Today, I want to return to the Auto Trail era. There were many Auto Trails created over the time before the US Highway system took full hold. Even today, the Auto Trail era lives in the names of city streets and county roads. The biggest one that comes to mind is the Lincoln Highway…both of them, actually. But some of the Auto Trails really made you want to ask one question: Why? Today’s road actually made me ask that very question: the Liberty Way.
Since this is an Indiana Transportation History site, I guess that it is good that I can’t find, so far, a map that follows this road outside Indiana. But then it makes me go back to the question above – why? The Liberty Way was an Auto Trail that started in Kokomo, connecting Logansport, Winamac, Bass Lake, North Judson, San Pierre, Kouts, Valparaiso, Hobart, East Chicago, and Whiting to Chicago. Those are the bigger towns along the way. The whole map is available at the Indiana State Library with this 1923 map. The Liberty Way was also shown on the 1920 Rand McNally highway map. Its routing was slightly different.
Basically, I want to do this with maps. Tracing the roads gets a bit complicated in this case. The red line on the maps marked “DD” are the Liberty Way in 1923. On the 1920 map, it is marked “86.”
The next two maps are a jumbled mess. Because of Indiana’s location, it has always been the crossroads of America. And these two maps show the importance of Chicago in the grand scheme of things when it came to highways. Indiana’s side of the state line near Chicago was cluttered with way too many road markers.
Doing a newspaper search for “Liberty Way” is not the straight forward grasp for information one would hope. Apparently that name was very popular for other places throughout the state. But an ad in the Logansport Pharos-Tribune of 23 July 1921 could tell you, using the Liberty Way, how to get to Bass Lake.