Terre Haute, 1854

The mid-19th Century in Indiana was both a traveler’s nightmare and dream. At that time, the state was criss-crossed, or soon would be, with multiple railroads and several canals. And Terre Haute found itself at the crossroads of both. Today, I want to look at Terre Haute through the use of a map that is available at the Indiana State Library online. That maps is at the following link: http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15078coll8/id/1064/rec/7.

First, the National Road came to the town. The idea was that the National Road would be an improved highway, in good condition throughout the state. By the time of this map, it had already been sold to toll road companies. Those companies, in exchange for keeping the road in good condition, would be allowed to charge people to use it. The National Road would connect to Wabash Street in Terre Haute, but didn’t cross the Wabash River along that path. There was a Terre Haute Draw Bridge that crossed the river along the Ohio Street corridor.

The second method of transport that would enter the town was the Wabash & Erie Canal. This canal was the longest such facility in the United States, connecting Fort Wayne to Evansville. It entered the city from the north, separating from the river near where Florida Street is, then finding itself next to the river again around Sycamore Street. At Eagle Street, the canal made a turn back to the north in a loop that would carry it back to a point along what would be Spruce Street, then Canal Street. This section is now part of the Indiana State University campus. It would turn south again just past Ninth Street, cross the National Road, then head off to the southeast as it continued its way to Evansville.

The Terre Haute & Richmond Railroad, planned to connect the two title cities through Indianapolis, came into town from the northeast, with the railroad itself ending in a station on the north side of National Road at what is now 10th Street. The railroad that would become the Vandalia connected to the TH&R near what is now 13th Street, making a looping turn to head out along the Tippecanoe Street corridor to cross the Wabash River.

The other railroad in town, the Evansville & Crawfordsville, had its station on the southside of the National Road, across the street from the TH&R station. This railroad continued north out of town, following the current rail corridor on its way toward Crawfordsville. It, too, followed the 10th Street corridor before turning west, following the same Tippecanoe Street corridor up to and crossing the Wabash.

The area between 9th and 10th Streets at the National Road would, ultimately, include all four of these transportation facilities. Today, only the path of the old E&C still exists, although part of the old TH&R is available for use as a rail trail. The old canal bed has been removed for many years.


One thought on “Terre Haute, 1854

  1. Fascinating map! I see the path of the canal through town is largely covered by ISU and, as it turns south, was filled in to become 9 1/2 street. (In Terre Haute parlance, that’s “ninth and a half”.) And I love seeing Poplar St. labeled as Bloomington Road. If you follow Poplar east out of town, past the airport, and then veer southeast with SR 42, just before 42 heads straight east again, a small road called George Clem Rd. continues the southeasterly path. It ends at the Interstate but picks up again on the other side, and Google Maps calls it Bloomington Road. It becomes SR 59 briefly. I’m pretty sure in Ashboro you take Ashboro Rd. east for a short while, and then it become SR 46 the rest of the way to Bloomington. I’ve yet to drive all of this but I have driven the Ashboro Rd. part.

    Here’s an abandoned strip of Bloomington Rd. where 42 splits off at George Clem Rd.: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/2955472604/

    On the Ashboro Road segment, there are abutments to a railroad bridge: https://blog.jimgrey.net/2013/11/06/the-mystery-of-the-unfinished-abandoned-bridge/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s