Many cities and towns in Indiana were very dependent on transportation facilities for their basic survival and growth. Indianapolis, the state capitol, had been legally a town until the coming of the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad. But east of Indianapolis, a county seat was formed specifically because it was located on a (future) transport facility. The county was Hancock, and the county seat was Greenfield.
The future location of Greenfield, chosen by commissioners charged with locating a county seat, was chosen because the National Road, which was in the process of survey and construction, would be built through the area. The National Road, however, would be only the first road built to the town. Before that famous road came to town, the state of Indiana had already authorized a “state road” to Centerville, in Wayne County. This led to two “major” roads connecting the state capitol and seat of Marion County to the seat of Wayne County. This was covered in the post “The Tail of Two Roads: National Road and Centerville State Road.”
But the state didn’t stop there. Four more state roads were authorized to connect to the Hancock County outpost. The first one that I want to discuss is the Morristown State Road. Morristown is a small Shelby County community along the Indianapolis-Brookville State Road and near the Big Blue River. From what I have been able to find out, one of the purposes of this road was to connect Greenfield to the Brookville State Road, and hence, Cincinnati. Before the coming of the railroad, most manufactured goods available in central Indiana came from Cincinnati. A more direct line to that port town would allow more of those desired goods to get to the new town.
Another state road, currently called Fortville Pike, was built by the state as the Greenfield-Noblesville State Road. At the time, there was a “major” state road connecting Richmond, in the east, to both Crawfordsville and Lafayette, through Noblesville, in the west. One of the major purposes of the state road system then, as it is today, was to connect the county seats to each other. The state roads mentioned above connected Richmond, New Castle, Noblesville, Crawfordsville, and Lafayette. What is now Fortville Pike connected Greenfield to the mix.
But two other county seats were connected to Greenfield directly via the early versions of state roads. These two county seats are Anderson and Shelbyville. The road to Anderson was built more directly to that town than the one to Shelbyville.
Greenfield would not be dependent on mud paths to connect to the rest of the world forever. After the old state roads were sold to local toll road companies, the Terre Haute & Richmond Railroad was chartered to connect the two title cities via Indianapolis. With such a plan, Greenfield would find itself along the path of a railroad that would never be built.
OK. I know you’re wondering why I said the railroad never got built. Because in the form of the TH&R, it never was. The TH&R made it to Indianapolis…and later became the Terre Haute & Indianapolis. The Richmond section had been dropped from the corporate plans. But, obviously, a railroad would be built.
Along comes the Indiana Central Railway, built to connect Indianapolis to the Indiana-Ohio state line west of New Paris, Ohio. That railroad was completed in 1853. In the end, both the original company (Terre Haute & Richmond) and the new company (Indiana Central) would find themselves part of the same corporate entity: the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The last pre-ISHC facility built to the town of Greenfield was the interurban, or electric traction, line that also connected Indianapolis to Richmond, and hence, most of the state of Ohio. This form of transportation, as far as Greenfield was concerned, lasted less than three decades. The end of that was covered in the post “End of the (Traction) Line in Greenfield.”
The Auto Trail era brought two roads to the town – the National Old Trails Road and the Riley Highway. With the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission, Greenfield found itself on two state roads: OSR 3 and OSR 11. OSR 3 was the route of the old National Road. OSR 11 connected Greenfield to Pendleton, Anderson, Marion, Huntington and Fort Wayne. In 1926, OSR 3 would be changed US 40, and OSR 11 would be changed to SR 9.
SR 9 would be extended south from Greenfield to Shelbyville and beyond in the beginning of the 1930s. 1933 would bring SR 238 to the city, following the old Greenfield-Noblesville State Road. This was changed to SR 13 in 1940.
The railroad would leave Greenfield in the early 1980’s. As would SR 13. The last transportation facility to come to the city would be Interstate 70. A minor disaster occurred when that was opened, as mentioned in the post “I-70 at Greenfield.”