Funding the Indiana State Highway Commission

When the Indiana State Highway Commission was recreated in 1919, the subject of funding came up in a hurry. A big part of that was the fact that many people thought that the whole concept of a highway commission was counter to the Indiana Constitution of 1851. (See Indiana State Highway Commission, and Its Delay for more information.) But the Federal government was passing out money for highway systems throughout the country. But only if the state had someone to give the money to…as in, a highway commission. So state funding would be important, and a state highway commission to receive matching Federal funds was as important.

In 1953, ISHC Chairman Albert J. Wedeking gave an address at Purdue University outlining funding and expansion of the state highway system. “There is nothing wrong with our highways that money can’t cure,” he stated. He then went into the history of funding of the ISHC.

“Then in 1919 a state tax of 10c per $100 of taxable property was added and the new Highway Act provided that all funds collected from motor vehicle registrations and license were to be used for the development of the highway system. These funds became available for our use in 1920.” This provided the first funding to the commission, but it was not nearly enough for what that commission was charged to do.

In 1923, the first gasoline tax was implemented by the state legislature. This tax was two cents per gallon. Keep in mind that gas prices were a lot lower then…as far as actual price, not adjusted for inflation. The legislature then decided that starting on 1 October 1924, the ISHC would have to give the counties $1 million a year to upkeep local roads. Again, this was found to not be enough to support both the ISHC and local governments when it came to road maintenance. The gasoline tax was increased to three cents a gallon.

The gasoline tax went up again in 1929, with the legislature approving a four cent per gallon levy. Of this, the ISHC would receive three cents, with the rest being passed onto local governments. That four cent per gallon tax was still in effect when Mr. Wedeking gave his address in 1953. Another adjustment by the legislature in 1932 required that two cents of that gas tax was to be provided to the local governments, reducing ISHC’s share by one-third.

“Then came the depression when all units of government were hardpressed and the legislature passed an act that transferred two million dollars from the State Highway Fund to the General Fund.” This took a big bite out of the ISHC at a time when it could have used it the most. Offsetting this was the Federal Government and its assorted alphabet agencies set up to help people get some sort of work. There were projects all over the state that would be helped through these agencies.

“In 1937, an act created the Motor Vehicle Highway Account, and to this account were credited all registration fees, fuel taxes, license fees, weight taxes, etc. After deducting the expenses of collection, a small appropriation was given to the Department of Public Safety for policing the highways. $1,250,000 was given to cities and towns, one-third of the remainder for counties; and the balance went to the State Highway Commission.” It is unclear how much they actually pulled in for this fund.

More legislation taking money away from the ISHC was passed in 1941. “In 1941 legislation was enacted that continued to divert $1,250,000 to the State General Fund, and increased the share for cities and towns to $3,000,000 and gave $12,000,000 to the counties with the State Highway receiving the remainder.” The diversion to the State General Fund was removed in 1943, but all other recipients would receive totals laid out in 1941.

The Second World War would be detrimental to this funding scheme. Gasoline rationing reduced the amount of income for the State Highway Commission from $22,111,801 in 1941 to a low of $13,533, 969 in 1945. The state found itself not doing a good job with the funding that it had. Between rationing and material needed for the war effort, the state highway system suffered.

Emergency funding acts were passed by the state legislature in 1945, providing the ISHC a much needed shot in the arm. These acts would provide 63% of the money from the above funding sources to the ISHC. But this was changed again in 1947 by temporary legislation. Again, in 1949, a new law provided that 15% of the funding would go to cities and towns, 32% to counties and the remaining 53% to the ISHC.

All this while the State Highway Commission Act of 1919 required that commissioners lay out a state highway system that connected all county seats and all towns of 5,000 or more population. To this end, 3,191 miles of roads were under the ISHC responsibility at the end of 1919. As funding was expanded, by 1929 the ISHC was responsible for 5,065 miles. This increased to 9,769 miles by 1939 and a decade later, in 1949, it had increased to 10,529 miles.

As the state miles increased, the number of miles maintained by counties, cities and towns went down. Keep in mind that originally the ISHC had no responsibility for state highways in towns of 3,500 population or more. With the state take over of these routes, local maintenance went down again. But not the amount of money passed to those local entities.

“Only the increased volume of traffic has enabled the State Highway Commission to function at all.” Truck traffic was increasing at that time. But it was also brought up that it was easy to see that roads that were built in the 1920’s wouldn’t be able to keep up with traffic volumes of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Part of this was realized due to the fact that weight limits of trucks were being increased consistently over the years.

“In those early days gravel and macadam roads were often regarded as a luxury and the State Highway Commission was besieged to build any kind of a road that would take the communities out of the mud, and many existing county roads were taken over for state maintenance to comply with the law.”

“Funds were limited and the Commission had to spread itself thin in order to keep the entire state satisfied.” Wedeking went on to point out that the early roads were not built for the heavy volumes and high speeds of the state highway system in the 1940’s and 50’s. It started with roads being covered with dust preventatives, since gravel and macadam roads couldn’t just be reconstructed with the same materials. Then, later, better paving materials became common.

The entire content of this post came from the Bedford Daily-Times Mail of 16 April 1953.

Bedford and Bloomfield Railroad

While wandering around Facebook on 28 December 2019, I noticed an interesting postin one of the groups that I belong to there. I don’t think it should come as any surprise that I belong to a large number of groups about history, whether it be of transportation or just basic Indiana history (strange, since my family is from Pennsylvania, by the way). Anyway, the group I was looking at was the Society of Indiana History Enthusiasts. The post in question was about some old railroad right-of-ways. Today’s post will be discussing one of those that were brought up in the SIHE post.

The railroad in question started life as two different companies: Bloomfield Railroad, and the Bedford, Springville, Owensburg & Bloomfield (BSO&B) Rail Road. Both were chartered in November 1874. Both routes, together, were built to connect Switz City, and the Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad, to Bedford, and the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago (LNAC) Railway.

The Bedford, Springville, Owensville & Bloomfield Rail Road in Lawrence County, 1879.

The railroad started as a narrow gauge (three foot) railroad heading west, then northwest, from Bedford. While Avoca is not in the railroad’s name, the town was platted in 1819 and the post office had been located there since 1856. The second town in the name of the company was Springville. This town came into being in 1832.

From here, the railroad followed the Owensville-Springville Pike. Between those two towns, the railroad crossed the Pike at least four times. The Owensville-Springville Pike is now SR 58. Near the SR 58 and what is now Armstrong Station Road/Boone Hollow Road was a rural station. This is where the Pike turned almost due west to head toward Owensville in Greene County. A map in the book Ghost Railroads of Indiana, by Elmer G. Sulzer, lists the station as Armstrong.

1925 Map of the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway through Greene County.

After Owensburg, a tunnel was built between Owensville and Koleen. The tunnel was 1362 feet long. This tunnel suffered from a large maintenance problem, having an underground stream below it. More information can be found at the Indiana Railroad Tunnels page about the Owensburg Tunnel. The railroad closely follows Mineral-Koleen Road between Owensville and Mineral. The BSO&B then treaded its way to Bloomfield, where it both ended its 34 mile journey and connected to the Bloomfield Railroad.

The Bloomfield Railroad was built to connect Bloomfield to Switz City. This six mile line was completed in 1878, four years after the company was formed. 1878 was also the year that the Bloomfield Railroad was merged into the Indiana & Illinois Southern, a company that connected Switz City to Effingham, Illinois. This makes the Bloomfield Railroad part of the lineage of two different companies: the Monon and the Illinois Central.

On 23 April 1883, the Bedford & Bloomfield Railroad was formed. It acquired, through purchase, the BSO&B before the company actually formed on 12 March 1883. The Bloomfield was purchased a year later on 29 March 1884. A lease by the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago was formed, making the B&B a branch of what would become known as the Monon.

When the Monon acquired the lease, the railroad had three connections at Bedford: the Monon mainline from New Albany to Michigan City; the Evansville & Richmond connecting the Evansville & Indianapolis at Elnora to the Vernon & Greensburg at Westport through Seymour; and the Bedford Branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern which connected to Rivervale. Near Bloomfield, the B&B crossed the Evansville & Indianapolis from Terre Haute to Evansville through Worthington, Washington and Petersburg. At Switz City, the railroad connected to the Indianapolis & Vincennes and the former owner, Indiana & Illinois Southern.

Two more connections would come later with the coming of the Indianapolis Southern Railroad. Ultimately, the Indianapolis Southern and the Indiana & Illinois Southern would become part of the same company, and owned by the Illinois Central. The Indianapolis Southern would build the line from Switz City to Indianapolis through Bloomfield, just south of the B&B.

Stone quarries along the line helped make the B&B a potentially prosperous line. The problem was that the entire line had been built a) as cheap as possible and b) as a narrow gauge line. According to Ghost Railroads of Indiana, the acquiring of the right-of-way was not done in an entirely up-and-up way. “As a result, a number of fences were replaced over the completed tracks. Hence, when a train came along, it had to stop while members of the train crew set the fence rails aside for the train to pass.”

The station at Armstrong was a compromise to acquire right-of-way. The deal was that the railroad would establish stops on land that was donated to the company for the building of the railroad. Just because a station stop was built, however, didn’t mean that the train would really ever stop there. One story has Lizzie Armstrong, daughter of the land owner, being carried to Avoca due to the passenger train conductor being too obstinate to stop at Armstrong. She later got even by placing a tree dressed up in woman’s clothing in the middle of the track to get the train to stop. (Ghost Railroads of Indiana, pp 159)

When the LNA&C purchased the B&B, these problems would continue. The tunnel at Owensburg continued to be a money pit. The tunnel was expanded to make it wide enough for a standard gauge track. But the LNA&C didn’t take into consideration the problems with the construction of the line. 1895 saw the complete re-gauging of the line to standard, with all of the rails replaced by those that came off the Indianapolis division. This was due to more interest in coal from Greene and surrounding counties. The LNA&C saw the pending coal traffic as worth the expense.

The B&B Branch also had the capability to be used as a bypass in case of problems along the LNA&C mainline north of Bedford. The Indianapolis & Vincennes connected to the LNA&C at Gosport. Later, the Indianapolis Southern made connections with the LNA&C at Bloomington.

But coal and stone, and use as a bypass, couldn’t save the Bedford & Bloomfield branch. 1907 saw the Monon build a branch line from its main to Victoria, the center of the Monon’s coal traffic. This cut the B&B off from that traffic, leaving nothing but local freight and movements for the line.

Maintenance on the line would be a problem into the 1930s. The White River bridge, which had collapsed in 1894 and been rebuilt, would deteriorate to the point that in 1930, traffic along the line was embargoed west of the bridge. This broke the B&B off west of Bloomfield, making the connection between Switz City and Bloomfield useless. Traffic at that time could be routed along the Illinois Central between those two points, which helped in the degradation of the B&B. For the rest of the line west of Bedford, trains were on an “as needed” basis. “With the result that about six trains a month sufficed.” (Ghost Railroads of Indiana, pp 167)

The end came in 1935. The east end of the Owensburg tunnel collapsed, blocking the track. This had been a constant problem with the tunnel since its construction. The collapse happened in March, and in April, without traffic to justify reopening the tunnel, the Monon (at the time the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville) requested permission to abandon the line from Avoca west to Switz City. Permission came on 16 September 1935 to abandon the line from Dark Hollow Quarry to Switz City, effective 30 days later. The last of the line, from Dark Hollow to Bedford, would remain part of the Monon to the end, then into the Louisville & Nashville era. Those last ten miles were removed from service by the L&N in 1981.

A website that would recommend at this point is that of the “8th Subdivision – Bedford And Bloomfield Branch.” It contains a nice collection of information and pictures of the line.

Road Trip 1926: SR 43

It’s Saturday again. Today, we are focusing on what, before the Great Renumbering, was SR 32. OSR 32 connected Spenser to Lafayette. When the number was changed to SR 43, it included an authorized addition to connect Lafayette to Michigan City. That will not be included here, as it wasn’t part of the new SR 43 in October 1926.

The ISHC described new SR 43 as follows: “Michigan City to Spenser. (Between Spenser and Lafayette this is now a part of State Road 32. That part between Lafayette and Michigan City is the new road to be added soon, passing through Brookston, Chalmers, Reynolds, Monon, Medaryville, LaCrosse, Wanatah and Westville.”

The original SR 32 would become, in 1951, US 231. The authorized addition remains SR 43. This is, of course, including reroutes and bypasses put in place over the last 93 years.

Fort Wayne Electric Traction Options

Here at Indiana Transportation History, we have extensively covered interurban transportation facilities radiating from Indianapolis. Indianapolis was clearly the leader in the electric traction. But other cities in Indiana did have a collection, although smaller, of electric traction lines radiating to other points. Today, I want to focus on Fort Wayne, Indiana’s second largest community.

List of electric traction companies serving Fort
Wayne, Indiana, from the 1910 Polk’s City Directory.

As one can see from the list to the left, from the 1910 Fort Wayne City Directory, there were five companies serving the city.

The first company on the list, Fort Wayne & South Bend Traction (FW&SB) was granted a charter to access the city in March 1906. This access was allowed along the traction route of the third on the list. This brought the FW&SB into the city along “Leesburg Road, past Brookside and Lindenwood cemeteries and connecting with the West Main street tracks of the city traction company.” (Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 27 March 1906) The company was granted that franchise for a period of 35 years. Another stipulation in that franchise was that it would carry no freight into Fort Wayne. “A spur will be built at the Nickel Plate crossing and freight can be delivered to that road.” Work on the route hit full stride in 1907. It started by connecting Syracuse to Nappanee. From there, Fort Wayne would be connected to Syracuse. The road would then leave Nappanee for Elkhart, and hence to South Bend.

The Fort Wayne, Van Wert & Lima (FWVWL) had its articles of incorporation put together on 1 August 1902 (Fort Wayne News, 1 August 1902). Capital stock in the amount of $2 million were to be issued for the construction of the line. The new company would take over an already issued charter, one for a line from New Haven to Fort Wayne, to continue its way paralleling the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago (Pennsylvania) to Lima. The company started condemnation proceedings (Fort Wayne Daily News, 9 December 1902) of a strip of ground 49.5 feet wide for the right of way for the route. This strip was to be taken from the Olds’ Addition to the city of Fort Wayne. That addition had just been created.

The Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley, also mentioned above, was created to connect Fort Wayne to Logansport. It started life as the Fort Wayne & Southwestern Traction company. That company was granted access to Fort Wayne in November 1900. Those access rights were passed to the Wabash Valley Line in May 1905. At the time of the transfer, the franchise required the removing of the old Southwestern tracks starting at Main Street on Fulton Street, then along Brackenridge Street, then Fairfield Avenue to Creighton Avenue. Also, tracks in Taylor Street, from Broadway to Fairfield, were to removed.

The listed Muncie, Hartford City & Fort Wayne started in 1901. The line connecting the three title cities was incorporated into the Union Traction Company, which owned and operated the line from Indianapolis to Muncie via Fort Benjamin Harrison and Anderson, starting in May 1903. This allowed direct connection between the two largest cities in the state. George F. McCullogh of the MHC&FW announced the sale of the line to Union Traction. He then left the company immediately, becoming President of a new traction line leaving Fort Wayne.

That new company was to be called the Fort Wayne & Southern. That line’s name wouldn’t stay that way for long, being changed, by the time of franchise issue, to the Fort Wayne, Bluffton & Marion. The Muncie line, mentioned above, had already connected to Bluffton. The Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley then organized the Fort Wayne, Bluffton & Marion as a counter to the Muncie line/Union Traction. The two companies surveyed an almost identical route between Bluffton and Fort Wayne. The conflict between the two companies came to an end when the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley ended up owning both lines. (Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel, 30 August 1905)

In the end, all of these lines would be abandoned through the 1930’s, going the way of most of the other traction lines in the state. Most fell under the sway of the Indiana Railroad (1930). The last train left Indianapolis, for Fort Wayne, on 19 January 1941, along the Muncie line. Service would be replaced by bus.

Bicycling the Fall Creek and Mud Creek Road

On 16 May 1896, the Indianapolis News covered the bicycle route along the Pendleton Pike. That trip went as far as Oakland (now Oaklandon). The continuation of the coverage included leaving the Pendleton Pike to head north toward the town of Germantown, which was on the Hamilton-Marion County line north of Oaklandon. (Germantown is now under Geist Reservoir. There are times, in low water periods, when the old town makes an appearance!)

At Fall Creek, slightly west of due north of Oaklandon, was the Willow Mill. This would have been reached by travelling what is now Sunnyside Road now to the Fall Creek. Just like Germantown, that spot is under Geist Reservoir. Willow Mill would be, roughly, at 86th Street and Sunnyside Road. One mile west of that point was the Fall Creek and Mud Creek Road.

The trail north out of Oaklandon was very, very rough. “It is not a difficult matter to find the worst” of the several ways to get across from Oaklandon. But, for the sheer beauty of a ride, following the Fall Creek and Mud Creek Road would be the one to take.

Palmer’s Official Road Map of Marion County, Indiana, 1895

The Fall Creek Road was one mile from the previously mentioned Willow Mill. This was because the old road followed what is now Sargent Road out of the Fall Creek valley. Climbing out of the valley itself requires walking the bike up a large hill. Between that hill and the Fall Creek Pike, four and a half miles from Oaklandon, “are several pretty good dips and rises.” Here, the Fall Creek Road runs north and south (more or less, if you know Sargent Road). “The rider should turn south.”

One and a half miles later, the road starts down a steep hill, “which, if taken properly, is fine coasting. At the foot of the hill, which brings the road nearly to Fall Creek.” The road then turns southwest, following the creek fairly closely. The road dips in and out of the Fall Creek valley for nearly two miles. This “presents an ever-changing view and makes a picture which will cause many to pay more attention to the beauties of the valley than to their wheels and thereby cause trouble.” The road, mostly, is in excellent condition. But like other roads of the time, there were bad spots that could creep up. It was always recommended that riders pay attention to the road at all times.

After two miles of hilly travel, which the newspaper reports as usually aiming the right direction for riders heading toward Indianapolis, the road swings more to the west for about a mile. This area, today, is Fall Creek North Drive, the road having been replaced with the building of I-465 through the Fall Creek valley. It should be noted that part of this route, before turning more west, had been part of the Noblesville-Franklin State Road, connecting the two title cities. Through most of Marion County, the name is shortened to Franklin Road.

The Fall Creek Road changed names as it crossed Fall Creek at Millersville. This is nine miles from Willow Mill. The route to be followed changes to the Millersville Free Gravel Road. This road runs along the south side of Fall Creek until connecting with 22nd Street (now 30th Street). From there, the trip back to downtown Indianapolis uses the Allisonville Free Gravel Road, now known as Central Avenue and Fort Wayne Avenue, before ending at North and Pennsylvania Streets.

2019: Merry Christmas to all!

There won’t be a regular blog entry today. We here at Indiana Transportation History want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy all there is to enjoy!

I WILL, however, leave you with the covers of two Christmas cards I had drawn for me from 2009. Feel free to share to your heart’s content!

Yes, some times I wonder if I really should acquire professional help for my sense of humor!

1883: Train Wreck Near Salem

Christmas Eve, 1883. Louisville, New Albany & Chicago (LNA&C) train 4, a passenger train running from Chicago to Louisville, near Salem. The locomotive and the tender crossed a bridge over the Blue River. Two cars in the middle of the train didn’t make it. In the end, nine people died in the resulting wreck.

Brief history of the railroad. The LNA&C was one of the core parts of what would eventually become known as the Monon. The founding company was the New Albany & Salem Rail Road, chartered on 8 July 1847. The company would buy the Crawfordville & Wabash on 17 June 1852, having been chartered on 19 January 1846. By 1854, the two sections of the company would be connected when the line was built between Salem and Crawfordsville. The company that existed at the time of the wreck was the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railway, created from the merging of the previous LNA&C and the Chicago & Indianapolis Air Line Railway. (More detailed history can be found at The Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railway and The Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railway, Part II.)

The wreck of the number 4 occurred near daybreak. The area had been blanketed by over 30 hours of “continuous and heavy rains.” (Indianapolis News, 25 December 1883) The train was travelling at 40 miles per hour when it started across the rain compromised bridge. The abutments of the bridge had been undermined by the flooding. This caused the structure itself to be greatly compromised.

As stated before, the locomotive and tender made it across the bridge. The combination baggage, mail and express car, along with the Gentlemen’s car, fell through the bridge and into the stream below. The other two cars, the ladie’s and buffet cars, stayed on the track. Unfortunately, the horror would not end there.

The cars that fell into the water were not completely submerged. The part that wasn’t under water caught fire due to upsetting the stoves used for heating. Within 15 minutes, the entire train had been burned to the ground. The result was six people reported killed at the time, with three people missing. The engineer of the train, John Vaughan of New Albany, was reported to have “received injuries that will prove fatal.” Baggageman Charles Sanford, again of New Albany, was carried into the flood.

Four people were burned beyond recognition. They were believed to have been a passenger from Quincy, Indiana, one of Salem, and two from Chicago. A farmer from Washington County, Indiana, Boone Thompson, and a German Methodist Minister, John Heifrich, were also among the first reported dead.

The next day, the body of what was reported to be that of J. M. Whaling was found one mile below the wreck in the Blue River. His body was identified by a pass in his pocket purchased on 22 December for travel from Chicago to New Albany and back. No one on hte train recognized or even knew much about the man. (Indianapolis News, 26 December 1883)

The Indiana State Sentinel of 26 December 1883 reported that “the details received here are of the most meager description, but all reports agree that six, perhaps seven persons killed, and seven or eight injured.” The resulting information from the Associated Press at the time was as follows: “Chicago, Dec. 24. – Information has been received that the Louisville passenger train over the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Road, which left here last evening, was ditched near Salem, Ind., but further particulars are not yet obtainable.”

The report in the Columbus Republic of 26 December 1883 simply stated “a horribe (sic) railway accident occurred near Salem, Ind., on Monday morning. A bridge was so washed by the floods that it went down with a passenger train killing nine persons and seriously wounding as many more. The wreck immediately took fire and made the scene additionally horrible.”

Further details about the train and the accident location come from the Waterloo (Indiana) Press of 3 January 1884. That paper reported that the death toll was actually seven, not nine as reported the week earlier. “The place where the accident happened is the bridge over Blue river. The stream is a narrow one, and in the summer time is an insignificant brook. The speedy melting of snow and heavy rain following had swollen it to undue proportions.” The bridge, it was stated in this report, was over a chasm of forty feet in height. The shortness of the bridge, only being about 1.5 passenger cars long, is what caused the last two cars on the train to stay on the track. “The train consisted of a baggage car, smoking car, ladie’s car, and the Pullman buffet car Escaria.”

While the route was out of commission, trains were being rerouted along the Ohio & Mississippi (became part of the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern in 1893) from Louisville to North Vernon, then west to Mitchell, where it met up with the tracks of the LNA&C.

1904: Interurbans Before the Traction Terminal

Today, I am going to let the Indianapolis City Directory entries speak for themselves.

Indianapolis. One of the largest interurban centers in the United States. So much so that the parent company of the Indianapolis Street Railways company built what would be the largest traction terminal in the country. But before that was built, the many traction lines that were completed to Indianapolis boarded in assorted places around downtown Indianapolis.

1904 was the last year listed in the Indianapolis City Directory where traction company stops and offices were all over the place. Ahead will be a list of traction companies…some of which never really came into being. But, they are listed in the city directory.

Road Trip 1926: US 41

When the US Highway system was being put together in 1925 and 1926, the powers that be decided that the “major” routes would be those that end in 0 or 1. Indiana, in its place as “Crossroads of America,” would be home to quite a few of these. Given the width of the United States, the fact that two of the major north-south routes would run through the state might have been a bit strange. However, that is what happened.

When the second batch of new state roads were being commissioned starting in 1919, the route connecting Evansville, Vincennes, Terre Haute, Rockville, Attica, and Hammond on its way to Chicago was given the original state road 10 designation. This made SR 10 the longest such road in the state. With the Great Renumbering, it acquired its current designation, although the road would be moved in many places.

The gray line in this segment was listed as the official detour on the 1926 Indiana Official Highway Map. The detour went around a construction project that started as an improvement of then SR 10.

The Pennsylvania Railroad in South Bend

In my many trips to South Bend, and with my love of the Pennsylvania Railroad, I have made it a point to pass by the old Vandalia Station at Main and Bronson Streets. The station served the area for almost a century.

South Bend, while one of the biggest cities in Indiana, seemed, to me at least, a rather strange place to have an end-of-line terminal. The Vandalia (later Panhandle/Pennsylvania) came into South Bend and ended at the station…just shy of the New York Central tracks that run through the city. The railroad would serve industries in South Bend, but it always seemed strange that there would be only one way in and out of the city.

As it turned out, it was another quirk in Indiana’s railroad system and corporate consolidation of such.

It all started in 1869. Three railroads were chartered that would form the backbone of the line. On 1 February, a charter was issued for the Crawfordsville & Rockville Railroad. 11 days later, a charter for the Frankfort & Crawfordsville was awarded by the Indiana General Assembly. The third company would be the Logansport, Camden and Frankfort, chartered on 13 May 1869.

These three companies would build very little track before they were consolidated into a new company: Logansport, Crawfordsville & South Western Railway. Letters of Consolidation was actually started on 5 November 1869, but weren’t filed with the state until 2 February 1871. This railroad company would complete construction of the line from Rockville to Logansport between 1871 and 1875, opening it in sections. But the Logansport, Crawfordsville & South Western would only last four years after the line was completed to Logansport. In November 1879, the railroad would be sold and given to another company.

The railroad’s new name was the Terre Haute & Logansport (TH&L) Railroad. Shortly after appearing on the scene, the Terre Haute & Indianapolis (TH&I) agreed to an operating agreement of the line. This connected the TH&I to the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (Panhandle) to two points: Logansport and Indianapolis. The TH&I had been originally chartered as the (potential) Terre Haute & Richmond under acts of the General Assembly of 24 January 1847. Three days shy of three years later, the name became official. As it turned out, the idea of the section from Indianapolis to Richmond had been dropped from the company’s plans rather quickly. But it wasn’t until 6 March 1865 that the name was changed to Terre Haute & Indianapolis.

The TH&I, while operating the TH&L, extended the line to South Bend by 1884. The extended line would connect Logansport through Culver and Plymouth to the St. Joseph County seat.

But the line wouldn’t actually stop at South Bend. In 1890, a railroad, called the Indiana & Lake Michigan Railway, was built out of South Bend to the west, turning north outside of Lydick. This line would go to St. Joseph, Michigan. This would allow coal from Western Indiana, along the TH&I, to be carried by the trainload to coal barges at Benton Harbor, Michigan, to be shipped to the east coast. (Source: The Pennsylvania Railroad in Indiana, William J. Watt, pp 89) The Terre Haute & Logansport leased the line, with the lease dated 04 June 1889. The line opened on 04 August 1890. Between May 1892 and January 1893, the company ran a ferry from St. Joseph to both Milwaukee and Chicago.

Both the Terre Haute & Logansport and the Indiana & Lake Michigan fell into receivership in November 1896. As a result of the reorganization, the TH&L lost its lease of the I&LM. Due to this, the I&LM ended up being leased by what ended up falling under the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, part of the New York Central in Indiana (prior to the Big Four consolidation). This line would be abandoned in 1942.

The Terre Haute & Logansport Railroad became the Terre Haute & Logansport Railway. This company was created, officially, by the state of Indiana on 30 November 1898, after being sold at foreclosure. This company would still be leased by the Terre Haute & Indianapolis.

So, where does the name Vandalia come from? Well, on 1 January 1905, the following companies were consolidated to become the Vandalia Railroad Company: Terre Haute & Logansport; St. Louis, Vandalia, & Terre Haute; Terre Haute & Indianapolis; Logansport & Toledo; and Indianapolis & Vincennes. This created a system that spanned from St. Louis to Indianapolis, South Bend to Vincennes, and east to Butler from Logansport.

The major owners of several railroads, the Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburgh & Erie, under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Company, would continue to consolidate properties. First, the Vandalia and the Panhandle were consolidated to become a larger Panhandle. This would not affect any operations into South Bend. The line’s existence would continue into the age of Penn Central. According to Indiana State Official Highway maps, the line would be truncuated to Culver in 1976 (1977 map is source). Penn Central had put in for abandonment of the line from Logansport to Culver, though, in 1974. But that section of the line would still be on maps, listed as Conrail, into the 1980s.

Bicycling the Brookville Pike

Today’s Bicycling Thursday will be focusing on a road that, while named the “Indianapolis-Brookville State Road” when it was created, never actually connected directly to the capital city. Its end was actually just shy of three miles east of the Circle, as shown in the post “The Indianapolis end of the Brookville (State) Road.”

The start of this trip is along the National Road, which in 1896 was also called the Irvington Pike. Just past the Indianapolis Belt Railway, a road turns to the south. This road now runs behind the shopping center at Sherman Drive and Washington Street. As shown in the above mentioned post, the original road crossed the railroad tracks (at the time the Junction [B&O] and Panhandle [PRR]) at a very strange angle and at grade. At this location was an old railroad station on the Junction called Stratford.

The road then continues in a straight line to the east-southeast toward the county line. The Junction Railway runs in a parallel path to the old road just to the north. The Brookville Pike skirts the south edge of Irvington. From there, the road continues on its straight line journey crossing the Noblesville-Franklin State Road near the village of Fenton. The only jog in the road in Marion County occurs between the Bade Free Gravel Road (Bade Road) and Franke (German Church Road).

There is a hill (described as “a short, sharp pull going eastward, and a longer pull, if going west”) just west of the village of Julietta. After that, the Pike becomes relatively flat to New Palestine. On the east side of that town, the road drops into the valley of Sugar Creek. After climbing out of the valley, it again becomes flat again to Fountaintown.

The route in the article in the Indianapolis News of 10 April 1896 was actually submitted by a reader of the newspaper. The route was a 47 mile trip out the Brookville Road to Fountaintown, north to Greenfield along what would become the Riley Highway, then back to Indianapolis via the National Road.

1913: Road Trips to and from Madison

In the early 20th Century, most roads in the United States were still gravel, at best, and dirt roads that turned into muddy messes at worst. But that was changing with the Good Roads movement. Today, I am going to do something that I have only done with the “Road Trip 1926” series: use images to pass along information. Today, I am using the Indianapolis Star of 31 August 1913 to show a road trip from Indianapolis to Madison and back.

The layout of the article matches Trip books of the day, giving mile by mile detail of the route and things found along the way. It makes for an interesting read. It leaves Indianapolis along the Michigan Road (Southeastern Avenue). The trip comes back from Madison along the Madison State Road. The trip detail ends at Columbus…but gives directions on how to get back to the Circle City.

Bypassing Vincennes

Vincennes. One of the original towns of Indiana, predating even the Indiana Territory. Its location had been on the beaten path of transportation since before the arrival of Europeans with the buffalo creating a path from the Falls of the Ohio at Louisville to what would become Vincennes. As Indiana came into being, Vincennes became the seat of justice for Knox County (the only county in the Illinois/Indiana/Michigan sections of the Northwest Territory for several years before the creation of Wayne County with its seat of justice at Detroit).

With its importance in the state of Indiana determined, Vincennes became a meeting place of roads, railroads and canals. Roads, for instance, connected to Evansville, Terre Haute, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. With the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1919, Vincennes was served by state roads 5 and 10, with a connection available to SR 12. With the Great Renumbering, SR 5 became US 50, SR 10 became US 41 and SR 12 became SR 67. All three roads are upcoming posts in the “Road Trip 1926” series.

The ISHC has, throughout its history, attempted to make road transportation in the state as quick and safe as possible. Also, because routing a state road through a town makes the state responsible for that city street, the ISHC, and now INDOT, does its best to eliminate this confusing series of responsibility. If a town can be both connected to the state road system and bypassed at the same time, state officials are for this.

And hence, Vincennes would be bypassed, if possible. As it turned out, it was. It was already mentioned that Vincennes was at the junction of two major US routes (41 and 50). It started in 1960, when the states of Illinois and Indiana planned a new US 50 bridge over the Wabash north of Vincennes. “The announcement (of the new US 50 bridge) appeared to be an attempt to help soothe the feelings of Vincennes area residents who have been unhappy with highway planning.” (Indianapolis News, 17 February 1960) “Federal authorities are scheduled to approve a new Interstate 64 expressway route soon that will enter Indiana near New Harmony instead of Vincennes, as originally planned.”

By 1964, the US 50 bypass of Vincennes was completed. US 41 still connected through the town. It was soon after this that the US 41 bypass would be started. The ISHC construction program for 1965-1967 included plans for the US 41 bypass and reconstruction from US 50 south to Decker. The interchange at US 41 and US 50 was under construction be that time.

It would be the summer of 1969 when US 41’s replacement through Vincennes would be complete. Part of this had been planned to be completed by Thanksgiving, 1968, even though the contract, let in January 1968, had a completion date of Thanksgiving, 1969.

State Road 67 was cut back to connect to US 41 north of Vincennes in 1964. Prior to this, the two roads used separate paths to get into the city, connecting near downtown.

Lebanon Traction

In the interurban era, tracks radiated from Indianapolis in almost all directions. All of the county seats of towns surrounding Marion County were connected not only via steam railroads, but electric traction, as well. Today, I want to look at an interurban line that paralleled the Michigan Road, and the Big Four Lafayette line, on its way to Lebanon.

Two companies were originally chartered to accomplish this. One was the Indianapolis & Lebanon (I&L) Traction Company. This company filed articles of incorporation on 22 February 1901. The plan was to possibly extend the line to be built by this company to Frankfort and Lafayette. The other was the Indianapolis, Lebanon & Frankfort (IL&F) Traction Company. Articles of incorporation of this line would be filed on 14 February 1902. The second company actually completed their survey first, having been completed on 25 March 1902. The main difference between the two was the destination of the lines. The former would connect to Lafayette. The latter would end in Crawfordsville.

On 6 December 1900, the Boone County Commissioners approved the county’s portion of the I&L franchise. The company was to use the Frankfort Road north of Lebanon, the Lafayette Pike south of Lebanon, with the route connecting to Whitestown and Zionsville. Into Marion County, it would connect those towns to Augusta.

Building into Lebanon was unique when it came to towns along this route. In February 1902, the Lebanon city council approved a 35 year lease in the city. This lease was dependent upon the payment of a fee of $8,000. No other town along the route would require such a payment. A little over a month later, the Lebanon city council would approve the franchise rights to both companies.

The building of a bridge by the IL&F in 1903 also led to some problems for the company. An injunction by the Marion County Board of Commissioners was filed, and heard in Marion Superior Court. The injunction was issued by the Commissioners because the company started building a bridge across a deep trench on the Meyers Free Gravel Road near the intersection of the Michigan Road, without the permission of the Board. (Meyers Free Gravel Road would change its name later to Cold Spring Road.) To add insult to injury, attorney William A. Van Buren filed a suit against both Marion County and the IL&F for making his trip to his office in the city much longer due to bridge being mid-construction. He claimed $200 in damages and requested that the bridge either be finished or removed as soon as possible.

Court filings in September 1903 saw the I&L changing its name to Indianapolis & Northwestern (I&NW) Traction Company. The same month saw the completion of the line to Frankfort, with the company stating that branch lines to Crawfordsville and Lafayette would be completed by 1 December of the same year.

In addition to the other lines mentioned above, the Lebanon & Thorntown connected the two title towns. That company was started shortly after plans for the other two were in place. The Lebanon & Thorntown was authorized to abandon the line, with five days notice, with an order from the Public Service Commission, anytime between 20 August and 20 September 1926. While the line was an independent company, it owed the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern for repairs and electric power for a total of four years. In the 21 years of its existence, not a single dividend had been paid on the stock.

In 1930, the I&NW, with all of the other lines owned as the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern, would be placed in receivership. It was announced in newspapers starting after 15 December 1931, that the State of Indiana had authorized the sale of “all of the property of every kind, character and description of said Indianapolis & Northwestern Traction Company, including all property and assets (except cash) in the possession or under the control of the undersigned receiver.” Not only did it include the property, there was also the possibility of injury and damage claims, income taxes from 1922 to 1929, and bonds secured by the mortgage of the road issued 2 March 1903 to be included in the payments made by the new owner. The sale of the property was to occur even though the line itself had been abandoned.

Road Trip 1926: US 40

Road Trip Saturday! Today, we have reached the road that was the first United States Highway, reaching across Indiana from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois. When the US highway system was finally put in place in 1926, it became US 40. But the description of the route when the Great Renumbering happened is that the US 40 designation would replace the SR 3 name it had acquired in 1917. Today…the National Road. Or a close facsimile thereof!

PWA Road Projects in Indiana

During the Great Depression, following the stock market crash of October 1929, the voters of the United States decided to head in a new direction when it came to leadership in Washington, DC. This led, in 1932, to the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who promised to get the nation back on track economically using the power of the Federal government. That, in turn, led to many programs designed to pump money into local economies. One of those programs was the Public Works Administration, or PWA. Through the PWA, quite a bit of infrastructure was financed throughout the country. Road projects were high on that list.

I already covered some of those projects from 1933 in Marion County (see 1933: Public Works Road Projects of Marion County, Part I and 1933: Public Works Road Projects of Marion County, Part II). But there were projects all over the state that were under the PWA umbrella. I would like to focus on some of those today.

In Spring 1934, 75 men were hired to perform work on both US 40 and US 27 in the Richmond area. The majority of those hired, 50 to be exact, were to work on US 40. The rest for US 27, although the Richmond Item of 23 March 1934 lists that road as Indiana 27. (For an explanation of that, see US Highways: They are actually State Roads.) Maintenance and widening of the berms were part of this project that was supposed to last all summer. Payroll was to be covered by both state and Federal funding.

Another project, announced in October 1935, concerned the relocation of SR 44 between Shelbyville and Rushville. SR 44 was a road that was full of turns, having followed county roads already in place when it was created. Bids for grading the new route, which would run along the south side of the Pennsylvania Railroad connecting the two cities, started that October. It would consist of two project areas, running from the edge of the two cities to a point 1/2 mile east of Manilla. Wages on the Shelby County project would be from 37.5 to 54 cents. The Rush County project would have a pay scale between 35 and 49 cents.

Work on SR 13 in Hamilton County was also a project for the PWA. At that time, SR 13 through Hamilton County followed the Allisonville Road (old SR 37) to north of Noblesville, then the SR 37 and SR 213 corridor to the Hamilton-Tipton County line. Unfortunately, what made this project worthy of being listed in the Noblesville Ledger of 25 January 1934 is not the work being done, but the funds running out and the pending unemployment of the 300 men working on the project. Due to Federal project employment quotas, these men couldn’t just be moved to another project in the area.

While not a project, per se, it should be noted that not all of the money dispensed under the auspices of the PWA for road projects went to the state highway system. It is estimated that approximately 25% of the money went to more local road projects. This was especially true in Indiana with its relative lack of state maintained routes compared to other surrounding states. It should also be noted that PWA funds for these projects wasn’t just an outlay of cash from Washington. Most of the PWA funds were loans, in the form of purchased municipal bonds.

While I basically only covered three of the projects that were designed to pump money into the economy, there are many more that can be found if you look hard enough. The Great Depression era covered over a decade, but it wasn’t all malaise for that time. There was a recovery period followed by another downturn. World War II, and preparation for such, finally kicked the last vestiges of that financial horror out the door. And led Indiana to more and more road projects to be discussed later.

Bicycling the Lafayette Road

Bicycle Routes as published on 02 May 1896 in the Indianapolis News. (image courtesy of

The Indianapolis News, in its bicycling routes series, on 02 May 1896, covered leaving Indianapolis via the Crawfordsville Pike and the Reveal/Centennial Pike. This would bring the “wheelman” of the day through what is now Speedway out to and along the Eagle Creek valley to the town of Trader’s Point. That town was, before the building of the Eagle Creek Reservoir, was located at the crossing of Big Eagle Creek by the White River and Big Eagle Creek Pike, which was built as the Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road. Today, that name has been shortened to Lafayette Road.

After turning southeast along the road out of Trader’s Point, the road crosses the Big Eagle Creek then climbs a “stiff hill.” “After climbing this hill the road is undulating for some distance until the valley of the Big Eagle is left far behind.” Before leaving the hilly area, one half mile from Trader’s Point, is a “pump at the roadside all by itself. The water is very good.” One mile from “the Point” is a dirt road that crosses the Pike west to east. That dirt road, to the east, turns into the New Augusta Free Gravel Road, connecting to the town of that name, the Michigan Road and ending at the Spring Mill and Williams Creek Free Gravel Road.

Two miles from Trader’s Point “is a grocery store and blacksmith shop, where one dirt road turns north and another runs east and west. There is a little settlement at this cross-roads and a pretty white church with a green pump in the church yard.” The road to the north is now Shanghai Road. The east-west road, running from a road on the east side of Big Eagle Creek to the Michigan Road, first became Isenhour Road. That would be changed to 62nd Street with the renumbering of Marion County. There are no remnants of that “little settlement,” as the construction of Interstate 65 wiped out the intersection of 62nd Street and Lafayette Road.

From the settlement southeast, Lafayette Road is “much more level.” The first two roads encountered are the Kissell Road (became High School Road, now gone with the same I-65 construction) that heads south and the Centennial Road (running from the Reveal Road to the Michigan Road at Crooked Creek, now known as 56th Street). One half mile later, the Zionsville and Pike Township Free Gravel Road leaves heading north. That road is now Moller Road from north of 52nd Street to 62nd Street. When it was built, it was part of the Zionsville Pike.

Just southeast of the Zionsville Road junction is a post office town called Snacks. Here there is a white church, store, blacksmith shop, brick schoolhouse, and several houses. Next, the bicyclist would encounter the Russe Road, also known as the Reveal and Russe Free Gravel Road. The east end of this road is at the Lafayette Pike. The west end of this road is at the Crawfordsville Road, at a point one mile east of Clermont. The end at Lafayette Road is now known as 46th Street.

South of what is now 46th Street the Lafayette Pike jogs a little to the due south then more east than southeast, and back to the original line of the road. Those turns are shown in the 1941 aerial photograph to the left. (Image courtesy of MapIndy, a service of the City of Indianapolis.) The News mentioned, also, that the Little Eagle Creek comes very close to, and even parallels, the Lafayette Pike at this point.

The article reports that the road gets into better condition as it gets closer to the city. The next Post Office town encountered is Flackville, located at what is now Tibbs Avenue and Lafayette Road. Before that point, two schoolhouses, one with a green pump in the yard, and two uninviting dirt roads. Those roads, the first heading east, is now 38th Street, and the second heading west in now 34th Street.

At Flackville, several roads are encountered. The Guion Gravel Road turns north towards its end at New Augusta. The Flack Road, now 30th Street, crosses west to east. From here, the rider can follow the Flack Road east to the Michigan Road and back to the city. Continuing along the Lafayette Pike, what is now Tibbs Avenue crosses the road north to south. South of Pike is the Marion County Poor Farm.

Before reaching the Crawfordsville Pike at Emrichsville (now 16th Street), the Lafayette Road encounters the Cooper Avenue Free Gravel Road (now Kessler Boulevard) and the Meyers Free Gravel Road (now Cold Spring Road). The Meyers Road connects to the town of Brooklyn Heights and the Michigan Road near Mount Pleasant (Alliance Post Office).

At Emrichsville, the historic Lafayette and Crawfordsville Roads combine for the trip back to the center of Indianapolis. Both roads crossed the Emrichsville Bridge and followed what is now Waterway Boulevard (see The Lafayette State Road In Downtown Indianapolis). Historically, the Crawfordsville and Lafayette Roads both began at the Michigan Road.

The complete trip, as listed in this article was measured at 32 miles. This included the round trip that went out the Crawfordsville Pike, north along the Reveal and Centennial Roads, and back the Lafayette Road.

Columbus, Hope & Greensburg

1878. A meeting in Bloomington is held to create a new railroad route from Cincinnati, across Indiana and Illinois to St. Louis. Subscriptions in the route collected at the meeting came to $30,000. The plan was named the Cincinnati & St. Louis Narrow Gauge Railroad. In Indiana, the new railroad would cross to Greensburg, Hope, Columbus, Nashville, Bloomington and Bloomfield. While the entire route was never built, it would lead to a route that connected at least three of those towns. That railroad became a Big Four Railway route called the Columbus, Hope & Greensburg.

By 1881, the scope of the railroad would be scaled back. At least in part. The first company that was created was the Hope & Greensburg, connecting the two title towns. Greensburg, the county seat of Decatur County, had already been connected to Cincinnati by a railroad from Indianapolis through Shelbyville. Hope, originally founded as Goshen (until it was realized that Indiana already had a town named Goshen), is a small town along the Shelbyville-Columbus State Road. (When I say small town, the population in 2010 was around 2100. That is reported as both .03% of the 2010 state population. It made Hope the 200th largest community in the state.)

It really wasn’t smooth sailing to get another railroad built across Indiana. The plan to create the route was actually voted down in Clay Township, Decatur County. This township borders Bartholomew County, and would be a major piece of land to have to go around. The Columbus Republic of 17 January 1881 reports that another vote was to be scheduled in Clay Township to allow the road. Part of proposition that the voters of the area shot down was that the governments of the townships would own stock in the company. Hawcreek Township, Bartholomew County, had already voted. It is not mentioned, but it is assumed, that Hawcreek Township, where Hope is located, had approved the line and purchase of its stock.

Opposition to the proposed railroad was very strong. The Columbus Republic of 20 January 1881 reported that the opposition was so strong that it “will probably prevent its construction if possible.” But the company wasn’t deterred. It was also reported that “the road, if built, will owe its existence to the ambition of President Ingalls, of the C. I. C. St. L. & C (Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago) road. He has been entirely independent of both the Pennsylvania and B & O. combinations.” It was hoped that acquiring this little line from Greensburg to Columbus would be the first link in a line all the way to St. Louis, as the route was originally planned.

The meeting that was reported in the above newspaper elected officers and formally extended the line. The name was changed at that meeting from “Hope & Greensburg,” to “Columbus, Hope & Greensburg.” The corporate hierarchy was approved, having a board of directors consisting of 13 people. An official name change was to be filed with the Secretary of State as soon as possible after this meeting.

By 2 October 1883, the road would be open to Hope. This was celebrated by carrying 152 passengers from Hope to Cincinnati. The railroad would be opened to Columbus on 1 April 1884. This would allow trains to connect from Cincinnati, through Greensburg, to the Panhandle routes at Columbus. Businesses and passengers along the route had two choices to get to Indianapolis, one to Cincinnati, one to Louisville, and another connection toward Columbus, Ohio, via Shelbyville and Rushville. Express shipments would be handled by the American Express Company, with agents placed in stations along the route.

The Columbus, Hope & Greensburg, starting in May 1884, would be operated by the CICStL&C. Later, it would, as of 17 October 1891, be leased by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (Big Four) Railway. One of the railroads that created the ultimate Big Four Railway was the CICStL&C. The Interstate Commerce Commission reports issued around the time of World War I (as a result of the government takeover of all railroads in the United States) state that “the Big Four receives all revenues, maintains and operated property and pays taxes and interest on outstanding bonds of the lessor, but the records do not disclose any other consideration paid.”

Passenger service was on the decline along the line when the railway was going to meet with local officials about removing passenger service between Columbus and Greensburg. The Columbus Chamber of Commerce was against this move. 1928 saw a loss of some of the revenue for the small branch line as mail was moved from trains along the line to a star route bus. Passengers, at the time, had already been using a bus, operated by the railroad, to get between the title cities. The Big Four, as of 27 February 1928, was going to start running a combined passenger/freight train along the entire line. But that train would not carry any mail. The Star Route Bus would run from Burney twice a day to Columbus and once daily to Greensburg. The new passenger accommodations would be limited to one train daily: to Columbus in the morning; to Greensburg in the afternoon.

The decline of passengers along the Columbus, Hope & Greensburg would finally be complete on 13 December 1941. The Big Four removed the last passenger car from the route. It was a single passenger coach, in a freight consist, which would run daily. The Rushville Republican of 17 December 1941 reported that “passenger receipts of this tine branch had dwindled to as low as $2 a month.”

The Columbus end of the line would be moved in 1958 when the New York Central yards and its station at Third Street were purchased by the Cummins Engine Company. The New York Central had already put in place plans to move terminal facilities from the Third Street station to a new facility at 14th Street and Michigan Avenue. The plan for Cummins to buy the downtown Columbus property had been in negotiations for two years, according to the Greensburg Daily News of 19 March 1958.

The railroad, in its entirety, would be abandoned by the Penn Central by 1973. There was talk, in a letter to the editor of the Columbus Republic of 25 June 1971, that a “proposal for a public park along the to-be-abandoned Columbus-Hope railroad line” had been printed as a letter to the editor some nine days prior. Later, other things that were in play were affecting the possibility of using the right of way for other purposes. A proposed reservoir on Clifty Creek would have required the very expensive rerouting of SR 46 between Columbus and Greensburg. As pointed out in a letter to the editor in the Columbus Republic of 13 February 1973, “it seems to me the best solution would be to acquire the old abandoned railroad right of way that goes through Hope and Burney and on to Greensburg. This road bed could be made into an excellent 2-way state road by widening it by bulldozing a little off the top to make it a little wider.”

Some Proposed State Roads

Between 1919 and 1950, the Indiana State Highway Commission was expanding, almost exponentially, as money would allow. I’ve already discussed roads like The Riley Highway, and The Minute Man Route, among others. Today, I would like to focus on little snippets found in newspapers that discuss state roads that would come to be. The proposals themselves will be mentioned. Some of the roads included, which seem like main roads that should have been on the short list of original state roads, are major roads today.

The Scott County Journal of 25 September 1929, reported that a highway booster meeting in New Washington was very interested in adding another state road to the list. “Considerable effort is being made by interested citizens to have the State Highway Commission take over this road in connection with the proposed State road extending from North Vernon south to Jeffersonville.” The effort is being made to get the road from Jeffersonville to Hanover, via Charleston made a state highway. Both of these roads would make it into the state system as of the 1933 Indiana Official State Highway Map as SR 3 (in the quote above) and SR 62.

Another road proposed, even before the Great Renumbering, was a road north out of Fort Wayne through Leo, Spencerville and St. Joe to end at Butler. The proposal was mentioned in the Garrett Clipper of 26 July 1926. The road would take some time to get into the system. The first section would be added after 1930, connecting US 27 toward Leo to Auburn, where the road would end at US 27 again. It was given the designation SR 1. The proposed route would be listed as an authorized addition in 1932. It would be added in time for the 1933 official map.

While this road was already in place with the Great Renumbering in 1926, the “proposed” part of this road would show up on the ISHC radar in 1944 as a post-war project. The proposal, according to the Columbus Herald of 13 September 1944, called for a new bridge across the White River at Second Street in Columbus. Also, “survey will be made soon for proposed state road between Columbus and Nashville announced by the State Highway Commission of Indiana.” This project would eliminate a number of turns and curves from the already existent route. This would also, potentially, eliminate some of the curves approaching the then current Second Street bridge.

As mentioned in the post “Road Trip 1926: SR 39,” there were two sections of that road. But on the Facebook Group version of this blog, I was asked about the third section of that route. That section runs southeast from Brownstown to SR 56. The Tribune (Seymour) of 14 September 1937 mentions that the proposed SR 39 would connect to US 31 near Henryville as a relief route for said US 31 for traffic coming north from Louisville. While the complete route was never built, it is provide potential relief using SR 56 to SR 39, thus using SR 135 north to Indianapolis.

Another proposed route, that would first appear on maps as SR 17 connected Kokomo to Logansport. This route, according to the Logansport Pharos-Tribune of 08 August 1933, would use the old interurban right-of-way between the two cities. That interurban route ran along side the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks that connected the same two points. It was proposed, and added to maps, to become SR 17 in the beginning. It appeared on the Official Highway Maps of 1937 and 1941 as such (but not the maps between those two years). When it was completed in 1941, for the 1942 Official Map, it had been redesignated US 35, which already connected the two cities via SR 22 and SR 29, the latter being truncated (albeit temporarily) at the Burlington junction of SR 22/SR 29/US 35.

These are but a few of the proposals for highways in Indiana over the years. I will be covering more of them in the future.

SR 7 Almost Does not Get Built (It is Not What You Think)

The addition of roads to the state highway system, over the years, had some very hard times. Some, like SR 9 and SR 44, were just monetary issues that the state had to be able to afford to maintain the road. Others, like the subject road, depended upon counties to make sure that the road would ultimately be accepted into the state system. The road in question was to become a northern SR 7.

1939. The Indiana State Highway Commission has decided to build a state road, to be numbered 7, from the National Road near Knightstown to Anderson, to enter that city along Columbus Avenue. The right-of-way was in place for Henry and Hancock Counties. Madison County was the lone holdout…but not for lack of trying. Due to lack of money.

Part of the requirement before the ISHC would place SR 7 through the area is that there be a 70 foot right-of-way. Most of the route had already been acquired. Madison County, with their 1940 budget already in place, had no money to purchase said right-of-way. But the majority of the problem, and hence the expense, was on Columbus Avenue between Anderson’s 38th Street and SR 67. As a residential street, most of the right-of-way was spoken for with that purpose. That would make acquiring it very expensive. Especially in terms of the financial situation of 1939.

The state was asked to narrow the road requirement in that section. The ISHC did have that authority. Since the area in question was in the jurisdiction of Madison County, and not Anderson, it would have been tricky…if only technically.

The new SR 7 would start at Ohio Avenue/SR 32 in downtown Anderson, follow Columbus Avenue south to US 36, east to the Knightstown Road at Emporia, then south, southeast and south to US 40 at Knightstown. This would place 22.5 miles of road into maintenance responsibility of the ISHC.

In 1941, the new state road appeared on Indiana official highway maps. But the designation SR 7 was replaced with the designation SR 109. But the routing, and destination, was a bit different than what it is today. Current SR 109 north from Knightstown was followed to CR 800S. Here the original state road turned west, then north on Grant City Road. At the junction of Grant City Road and current SR 109, the original route followed the current one. The current SR 109 turns north at Warrington. The one designated first actually stayed on Nashville Road to the Hancock-Madison County Line, where SR 109 ended abruptly. This was changed to more the current route from Warrington north through Madison County as of the 1942 Official Highway Map. It became official in July 1941.

SO the planned extension of SR 7 ended up becoming SR 109. And Madison County’s section was late to the party due to ISHC requirements and money issues.