In the early days of auto travel, the United States was criss-crossed by a large number of “highways,” known as Auto Trails. These were privately funded roads, signed along existent county routes. Some of these routes were cross-country routes, like the National Old Trails Road and Lincoln Highway. Some were just connecting routes that made some people wonder about what they were thinking when they created them. Such is the Crawfordsville to Anderson Highway.
While this road, or most of it, would come into the state highway system as SR 32, in the beginning, it was just a road to connect two county seats. This would connect all of the major Auto Trails between the two cities to each other.
The section from Crawfordsville to Noblesville, through Lebanon, was built as a state road connecting New Castle to Crawfordsville. This route would change a little from here and there before and after becoming SR 32. At Noblesville, the CtoA followed the old Fort Wayne State Road to what is now 191st Street across to Fishersburg, where it again meets what is now SR 32 to Anderson. This would have been part of the Anderson-Noblesville State Road…again from the 1830s.
Again, there was a private association created to fund and maintain this route. As best as I can figure, the Crawfordsville end of this road connected to the Dixie Highway route that connected Crawfordsville to Indianapolis. Thus this route became a feeder route for the Dixie Highway to Chicago. Also, by 1923, this route would become the route of the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean road through Indiana…replacing the old Rockville State Road and National Road as the PPOO.
When the new state highway system was created in 1917 (1919), this route would become part of OSR 33. Some of the original state roads would end up part of the new state highway system for this reason. Basically, it was a state takeover of a county road that had been a private road, built by the state and given to the county and sold to a private company.
With the Great Renumbering, the road changed from SR 33 to SR 32. Again, the route was moved around in a few places to allow better traffic flow.