As I have covered much of Marion County when it comes to the little towns that have crept up due to the transportation facilities in Pike Township. For all intents and purposes, there really are only three places that could be mentioned here: Augusta; New Augusta; and Traders Point.
Let’s start with Augusta. This town was created along the Michigan Road in 1832. It had been platted by David G. Boardman. Naming of the town has never been determined with any certainty. But it would lead to the creation of the Augusta Gravel Road Company, a toll road using the old Michigan Road right-of-way.
The original plan of the town included basically two blocks paralleling the Michigan Road centered on what was called Meridian Street (now 77th Street). The backing streets that were parallel to the Michigan Road were called Spring St. (now Spring Lane) and Parallel Street.
The southern most street of the original plat was Walnut Street. This, today, is called 76th Street. The cemetery shown in the map image to the left is still there. It is located on the curve of 76th Street as it leaves the town itself.
The town of Augusta grew slowly, providing services to local residents and travelers along the Michigan Road. Stagnation occurred when the Indianapolis & Lafayette Railroad was built through the area, located about a mile or so west of the town. This would create the second town I want to cover.
The Indianapolis & Lafayette Railroad built, in 1852, what would be called by the railroad “Augusta Station.” It would be the closest location to the town of Augusta above. The station was located just north of the survey line that would later become 71st Street.
The old town of Augusta found itself in a strange situation. Between the railroad and the fact that the Michigan Road became a toll road (The Augusta Gravel Road), within a few years, a town grew up around the station. There were two names for the village came to be used – Augusta Station and Hosbrook. In 1878, the United States Postal Service decided the issue of the town name. The post office was given the name New Augusta.
West of both Augusta and New Augusta is Traders Point. Or, more to the point, more or less was, Traders Point. The original town sprang up around the mill built by John Jennings and Josiah Coughran in 1864. It was located along Eagle Creek where it was crossed by the old Indianapolis-Lafayette Road. The origin of the name is unclear. There are stories about it having been the location of a Native American trading post. It could also have been named simply because it was a convenient place to do business.
With the coming of the Auto Trail era, all three towns would be included. Traders Point and New Augusta would be included on the Hoosier Motor Club’s Dandy Trail, an 88 mile circle around Marion County. It would skirt Augusta to the south, having been run along the 71st Street/Westlane Road corridor through the area. Augusta would once again appear on the Michigan Road, this time the Auto Trail, that mostly covered the same roads as the original Michigan Road built in the 1830’s. Traders Point would also was on the Jackson Highway.
In 1919, with the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission, the Jackson Highway north from Indianapolis became part of State Road 6. Later, the old Michigan Road, at least from Indianapolis to Logansport, would become part of State Road 15. SR 6, at least through Traders Point, would be changed to US 52, and SR 15 would changed to SR 29, when the Great Renumbering happened on 1 October 1926. New Augusta would find itself left off of the state highway system all together.
Traders Point would cease to exist as it was originally planned with the coming of Eagle Creek Reservoir in the 1960’s. The town was determined to be on the flood plain for the new man made lake. The location isn’t under water now, and visiting there has very little in the way of sights. The name Traders Point has been placed on quite a few things removed from the original town. Even on shopping centers miles away at 86th Street and I-465.
New Augusta would find itself removed from most of the commercial building craze of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Augusta would get those facilities as shopping centers and the like were built along Michigan Road. The railroad tracks that helped create New Augusta are still in place, but no longer connect to any towns north of New Augusta. They now connect to industrial park areas near 79th and 86th Streets, connecting to the Park 100 area.
All three areas of the county would be absorbed into the City of Indianapolis when UniGov went into effect. Neither Augusta nor Traders Point appear on the Indiana State Highway system, with Traders Point being the first to be removed since US 52 was the first state road in Marion County to be detoured around on Interstate 465.
Sometimes, the state moves very slowly when it comes to improving routes that, well, from first glance, should have been higher on the priority list. When SR 35 was created with the Great Renumbering of 1 October 1926, a lot of the route was pretty straight forward. That was until you got to just south of the Muscatatuck River in Washington County. Here, the road was the definitive hilly road.
And the road had been that way for a long time. The 1878 map snippet shown to the left shows the Millport Ferry, which was in the location, roughly, of the current SR 135 bridge over the Muscatatuck River. From there, the “direct” route to the next post office, that being at Millport, winds its way through the hilly territory south of the river.
And this routing hadn’t changed. Until the Indiana State Highway Commission started designing a new road to replace the old one in 1954. Yes, nearly three decades after it became a state road, SR 135 (formerly SR 35) was getting some work to make it safer for travelers.
The bridge just west of the old bridge at the location of the old Millport Ferry was opened for bidding in September 1954. The design of the bridge was to be of seven spans, 28 foot of right of way for drivers, and 26 inch pedestrian walkways on each side. The bidding, opened on 21 September of that year, only included the bridge itself. Approaches to the bridge were to be let in another contract. It also didn’t include the tie in to the then current road north of the river.
The bridge that was being replaced had been contracted in 1883. The superstructure of that bridge, to be built completely of iron, was contracted to cost $23.00 a linear foot.
Work on the design of the new SR 135 section was completed in March 1954. According to the Seymour Tribune of 18 March 1954, “It is understood plans for the new highway are normally straight, with the new location scheduled to eliminate the present many curves on the highway, which now has about 40 turns, many of them sharp, in less than two miles.”
Construction on the new section of the road began on 6 June 1955, and according to the Jackson County Banner of 3 August 1955, was expected to “be completed about the first of next year.” The contract connecting the new SR 135 to the new Millport Bridge would be let later, as the bridge had not been completed by that time. Until that bridge was complete, the old bridge would be in use, and the new SR 135 would connect to the old SR 135 just south of the new bridge. The following Google Map snippet shows the old road, the connection to the new road, and the location of the old bridge.
The new section of road would open in mid-December 1955. The entire route was concrete, with the exception of the south approach to the new Millport bridge, which was graveled to allow traffic access to the new bridge. The gravel would be replaced with concrete the following summer. The old iron Millport bridge would be removed soon after the opening of the road.
In 1938, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway took over one of two rail lines that connected Evansville to Terre Haute. That rail line was the Evansville, Indianapolis & Terre Haute Railway. Along the way, many different consolidations took place to create that company. Also, operating agreements had to be thrown out the window as they went. This is a brief summary of that history.
The EI&TH was the 1920 reorganization of a long line of consolidations over the previous 60 years.
The first consolidation took place in 1869, when the Evansville & Indianapolis, the Indianapolis & Evansville, and the Evansville, Indianapolis & Cleveland Straight Line Railroad were merged to create the second Evansville & Indianapolis. The latter company was created to build a line as described in the title. The consolidation allowed the competitors to build one line instead of three. The Indianapolis & Evansville, however, had been born as the Evansville, Washington & Worthington.
The trackage for the future EI&TH was built by three companies that would be consolidated in 1884. The (second) Evansville & Indianapolis built from a point north of Evansville called Straight Line Junction to Maysville, a total of 51 miles.
The second company part of the merger was the Terre Haute & Southeastern. It was created in 1878, and soon after bought two railroads: the Cincinnati & Terre Haute Railway, which had built a 26 mile line from Terre Haute to Clay City; and the Terre Haute, Worthington & Bloomfield, which had acquired the right of way of the old Wabash & Erie Canal to build their railroad. The Terre Haute & Southeastern would continue the C&TH line for 14 miles from Clay City to Worthington.
The third company was the Evansville, Washington & Brazil, which had built a 43 mile line connecting the two lines above from Worthington to Maysville.
The consolidation of 1885 was put in place in the interests of another railroad that connected Evansville to Terre Haute. That route, called the Evansville & Terre Haute, had a much straighter line between the two cities. It also owned the tracks from Evansville to Straight Line Junction that was used by the Evansville & Indianapolis to enter the southern Indiana city. Both companies were under the operation of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad Company.
The C&EI bought the E&I in order to eliminate any competition to their mainline that was the Evansville & Terre Haute. But in the early 20th century, the age of anti-trust and anti-monopolies was dawning. The C&EI held off as long as they could. The company would sell the Evansville, Indianapolis & Terre Haute to the Big Four in 1920, shortly after that company had been created.
There was a time in Indiana when some smaller towns in the state became somewhat major railroad hubs. Cambridge City, a town founded along the National Road in 1836, would become not only a railroad center, but transportation in general. But today, I want to focus on the railroads in the town.
Ultimately, Cambridge City would be along the lines of four (three) different railroads. You may wonder about the “four (three)” comment. The four companies were the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis, the Indiana Central, the Connersville & New Castle Junction, and the White Water Railroad. Ultimately, before abandonments would rear their ugly head, it would be three railroad companies: Pennsylvania, New York Central, and Nickel Plate.
Let’s start with the White Water Railroad, which would find its way to the New York Central via the Big Four Railway. The White Water Valley Railroad Company was formed under the general laws of Indiana on 8 June 1865. This company would build the line, from Harrison, Ohio, to Hagerstown, Indiana, in 1868. This would be 68 miles of track. It was mostly built along the line of the White Water Canal, connecting the same locations. The White Water Canal crossed the National Road at Cambridge City. The White Water Valley Railroad would be sold at foreclosure on 15 May 1878. It would take almost a year, but the property would be conveyed to the White Water Railroad Company, created on 28 May 1878 by the Indiana General Assembly. The new company would acquire the old railroad property on 12 May 1879. The White Water Railroad would remain separate until it was conveyed to the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (Big Four) Railway on 1 November 1890, a little more than a year after the Big Four was created. The section between Connersville and Hagerstown, thus through Cambridge City, was removed from service in 1931 and ripped up in 1936.
The line that would become part of the Nickel Plate started as the Cincinnati & Chicago Short Line Railroad. This company was created by law in Indiana on 12 February 1853. On 1 May 1854, it became part of the Cincinnati & Chicago Rail Road Company, after it was merged with the Cincinnati, New Castle and Michigan Rail Road. The charter for these companies stayed idle for quite a long time. The company was sold at foreclosure, and the section that would be built through Cambridge City was given to Watton J. Smith, by sherriff’s deed, on 7 July 1860. Mr. Smith held onto the company, which was still in name only, until he deeded it, via quitclaim, to the Connersville & New Castle Junction Railroad Company on 26 February 1864. The latter company was created by law on 23 October 1863. The Connersville & New Castle Junction would build and open its 25.05 miles of track connecting Connersville and New Castle in 1865.
This rail line would go through a long series of consolidations over the next nearly half century. The Connersville & New Castle Junction would be consolidated with the New Castle & Muncie Rail Road to become the Cincinnati, Connersville & Muncie Rail Road on 2 January 1868. This company, in turn, would merge with the Fort Wayne, Muncie & Cincinnati Railway on 4 January 1871, to become the Fort Wayne, Muncie & Cincinnati (FtWM&C) Rail Road. 10 years later, the FtWM&C would be sold at foreclosure to become part of the Fort Wayne, Cincinnati & Louisville (FtWC&L) Railroad on 6 December 1881. Again, another consolidation merged the New Castle & Rushville Rail Road into the FtWC&L on 11 November 1886. FtWC&L would be the name that the company would maintain until it was merged into the Nickle Plate in 1923, even though the line was purchased, on 28 May 1890, by the Lake Erie & Western Railroad.
The Lake Erie & Western would be operated as a separate entity by the New York Central during the first two decades of the 20th Century. It was sold to the Nickel Plate in 1922. The Nickel Plate, legally the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, would exist as a separate company until it was merged into the Norfolk & Western on 16 October 1964. In the late 1970’s, the N&W filed for permission to abandon the rail line through Cambridge City, abandoning the New Castle Branch lines from New Castle to Connersville and from New Castle to Rushville. Both of these abandonments were withdrawn at the time. Although it looks unused, the railroad line is still in place through Cambridge City.
The Pennsylvania Railroad served, until the lines were abandoned, Cambridge City using two lines, both associated with the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (Panhandle) Railway. A rail line connecting Cambridge City to Rushville started life at the Lake Erie & Louisville Railroad Company. It acquired the right of way, that was partly graded, from the Lake Erie and Pacific Railroad Company created on 23 December 1861. The Lake Erie & Louisville would be the company that would complete the building of the line per an agreement of 28 August 1866 with the Indiana Central Railway and the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis (JM&I) Railroad. The 21 mile route would open in 1867, and would be operated, under lease, by the JM&I. This line between Cambridge City and Rushville to finish a line that ultimately connected the Indiana Central line at Cambridge City to the JM&I at Columbus, via Shelbyville and Rushville. The JM&I would be merged with other companies, including the next mentioned, to create the Panhandle on 30 September 1890.
The Indiana Central actually was a replacement charter for the original Terre Haute & Richmond Railroad. The latter company would be formed to connected the two close to state line cities through Indianapolis. The line was completed from Terre Haute to Indianapolis, with the rest of the line to Richmond not having been even considered for construction by the company. On 16 February 1848 the Indiana General Assembly approved the creation of the Indiana Central Railway Company. This was after the Terre Haute & Richmond Railroad was chartered on 24 January 1847. Although the TH&R built to Indianapolis, and decided to go no further, in 1852, it remained that company name until 6 March 1865, when it became the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Rail Road.
The Indiana Central would build from Indianapolis to the Indiana-Ohio State Line, some 71.94 miles of track, in 1853. Strangely, the Indiana Central Railway existed until 19 October 1864 (five months before the TH&R would change Richmond to Indianapolis in its name) when it was merged with the Columbus & Indianapolis Railroad to become the Columbus & Indianapolis Central Railway. Some dates get a little confused right about here, but suffice it to say that after a few consolidations, the line running through Cambridge City would connect Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and fall under the sway of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It would be part of the 30 September 1890 consolidation that formed the Panhandle. The TH&I, which was tasked with building the line by chartered, but decided not to, would also be added to the Panhandle when the company that it consolidated into, the Vandalia Railroad, would be consolidated into the Panhandle by the Pennsylvania.
The line connecting Cambridge City to Rushville was moved to the west, severing the Cambridge City connection, in 1910, with a revamp of the Panhandle mainline through the area. The connection between the east-west main and the Louisville line at Columbus would be moved to Dublin. There it would remain until it was abandoned in 1955. The mainline through the area would only survive until 1976, when the Penn Central, successor to both the Pennsylvania and the New York Central, would file for the permission to abandon the line from Cambridge City to Charlottesville, a total of 21.26 miles. This permission was requested on 31 March 1976, one day before the line would have been taken into the Consolidated Rail Corporation, or Conrail. The old Pennsylvania mainline east from Cambridge City, for 10.1 miles to Centerville, would be, 1982, put up for abandonment by Conrail.
The Richmond Palladium-Item of 2 January 1954 published an article in their continuing series about the history of transportation in Richmond and Wayne County. This series commemorated the arrival, on 18 March 1853, of the first locomotive in Richmond. Luther M. Feeger wrote in that article that Cambridge City once had an elaborate Union Station, built in March 1866. That station was built as a joint venture between the Lake Erie & Louisville Railroad and the Indiana Central Railway. It was, reportedly, more elaborate than the station in Richmond. Unlike Indianapolis Union Station, the two railroads involved in Cambridge City would both become part of the same company – the Pennsylvania. (Indianapolis’ Union Station was created by five companies, three became Pennsylvania, two become New York Central…and the entire station would end up owned by the Penn Central in the end.)
For Cambridge City, it had gone from having four railroad lines to what is today one seldom or never used line crossing from northwest to southeast. At one point, trains out of the town could take you to Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, Columbus (Ohio), and Louisville. The lines also connected a rider from Cambridge City to places like Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago and New York City. Today, Cambridge City sits along the historic National Road, sharing its transportation heritage with the world…along with some of the best antique shopping in the state.