It is easy to say that there are several transportation facilities in Indiana that really made a massive impact on the state. Let’s face it, Indiana is the “Crossroads of America.” Between canals, railroads and mud paths that would become the backbone of the modern state highway system, it’s not hard to see Indiana, and transportation across it, had been a very important thing to the history of not only the state, but to the United States in general.
One of the most famous, and most important, was the National Road. I have covered this route several times in the past two years on Indiana Transportation History. From the 1830’s to today, the National Road has served as one of the most travelled of all the original routes across the state. And with some exceptions here and there, the original route is still roughly followed almost 200 years later.
The road itself was so important that I covered its connection to the county seats of the counties through which it travels in my article “The National Road, and County Seats.”
But, there have been changes. The earliest of these occurred in the 1870’s near Reelsville. With the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission, it became apparent that the importance of the route would grow. The rough route of the original road was given the name Main Market Road #3 in 1917, to become State Road 3 in 1919. With the coming of the United States highways, in 1926, it was given the important number of US 40. The “0” at the end denoted its importance in the system.
And the road grew…and grew. Traffic soon outgrew the the road that had been in place for around a century. So, the ISHC started expanding and moving the US highway…meanwhile keeping parts of the history in place for people to investigate and enjoy in the years to come.
Today, I want to give a roughly 100 year overview, in maps, on the route of US 40.
There were very few changes in the routing and/or condition of US 40 after 1950. Its gradual replacement as the major through route in Indiana by Interstate 70 would begin in 1960. By 1976, it was possible to travel across the state from Terre Haute to Richmond and never see a traffic signal. US 40 would be removed from inside Indianapolis and Terre Haute, routed around those cities along Interstate 465 for the former, and SR 46/Interstate 70 for the latter.