The Southern End of the Indianapolis and Peru

1854. The Indianapolis & Peru Railway is completed to Indianapolis. Looking at a map today, it is easy to tell that the old I&P, which would eventually become the Nickel Plate, shared the same right-of-way with the Bee Line and what would become, in time, the Monon. However, that wasn’t always the case.

1870 Map of Indianapolis showing the I&P and Bee Line.

The original route of the I&P ran as shown in this 1870 map, at the point where the Bee Line turned from north-south to northeast-southwest, the Peru turned south-southeast. Here, the I&P ran through the middle of a city street, at that point called Peru Avenue. Then the railroad would turn due south of North Street, again running down the middle of a city street. This time, it was called Railroad Street. But the original Bee Line wasn’t where it was in this map, either. The original Bee Line continued on Massachusetts Avenue to Railroad Street. Originally, the two railroads joined right of ways at North Street. By 1870, as shown in this map, the right of ways of the Peru and the Bee Lines would join just north of Market Street. The current property lines along the old railroad right of way still show this.

By 1880, the railroad had been removed from Railroad Street, and the right of way was moved for the Indianapolis & Peru to join with that of the Bee Line. The section that ran in Peru Avenue ended just shy of the intersection of Peru Avenue and Davidson Street.

The line of the current right-of-way of the three railroads on the east side of downtown is the survey line that is the line of Shelby Street to the south, and, above 38th Street, what is now the Monon Trail below Broad Ripple.

The street name of Railroad Street would be changed in 1893, prior to the mass street name change in Indianapolis, to Fulton Street. Peru Street, which ran north from what is now 10th Street, was changed to Cornell Avenue. Peru Avenue, the angled section that ran from North and Railroad Streets to Massachusetts Avenue, was changed to Davidson Street later. Most of the area of the original rights of way of the Peru and Bee Lines are still intact. But the location of Peru Street, and the north end of Peru Avenue, are currently under the north split of Interstates 65 and 70.

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