Tip Top Trail

By 1920, the state of Indiana was crossed by a vast number of named routes, called Auto Trails, that connected many of the bigger towns of the state. Some of these were cross country routes. But many were only in Indiana. Today, we are focusing on the Tip Top Trail, one of those Indiana only roads. The maps included in this post are from the Rand McNally Auto Trails Map of 1920. The Tip Top Trail is labelled as [3] throughout those maps. A downloadable copy of this map is available from the Indiana State Library.

This route crossed eastern Indiana, starting near Madison on the Ohio River. Technically, the road ended at the Michigan Road in North Madison. Starting due west along what is now SR 62, the TTT turned northwest along the old Indianapolis-Madison State Road which is now SR 7. This routing took travelers through Wirt, Dupont and Vernon to enter North Vernon. At North Vernon, the French Lick Trail crossed west to east across town. The French Lick Trail here would later become US 50. The French Lick Trail is marked on this map as [90].

As the Indianapolis-Madison State Road continued to the northwest, the TTT left North Vernon due north aiming the same direction as what is now SR 3. This connected Brewersville, Westport, Letts and Horace before connecting, and multiplexing, with the Terre Haute-Columbus-Cincinnati (THCC) Trail (labelled as [82]) west of Greensburg. West of Greensburg, the THCC became, roughly, the route of SR 46. East of Greensburg, the THCC connects to Batesville and Lawrenceburg, where the above mentioned French Lick Trail begins at the junction of the THCC.

At Greensburg, the TTT crosses what Rand McNally labels as [26], known as the Michigan Road. The southern end of the TTT actually ends at the same road.

There are places between North Vernon and Greensburg where the old TTT would later become part of the state road system. Other places, the TTT went screaming across rural Indiana on county roads that, in some circumstances, have been removed from maps.

The next section of the road continues along the SR 3 corridor north on its way to connect to the National Road at Dunreith. Before getting there, the towns of Sundusky, Williamstown, and Milroy are traversed before the county seat of Rush County, Rushville. Here, the Minute Man Route crossed west to east. The Minute Man route, although connecting several county seats, was almost not ever included in the state highway system later. It would be long after the Great Renumbering that it would make it…I covered that with the post “Fight for Adding SR 44 from Martinsville to Rushville.”

Still following, roughly, the SR 3 corridor, the TTT continues northward. 13.5 miles north of Rushville, the TTT connected to, and multiplexed with, the National Old Trails Road. This multiplex only lasted about one half mile. Here the TTT turned north out of Dunreith on West Street, soon to become Old Spiceland Road. This carries the route through Spiceland into New Castle. The TTT is crossed by the Hoosier Dixie Highway.

Parts of the old TTT would be added, and removed, from the route of future (current) SR 3 between New Castle and Muncie. It leaves the current SR 3 south of Mount Summit, continuing due north (more or less) before turning west due east of Springport. There it, again, aims due north through Oakville to Cowan. West of Cowan, the TTT turned north once again, following Cowan Road and Hoyt Avenue into Muncie. At Muncie, the TTT connects to the Hoosier Highway (connecting Muncie to Indianapolis and beyond) and Hub Highway (Greenville, Ohio, to Lafayette).

The Hoosier Highway and the Tip Top Trail travel together north out of Muncie. At Hartford City, they split ways, with the Hoosier Highway multiplexing with the Auto Trail called the Belt Line, which winds its way across Indiana. The Tip Top Trail continues north toward Warren.

North of Warren, the road keeps going toward Huntington. Here, the TTT connects with three Auto Trails. First is the Wabash Way [81]. This trail connects Fort Wayne with Peru, Logansport, Delphi and Lafayette. Second is the Ben Hur Route, which I covered earlier. Third is another Indiana only Auto Trail called the Huntington-Manitau-Culver Trail, connecting Rochester, Indiana, to Lima, Ohio.

The next destination for the Tip Top Trail is Columbia City. Here, the east-west Auto Trial that connected to the TTT was a coast-to-coast highway known as the Yellowstone Trail. Later, after the creation of the United States Highway System, the Lincoln Highway was rerouted along roughly the same corridor.

From Columbia City to the end of the Tip Top Trail roughly follows the current SR 9 corridor through Merriam, Albion, Brimfield, and ends at Rome City. At Merriam, the TTT crossed the original routing of the Lincoln Highway. At Brimfield, the Toledo-Chicago Pike crosses east to west. At Rome City, the end of the Tip Top Trail comes with the junction of the Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way.

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