Jackson Highway in Indiana

In the Auto Trail era, there were a lot of highways, for lack of a better term, cobbled together to reach distant parts of the United States. The granpap (or for those not of Pennsylvanian heritage, grandfather) of them all was the Lincoln Highway. Then came the Dixie Highway. After that, organizations were popping up creating more and more of these collections of country roads into named highways. One such road was named to honor Andrew Jackson.

Looking at it in the grand scheme of things, the Jackson Highway was, well, strange when it came to routing. It was designed to compliment the Dixie Highway. From Nashville, Tennessee, to Chicago, Illinois, the two road ran quite a bit of the time together, but usually not on the same road. At Nashville, the Dixie turned toward Florida. Confusingly, the Jackson turned southwest towards New Orleans. I say confusingly because it’s not very often that going from Chicago to New Orleans requires a long journey through Indiana.

The Jackson and the Dixie (at least one branch) both started in Chicago, and left Indiana at New Albany. As the Dixie aimed south toward Danville, Illinois, the Jackson goes straight for Hammond. From there, the Jackson Highway connected Crown Point, Rensselaer, Lafayette, Frankfort and Lebanon on its way to Indianapolis. At Indianapolis, the Jackson Highway met both branches of the Dixie Highway. The Dixie came into town on what would become SR 34 (US 136) and US 31, leaving along what became SR 37 and US 40. The Jackson came into town along what became US 52 and left via US 31.

In 1917, one year after the creation of the Jackson Highway, original state road 1 was created using the Dixie Highway north of Indianapolis and the Jackson Highway south of it. That state road designation would become official in 1919. The OSR 1 designation would separate from the Jackson at Seymour.

That would mean that from Indianapolis, the next stops on the Jackson would be Greenwood, Franklin, Columbus, Seymour, Salem and New Albany before crossing the Ohio River into Louisville.

Also in 1919, according to the Logansport Pharos-Reporter of 3 June 1919, traffic reports were issued, at least as far as Clinton County was concerned. The headline read “Michigan Road Traveled Much – County Kept During Friday and Saturday on Two Best Highways.” According to the Clinton County officials, the traffic counts along the two roads was decidedly leaning toward the Michigan. Cars were 714 to 319, Michigan. Trucks, 53 to 9, Michigan. Motorcycles 13 to 26, Jackson. And horse drawn vehicles, 165 to 1, Michigan.

A more detailed destination list of the Jackson, according to the Rand McNally Auto Trails map of 1919 is as follows: Whiting, Hammond, Chicago Heights, Highland, Schererville, Crown Point, Shelby, Thayer, Demotte, Virgie, Aix, Rensselaer, Remington, Wolcott, Montmorenci, Lafayette, Dayton, Mulberry, Frankfort, Mechanicsburg, Lebanon, Royalton, Flackville and Indianapolis.

From Indianapolis, the route connects Southport, Greenwood, Whiteland, Franklin, Amity, Edinburgh, Taylorsville, Columbus, Walesboro, Waynesville, Jonesville, Seymour, Brownstown, Vallonia, Millport, Kossuth, Salem, Pekin, Borden, Bridgeport, Bennettsville, and New Albany.

Most references in Indiana to the Jackson Highway were gone from the local newspapers by 1933. Occasionally afterwards, the name would be used in places where there was no state road designation. By 1936, even those had dried up.

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