In honor of the 200th post to Indiana Transportation History, today’s post covers the capital city of Indiana 200 years ago.
1816. In December of that year, Indiana was officially admitted to the United States as an equal member. In the middle of the state (at that time) was a town founded in 1808 that would become the seat of government for the Indiana territory in 1813. When statehood became a possibility, that town would be the site of the convention to create the original Constitution for the future state. Upon statehood, the territorial capital became that of the new state. That town was Corydon.
Normally, I would cover the history of the county, in this case Harrison, at this point. Due to its location, Harrison County went through eight different border changes between its creation in 1808 and the last change on 29 January 1818. Harrison County was created on 11 October 1808, effective 1 December 1808. It took territory from Knox and Clark Counties. (An astute map geek will probably ponder the fact that Knox County is on the Wabash River. But, in the early history of Indiana, there were fewer counties. Knox County covered most of the area that was part of what would become the Indiana, Michigan and Illinois territories. Another county created in the territory was Wayne County. Its seat of government was at Detroit. It is the same Wayne County in Michigan, as Indiana’s Wayne County came much later.) At the time of statehood, Harrison County covered territory that is now parts of Crawford, Floyd and Clark Counties, in addition to its own area. When the county was created in 1808, Corydon was chosen as the location of the county government.
Now…back to transportation history.
In the early days of Indiana, the transportation situation was, at best, rough. Most “roads” were basically slashed trails through the wilderness. State roads, even the early versions, wouldn’t come into being for a couple of decades. Corydon’s location half way between the Ohio River and the Buffalo Trace put it in a position of being out of the way. But having been made the seat of government in 1813, it was important to gain access to this outpost in the wilderness. Early trails connected to the aforementioned Buffalo Trace, the Ohio River in a couple of places, and to New Albany.
When the state roads started being constructed throughout the state in the 1830s, Corydon would find itself connected to New Albany and Indianapolis directly. The connection to New Albany would be made along (roughly) what is now called Corydon Ridge Road east out of town. Near the current junction of state roads 62 and 64 with Interstate 64, the old road would essentially split into two. One road, now called the Old Corydon Road, is now a dead end path. The other, which for a time had been a toll road, is still called Corydon Pike.
The Indianapolis connection would be made via the Mauck’s Ferry (now Mauxferry) Road. This road branched from the Indianapolis-Madison State Road in the center of Franklin. Main Street (Franklin) would carry the Mauck’s Ferry road soutn southeast then south across Johnson County, into Bartholomew. That section of the road had been removed with the creation of Camp Atterbury in the 1940s. From Brownstown south, the old road followed, again roughly, what is now SR 135 through Salem and Palmyra to Corydon. Just south of where I-64 is now, the old road turned into Corydon itself on what is now SR 337.
There is one railroad into Corydon. It was created as the Louisville, New Albany & Corydon Railway originally on 30 April 1881. Its sole function would be to connect what is now the Norfolk Southern line across Indiana at Corydon Junction to Corydon. The railroad was sold at foreclosure (10 December 1887), being reincorporated as the Louisville, New Albany & Corydon Railroad on 28 April 1888, although it didn’t receive title to the railway property until 10 July of that year. The extent of this railroad was a little over eight miles.
With the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission, Corydon found itself on only one state highway, SR 16. This road connected New Albany to Evansville via Corydon and Boonville. With the Great Renumbering, this road became SR 62. SR 62 has been rerouted several times over the last century, but it still enters Corydon proper. Leaving to the east, however, it has been moved to a more southerly route.
The Mauck’s Ferry Road would make its way back into the state road system, albeit a small section of it. As mentioned above, SR 135 (in 1926, SR 35) followed the old road out of Corydon. In this case, only to the north. SR 35 ended at Corydon. The section from Palmyra south to Corydon was listed in newspapers at the time of the Great Renumbering as “a new road.” This would be an addition to what had been State Road 24 at Palmyra. SR 35 would wind its way west of the old road, connecting to Nashville, Morgantown and Indianapolis via the Three Notch Road (Meridian Street).
In time, SR 337 was added to the town, coming from the north from Depauw on SR 64 to connect to SR 11 southeast of Corydon. Through Corydon itself, it would replace SR 135 through town. This path took over a large section of the old Mauck’s Ferry Road through the town, until it reaches Laconia Road. Here, SR 337 turns east while the Mauck’s Ferry Road curves to the west then south.
While Corydon has generally “off the beaten path” as far as major transportation facilities go, it still has a place in the grand scheme of Indiana road history.