Original State Roads 6-10

1919. The second law creating the Indiana State Highway Commission was passed, and passed Constitutional muster. When the original law was passed in 1917, the fledgling ISHC created five state roads, called Main Market Roads. They were covered in my post “The First Five State Roads, and the Auto Trails They Replaced.” (Indiana Transportation History Blog, 18 October 2019) But legal issues were brought up in regards to the Indiana constitution of 1851. That Constitution was created after the debacle that was the Mammoth Internal Improvements Act. (Indiana Transportation History Blog, 23 August 2019)

The second law had answered a majority of the Constitutional questions when it came to funding roads. Some people saw the ISHC necessary, not for the creating of a state road system, but for a method to get the money the federal government was spending on creating the system. The federal government would only give money to states that had a state transportation agency in place. No money was to be given directly to any government entity smaller than the state.

The Indiana State Highway Commission wasted no time in adding roads to the state highway system. It should be noted here that the ISHC could not just take roads into the system. There were financing concerns, obviously, but also the fact that the roads in question were actually owned by the county. Most had been toll roads previously, which means the counties had to buy them back from the toll road companies in the decades prior to this.

A quick look at a map of the first state roads, when compared to Auto Trails at the time, shows that the ISHC started by using roads that were already supposed to be upgraded for car transportation. (Check out these maps at the Indiana State Library: ISHC Official Highway Map of 1920; and the Standard Series Map of Indiana, 1919.) I will be mentioning those as I cover the second five original state roads. I want to note here that when I use the term “original state road,” it is in reference to the current state roads and their numbering. All of the roads that are listed here, and the ones in the first five article, were renumbered on 1 October 1926, something I have been calling “The Great Renumbering” since I started the ITH Facebook Group on 31 May 2014. Also, the old state roads, those built by the state between 1820 and 1850, had names that showed their destinations, not numbers. Numbered state roads, at least in Indiana, are a 20th Century invention.

Original State Road 6: This road connected Madison to Monticello, via Versailles, Greensburg, Shelbyville, Indianapolis, Lebanon, Frankfort, and Delphi. For those of you keeping track at home, it may sound like the southern end looks miraculously like the Michigan Road, or at least the Auto Trail of the same name. And you would be right. From Madison to Indianapolis, it followed the Michigan Road Auto Trail. The difference between the historic Michigan Road and the Auto Trail is basically the section that runs from Bryantsburg to Napoleon. Versailles is on the Auto Trail, not the historic road.

North out of Indianapolis, OSR 6 followed the old Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road to Lebanon. From there, it used the old state road to Frankfort. This was the route used by the Jackson Highway from Indianapolis to Frankfort. From Frankfort, the ISHC just charged “cross country,” using county roads, to complete the route through Delphi to Monticello.

OSR 6 would become, in 1926, SR 29 from Madison to Indianapolis, US 52 from Indianapolis to Lebanon, and SR 39 from Lebanon to Monticello.

Original State Road 7: From the Illinois-Indiana State line west of Kentland, via Kentland, Monticello, Logansport, Peru, and Wabash, to Huntington. Map geeks will instantly recognize this by its post-1926 designation: US 24. From west of Kentland to Logansport, it was part of the Illinois Corn Belt Route (Indiana Transportation History Blog, 2 December 2019). Between Remington and Wolcott, the route was shared with the Jackson Highway, which led to Lafayette and Frankfort, where it connected to OSR 6. OSR 6 ended at OSR 7 at Monticello. From Logansport to Huntington, the ISHC used the route of the Wabash Way to create OSR 7.

Original State Road 8: From Remington, north through Rensselaer and Crown Point to Gary. The route was also the Jackson Highway from Remington to Demotte, and from due south of Crown Point east of Lowell to Crown Point. When the Great Renumbering occurred, OSR 8 became part of SR 53 from Remington to SR 2, then SR 2 to where SR 55 would come later. From Crown Point to Gary, the route became SR 55 in 1926.

Original State Road 9: From Rockville north to Hillsboro, then west to Veedersburg, then north through Attica and Williamsport to Boswell. The route then travelled through Fowler to end at OSR 7 west of Goodland. This one was interesting at the time of the Great Renumbering. The original route had been moved to the west from Rockville to Veedersburg, instead of Hillsboro. The road that headed toward Hillsboro had become SR 59, but only to Grange Corner. And even then, not for long. A lot of the route became US 41. At least from Veedersburg to Boswell. Otherwise, the original route of SR 9 was mostly forgotten. Some of this had to do with the renumbering of 1923. (Indiana Transportation History Blog, 18 May 2019) The only section of this entire route that had been part of the Auto Trail system was from Attica to the Benton-Lake County line, which was part of the Adeway. (Indiana Transportation History Blog, 26 October 2020).

Original State Road 10: Evansville, through Princeton, Vincennes, Sullivan, Terre Haute, Clinton, to OSR 33 west of Covington. This long route made use of several Auto Trails. Leaving Evansville, OSR 10 follows the route of both the Dixie Bee Line and the Hoosier Highway. (Indiana Transportation History, 23 October 2019). The two routes parted ways at Princeton, with the Hoosier Highway turning east. The Dixie Bee Line was used for OSR 10 to Perrysville Station, along the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad. OSR 10 turned east to Perrysville, while the Dixie Bee Line turned west heading off to Danville, Illinois. The rest of the route of OSR 10 crossed the countryside along county roads until it ended west of Covington.

A quick glance at a map of Indiana, and the reader would think that OSR 10 became the original route of US 41 through the state. And from Evansville to east of Clinton, that would be correct. However, near Clinton, the route crossed the Wabash River. Here, in 1926, it would become SR 63 from Clinton to its end at OSR 33/SR 34.

By 1920, state road numbers would reach into the 40’s. Not many roads were added to the system by the time the first renumbering happened in October 1923. With the Great Renumbering, the state found itself dumping some roads, although it was to be temporary. These original numbered state roads would make a wonderful road trip. I plan on doing a series of that very thing soon.

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