Kokomo

On 1 May 1844, when Richardville County was created, it was actually centered on the survey range line separating Range 3 East from Range 4 East. This is the same range line that continues south through Tipton and Hamilton Counties, and forms the main drag through downtown Westfield and Carmel and stops being followed by a road facility just south of the Hamilton-Marion County Line. North of Richardville County, it formed the boundary between Cass and Miami Counties.

The law creating the county was dated 15 January 1844, and stemmed from an act of 16 February 1839, which provided that territory temporarily attached to surrounding counties “shall form and constitute a separate county to be known and designated by the name of Richardville, and at such time as the Indian title shall be extinguished and the population within same will warrant.” The territory in question became both Richardville and Tipton Counties in the end. The name of the county was changed from Richardville to Howard by a legislative act of 28 December 1846.

The site of the town of Kokomo was decided upon on 17 August 1844 as a spot on the Wildcat Creek. That location was west of the range line that formed the eastern boundary of Kokomo into the 20th Century.

The state, shortly after the creation of Richardville County, started extending the already in place Westfield State Road north to reach the new county seat of Kokomo. Unlike most state roads built before this time, the state could build the road right along the survey line, in this case range line, straight up to Kokomo.

Kokomo mainly depended on the railroad to become the manufacturing center it became before the 20th Century. The first railroad to Kokomo would be the Indianapolis & Peru, which also connected Noblesville to the title cities. It would become the Lake Erie & Western along the way. The city would also (eventually) be crossed by what would become the Clover Leaf route, which would, in 1923, joined with the Lake Erie & Western to become part of the Nickel Plate. What would eventually become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, via the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, would also cross Kokomo with its Chicago line between Richmond and Logansport.

1920 Rand McNally Auto Trails map
of the Kokomo area

The Auto Trail era brought named highways to Kokomo. The first one would be the Range Line Road (8 on the map), which, until south of Kokomo, followed that same Range Line as mentioned above. This route, south of Kokomo, was shared with the Belt Line (13).

But the Range Line (and the Belt Line) Road didn’t follow the survey range line into the city of Kokomo, which it had been following from northern Marion County. (It is Westfield Boulevard, Range Line Road, and Union Street in Hamilton County from Westfield south.) The Range Line Road south of Kokomo entered on Lafountain Street, before curving onto what is now Washington Street for its trip through the city itself. North of downtown Kokomo, the old Auto Trails still followed Washington Street to Morgan Street, where it turned east to Apperson Way. Apperson Way is on the survey range line. As shown on the map snippet to the left, the Auto Trails followed a circuitous route through Cassville.

The other two Auto Trails that connected Kokomo were the Ben Hur Route (91 on the map), which I covered in detail on 28 October 2019, and the Liberty Way (86), connecting Kokomo to Galveston and Walton to what will later become part of US 24 seven miles east of Logansport.

The Range Line Road would become, before this map was published, Main Market Road #1, and later State Road #1. The only other Auto Trail that would become part of the State Highway system at the time of the Great Renumbering would be the Ben Hur Route west of OSR 1 which was OSR 29. OSR 35 left Kokomo to the due east along Markland Avenue, which would later become US 35 (coincidence only…US 35 came to Indiana a decade after the Great Renumbering).

With the Great Renumbering: OSR 1 became US 31; OSR 29 changed to SR 26; and OSR 35 became SR 18. By this time, the route of US 31 north of Kokomo would have been straightened, bypassing Cassville to the west by 1/2 mile. This would put the highway on the survey range line north until it turned east toward Peru. Downtown Kokomo would be bypassed TWICE when it comes to US 31. But there was a chance there would have been now three bypasses of the city.

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