Ben Hur Route

I am sure that almost everyone has heard of Ben Hur. Some even know that it was written by Lew Wallace: Major General US Army, 11th Governor of the New Mexico Territory; Minister to the Ottoman Empire; Adjutant General for his home state; and, oh yeah, Hoosier. The book he wrote, Ben Hur, made him and his family wealthy and famous. Lew Wallace was born in Brookville. He lived, and died, in Crawfordsville. So, it made sense to have an Auto Trail with the name. And hence, it was.

The Ben Hur Route was created in 1918-1919. The ultimate route would start in Huntington, traverse the state via Marion, Kokomo, Burlington, Frankfort, Crawfordsville, Rockville and Terre Haute. The route would find itself, in big sections, left out of the state highway system when it was created and renumbered. As state roads were added over the years, parts of the old road became state maintained.

Starting in Huntington, the Ben Hur route left the town to the southwest along Etna Road. By 1920, this would become OSR 11. The route between Huntington and Marion was covered in my Road Trip 1926 series, the entry for SR 9. The original route would travel through the town of Mt. Etna. I mention this because SR 9 doesn’t. SR 9 was moved with the creation of Lake Salamonie. The current SR 9 is west of the town by about a mile. After the Mt. Etna bypass rejoins the old SR 9, that state road is followed to north of Marion, where it turns on Washington Street.

The Ben Hur Route left Marion via what is now CR 200 to the town of Roseburg. From here, the highway traveled south for a mile along CR 300W. At CR 300S, the Ben Hur Route turned west to travel through Swayzee. CR 300S becomes CR 200N at the Howard County line. The old road then turns south on CR 1100E to Sycamore. There, travelers would make their way to CR 850E, and the town of Greentown, via CR 100N.

At Greentown, the original Auto Trail followed what became OSR 35, now, incidentally, US 35/SR 22, into Kokomo. While SR 22 turns west on Sycamore Street in Kokomo, the original Ben Hur Route turned west on Jefferson Street, rejoining SR 22 west of town, on its way to Burlington. As SR 22 curves to the southwest going into Burlington, the Ben Hur Route continued west on what is now Mill Street. Here, the Ben Hur Route met the Michigan Road and Dixie Highway.

South from Burlington, the utility poles contained three painted signs (Dixie Highway, Michigan Road and Ben Hur Route) from there to Michigantown. The ISHC would take over this section of highway in 1920, creating OSR 15. At Michigantown, the Ben Hur Route left the other two roads to follow Michigantown Road towards Frankfort. It enters Frankfort as Washington Avenue. In Frankfort, the route gets a little hard to determine, with the exception of the fact that one most go from Washington Avenue to Armstrong Street. Whether that be using Main Avenue or Jackson Street (now SR 39), it is unknown by me at this time.

The continuing Armstrong Street is the Ben Hur Route through rural Clinton County. The current road turns due west as CR 200S. At CR 350W, the highway turned south for one mile, then turning west again on CR 300S, also known as Manson Colfax Road. At Colfax, the road turns south along Clinton CR 850W until it becomes Boone CR 1050W. A jog in the road, then becoming Boone CR 1075W, the route encounters what is now SR 47.

Northeast of Darlington, a quick turn west onto CR 500N, then Main Street, into Darlington. The old highway then turns south on CR 625E, to CR 300N. West along this county road brings the traveler back to current SR 47 which takes the old route into the east side of Crawfordsville. Southwest bound out of Crawfordsville, the route still follows SR 47. At least as far as northeast of Waveland. At CR 600W, the Ben Hur follows Waveland Road into Waveland, crossing the town along Main Street (SR 59) until it intersects CR 1150S. Here, it follows that road, and Saddle Club Road to intersect SR 59/236. It the follows SR 236 into Guion.

At Guion, the Ben Hur follows Guion Road to Judson, then Nyesville Road to what is now US 36 east of Rockville after travelling through Nyesville. Out of Rockville, the old road doesn’t follow what is now US 41, but Catlin Road through Catlin and Jessup to Rosedale. From there, the rest of the old Auto Trail heads towards its end at Terre Haute. Rosedale Road, Park Avenue, and Lafayette Avenue brought the old road to end at what is now US 41 in Terre Haute. Lafayette Avenue was, at the time, the Dixie Bee Line, and would become OSR 10. At the intersection of Park and Lafayette Avenues, the Ben Hur and Dixie Bee multiplex their way toward downtown Terre Haute. At the time, Lafayette Avenue ended at Third Street, not Fifth like it does today. And the Ben Hur Route ends at Wabash Street, at the junction of the Dixie Bee Line and the National Old Trails Road.

This Auto Trail was not the only reference to the “Ben Hur Route” in Indiana. The Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company, the interurban lines, also had a route called the “Ben Hur Route.” It had been originally the Indianapolis, Crawfordsville & Danville Electric Railway. This small company was purchased by the THI&E in 1912. There are very few remnants of either of the Ben Hur Routes today. While the old Auto Trail can be followed, most of it is county roads with some in questionable shape…at least those that are still intact. It is a trip that someday I would love to tackle.

The Hoosier Highway

1917. The Auto Trail era is in full swing. Associations all over the United States were being formed to create a tangled web of named highways connecting places all over the country. Indiana, being the crossroads of America, was crossed by many of these roads. While a great many of these roads were long distance trails, there was one that mainly stayed in the state that became the longest in Indiana. This would be the Hoosier Highway.

The plan of the Hoosier Highway was designed to connect the Henderson ferry, south of Evansville, to Detroit. Looking at a map of the state, one can hardly find a way to cover more of Indiana with a road. Cities and towns that were included in the route were Evansville, Winslow, Petersburg, Washington, Spencer, Martinsville, Indianapolis, Anderson, Muncie, Hartford City, Bluffton and Fort Wayne.

By 1923, most of the Hoosier Highway would become part of the Indiana State Highway system. The road would follow original state road (OSR) 10 out of Evansville, connecting that city to Princeton. This section would, three years later, become US 41. Here starts the questionable section of the original Hoosier Highway. The HH Association, even as late as 1920, hadn’t decided on a route connecting Princeton to Petersburg. When the road was remarked in 1920, it would include Winslow and Oakland City. There was an alternate route that didn’t include these two towns, running more directly between Princeton and Petersburg.

At Princeton, the road would turn east along OSR 40 (now roughly SR 56) through Francisco, Oakland City and Winslow. At Winsolw, the HH turned more northwest, with OSR 40, to a point halfway between Winslow and Petersburg. Here OSR 40 turned east while the HH continued northwest along OSR 28. This section is now roughly SR 61 today.

From Washington, the Hoosier Highway was carried along OSR 28 to a the junction of OSR 4 and OSR 12 (now SR 54) between Switz City and Bloomfield. Here, the HH turned to the northeast along what would become OSR 12. The Hoosier Highway, from here, uses the original Indianapolis-Vincennes State Road, all the way to Indianapolis. This road would become SR 67 in 1926. (SR 67, and why its numbered that, is an interesting history in its own right. I covered it here.)

Once in Indianapolis, the road continued out of the city to the northeast along the old Pendleton State Road (Pendleton Pike). By the time it became part of the state highway system, as OSR 37, the road through Marion and Hancock Counties had been straightened. The old Pendleton Road crossed over the railroad right after leaving Marion County. It is currently known as Reformatory Road, and traverses the Indiana State Penitentiary at Pendleton. Again, this section became part of SR 67.

Reformatory Road ends at what is now Pendleton Avenue. In 1923, this route was also part of OSR 37 through the town on its way to Anderson through to Muncie. Ultimately, the section from Anderson to Muncie would become part of SR 32, but not in 1926.

At Muncie, the Hoosier Highway leaves the city due north. In 1923, this was OSR 13, but would become part of SR 3. The route would follow what is now SR 3 to what is now Huntington County Road 1100S, although OSR 13 would turn east on the road (now SR 18) between Montpelier and Marion. Huntington CR 1100S becomes Wells County Road 500S. At the end of CR 500S, the Hoosier Highway turned northeast bound for Bluffton on what is now called Hoosier Highway.

At Bluffton, that road between Bluffton and Fort Wayne once became OSR 13. This time, however, it would become SR 1 in the end. Although in 1926, it was numbered SR 3. Out of Fort Wayne, the Hoosier Highway followed the old Fort Wayne-Toledo Road, which would not be taken into the state highway system until much later as US 24.

While curves have been removed, and large sections of the old Hoosier Highway have been rerouted, most of the old road is able to be driven. Even in 1920, it was reported in the Herald (Jasper, Indiana) of 27 August 1920 that “with the exception of a small portion of roadway between Petersburg and Worthington, the Hoosier Highway is passable in all kinds of weather from Evansville and Detroit.”

Dandy Trail

Before there was an interstate 465, before SR 100, or even SR 534, there was a drivable loop road around the city of Indianapolis. Unlike I-465, and its 53 mile loop, this loop entailed 88 mile connection of already present roads, venturing closer to the county line than SR 100 or I-465. This loop was created by the Hoosier Motor Club (HMC), a part of the American Automobile Association (AAA). It was named after a prize Pomeranian belonging to M. E. Noblet, the then secretary-manager of the HMC. This would be the Dandy Trail.

The Dandy Trail was mapped and marked in the spring of 1920. The first tour of part of the route would be a drive of the northern section on 9 May 1920. The southern part would be traversed on 16 May 1920. (Source: Indianapolis News, 1 May 1920, pp 17) It should be noted here that the Dandy Trail was an Auto Trail, a named path put together by an organization, as opposed to a state road of any kind. As such, all signs and markings would be the responsibility of the Hoosier Motor Club, not any government agency. In the source article, there is a picture of the junction of the Dandy Trail and the Jackson Highway, which at the time used the Lafayette Road from Indianapolis to Lebanon. Another note here is that the Dandy Trail was marked along Lafayette Road from Traders Point (located at the crossing of Big Eagle Creek and Lafayette Road, at roughly what would be the equivalent of 75th Street) and 71st Street, the road to New Augusta.

Indianapolis News, 1 May 1920.

Starting in the northwestern part of Marion County, working clockwise around, the marked Dandy Trail would, at the time, connect Traders Point, New Augusta, Meridian Hills, Broad Ripple, Allisonville, Castleton, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Lawrence, Lanesville, Five Points, Southport, Glenn’s Valley, Antrim, Drexel Gardens, and Speedway. But, it has to be said that there was not a real straight connection between these points.

The routing is listed following. It should be noted that while the roads that are still in place can be followed, not all of the roads are in the same place. I will be posting some maps from MapIndy to show these changes.

Starting at Traders Point, the marked road would travel south along Lafayette Road, turning east on what is now 71st Street. It would stay on 71st Street and Westlane Road to Spring Mill Road. South on Spring Mill, crossing Kessler to become Illinois Street (before Kessler Boulevard was built, Illinois Street going north crossed the river and became immediately what is now Spring Mill Road). South on Illinois, the road turned east (more northeast, actually) onto Westfield Boulevard. It followed Westfield through Broad Ripple (where Westfield Blvd. became SR 1). The route then turned east on 80th Street, which turned into Union Chapel Road. Union Chapel, at the time, connected to 86th Street next to White River, on which Dandy Trail turned east. 86th turns into 82nd near that point, which is followed to Hague Road.

MayIndy 1941 image of the Dandy Trail along 80th Streets and Union Chapel Road with a dim current transportation overlay showing the location of current Keystone Avenue and other disruptions in the original route.

Turning north on Hague Road, the Dandy Trail then uses 86th Street again, heading east to Sargent Road. The route then followed this curvy road south to the Fall Creek Road. This is one place where Dandy Trail connected to Fort Benjamin Harrison. It skirted the northern edge of the fort while connecting to 56th Street. The trail then turned east on 56th Street, which it followed to the gated community of Brendonwood. While this area is not accessible today, Dandy Trail actually followed the arch that is Lawrence Avenue through Brendonwood. Upon returning to 56th Street, it followed that road onto Fort Benjamin Harrison before turning south on Shadeland Avenue.

MapIndy 1941 image showing the original path of Franklin Road from south of 16th Street to north of 21st Street.

South on Shadeland Avenue, the route turns east on 46th Street, which is followed to Franklin Road. South on Franklin Road (some of which no longer exists since the building of I-70) to Washington Street, east on Washington, then south on Post Road. Post Road south to Troy Avenue, west to Five Points Road, south to Hanna Avenue, west to Arlington Avenue, then south to Shelbyville Road. Shelbyville Road, after going northwest and west, turns into Thompson Road (historically, it was Shelbyville Road to what is now Carson Avenue). Just past Carson, the Dandy Trail turns south on McFarland Road, west on Southport, south on Meridian, west on Stop 11 (note – NOT what is now Meridian School). The historic Stop 11 Road (originally Frye Road) followed, as did the Dandy Trail, what is now Rahke Road between the two sections of Stop 11. This routing of Stop 11/Frye Road had been in place since at least 1855, according to maps. Again, the Dandy Trail followed Stop 11 west, Bluff Road southwest, Wicker Road west, Lake Road north, and Southport Road west to Mann Road. Southport Road had been, and still is, the southern most bridge over the White River in Marion County.

The Dandy Trail then turned north on Mann Road, west on Mooresville, north on Lynhurst, turning east on Vermont. Vermont Street used to have a bridge across Eagle Creek, which has since been removed. Grande Avenue was part of the old trail, but can be reached by turning north on Gasoline Alley. The Dandy Trail then followed Cossell Road and Winton Avenue to 16th Street, which at the time was both the Dixie Highway and the Crawfordsville Road. The Dandy Trail shared the road with the Dixie Highway from 16th and Winton, across 16th Street, Cunningham Road, and the old Crawfordsville Road (which ran south of the current Crawfordsville Road and the old Peoria & Eastern railroad tracks).

MapIndy 1941 image with the original path of the Dandy Trail marked, from Crawfordsville Road north to 38th Street. The current Dandy Trail curves around the original route from north of current 34th Street south to Crawfordsville Road, where it connects to Country Club Road.

From the next turn of the old road, to the chosen beginning point at Traders Point, the old route is very much missing in parts. Salt Lake Road, which is east of the road now called Dandy Trail, was followed north, where it crossed Eagle Creek, then turned east on 34th Street. It should be noted that this connection is long gone, so it is best to follow the route NOW called Dandy Trail, although it really has nothing to due with the old route in this section. The original Dandy Trail was moved, from 34th Street north, to the new route in many places, while some of the old road is used between 34th Street and Sailors Lane north of 46th Street. At what is now Sailors Lane, the road turned west and skirted Eagle Creek on the east bank until it reached 56th Street. At 56th Street, the route crossed Eagle Creek, then continued north to Lafayette Road.

Route of the Dandy Trail around 56th Street through what is now Eagle Creek Reservoir. The base photo is from 1941, courtesy of MapIndy.

Now, a shrewd map reader will notice that the described crossing of Eagle Creek is a bit on the wet side, now being in the middle of the Eagle Creek Reservoir. This is true from basically Sailors Lane north to near Hill Creek on the west side of the reservoir in Eagle Creek Park, where the old road becomes a walking trail before ending at a west running branch of the reservoir south of Wilson Road. The street name, Dandy Trail, still exists east of the intersection of Traders Lane and Wilson Road. It is now inside park property. But the road connected directly to the Lafayette Road across Eagle Creek from the intersection of Dandy Trail and Wilson Road. The travelers would then find themselves back in Traders Point…or at least the old town of Traders Point.

Route of the Dandy Trail from Lafayette Road/Wilson Road south through what is now Eagle Creek Park. The blue section is now Eagle Creek Reservoir. The base photo is from 1941, courtesy of MapIndy.

Other than the west leg from 46th north to Lafayette Road which probably still exists under the waters or the reservoir, the other sections that can’t be exactly driven are as follows (again clockwise from Traders Point): from Spring Mill Road to Illinois Street, which requires using Kessler Boulevard to cross White River; the Westfield Boulevard section from College Avenue to Winthrop Avenue in Broad Ripple gets a little dicey, although it may still be intact; Union Chapel Road from 80th Street to 86th Street (cut at Keystone Avenue and before reaching 86th Street); the section along 86th and 82nd Streets to Allisonville (covered as part of “82nd and 86th Street Before SR 534 (SR 100)” on 20 September 2019); Fall Creek Road from Shadeland Avenue to west of I-465 (here the old road is Fall Creek Road North from Shadeland to Boy Scout Road); the section mentioned above in Brendonwood; the original area of Shadeland Avenue at 56th Street (current under I-465); Franklin Road from north of 21st Street to south of 16th Street (shown in a map above); Troy Avenue at Franklin Road (detoured since I-74 was built to go right through that intersection); Hanna Avenue between Churchman Bypass and Arlington Avenue (again moved for I-465); the above mentioned Vermont Avenue bridge over Eagle Creek; old Crawfordsville Road from Cunningham Road to near Girls School Road; the section from Crawfordsville Road north to north of 34th Street; sections at 38th and 46th Streets (changed for traffic efficiency, since both these roads ended at the original Dandy Trail); and everything north of Sailors Lane.

The Dandy Trail was covered quite well by Jim Grey, another blogger and co-admin of the Indiana Transportation History Facebook group. His original post is called “It’s 1921, and you’re taking a pleasure drive on the Dandy Trail.” Other posts by Jim are available using this search of his blog site. He has a link to both an original map of the route and a Google map that he created. I recommend checking those out.

Plymouth

In north central Indiana, where the Yellow River is crossed by the Michigan Road, is a town that, ultimately, would be connected directly to Indianapolis if three ways, connected directly to New York City and Chicago the other way, and would become a home on two major Auto Trails of the early 20th Century, although one would be a reroute. That town is the county seat of Marshall County, Plymouth.

A little history: Marshall County was organized by an act of the Indiana General Assembly on 4 February 1836, which became effective 1 April 1836. The territory that became part of Marshall County would take parts of St. Joseph County directly, with some of the county having been under the jurisdiction, legally, of St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties. Because the original law creating the county was actually put together on 7 February 1835, the actual law creating Marshall County, passed the following year, moved the Marshall-St. Joseph County line three miles north. As originally enacted, the county line was the dividing line between townships 34 and 35 north. The law a year later moved that line north to the center point of township 35 north. Commissioners appointed on 1 April 1836 decided on 20 July 1836 that Plymouth would be the center of government for Marshall County.

By this time, the area around Plymouth was already connected to the rest of the state when it came to transportation resources. Okay, well, sort of. The Michigan Road had been created and built through the central part of Marshall County, north to south. Both Fulton (Rochester) and Marshall Counties were created at the same time. The Michigan Road, as such, was a route connecting Logansport and South Bend, with nothing in between. Also, the center of the county would be surveyed different than the rest of the county and state. For more information about that, check out my post “Survey Lines and the Michigan Road,” published 6 August 2019.

Railroads would come to the area in three forms, two of which would ultimately fall under the Pennsylvania Railroad umbrella. The first would connect Plymouth to both Chicago and Pittsburgh, via Fort Wayne. This railroad would start life on 11 May 1852 as the Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad. By 6 May 1856, when the railroad was consolidated with two other struggling railroads to create the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago (PFtW&C), only part of the route between Plymouth and Columbia City (45 miles) was partially completed. The PFtW&C would complete the route between Fort Wayne and Chicago in February 1858.

The second railroad that came to Plymouth would be what would become the Lake Erie & Western, and, in 1922, the Nickle Plate. The Cincinnati, Peru & Chicago Rail Way built a line south from LaPorte to end at Plymouth in 1855. Between 1863 and 1867, the Indianapolis, Rochester & Chicago Railroad began construction of the line connecting Peru and Plymouth. It was to be completed by the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad company in 1869. This company was sold at foreclosure and, along with the original Peru & Indianapolis (and its successors), formed the foundation of the Lake Erie & Western Railroad in 1887.

The last railroad to be completed to Plymouth was built by the Terre Haute & Logansport Railroad in 1883 and 1884. This was a line from Logansport to South Bend. In time, this line would become part of the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute Railroad company, also known as the Vandalia. Ultimately, it would become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system, connecting the PRRs two major subsidiaries, the PFtW&C and the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (aka the Panhandle), together at Plymouth.

Into the 20th Century, with the coming of the Auto Trails era, Plymouth found itself on multiples of these routes. First and foremost was the Michigan Road, which had been the catalyst for its location in the first place. The Dixie Highway, connecting Michigan to Florida, was also using the Michigan Road for its route from South Bend to Indianapolis. Also connecting those two cities was the Range Line Road, which separated from the Michigan Road at Rochester, with the Michigan Road heading towards Logansport, and the Range Line heading toward Peru.

East and west through the area gets to be a bit fun. Originally, the city was located on a road that connected Plymouth, Massachusetts, to Seattle, Washington, with a spot on the road in Wyoming that gave the route its name: the Yellowstone Trail. From the west, the Yellowstone would come into town along the Valparaiso-Plymouth State Road, then would share the Michigan Road/Dixie Highway/Range Line Road south out of town to what is now 12B Road, then headed east toward Bourbon. (Side note: there is a small jog in 12B road east of the current US 31, which is also an original part of Michigan Road. That jog is a remnant of the survey of the Michigan Road mentioned in the link above in the third paragraph.)

Now, because of the chronological order of things, the story of transportation in Plymouth moves to the Indiana State Highway era of 1917. Yes, 1917. Plymouth was one of the cities connected to the original original ISHC system when it was created in 1917. It is located on what was Main Market Road (MMR) 1. Because the law of 1917 was questioned under Constitutionality issues, it wouldn’t be until 1919 that the dust settled creating the ISHC that survives today as INDOT. MMR 1 would become Original SR 1. By 1920, another state road would connect to Plymouth, this time given the number 44. OSR 44 would follow the path of the Yellowstone Trail through the area. This would be changed to OSR 2 in 1923. OSR 2 was the original designation of the Lincoln Highway through Indiana. This will be important later. (Unless you have already looked at modern maps of the area and know the answer.)

When the Great Renumbering occurred on 1 October 1926, OSR 1 became US 31 and OSR 2 became US 30. It should also be noted that US 30 still didn’t leave Plymouth to the east. US 30 followed US 31 south to, again, what is now 12B Road. But the plans were in place to change this. The road that was being constructed to change the route of US 30, at least the first time, is currently called “Lincoln Highway.” Now, it wasn’t entirely officially the Lincoln Highway…not yet anyway. The Lincoln Highway Association set up two routes in Indiana. The first route, established in 1913, went through South Bend. The second route would more or less follow US 30 across the state (and into Ohio and Pennsylvania). This would be made official in 1928 (after the Great Renumbering).

The reroute of US 30 had been completed by 1929 (maybe earlier, still looking at sources that are hard to find). This reroute would straighten US 30 quite a bit between close to Wanatah to Warsaw.

Changes after that, as far as roads go, are these: the coming of SR 17 to the city in 1935; the US 31 bypass (and the naming of US 31A through town) in 1963; the building of the US 30 bypass north of town (while still maintaining US 30 through town) in 1965; and the removal of US 31A and US 30 through Plymouth in 1968. At the time of the removal of US 31A, SR 17 was continued along the route of the old US 31 (and its numerous names I won’t repeat) to the junction with the US 30 bypass.

The Vandalia line connecting Terre Haute and South Bend would also go away in time. Most of the Plymouth section would be officially abandoned by Conrail in 1984. The Nickle Plate line, or at least the tracks, are still in place connecting to Rochester, and for a short distance northwest out of town. Even the PFtW&C, which had been one of the most profitable lines, and home of one of its crack passenger trains (Broadway Limited between Chicago and New York), under the Pennsylvania Railroad umbrella, has been sold by the Norfolk Southern to another company.

US 36 in Indiana

Indiana has always been known as the “Crossroads of America.” For the most part, highways connecting Indiana to the rest of the United States have been through routes. But in the beginning of the US highway system (i.e. that on 1 October 1926, when it came to life in Indiana), there was one that ended near the western edge of the city of Indianapolis: US 36.

Let’s step back quite a bit before October 1926. What is now US 36 began life as the Indianapolis-Rockville State Road, basically a wagon trail connecting the capital city to the county seat of Parke County. Along the way, it also connected to the county seat of Hendricks County, Danville. What is currently US 36 west of Hendricks County is part of the original road. However, there were several sections that were straightened out by the state over the years.

When the Auto Route era started, the Rockville Road (now a series of county gravel roads) was included as part of the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway. I have copies of maps spanning 1918 to 1920 showing this. Also, the Federal Highway Administration shows this in a series of strip maps. This link shows the section from Indianapolis to Chrisman, IL.: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/ppmap05.cfm

(East of Indianapolis, at this time, the PPOO followed the National Old Trails Road, including the Eaton Cut-off, towards Dayton, OH.)

By 1923, the PPOO had moved, according to the website http://www.ppoo.org. The 1923 route was moved to come into Indiana along what was original SR 33 across Indiana. OSR 33 became SR 34 (and, later, US 136) from the Illinois-Indiana state line to Crawfordsville, then became SR 32 through Lebanon, Noblesville, Anderson, Muncie and Winchester to the Indiana-Ohio State Line at Union City.

The old PPOO, Rockville Road, by 1923, became SR 31 from SR 10 (future SR 63) to its connection with OSR 3 (the National Road) at what is now Holt Road and Washington Street. (To use the original road, either east or west, requires a journey through a Steak ‘n Shake parking lot. This is a fact that I have repeatedly used throughout the existence of both this blog and the Facebook group that spawned it.)

Indianapolis News, 27 September 1926.
The “Great Renumbering” is about to occur in Indiana.
This snippet shows the pending US 36 description.

With the Great Renumbering of 1 October 1926, US highways were added to the state, and US 36 was among them. The route of the original PPOO, the one that became SR 31, became the route of US 36. However, the section that connected Chrisman, IL, to SR 63 was incomplete and under construction. Since, at the time, it had not been a section of the state highway system, the ISHC was playing catch up to get it up to speed. Also, at the time, the original US 36 connected to the National Road at the above mentioned Steak ‘n Shake (i.e. Washington Street and Holt Road). Holt Road originally came from the south and ended at this intersection. It would be many years later, even after the removal of US 36 to I-465’s south leg, that Holt Road would be built to the dead end (more or less) that it is today.

Indianapolis News, 28 April 1928.
Signs posted by the ISHC at the corner of
Meridian and Washington Streets
in Indianapolis.

That’s right. US 36 ended in Indianapolis. It followed US 40 downtown, but most maps I have seen from the era aren’t detailed enough to show that. The only proof I have of that is a picture from the Indianapolis News of 28 April 1928. It shows a “highway totem pole” at the corner of West Washington Street and Meridian Street. (That point was a multiplex consisting, in the order the state put them, US 40, US 52, US 36 and SR 29. US 36 stayed in that status for at least the next five years.

I am doing further research into the location of US 36 along the Rockville Road/Rockville Avenue corridor. For the longest time, the section that is Rockville Road now from Washington Street to what is called Rockville Avenue didn’t exist. As a matter of fact, official Indiana State Highway Commission maps show that Rockville Avenue was US 36 all the way up to 1930. What is now Rockville Road east of Rockville Avenue, apparently was the dream of the E. L. Cothrell Realty Company. In 1925, they started building a new neighborhood, which could be reached by going “out West Washington street to the 3500 block.” By 1927, it would finally list the Rockville Road as part of the marketing, as all houses would front either Creston (the name of the development) or Rockville. As shown in the map below, it would seem that the “new” Rockville Road was built expressly for the Creston development.

Map, courtesy of Google Maps, showing the Rockville Road from Washington Street to the original road now called Rockville Avenue. Creston Drive, the main side street of the Creston development started in 1925 is shown, as well. (Map was captured using Microsoft Snipping Tool on 1 April 2019.

By 1932, the extension of US 36 started. The signs marking US 36 were extended along what was then SR 67 (Massachusetts Avenue/Pendleton Pike) and, when near Pendleton, along SR 9/SR 67 to Huntsville, where a road was authorized to connect Huntsville to Ohio SR 200 at the state line west of Palestine, OH. At that time, the designation US 36 entered Ohio as the cross state line continuation of SR 32 at Union City. That US 36 connected Union City to Greenville, OH.

Indiana State Highway Commission official 1932 map showing US 36 both at Pendleton and in Ohio from Union City to Greenville. The red dotted line from Huntsville east through Sulphur Springs, Mount Summitt, Mooreland to the JCT SR 21 south of Losantville, and the red dotted line from JCT SR 21 north of Losantville, east through Modoc and Lynn to connect OH SR 200 show the authorized route of the extension of US 36.

By 1933, the state had under its jurisdiction the complete route that would be US 36 in Indiana. There were some changes along the way, with sections moved and bypassed here and there. The first bypass was being built in 1935, which would be a replacement for the section through downtown Indianapolis. By 1936, US 36, and SR 67, would be turned north along SR 29 (later US 421, today West Street/Martin Luther King Jr. Street) to 38th Street. Then east along 38th Street to its connection to Pendleton Pike. (BTW – officially, this is the beginning of what is now called Pendleton Pike. 38th Street, at the time, was the edge of the city most of the way. As such, inside 38th Street, the old Pendleton Pike is called Massachusetts Avenue. That will be the subject of a later post…I promise.)

The major bypass would also be in Marion County. In the late 1970’s, the Indiana Highway Department, and its successor, the Indiana Department of Transportation, would start handing state roads back to the counties. In Marion County, as far as US 36 was concerned, that would mean that the designation US 36 would turn onto I-465, using the road from Rockville Road on the west side, along the south leg, to Pendleton Pike on the northeast side.

Be Careful When Reading Maps, They Might Lie on Purpose

When you look at maps, occasionally you will see something that you’ve never seen before. Case in point, the highlighted route on the attached map snippet.

1920 Rand McNally route of the Terre Haute-Indianapolis Scenic Route

This is a snippet from the Rand McNally 1920 Region 2 Auto Trails map. The yellow highlighted route is shown as #92, or the Terre Haute Indianapolis Scenic Route.

Yes, you read that right. Apparently, one, someone put together an Auto Trail Club to create a rambling, non-National Road, trail between Terre Haute and Indianapolis (not like that has ever happened before – ahem, Madison and Michigan Roads), or two, Rand McNally created the route out of the thin air to catch map copiers.

While I tend to lean toward reason one (and I am not sure why), there is solid evidence that reason two can be true.

Almost every map ever created is not entirely accurate. And no, I am not talking about moving a creek a couple of feet, or locating a town just a bit south of where it belongs.

The big print map companies, when they published their maps, inevitably placed on it a name and location that didn’t exist. This was a way to catch people copying maps. If Rand McNally “created” a town that then ended up on a Gousha map, guess what! Busted.

I used to have a very long list of such things…but it was on my other hard drive that “fall down and go boom.” I am working on recovering it…with mixed results.

This practice is less used today. Since most maps are digital, and based on satellite images, it’s harder to insert names to catch copiers. But, Google does use this practice, to an extent. They place “neighborhood” names on their maps…some of them are even used locally.

Now, back to the Terre Haute Indianapolis Scenic Route. I have been looking at it as a possible road trip. I can get close. Some of it was wiped out by the construction of Interstate 70. We’ll see. Anyone interested in coming along?

Crossroads of America

Indiana. The Crossroads of America.

In the early days of automobile travel, Indiana ended up with more than its fair share of “Auto Trails.” The reasoning for this makes sense. Let’s face it, to get from New York to Chicago, by land, Indiana is in the way.

The Auto Trails are what I want to focus on today.

One of the earliest Auto Trails maps that I have been able to get my hands on is the Rand McNally (RM) Official 1920 District Number 2. RM broke the country into sections, and most of Indiana ended up in District 2.

One of the things to keep in mind is that the 1920 RM shows the Auto Trails, and state roads for both Ohio and Michigan. It shows nothing as far as Indiana state roads. This is really easy to explain. Indiana didn’t have state road numbers until 1919. And even then, there were only five of them.

Some of the most well known Auto Trails were roads like the Dixie Highway, National Old Trails Road, and the Lincoln Highway.

But there were so many more. Old US 31 south of Indianapolis was part of the Jackson Highway. As was US 52 north out of Indianapolis. The Auto Trail version of the Michigan Road basically follows the original route, with the exception of the section from Napoleon to Bryantsburg, which to this day is still marked as a highway…only now it is US 421.

There are so many more in the Auto Trails system. To have a look, I want to share this link:

http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15078coll8/id/2943

It is a link to the Indiana State Library copy of the RM 1920 District 2 map.

There are far too many Auto Trails to cover in one short blog entry. But trust me, I will be covering them in the future.