Pigeon Roost Route

Today’s entry will be short. Just a little shorter than the road I am writing about. In the Auto Trail era, not all routes were long, cross country experiences. Today’s route, the Pigeon Roost Route, would clock in at 57.5 miles.

Labelled as “96” on this 1920 Rand McNally Auto Trail Map, you can see that the route only ran from Seymour south to New Albany. This is one of those roads that is going to take some time to look into. The southern part of the route, from Crothersville to New Albany looks to be along the route of US 31. It is not. While it connects some of the same places, it actually runs, for the most part, east of the current US 31.

According to newspaper accounts of the time, specifically from 1922, this route was the original State Road 1.

Towns that were included on the Pigeon Roost Route was Seymour, Dudleytown, Crothersville, Scottsburg, Vienna, Underwood, Henryville, Memphis, Sellersburg and New Albany.

It looks like I will be planning a road trip along this old route. Since I do have a dash cam, this will make documenting the Pigeon Roost that much easier.

The name of the road comes from the Pigeon Roost massacre, that occurred near Scottsburg. On 3 September 1812, a settlement named Pigeon Roost was attacked by native Americans. 15 children and nine adults, according the the State Historic Marker at the site, were killed. One family escaped to spread the alarm. I have read that the people of Scott County never found the ones that committed the killings.

Just a short blub today about the Pigeon Roost Route, a short Auto Trail that became part of the bigger state highway system…as its first inclusion.

National Road at Reelsville

1952 USGS topographic map of the Reelsville area.

When the National Road came to Indiana, part of the requirements for the building of the road was that it be in as straight a line a possible connecting Indianapolis to Vandalia, Illinois (then the capital of that state). Southwest of Indianapolis, the terrain got a little rough to be able to maintain a straight line. Especially in Putnam County. But the surveyors did a very good job in keeping it as straight a line as possible.

1864 map of southwestern Putnam County courtesy of the Library Of Congress. The National Road runs through the southern part of Section 19, the center of Sections 20 through 23. The Big Walnut Creek bridge that washed out in 1875 is in the eastern central portion of Section 20.

And so, the National Road chugged along for around four decades. In 1875, a bridge over Big Walnut Creek, southwest of Reelsville was washed out…and not replaced at the time. Since the National Road, at the time, belonged to a private company, they decided to reroute the road through the town of Reelsville. This would solve the connection problem, road wise, between Terre Haute and Indianapolis, but would create a few more while it was at it.

The Terre Haute & Richmond (TH&R) Railroad was chartered on 24 January 1847 to connect the two title cities through Indianapolis. By 1852, the TH&R had built a railroad connecting Terre Haute to Indianapolis. This railroad, near Reelsville, was to the north of Big Walnut Creek from where the National Road was, and connected to the town of Reelsville proper. There was even a station at Reelsville. On 6 March 1865, the Terre Haute & Richmond became the Terre Haute & Indianapolis.

The National Road replacement route took travelers up a long hill into Reelsville. At the town, the new road, which had been in place long before being used as a bypass, followed and crossed the TH&I several times before reconnecting to the original National Road. These railroad crossings were considered some of the worst in the state, especially due to the angle of the crossing.

1912 United States Postal Service map of southwestern Putnam county showing the roads around Reelsville. Notice that the National Road, marked as Mail Road RE 2 east of Reelsville, does continue after turning north to enter Reelsville proper. The old road did still contain houses, even though through traffic had been gone from the route for 37 years.

The Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad ceased to exist as a separate entity on 1 January 1905. That was the day that the TH&I, the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute, the Terre Haute & Logansport, the Logansport & Toledo and the Indianapolis & Vincennes merged to become the Vandalia Railroad Company. Among the items that were taken up by the new Vandalia was the crossings near Reelsville. Money was set aside in 1907 to correct the problem. By the end of 1912 (October to be exact), the Brazil Daily Times was reporting that no such work had been completed to date.

Part of the plan in 1912 was to return the original National Road route to use. According to the same article in the Brazil Daily Times, this would cut 1/2 mile off of the route then in use through Reelsville. And, the railroad crossing situation, with its inherent dangers, would be addressed…and partially eliminated. But, as with other well laid out plans, this did not go to schedule. At all.

The National Old Trails Road, an Auto Trail that, through Indiana, mostly followed the original National Road used the Reelsville cut off when it was created. The old route was still out of commission at Big Walnut Creek. This situation would not be resolved until after the (second) creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1919. ISHC surveyors were out in the field looking at ways to improve the situation at Reelsville, with the decision made that a bridge would be built in the same location that had been used over 80 years prior when the National Road, now called State Road 3, was built. The new bridge would be a concrete arch facility.

Even then, the new bridge for the National Road would take some time to get started. Over two years, as a matter of fact. Construction started on the replacement of the National Road in January 1922. The winter that year was relatively mild, allowing for construction to start very early in the year. But it was decided that the new route of State Road 3 would skirt the Pennsylvania Lines (the then operators, later owners, of what was the Vandalia Railroad) to the south, bringing the new National Road closer to the Big Walnut Creek.

Even then, the replacement route would only be in place for less than two decades. The Highway Commission made plans to make a true four lane highway across Indiana along what was then the US 40 corridor (which was original State Road 3 until the Great Renumbering of 1 October 1926). The new new road would take a straight course through the area south of Reelsville, the railroad and the old new path of SR 3/US 40. This realignment would occur in 1941.

Editor’s Note: This post took a long time to convince me to write. There are several subjects that I have been avoiding because they are MUCH better covered by others. In this case, my Co-Admin of the Facebook ITH Group, Jim Grey, covered it much better than I ever will. And, generally, he has done a great job covering the entire National Road. His post, “Puzzle solved: The National Road at Pleasant Gardens and Reelsville in Indiana,” served as the spring board for this post. The irony is that some articles that I posted in the ITH Facebook group led to the puzzles being solved for Jim. Such is the way of the world in this field. I recommend checking out Jim’s stuff when you get the chance. He is more of a road trip person, going out to see what’s on the ground. I tend to look more into the documented history of the same scenes.

The Yellowstone Trail in 1922

In the Auto Trail era, Indiana was a beneficiary of the massive good roads movement. There were many of these roads, and they were going every which direction. The Granddaddy of them all, The Lincoln Highway, crossed the state from Dyer to Fort Wayne..although through South Bend. A more direct route would come a little bit later. I covered that when I wrote about the Winona Trail. The following year, the Winona Trail would be taken over by the Yellowstone Trail. The Yellowstone Trail would cross the country just like the Lincoln Highway.

In November 1921, Fort Wayne held the annual convention of Indiana Trail Representatives. This convention was held at the Chamber of Commerce building. Surprise visitors arrived at that convention…officials from the Yellowstone Trail. The Fort Wayne Sentinel of 17 November 1921 announced that the Yellowstone Trail Association was to be more active during 1922. The General Manager of the Association, H. O. Cooley, of Minneapolis, had visited Fort Wayne to discuss the status of the trail. Many programs were mentioned by Mr. Cooley that would increase the visibility of the Yellowstone.

It was announced that the entire trail through Indiana would be marked with special iron signposts, as opposed to the common markers painted on utility poles, or the tin signs that the Yellowstone Trail used that were nailed to the same utility poles. Information bureaus would also be established across the country, with one in Fort Wayne and possibly one in Gary, to hand out information to tourists about the advantages of and facilities along the trail.

Unlike other states, the Yellowstone Trail was, in 1921, a road that was maintained by the Indiana State Highway Commission. This would help the Yellowstone Trail Association immensely. Since there was a program by the ISHC to pave its road in concrete, the Association stated that the entire route was “schedule for early paving in concrete.” Another plan that would be added to the road was unusual at the time. Two cars would travel the entire length of the Yellowstone Trail, visiting the above mentioned information bureaus, passing out information to people using the road, and information gathering about the conditions of the highway.

Construction along the Trail in February 1922 left the road, and its detour, in bad condition. “The temporary bridge five miles east of Columbia City is unsafe for heavy loads or trucks; the detour is bad. There is a temporary bridge between Atwood, Ind., and Etna Green, Ind., which is safe for light traffic, but dangerous for trucks. A good truck detour will be found by going west from Atwood one and one-half miles, then right one mile to school house, then left two and one-half miles into Etna Green.”

In August 1922, State Highway Commission construction caused confusion when it came to Yellowstone Trail trail out of Fort Wayne. It was best described in both the Fort Wayne Sentinel and the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of 13 August 1922 as follows: “The best way to reach the Yellowstone Trail (or Leesburg road) is to leave the city over the Lincoln Highway, turning left on the Butler road and following this road until it reaches the trail, or following the Lincoln Highway as far as Lincoln school, turning left on the California road, which leads back to the Yellowstone Trail.” It is mentioned that the Hoosier Highway and Yellowstone Trail were closed east of Fort Wayne, and recommended that travelers leave Fort Wayne on State Street. The Yellowstone Trail opened to traffic on 29 August.

Another mention of the Yellowstone Trail in 1922 is in the South Bend Tribune of 31 January 1922. But it wasn’t about the trail itself. There was a plan at the time for the State Highway Commission to take over the Liberty Road, which would connect South Bend to the Yellowstone Trail. This idea would not happened for several years…with the Liberty Road becoming part of SR 23.

A most confusing announcement was made in the South Bend Tribune of 12 November 1922. “A representative of the Yellowstone Trail association was here Friday and stated that it was proposed to pave the Yellowstone trail from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis next year. The road has been surveyed.” It would have to be assumed that this means that the Yellowstone Trail would be rerouted? Not sure. But, it was noted in other newspapers that the route between Chicago and Fort Wayne was nine miles shorter using the Yellowstone Trail versus the Lincoln Highway through South Bend. Such a reroute would seem, to me at least, strange at least.

Knightstown and Rushville State Road

I have mentioned many times about the creation of the original Indiana state roads. Those roads were passed into law by the General Assembly, built by the state, then turned over to county officials upon creation. Often times, these roads connected smaller Indiana towns to one another. Today, I want to focus on the Knightstown and Rushville State Road.

First, a little history. For starters, the very existence of Knightstown is a treasure trove of transportation history…due to its name. The town was named after Bucks County, Pennsylvania, native Jonathan Knight. Mr. Knight spent a great deal of his life working on transportation facilities. In 1816, he was appointed to map Washington County, Pennsylvania. While there, he became a county commissioner for three years. He was involved in the preliminary surveys of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and National Road between Cumberland, Maryland, and Wheeling, (West) Virginia. The National Road would be laid out to cross Washington County, Pennsylvania, connecting to the county seat at Washington. In 1828, he went to work for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which used some of the same right of way as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. From 1830 to 1842, he was the Chief Engineer for the company. He later represented southwestern Pennsylvania in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Knightstown itself was built along the National Road in 1827. It was located north of the already in place state road connecting Indianapolis to Centerville. The National Road would also connect those two mentioned towns, although more directly. (Keep in mind that most early state roads were just the state improving roads that were already in place…so they tended to be more winding than later roads that were purposely built.) The old road would be located basically along the line separating Rush and Henry Counties.

The road that is the subject of this entry, the Knightstown-Rushville State Road, would leave Knightstown on what is now called Jefferson Street. An astute map reader will notice that today it is known as SR 140. It maintains that designation to a point south of what was the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home, now the Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy. The road then continues to the south southeast, twisting and turning its way to Rush County Road 550 North. The old road then turned east along that county road, then veered southeast on what is marked on Google Maps as either Rush County Road 140 West or Rushville Road.

After almost two miles, the old state road turned east again, this time along Rush County Road 400 North. And again, it veers south, where it is once again known as Rushville Road. It winds its way through the Rush County countryside, passing old School Number 5 at Rush County Road 300 North. Another twist and turn, the old road becomes an extension of Rushville’s Spencer Street. Roughly halfway between County Roads 200 North and 100 North, the old road’s route turns southeast along what is now Foster Heights Road. The road then turns due east before it connects to what is now Main Street in Rushville. Turning south completes the old state road’s route.

Rushville itself became the county seat of Rush County shortly after it was created from Delaware County (unorganized – and no relation to the current Indiana county of the same name) on 1 April 1822. But the time the county was created, and the town started being platted the following July, there was already a school at the location. The Post Office in the town opened teh same year the county was organized. Just like Knightstown, Rushville (and Rush County) was named after an eastern Pennsylvanian. This time, Benjamin Rush.

Indiana – Car Maker Capital of … Well, Part 1

1914 Polk Indianapolis City
Directory listing of Automobile
Manufacturers in the city. Not all
were included in this list.

Today, we are going to discuss car makers that were based in Indiana. At one point, there were a LOT of manufacturers in the state. Today, I want to focus on companies based in Indianapolis. Not all of them, mind you. The picture to the left shows the entries in the Polk City Directory of 1914. Even then, companies such as Stutz, which participated in the 1911 Indianapolis 500, weren’t included in the directory. Since there were so many manufacturers in the state, there will be more parts to this subject very soon.

American Motor Car Company – Indianapolis [1906 – 1913]: One of the many automobile companies that had the guiding hand of Harry C. Stutz. Mr. Stutz came to Indianapolis from Ohio when he sold his former company to an Indianapolis concern. In 1905, he designed a new car, which would be the first made by the new American Motor Car Company. Soon after, Stutz left to become part of the Marion Motor Company. American went on to create what was best described at the time as “under powered, over priced luxury cars.” Their most well known car was called “Underslung,” where the chassis was actually set below the axles. This required 40″ wheels to keep the car off the ground. Over time, the Presidency of the company, along with that of Marion Motors, fell into the hands of J. I. Handley. It was the plan, in July 1913, to combine all of the companies under Handley’s influence into the J. I. Handley Company. This did not last long. By November, 1913, American would file for bankruptcy. The company would emerge from the bankruptcy in December, 1914, with the plan of starting car manufacturing again. It never happened. The American Company had locations at both the northwest corner of Illinois and Henry, and at 1939 to 1947 S. Meridian Street at the Belt Railway. Plant number 3 was located at 1965 S. Meridian Street.

Lafayette Motors – Indianapolis (Mars Hill) [1919 – 1922]: In 1919, a new motor car company was founded named after the Marquis de LaFayette, a French hero of the American Revolution. A cameo of his face was used as the logo on each car the company made. In 1920, the company started the Lafayette Building Company. The purpose of the second company was to build housing for the employees that were flocking to Mars Hill to work for the car company. Lafayette specialized in luxury cars. The company installed the first electric clock in automobiles. The company would come under new management in 1921. The new President, Charles Nash, was the President of the Nash Motor Company, as well. The fact that the two companies would remain separate didn’t last very long. It was announced on 29 July 1922 that the Lafayette Motors Corporation would be moving to Milwaukee, closer to the home base of Nash Motors. The name Lafayette would continue until full ownership, in 1924, was acquired by Nash. The Lafayette name would be used again, this time by Nash for a low cost automobile. Nash itself would last until 1954, when it merged with Hudson to create American Motors.

Stutz Motor Car Company – Indianapolis [1911 – 1935]: This company, founded as the Ideal Motor Company, would be started by Harry C. Stutz and Henry F. Campbell for the sole purpose, originally, to build the Bear Cat, a car designed by Harry Stutz. The first car made by Ideal was put together in five weeks from the founding of the company. That vehicle was part of the Indianapolis 500 in 1911. The company would change names in 1913 to Stutz Motor Car Company of Indiana. Stutz would leave the company in 1919. The following year, stock manipulation led the company to be delisted from stock exchanges. The company produced cars until 1935. In September, 1935, three stock brokers were indicted for trying, again, to manipulate Stutz Company stock. Henry Campbell died in September, 1936, in New York. Although Stutz Motor Company had more assets than debts, it filed for bankruptcy in April, 1937. While working through the bankruptcy, no agreements could be made with the creditors. In 1938, the Auburn Automobile Company started making a formerly Stutz produced vehicle – the Pak-Age-Car. For this, Auburn bought tools and machinery from the Stutz factory in Indianapolis, moving them to a facility in Connersville. This was shortly after the Stutz company was to be liquidated.

Marion Motor Company – Indianapolis [1904 – 1915]: The Marion Motor Company commenced work in 1904 at a plant in West Indianapolis at Oliver Avenue and Drover Street. They produced 50 cars in their first year. James I. Handley would gain control of this company, as well as the American Motor Car Company. His plan in 1913 is mentioned above with the American Motor Car paragraph. The Marion Company would, in 1915, combine with Imperial Motors to become Mutual Motor Company. This would close the West Indianapolis plant and the general offices in Indianapolis when the company moved to Jackson, Michigan.

Cole Motor Car Company – Indianapolis [1910 – 1924]: In 1910, Joseph Jeret Cole, founded the Cole Motor Car Company. One of the first, called “The Flyer,” a car built for “long, fast road journeys.” It had a 25 gallon gas tank and was powered by a four cylinder, 30 horsepower, engine. The cost, at the time, was $1,500. Cole was known for its luxury vehicles. After World War I, Cole sold a company peak of 6,255 cars in 1919, second only to Cadillac when it came to luxury cars. The company fell victim to the mass produced, cheaper cars that were very popular after the war. Cole had a choice, mass produce cars or quit making cars altogether. Joseph Cole decided to quit. This was after a failed merger between seven car companies, and even talks with William Durant about becoming part of General Motors. The last car left its East Washington Street factory in October, 1924. The company actually had two factories that are still standing: one known as 730 E. Washington Street, being used, as of the time of this writing, as Marion County Jail II, and one at Market and Davidson Streets, which is currently being used as the Marion County Processing Center. The original factory was in what is now the parking lot of the Jail II, right on the corner of Washington and Davidson Streets. The Cole Motor Car Company began liquidation after the last car was made. But unlike most companies being liquidated, the end result was that the company had money left over. All debts were paid off, and shareholders would get what was left over, roughly $39 per $100 share value. The real estate was sold, but purchased by the Cole family itself. And that is what the Cole Motor Company was after 1925 – a real estate company, leasing office space inside their one time factories. The company was listed as still existing even into the late 1980’s…but with no intention of ever producing cars again.

H. C. S. Motor Car Company – Indianapolis [1919 – 1926]: Another company started by Harry C. Stutz and Henry F. Campbell. Stutz started this company, along with a company that made fire engines (known as the Stutz Fire Apparatus Company) after leaving the Stutz Motor Card Company. Incorporated with $1 million in capital in late 1919. The company would build its factory at 1402 N. Capitol Avenue. As with other products created by Stutz, his new company was very popular in the city. The economy after World War I was very unstable, subject to very wide swings in soundness. 1921 was a very hard year for this new company. By 1923, however, the company was strong enough to buy a factory branch at 846 N. Meridian St. In 1925, Stutz left Indianapolis for Orlando, leaving his companies in the Hoosier capital to their own devices. This lasted around one year. In 1926, the company became property of creditors. 1927 saw the end of the company when it was liquidated.

Empire Motor Car Company – Indianapolis [1906 – 1919]: The founders of this company would be instrumental in the success of the automobile in general. One created two of the first Auto Trail roads in the country – the Lincoln Highway and the Dixie Highway. The other two would join the first in buying a large field along the Crawfordsville Road (and future Dixie Highway) where they would build what would become a world famous 2.5 mile rectangle known as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carl Fisher, Arthur Newby and James Allison got together to create a car known as the Aristocrat. Allison, Fisher and Newby would put the company in a sort of hibernation in 1911. In early 1912, it was sold to other interests, which would commence building cars almost immediately. According to reports at the time, Fisher and Allison were rumored to want to retire from making cars. The last cars to come out of the Empire Motor Car Company would be the 1918 model year.

This is just the start of the lists. As I wrote at the beginning of this article, there will be more coming soon!

Lebanon

1919 transportation map of Boone County, Indiana.

Lebanon, county seat of Boone County. Boone County was created in 1830, effective 1 April 1830. Lebanon would become the seat of Boone County after Jamestown was not met with a great deal of approval. The choice was made when Commissioners chosen to find a new site met at the center of the county and basically said “yep, this is it” on 1 May 1831. In 1833, the move was officially made…and the town was given a name. From that point on, Lebanon had been a crossroads town both in trails and trains.

The town would find itself along the paths of several “state roads” the were created in the 1830’s. The first I want to mention is the Richmond-Crawfordsville State Road. As the name suggests, it started at Richmond. I covered parts of this road several times in the past year. It basically follows what is now SR 38 out of Richmond to Noblesville, then SR 32 across Indiana through Westfield and Lebanon to Crawfordsville. This road would connect the town to the cross-state highway called the Michigan Road.

The second road that would traverse the town would be the Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road. This road started in near downtown Indianapolis, leaving Marion County on what was the original US 52. This is a topic we will come back to. This historic route would continue through the town to its terminus in Lafayette, where it ended right at the banks of the Wabash River. Through Lebanon, it would become Indianapolis Road southeast of town, and Lafayette Road northwest of it.

Another road connecting the town would become an important feed to Lebanon in the early 20th Century would be the Frankfort State Road. Frankfort would become the county seat of Clinton County in May 1830, two months after the creation of the county and one month after the creation of Boone County. (Yes, you read that right…Clinton County is one month older than Boone County!) The Frankfort State Road left Lebanon along what is now SR 39. But, like other early state roads, the path between the two towns was anything but a straight line.

1953 (1955 edition) USGS topographical map of Lebanon, Indiana.

The next topic of this crossroads town is the railroad. Lebanon would come to have three railroads connecting it to the rest of the country, and all three would be in the hands of the two largest railroads in the United States east: New York Central and Pennsylvania. The third would be, eventually, owned by both.

The Lafayette & Indianapolis Railroad was created on 19 January 1846 to connect the title cities. The route that was chosen took the railroad through Lebanon. (It should be noted that this railroad did some street running in Zionsville on its way to Lebanon.) The Lafayette & Indianapolis would be consolidated into several different companies to eventually become part of the Big Four – Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis.

The second railroad that connected to the town was the Midland Route, which started life in 1871 as the Anderson, Lebanon & St. Louis Railroad. The railroad would find itself in constant financial bad times, as most smaller roads did in Indiana. After one of its bankruptcies, the ownership of the company fell into the hands of both the New York Central (through the Big Four) and the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was planned to be used as an Indianapolis bypass. That plan never really came to fruition.

The last railroad that would connect to Lebanon would be the Indianapolis & Frankfort, a Pennsylvania Railroad line that would commence construction from Ben Davis, near what is now the Indianapolis International Airport, in 1913. The road was built because up to that point, the Pennsylvania had no direct route from Indianapolis to Chicago, and it was using trackage rights on other routes to connect to PRR tracks heading into Logansport. The railway was completely elevated through Lebanon, along the western edge of the town.

Before the Indianapolis & Frankfort came to town, though, Lebanon was already the center point of another railroad empire – the interurban. For a smaller city, Lebanon had three interurban routes crossing the town. The Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company connected the town to Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, Frankfort and Lafayette. A short line connected to Thorntown. Unfortunately, the lines would be abandoned relatively quickly when they started going out of business. The Lebanon-Thorntown like would be abandoned 27 August 1926. The Indianapolis-Lafayette line would end services on 31 October 1930. In 1933, the Indiana State Highway Commission was attempting to acquire the right-of-way from Lebanon to Frankfort for SR 39. But the traction company that owned it had quit claimed the deed to the property…causing it to revert to the 66 owners of the land prior to the coming of the interurban.

When the Auto Trail era came into being, Lebanon was included in that, as well. The Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road, into Lebanon, and the Frankfort State Road north out of Lebanon, became part of the Jackson Highway. The Jackson Highway started in Chicago, roughly following the Dixie Highway, usually on a different path, to Nashville, Tennessee. From there, it connected to New Orleans. It entered Lebanon from the north on Lebanon Street, leaving town along Indianapolis Avenue.

Another Auto Trail that came through Lebanon was the Crawfordsville to Anderson. Just as it sounds, it crossed the state between the two titles cities along what would become, in 1926, SR 32. Most of the route is still in the same place, with the state making very few changes in SR 32 over the years (with the exception of north of Nobleville to Lapel). Later, this road would also carry the Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway across Indiana. From 1916 to 1922, the PPOO connected to Indianapolis. From 1922 on, it connected (just like the Crawfordsville to Anderson) Crawfordsville, Lebanon, Westfield, Noblesville, and Anderson.

Lebanon also has the distinction of having the very first section of Interstate 65 that was built in Indiana. The section in question was built as a bypass of the town for US 52, skirting Lebanon along the south and west sides. When the interstate system was being created (and it was decided that I-65 would go from Indianapolis to Chicago instead of following US 31 like it did since southern Alabama), the logical route to use was what was already in place around Lebanon…a limited access highway that was wide enough to become part of the Interstate system.

Today, Lebanon sits with most of its transportation facilities close to intact. US 52 had been removed from the city in the early 1950’s. SR 32 and SR 39 still traverse the town. The Big Four railroad line from Indianapolis to Lafayette has long since been removed. The Midland Route to Westfield and Noblesville, likewise gone. CSX now runs trains along the old Indianapolis & Frankfort, which still connects to the title cities.

2019 USGS topographical map of Lebanon, Indiana.

Indiana Auto Trails, Revisited

Indiana. The Crossroads of America. When the Auto Trails came to the state, there were quite a number of them. In 1922, there were 34 to be exact. While the State Highway Commission was busy putting state road numbers everywhere, people at the time still followed the colorful markers that appeared on utility poles throughout the state. In November 1922, an article was published in several newspapers across Indiana describing those Auto Trails. Those articles showed the signs that were posted along the way, and a brief description of the route. Anyone that has seen these lists in person know that the order of the highways is a bit weird. Yellowstone Trail is always listed first. Why? Because Rand McNally, when publishing the “official” Auto Trails maps in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s listed it first. It wasn’t the first such road…but Rand decided it would be.

Indiana Reroute of the Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway

When the Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean (PPOO) Highway was created in 1915, a meeting in Indianapolis was held “to promote the acquaintance of the people of Colorado with those of the states to the East.” (Source: Indianapolis Star, 21 April 1915) “The Cumberland and the National Roads form the eastern part of the Ocean-to-Ocean highway as it has been mapped by Pike’s Peak boosters.” While this is mostly true, between Richmond, Indiana, and Springfield, Ohio, that route wasn’t. I covered that on 13 September 2019 with the post US 40 East of Richmond.

Starting in 1916, the PPOO started its Indiana journey across the state by entering along what became US 36 from Illinois, connecting Rockville to Indianapolis (along the Rockville State Road). From Indianapolis, the road followed the National Old Trails Road to Springfield, Ohio, via Greenfield, Richmond, Eaton and Dayton. After Springfield, the PPOO connected to Columbus and Coshocton. This will be important soon.

Fast forward to the Muncie Sunday Star of 16 July 1922. The city of Muncie was looking forward to becoming accessible via a transcontinental highway. The PPOO was changing the route through the state. More to the point, the PPOO organization was thinking about it, but “as now seems certain.” This would make Muncie “the largest city in Indiana on the route and probably the largest city for a stretch of 250 miles or more through this section.”

The article goes on to state that “the trail already had been assured as far as Anderson on the west. The success of the effort to orgnaize a local chapter of the Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Association will determine whether the highway will continue on east over the proposed route or whether it will traverse points to the north of the city.”

So, what was the proposed route? At least in the 1922 change listed in that newspaper article? At Rockville, the new path would turn northeast to Crawfordsville. While a path is not specifically mentioned, maps of the proposal show a direct route between the two towns, making it possible for the PPOO to travel through Guion and Waveland on its way to Crawfordsville. From there, the route is pretty much a straight line through Lebanon, Noblesville, Anderson, Muncie, Farmland, Winchester and Union City. On the Ohio side of the state line, Greenville and Piqua would be on the new route before connecting to the original route at Coshocton.

Muncie Sunday Star, 16 July 1922, showing proposed route change to PPOO in Indiana.

When the PPOO was rerouted in 1923, Muncie got its wish. It was included on a transcontinental highway. The difference between what was proposed in 1922 and what became reality in 1923 was the section west of Crawfordsville. Instead of entering the state west of Rockville, the route through Illinois had also been moved north, leaving that state east from Danville. This made the PPOO come through Covington instead of Rockville.

Controversy again arose in 1925 concerning the routing of the PPOO. The Indianapolis Star of 08 March 1925 received a statement from H. D. Judson, of St. Joseph, Missouri, General Manager of the Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway. The message read that a new map of the routing was released erroneously. What did this map show? In western Indiana, the route would be changed to connect to Attica. The reason for the controversy was that it was alleged that the change in the route was made with the assistance of the Indiana State Highway Commission…with Attica being the hometown of Chairman of the ISHC, Charles W. Zeigler. Since the proposal was listed as erroneous, I can find no maps that show the routing between Danville, Illinois, and Crawfordsville.

It was determined, according to Mr. Judson, that “it was with forethought and careful consideration of future needs that the highway was purposely rerouted to avoid Indianapolis, Dayton, Columbus, Springfield, O., and other cities on the National Old Trails.” A problem occurred when the Indiana PPOO association had taken subscriptions of money from towns along the abandoned route, including Dana and Montezuma. But Mr. Judson made it a point that sections of original SR 33 (became SR 34 [US 136] west of Crawfordsville and SR 32 east of that city in 1926) were in the list to be paved in 1925, making a good anchor for the road through the state.

Indianapolis News, 14 May 1934. Indianapolis is U. S. Crossroads

After the Great Renumbering, and the creation of the US Highway system, Auto Trails started disappearing from the landscape, having served the purpose of getting good roads supported by the government. A mention in the Indianapolis News of 14 May 1934 states the PPOO, at that time, had been rerouted through Indianapolis at some point, following the Rockville Road to the west of the city. A classified ad in the Franklin Evening Star of 23 January 1932 lists an 80 acre farm “located 26 1/2 miles west of Indianapolis, 6 1/2 miles west of Danville, and 1/2 mile east of New Winchester, Hendricks county, on State Road 36, known as Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway.” The PPOO is still listed on SR 32 according to the Noblesville Ledger of 14 February 1931. This is listed in a classified ad for another 80 acre farm for sale north of Fishersburg and Lapel.

Auto Trails Quick Take, Part 3

This is part three of the quick description of the Auto Trails, as listed in the Lafayette Journal and Courier of 1 November 1922. It gives a general idea of the roads that most of which would be accepted into the State Highway System. The numbering used corresponds to the numbers used on the Rand McNally Auto-Trails maps of the late 1910s through the mid 1920s.

(Note – all information in this entry comes directly, word for word, from the mentioned newspaper. Some may disagree with what was written.)

(69) The Jackson Highway from Chicago to New Orleans, crossing Indiana by way of Crown Point, Rensselaer, Lafayette, Frankfort, Lebanon, Indianapolis, Franklin, Columbus, Seymour, Salem and New Albany. Originally marked by the highway association marked in parts by the automobile association and last year thoroughly remarked by the automobile association.

(81) The Wabash Way, extending from Fort Wayne to Danville, Ill., following the Wabash River by way of Huntington, Wabash, Peru, Logansport, Delphi, Lafayette, and Attica. Marked in part by local clubs, then by our state organization, and last year re-marked by the state organization.

(82) Terre Haute-Columbus-Cincinnati Trail, extending from Terre Haute to Cincinnati by way of Spencer, Bloomington, Columbus, Greensburg, Batesville and Lawrenceburg. Marked by the clubs along the route and partially re-marked by the state association.

(85) The Adeway, Indianapolis to Chicago by way of Crawfordsville, Attica, Fowler, Kentland, Morocco, Lowell and Hammond. Marked by the H.S.A.A. The Adeway joins with the Dixie Highway at Crawfordsville and has never been marked from Crawfordsville to Indianapolis as the Adeway.

(86) The Liberty Way, Chicago to Kokomo by way of Gary, Valparaiso, Kouts, North Hudson, Bass Lake, Winamac, Logansport and Kokomo. Marked and in many places re-marked by the automobile association.

(90) French Lick Route, Cincinnati to Evansville by way of Aurora, Versailles, North Vernon, Seymour, Brownstown, Bedford, Paoli, French Lick, Jasper, Huntingburg, and Boonville. Marked by the automobile association from the Ohio line to French Lick; is not marked from there to Evansville due to the unsatisfactory condition of the road at the time of route was established. This part of the route is now under construction by the state highway commission.

(91) The Ben-Hur Trail, from Terre Haute by way of Rockville, Crawfordsville, Frankfort, Kokomo and Marion going to Huntington. Marked in part by local clubs, finished and partially re-marked by the state association.

(94) Toledo-Angola-Goshen Trail [known as the TAG Trail], extending from Goshen by way of Lagrange, Angola, and straight east to Toledo. Marked by motor clubs along the route.

(96) Pigeon Roost Route, extending from Seymour by way of Scottsburg to New Albany. This route was originally marked by clubs at Seymour and Scottsburg, and partially re-marked by the state association. It is now practically replaced by State Road No. 1.

(97) Midland Trail, from coast to coast, entering Indiana at Vincennes, crossing the state by way of Washington, Loogootee, Shoals, Paoli and New Albany. First marked by county organization, partially re-marked by Hoosier State association out of New Albany. On list for re-marking the balance of the way to Vincennes.

(98) Huntington-Manitou-Culver Trail, extending from Chicago to Lima, O., by way of Hammond, Crown Point, Hebron, North Judson, Bass Lake, Culver, Rochester, Lake Manitou, North Manchester, Huntington and Decatur. Thoroughly marked by the state association.

The Dandy Trail, not shown on the auto trail maps, but extending for eighty-eight miles around the city of Indianapolis. Marked and re-marked by the Hoosier Motor club.

Auto Trails Quick Take, Part 2

This is part two of the quick description of the Auto Trails, as listed in the Lafayette Journal and Courier of 1 November 1922. It gives a general idea of the roads that most of which would be accepted into the State Highway System. The numbering used corresponds to the numbers used on the Rand McNally Auto-Trails maps of the late 1910s through the mid 1920s.

(Note – all information in this entry comes directly, word for word, from the mentioned newspaper. Some may disagree with what was written.)

(25) The Dixie Highway originally was laid out over what is now known as the Michigan road running from South Bend, but later the routeing came from Chicago to Danville, Ill., and then into Indiana at Covington, and through Crawfordsville to Indianapolis (which road is now hardly used because of its condition), and then to Martinsville, Bloomington, Bedford, Paoli, and New Albany. Originally marked by the Dixie Highway association units at various places along the route. Later in parts re-marked by the H.S.A.A., and the Crawfordsville-Indianapolis-Paoli route now is being entirely repainted by one of the H.S.A.A. painting outfits.

(26) The Michigan Road, extending through Indiana by way of South Bend, Rochester, Logansport and Indianapolis, and on south to the Ohio River. Established by the state of Indiana in the early history of the state, right-of-way having been granted by the Indians. Marker adopted by the H.S.A.A. and the marking promoted through the motor clubs enroute – on list for remarking.

The only part of the historic road that didn’t make it as part of this Auto Trail is the section from Napoleon to Bryantsburg. The Auto Trail runs through Versailles, which was east of the original road.

(29) Crawfordsville to Anderson, marked by clubs enroute, but now replaced by state road markings practically all the way.

(30) Corn Belt Route, going entirely across the state of Illinois and entering Indiana at Kentland, extending to Goodland, Remington, Wolcott, Monticello and ending at Logansport. Marked by clubs along the route; due for re-marking.

(34) Lincoln Highway, extending through Indiana by way of Goshen, Ligonier and Fort Wayne. Established and marked by the Lincoln Highway association.

(36) Hub Highway, extending across Indiana from Lafayette through Frankfort, Tipton, Elwood, Alexandria, Muncie, Winchester, and Union City, and across Ohio by way of Dayton, Xenia to Washington Coury House. Marked by clubs enroute; now being re-marked by Hoosier State association.

(39) Custer Trail, principally a Michigan trail, but extending south through Angola, Waterloo, Auburn to Fort Wayne. Marked in Indiana by H.S.A.A.

(42) Hills and Lakes Trail, extending from Indianapolis by way of Noblesville, Elwood, Wabash, North Manchester to lake resorts. First marked by Hoosier Motor club and other clubs along the route, principally from Wabash; later re-marked by automobile association and soon to receive additional attention. Construction work on main route had held up matter of repainting the poles up to this time.

(43) The Dunes Highway, extending from Michigan City through the Dune region by way of Gary, Indiana Harbor and Whiting to Chicago, connecting with Sheridan pike at Chicago and with West Michigan pike at Michigan City. Established by the Dunes Highway association, marked by the H.S.A.A. Hard pavement now under construction between Gary and Michigan City.

(47) Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway. This route extends from San Francisco to New York, entering Indiana at Montezuma, extending by way of Rockville, Bainbridge, Danville, Indianapolis to Richmond and on east. Established by Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway association, marked by clubs in Indiana. Now being rerouted by the Pike’s Peak Highway association.

(48) South Bend to Knox, marked last year by the H.S.A.A.

(56) Atlantic-Pacific Highway, extending from Los Angeles, Cal., to Washington, D. C. The most recent national highway across the state of Indiana, entering at Princeton, crossing the state by way of Oakland City, Jasper, French Lick, Paoli, Salem, Scottsburg, Madison, Vevay, Rising Sun, Aurora and on to Cincinnati. Marked this year by H.S.A.A.