In keeping with the last entry in the Indiana Transportation History blog, and a question posted in one of the Facebook groups I post to, I want to cover two towns in Decatur Township which have a shared history: West Newton and Camby. Decatur Township has been, historically, the most “rural” of the townships in Marion County. The number of villages in Decatur Township in small compared to the rest of the county. But, the township is also the smallest in the county.
The story starts with the Mooresville State Road that, ultimately, connected Vincennes to Indianapolis. Christopher Furnas found a spot in the south central part of the township, along the then Mooresville Toll Road, in 1851 where he laid out the village of Newton. The town was laid out at a bend in the road. The new village would be 2.5 miles south of the then village of Northport.
The town name would be changed to West Newton by the Post Office, since there already was a Newton in Indiana. The new town’s major connection to the world was the Mooresville Road.
When the Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad was built, it missed the village of West Newton. The railroad was built in a relatively straight line, due southwest, across Decatur Township. At least from what would later be Hanna Avenue southwest. But there would be a station built along the railroad that would be called “West Newton Station.” It would be located along the Indianapolis & Vincennes at what is now Camby Road.
The town of Camby was laid out after Don Carlos and Mary Alice Morgan purchased the land and moved to the area. When Mr. Morgan was asked about a name for his new “town,” he recommended the name Camby, after, apparently, a Brazilian town. The plan was to start a new station at the location, but since West Newton Station was already there, the railroad decided to rename it Camby.
This would make the two related towns separate. With the coming of the state highway system, the winner would be the town of West Newton. But not for long. By 1936, the state started to move what was then SR 67 to along the old interurban line from Indianapolis to Martinsville. It ran right along the edge of the old Indianapolis & Vincennes, at that time the Pennsylvania Railroad.
When the state was completed with the new SR 67, Camby was along the road, and West Newton found itself off the beaten path. These two towns, related from the beginning, found themselves both becoming part of the city of Indianapolis when UniGov was enacted. Today, West Newton is still a rural area, while Camby has become very commercialized.