Today’s Indiana Transportation History blog will be a short one. And not much information. But there is a method to my madness.
I have, sometimes, hundreds of readers. And you all have come to ITH for one reason or another. Most are interested in history. Some are road geeks. Some are railfans. I happen to be all of the above.
What I want to know is this…what is something in your area that you find intriguing, puzzling, interesting, etc., about Indiana Transportation History? What would you like to share with the ITH community about your neck of the woods. And even if it isn’t about Indiana, there has to be a reason you are interested in this subject that is specifically Indiana.
Other than the topics that I have covered over the past 18 months, two that hit home for me lately are the sheer emptiness of the Hoosier landscape and the concept of a shunpike.
The City of Indianapolis has been doing construction on German Church Road. For the first two weeks, we were unable to use the road southbound. This made for an interesting detour either down Mitthoeffer Road or Muessing Road to Prospect Street, then back up German Church to my subdivision which is 3/10 of a mile south of Washington Street…aka where German Church was closed.
For the next four weeks, German Church was closed northbound, which meant getting to shopping…aka Walmart or Meijer…took as long to drive to as it does for me to walk there. Literally.
I realize that there were nothing but farms out here…thus creating a detour of over four miles to get to a point that is 1.5 miles away. I joked with some friends on YouTube that I wanted a roast beef sandwich, but wasn’t driving five miles to get one when I can walk 1/2 a mile to the same Arby’s restaurant.
The other idea that I may someday figure out how to flesh out to a full entry is the concept of the Shunpike. For those that are not familiar with the term, back in the 1840’s through 1890’s, most major roads in Indiana were owned by toll road companies. Along the way, locals built roads that roughly paralleled the toll roads, if they could, to avoid paying the toll.
That brings me back to Prospect Street and my four mile detour. Most people don’t know this, but it is possible to get from Irvington to Greenfield using two old paths. The most direct (duh) way was the National Road. It still is. However, if you wanted to avoid the tolls, starting at what is now Arlington Avenue, you can travel east on what is now English Avenue/Rawles Avenue to either Post or Mitthoeffer Roads, turn south, and take Prospect Street all the way to SR 9 south of Greenfield. (Although my bet is that the road into Greenfield itself involved what is now Franklin Street.)
Using this circuitous route, travelers could get from Irvington to Greenfield without paying a toll. Turning left on Franklin Street, and traveling one mile north, then turning right, it was possible to get as far as Knightstown without paying a toll.
There are many such roads all over the state. I chose that one because, well, it is at the end of the block from me…if you took out all the streets added by the subdivisions built over the last 30 years. My back fence is on the survey line that is halfway between the correction line at what is now 10th Street and the survey line that makes the center of Prospect Street.
So….what I am asking from you is to share what you find interesting in your area. Maybe there is someone in your area that has the same interests or questions? Who knows, maybe we can come up with a subject for a new blog entry?
And I am always a fan of audience interaction. I now run a YouTube channel…and the first rule that I have always lived by is “know the audience.” I would like to know a little more about you folks that make this a labor of love for me…and have since February 2019. Almost 500 entries ago.