed to be built.

This project helped make US 50 “probably the most expensive road work ever undertaken in Indiana.” This was mostly due to the fact that US 50 traverses some hilly country. The hills and valleys of that area of the state created flooding problems in the low lying areas. It is reported that “the new pavement will be above the maximum flood limit.”

1932 saw the completion of the new US 50 between Loogootee and Shoals. The old route of US 50 through the area was completely removed from the state highway system. It would stay that way until the designation of SR 550 in 1949. The multiplex of US 50 and US 150 between Shoals and Vincennes would be created in 1935, when it was decided that US 150 would continue to Vincennes and Terre Haute. From Terre Haute, it would replace SR 46 out of town and into Illinois.

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