US 40 East of Richmond

In the early days of the Auto Trails, one of the earliest organizations created was the “National Old Trails” road (NOTR). Through Indiana, this route mainly used the National Road, built by the federal government, at least in Indiana, in the 1830s. That route crossed the state from west of Terre Haute to east of Richmond. At Richmond, the original road crossed into Ohio on a straight line heading for Springfield and Columbus.

Google Maps image showing the current US 40 and surrounding area east of Richmond. Snippet taken 10 September 2019.

By the time the NOTR, the organization decided that the new Auto Trail would head toward Dayton, as opposed to directly to Springfield. Part of this was the fact that the Eaton Pike, the trail that connected Richmond to Dayton, was in much better shape than the old National Road. There have been some reports that the National Road, coming from the west, actually ended at the Indiana-Ohio State line, with the Indiana section having pretty much reverted to being a private farm field.

1910 USPS map of rural delivery mail routes east of Richmond. This map shows, or more to the point doesn’t show, the missing section of the original National Road that was replaced by the road connecting to Eaton and Dayton.

But the Indiana State Highway Commission decided early on that old road be restored. With the Great Renumbering, the US 40 designation was applied to the original route of the National Road, not the NOTR route. That route, over what is still called “Old National Road,” became SR 11. This number was assigned since it was the number that the Ohio transportation officials gave to it as it rumbled its way toward Eaton and Dayton.

It is important to note that the old National Road wasn’t entirely a straight route from Richmond to Springfield. A large hill at a point 1.5 miles west of the state line caused the old road to curve in a large arc around said hill. More on that later.

Another change was to occur in 1931. When the original roads were added to the state highway system, there were two crossings of the Pennsylvania Railroad that turns south in eastern Wayne County. These crossings were at both US 40 and SR 11. As paving of US 40 started across the state, a project was to pave the last 2.5 miles of the National Road at the east end of the state. This project included a new bridge to be built by the ISHC under the Pennsylvania Railroad. This would also require a reroute of SR 11, as well. This removed the “Old National Road” crossing of the tracks. This reroute of SR 11 would have the Eaton Pike connect to US 40 one half mile west of the state line instead of 1.5 miles, cutting one mile from state maintenance.

This old route, including the arc around the hill, would still be in place in 1935, as shown on the map below. 1935 would be the year that the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) would extend US 35 across Ohio and Indiana, replacing SR 11 in both Indiana and Ohio. In both states, the number 11 would be reused. In Indiana, it replaced SR 33 in southern Indiana in the 1930s. In Ohio, it would be 30 years later.

1935 map of Wayne County, Indiana, showing the routes of US 40 and US 35 east of Richmond.

1947 saw the last big change in US 40 east of Richmond with the expansion of the road to a four lane highway. This would also require a rebuild of the PRR bridge that was put in place 35 years earlier. This would also see the removal of the great arc that is now Woodside Drive from the state highway system. One can look at the right-of-way space on Woodside Drive to tell that it was once part of the old road. It is shown on this Google Map link. And the old right-of-way connecting to US 40 on the west end is shown here.

7 thoughts on “US 40 East of Richmond

  1. I lived in Richmond for over 50 yrs, grew up in Lewisville I have always been fascinated in the history of US40 and all local history in Henry and Wayne counties. thanks for the information. I follow on FB.

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  2. I’ve traced and driven the entire NOTR between Richmond and Los Angeles using 1915, 1923, and 1926 Automobile Club of Southern California maps, as well as other sources. Below is a link to the 1923 ACSC map for the section from Springfield to Richmond.

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  3. I have traced and driven the NOTR from Richmond to Los Angeles using 1915, 1923, and 1926 Automobile Club of Southern California maps, as well as other sources. Below are links to the 1923 map for the section between Springfield and Richmond.

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      1. Quite alright. Not a big deal. I think it is funny that the NOTR and the National Road follow pretty much the same path, with the exception of the section between Richmond and Springfield. (Along with the area around Reelsville, that I will cover at a later date…but it has been covered well by Jim Grey here: https://blog.jimgrey.net/2018/01/22/puzzle-solved-the-national-road-at-reelsville-indiana/). It wasn’t until I did more research for this post that I realized that there was another change in the National Road as marked east of Richmond.

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