Indianapolis and the Original ISHC State Road System

I have posted much about the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission. As of the posting of this article, the age of the Commission is either 103 or 101 years old. The original ISHC was established in 1917…but met with a lot of problems. It was finally nailed down in 1919 and made permanent.

This also creates a dating problem when it comes to the state highways. The first five state highways, then known as Main Market Roads, were established in 1917 with the original ISHC. Two of those original Main Market Highways connected to Indianapolis. The original National Road had been given the number Main Market Road 3. The Range Line Road, connecting Indianapolis to Peru, and through further connections, to South Bend, was given the Main Market Road 1 label.

When it was finally established, the ISHC changed the name of the Main Market Road to State Road, in keeping with other states surrounding Indiana. The markers used along the roads, painted onto utility poles like the old Auto Trail markers were, resembled the image to the left…the state shape with the words “STATE ROAD” and the route number. In this case, as of 1920, State Road 2 was the original route of the Lincoln Highway through northern Indiana.

The state highway system was designed to, eventually, connect every county seat and town of over 5,000 population, to each other. Indianapolis, as the state capital and the largest city in the state, would have connections aiming in every direction. Most of those roads marked with the original numbers would still be state roads into the 1970s and early 1980s, before the Indiana Department of Highways started removing state roads inside the Interstate 465 loop…and INDOT finishing the job on 1 July 1999. These road were removed for state statutory limitation reasons, and I have discussed that in a previous blog entry. So I won’t do it here.

The original state road numbers that came to Indiana varied greatly, as did their directions. There were no set rules when it came to state road numbers. They were assigned as they came…and stayed that way until the first renumbering of 1923, or the Great Renumbering of 1926.

Let’s look at the original state roads in Marion County, some of which actually did not reach Indianapolis itself.

State Road 1: As mentioned before, State Road 1 was originally called Main Market Highway 1. North of Indianapolis, it followed the Range Line Road, a local Auto Trail, through Carmel, Westfield, to Kokomo and points north. The route north followed Meridian Street north to Westfield Boulevard, then Westfield Boulevard on out to Carmel and beyond. In Carmel, the old road is still called Range Line Road, and serves as the main north-south drag through the town, as it does in Westfield.

South of Indianapolis, State Road 1, like its Main Market Highway predecessor, followed the old Madison State Road out of the city to Southport, Greenwood, Franklin and Columbus. The original SR 1 route is still able to be driven through the south side of Indianapolis, with the exception of the section replaced in the 1950s by the Madison Avenue Expressway. But Old Madison Avenue exists, if you can find your way back there.

While the entirety of original State Road 1 became US 31 with the Great Renumbering, bypasses in Marion County were put in place very early. The northern section, through Broad Ripple, and Carmel was replaced as early as 1930. The southern section, including the Southport/Greenwood bypass, was put in place in the 1940s.

State Road 3: As mentioned above, Main Market Highway/State Road 3 followed the National Road through Marion County. One exception to this is the section of the 1830s National Road that crossed the White River downtown. That section of the old road was removed in 1904 with the demolition of the National Road covered bridge and its replacement with a new, and short lived, Washington Street bridge. With a couple of exceptions other than that (the Bridgeport straightening of the early 1930s, and the new Eagle Creek bridge built in the late 1930s), the old road was followed very accurately until the mid-1980s with the creation of White River State Park. The successor to original SR 3, US 40, was moved to make room for the park. Both US 40 and US 31 lost their designations on 1 July 1999 with the removal of those two routes inside the I-465 loop.

State Road 6: This old state road was a through route when it came to Marion County. From the north, it followed the route of the original Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road from Lebanon. After passing through downtown Indianapolis, it left the county using the original Michigan Road on its way to Shelbyville and Greensburg. The original State Road 6 followed the Michigan Road Auto Trail, not the Historic Michigan Road, meaning it still went to Madison, but it went by way of Versailles, which the historic road did not. With the Great Renumbering, the northern SR 6 became US 52, while the southern SR 6 became SR 29 – later to be renumbered again to US 421.

State Road 22: This road, as it was originally laid out, only lasted from 1920 to 1923. Out of Indianapolis, it followed the old Mooresville State Road through southwestern Marion County. It was designated the original route from Indianapolis to Martinsville, as described in this blog entry. This road will be discussed again a few paragraphs from now.

State Road 39: Another 1830s state road that was taken into the Indiana State Highway Commission’s custody in 1919. This road followed the old Brookville State Road from the National Road out of the county through New Palestine to Rushville and Brookville. The original end of that road, both the 1830s original and the 1919 state highway, is discussed here. The road would become, in October 1926, the other section of US 52 through Indianapolis. It would also eventually become the first state highway removed inside the I-465 loop in Marion County. And even then, it would be rerouted in the late 1990s to go the other way around the county.

That covers the 1919 highways. More would come to Marion County before 1923.

State Road 12: Originally, this road, north of Martinsville, was the old State Road 22 mentioned above. When a new SR 22 was created, the SR 12 number was continued from Martinsville to Indianapolis along the old Vincennes and Mooresville State Roads. This road, in October 1926, would become part of the new State Road 67.

State Road 15: While the southern route of the Michigan Road was State Road 6, the northern part, heading off to Logansport, was added later and given the number State Road 15. The entire route of the historic Michigan Road would never become a state highway, but major sections did…although late in the creation of the state highway system. With the Great Renumbering, this road became SR 29, and in 1951, redesignated, like its southern half, US 421.

State Road 22: Here we go again. State Road 22 was given to the route between Indianapolis and Paoli. In 1919, that included the route along the west bank of the White River from Martinsville to Indianapolis along the Mooresville Road. This was changed by 1923 to keep SR 22 on the east side of White River, where it followed the old Paoli State Road, and the Bluff Road, through Waverly to the south edge of downtown Indianapolis at Meridian and South Streets. This was one of the routes of the Dixie Highway through Indianapolis, and would later become part of SR 37 in 1926.

State Road 31: In 1920, when this road was originally created, it turned south to connect to the National Road west of Plainfield. It had followed the Rockville Road from Montezuma to Danville, then turned southeasterly to meet State Road 3. By 1923, the road was moved from what would later become part of what is now SR 39 to continuing on the Rockville Road into Marion County. State Road 31 would meet the National Road outside the city limits of Indianapolis at what is now the intersection of Holt Road and Washington Street. It would become US 36 before it was extended along the new section of what is now Rockville Road to the intersection at Eagle Creek with Washington Street.

State Road 37: One of two state road numbers that still served Indianapolis after the road numbers were changed in October 1926 (the other being State Road 31). The original State Road 37 left Marion County in a northeasterly direction on its way to Pendleton, Anderson and Muncie. Inside the city limits, the street name was Massachusetts Avenue. When it reached the city limits, the name of the road changed to Pendleton Pike. This still occurs today, with the name change at the old city limits at 38th Street. In October 1926, the number of this road would change to State Road 67.

There were two other major state roads in Marion County, but they weren’t part of the state highway system until after the Great Renumbering. One was the Crawfordsville State Road, part of the original Dixie Highway, connecting Indianapolis to Crawfordsville via Speedway, Clermont, Brownsburg, and half a dozen other towns. It would be added to the state highway system by 1929 as State Road 34. The number would change later to US 136.

The other road was the original Fort Wayne State Road, also known as the Noblesville State Road, but even more commonly called the Allisonville Road. It would be added to the state highway system in 1932 as State Road 13. Less than a decade later, its number would be changed to the more familiar State Road 37.

US 33 – And Plans of Such

In the 1910’s, Indiana was crossed by one of the first cross country highways ever created – the Lincoln Highway. The original route of that road took it through Fort Wayne, Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend, Laporte, Valparaiso, and finally left the state at Dyer.

When the Indiana State Highway Commission was created in 1917, the original Lincoln Highway was given one state issued name for its entire length – Main Market Road #2. This would be changed to State Road 2 when the ISHC was again created in 1919 after settling some state constitutional issues.

The state would change the number of the road in several places, as State Road 2 was applied to a more direct route between Fort Wayne and Dyer in 1923. But the original route was still kept under state maintenance. The Great Renumbering, and the section from Fort Wayne to South Bend was once again given the name State Road 2. And this would last until 1937…when a new U. S. highway came to Indiana…US 33.

But that isn’t the entire story. In 1932, officials were negotiating to get a new US highway added to the Indiana landscape. That highway would cross the state, connecting Detroit with Fort Wayne, Muncie, and Indianapolis, ending at Vincennes. The requested number for the new US highway? 33.

In the Lafayette Journal and Courier of 20 April 1932, it was reported that “delegations from a number of cities including Fort Wayne and Muncie, called on the Indiana highway commission here today to request that a new federal highway, to be known as U. S. 33, connecting Detroit, Mich., with Vincennes, Ind., by way of Fort Wayne, Muncie, and Indianapolis, be authorized.”

Such a highway could not be approved by the Indiana State Highway Commission. Approval of US highway numbers and routings were done by the American Association of State Highway Officials, and today the successor organization still does that job. But it didn’t stop people from trying.

What would such a route look like? When the Great Renumbering occurred in 1926, there was hope that a US highway connecting southern Illinois to Cleveland, Ohio, would be designated across Indiana. The number that was supposedly going to be assigned to such a route is US 67. In Indiana, US 67 would have entered at Vincennes, going through Indianapolis, Anderson, and Muncie to leave the state somewhere (probably) in Jay County. But Indiana was thinking ahead…and gave the pending US route the name State Road 67. The US route never came…but we are left with a reminder of what was (hopefully) to be.

The wanted US 33 would have, most likely, followed SR 67 from Vincennes to Muncie. From Muncie, it would have been more likely to have used SR 3 north. In 1932, when the request was made, SR 3 didn’t follow the route that it does today. It turned east at SR 18 then turned north again on what is now SR 1. The following year, SR 3 was continued due north, and did connect directly to Fort Wayne via Hartford City. This is most likely the route that would have been chosen had that US 33 been approved.

But the approved route of US 33 wasn’t done in a vacuum. The entire highway, running from Richmond, Virginia, to (now) Elkhart, Indiana, was formed in conjunction with an auto trail, called the Blue and Gray Trail, which was designed to promote a direct link from the Great Lakes to the Tidewater Region of Virginia. (Tidewater is the name given to the area that encompasses what is now Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, and other communities near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.) A motorcade, starting in Richmond, Virginia, trundled its way along the new US highway to St. Joseph, Michigan, where it ended originally.

Outside of Indiana, US 33 has the distinction of being labeled directionally wrong. Starting in Ohio, the highway is labeled as EAST US 33 and WEST US 33. This is in Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. This is a throwback from when the route was originally labeled as “SOUTHEAST US 33” and “NORTHWEST US 33.” Indiana never labeled the road that way. Even if the road does go the wrong direction (i.e. State Road 47, which ends going east and west), the roads label would still be correct.

The Blue and Gray Trail was one of the last Auto Trails to be named. It was created at the same time as US 33, meaning that it was long after most of the other Auto Trails were winding down. To me, it seems fairly appropriate that in Indiana, at least from Fort Wayne to South Bend, it would follow the Lincoln Highway. And…the Dixie Highway from South Bend to Niles, Michigan. That has to have been planned.

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.

Indiana State Road Numbers

As someone that spends a LOT of time looking at maps, I notice that most states have no rhyme nor reason to the numbering of their state roads. Most states number them in the order they were created, or legislated. Indiana is, now, not one of those.

In the beginning, in 1917, Indiana started creating a State Market Highway system. At that time, there were only five state roads. OSR 1 ran, basically, down the center of Indiana north to south. OSR 2 was the Lincoln Highway. OSR 3 was the National Road (more or less). OSR 4 ran from JCT OSR 5 near Shoals to Lawrenceburg. OSR 5 connected Vincennes to New Albany.

Around 1924, talk was started about creating a “national” road system to take the confusion out of traveling in the age of Auto Trails and the myriad of names and directions. The system was ironed out over the next two years, coming to fruition on 01 October 1926.

And that is the day that Indiana did a wholesale slaughter of the state road numbering system.

Indiana decided to do the same thing with the numbering of state roads that the “national” system did: odd numbers travel north/south being numbered east to west, even numbers travel east/west being numbered north to south. For the most part, anyway.

There were exceptions. There always are exceptions. Yet, through some freak of numbering, the new United States highways, for the most part, just plugged right into the system. For example, US 31, US 36, US 40, and US 50 fit right into the Indiana system perfectly.

But the system was simplified, as well. In addition to the directions of the roads, and where the numbering started, Indiana also added the “mother/daughter” system. Main state roads were given one and two digit numbers, with three digit numbers being daughter routes to those. There were/are only two exceptions to the three digit daughter rule, but I will get to that later.

One of the purposes of the “daughter” system was to create a way to insert state roads into the system without totally destroying the order of the system.

The one major exception to the whole system was SR 67. There were discussions about US 67 connecting to Cleveland, OH, across Indiana. The plan was to number it SR 67, and change it if and when the time came. It never did. US 67 ended up traveling, more or less, due north through west central Illinois.

The Indiana numbering system works well. If you know the history. If you look at a map today, there are several things that stand out like a sore thumb. And those are really due to the United States highways that came to Indiana after 1926.

Let’s get back to the two three digit exceptions to the daughter rule. First, and most obvious to map readers, is SR 135. Yes, it is a major state road. No, it is not a daughter route to US 35. It used to be SR 35, until US 35 came to Indiana.

The other exception was SR 100. Ask anyone who knows, and SR 100 was to be a loop around Indianapolis. Unfortunately, the history of the road isn’t that simple. While SR 100 legally lasted (at least from I-465 to US 40) until 1 July 1999, it was replaced long before that by the same I-465. As a matter of fact, most of the contracts for the building of I-465 were actually issued as SR 100 contracts.

Now, to daughter routes. Marion County has a daughter route that connects to the Women’s Prison (used to be the Indiana Girl’s School) on, guess what, Girls School Road. It is SR 134. Yet, there is no SR 34 in Indiana. There was. There isn’t now. SR 34 became US 136 in 1951. There also used to be a LOT more daughters of SR 34: SR 234 (through Carmel – not the two that still exist), SR 334 (Zionsville – decommissioned just a few years ago), SR 434 and SR 534 (the original designation of the major part of SR 100 – the part that most locals know).

In southeastern Indiana, there are two daughters of SR 29: SR 129 and SR 229. These exist because before 1951, US 421 was SR 29 from Madison to just south of Boyleston.

I am sure that there are more examples of such numbering inconsistencies. SR 21 mostly became US 35. US 231 used to be part of SR 43 and part of SR 45, among others. Even in northwestern Indiana, there are a lot of x27s that are orphaned because US 27 was replaced by I-69 north of Fort Wayne.

But two roads that I am asked about quite often are SR 38 and SR 47. Strangely, SR 47 ends at SR 38 at Sheridan.

Although SR 47 spends most of the way traveling east and west, it is labeled north and south. As you travel east toward Sheridan, you are on North 47. I have never been able to find a reason for this. Nothing. INDOT has decommissioned part of this route from JCT SR 38 to JCT US 31.

SR 38 is a different story. It DID follow the pattern when it was created. The original SR 38 connected New Castle to Richmond. (Although US 36 didn’t exist east of Indianapolis, this location of SR 38 is between 36 and 40.) The State Highway Commission would eventually add to SR 38, displacing most of the route when it comes to numbering. It would follow the old “Crawfordsville State Road” from New Castle to Noblesville (with the rest of this Crawfordsville Road becoming part of SR 32), and, roughly, the Lafayette Road (Lafayette-Noblesville State Road) for the rest of its journey across Indiana.

So, although there are exceptions, there is some method to the madness of Indiana state road numbering. And, with a little thought and knowledge, it does make Indiana a little easier to navigate.

Indianapolis in the Auto Trail Era

Indiana has been known as the “Crossroads of America” for most of its history. No other place in the state exemplifies that more than the Hoosier Capitol. Although Indianapolis, as a town, started as a remote outpost in the forests and swamps of central Indiana, it would soon become a transportation center. The National and Michigan Roads started the journey toward Indianapolis’ connections to the rest of the country. The coming of the railroads from 1847 to the middle 1850’s accelerated it. The automobile would seal the deal.

A quick look at a Rand McNally Auto Trails map of 1920 shows that Indianapolis was well served when it came to the new routes. Some of these were old roads, using names that had been used for almost a century. Others were new names on old country roads. Today, I want to look at the Auto Trails of 1920 radiating from Indianapolis. For this, I will be using that mentioned Rand McNally map, and using Rand’s numbering system.

8 – Range Line Road: Leaving Indianapolis due north, earlier on Illinois Street, later on Meridian, this route connected Indianapolis to South Bend via Kokomo, Peru, Rochester and Peru. In Marion County, the Range Line followed the Central Canal into Broad Ripple, then northeast along the Westfield Pike, which once it crossed the Hamilton-Marion County Line followed a survey range line north to Kokomo and beyond. In 1926, this would be the route of US 31.

22 – National Old Trails Road: In Indiana, this old route followed what was the first United States road that had been built to connect Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois. This was called the National Road. In Indianapolis, it followed that route as closely as it could. (Downtown, the original path of the National Road had been removed in 1904 with the demolition of the covered bridge over the White River.) In 1926, it became US 40.

24 – Hoosier Highway: This road crossed the city southwest to northeast. It would come into Marion County along the old Mooresville State Road, also known as the West Newton Pike/Maywood Road/Kentucky Avenue. It left the city along Massachusetts Avenue where it became the Pendleton Pike at the city limits. The Pendleton Pike was also called the Oakland (Oaklandon) Toll Road for a time. This routing, both ways, would become SR 67 in 1926.

25 – Dixie Highway: Indianapolis found itself in a very nice position when it came to this road. It was created by an Indianapolis resident, Carl G. Fisher. And it used four roads to enter and exit the Hoosier capitol. From the north, it entered Indianapolis along the path of the historic Michigan Road. From the west, the Dixie followed the old Crawfordsville Pike. Southward, the Dixie Highway left using the Bluff Road heading toward Waverly, Martinsville and Bloomington. The route also followed the National Road to the east toward Richmond and Dayton, Ohio. The former three routes are still known by those names today. With the Great Renumbering, Michigan Road became SR 29, Crawfordsville became SR 34, and Bluff Road became SR 37.

26 – Michigan Road: The historic old Indiana state road connecting the Ohio River to Lake Michigan. Through Indianapolis, that would be Southeastern Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street/Michigan Road. The Michigan Road Auto Trail to the north ended at South Bend, even though the historic road left the west toward Michigan City. The entirety of the Michigan Road was made SR 29 in 1926.

42 – Hills And Lakes: This route was created to make a more or less direct route from Indianapolis to Lake Wawasee. It left Indianapolis along the Range Line Road, until it reached the Maple Road (now 38th Street), where the H&L turned east to follow the old Fort Wayne State Road, also known as the Allisonville Pike, out of the county. It did not get a state road number until 1932, when it became SR 13. It would later be renumbered SR 37.

47 – Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway: The original route of this road came through Indianapolis, using Rockville Road on the west and Washington Street/National Road to the east. It would later be moved to north of the city through Lebanon, Noblesville and Anderson. The original PPOO was made US 36 and US 40 in 1926.

69 – Jackson Highway: The Indianapolis section of this north-south long distance road used the old Lafayette State Road from the north (US 52 in 1926) and the old Madison State Road (US 31 in 1926) to cross the city.

92 – Terre Haute & Indianapolis Scenic Route: In Marion County, this duplicated the National Old Trails Road from downtown to the west, diverging in Belleville in Hendricks County.

Winona Trail

The Auto-Trail Era in Indiana led to a lot of different routes created for travelers. Some cross country routes, some were confined to the state of Indiana. Some of the routes disappeared as quickly as the appeared, at least as far as some people, and companies, were concerned. Today, I want to talk about an Auto Trail that lasted, according to Rand McNally, one year. That is the Winona Trail.

1918 Rand McNally Auto Trails Map. The route marked with the number 3 is listed as the Winona Trail.

The first reference to the Winona Trail depends on when the above map was published. The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of 10 March 1918 stated that a new trail was being planned to create a short cut to Chicago from Fort Wayne. The new route would be called the Winona Trail, making a shorter drive to Valparaiso. The routes currently in use between the two cities included the Lincoln Highway, which connected through Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend and LaPorte, and an unnamed trail that connected through North Manchester, Rochester, Culver and Tefft.

The Fort Wayne Sentinel of 5 April 1918 reported that “Winona Trail Is To Be Established.” The route, “leading west of Fort Wayne through Columbia City over the Yellow River road, thence west through Larwill, Pierceton, Winona, Warsaw, Bourbon, Plymouth and Valparaiso, and eventually on to Chicago is to be established as a state highway.” Keep in mind that the Indiana State Highway Commission was in flux. The ISHC was created in 1917, but was dealing with a constitutional battle. That battle would not be resolved until 1919. So this reference to a “state highway” did not mean what it means today.

Rand McNally, one of the premier sources of Auto Trail information, removed the Winona Trail from their maps in 1919 with the coming of the Yellowstone Trail. That new road followed the same route the Winona Trail did. Since the latter was only in Indiana, while the former was a cross country route, one can assume that it was left off maps simply due to complete duplication.

The last reference to the Winona Trail in any newspapers (that I have access to, anyway) was made in the Fort Wayne Sentinel of 1 September 1921. This reference was made in a news story about the new “Washington Highway” that would connect Fort Wayne to Spokane in the west to Cleveland in the east. “The addition of this latest highway, in the opinion of Secretary H. E. Bodine, of the Chamber of Commerce, gives Fort Wayne the largest number of national highway of any city in the country.” The Winona Trail was mentioned in a list of the highways, other than the Washington Highway, that entered the city: Lincoln, Yellowstone, Ohio-Indiana-Michigan, Custer Trail, Hoosier, Wabash Way, and Winona Trail.

The route that was the Winona Trail/Yellowstone Trail would be added to the state highway system as SR 44 in 1920. With the first renumbering of the state highway system in 1923, this route was changed from SR 44 to SR 2, the number given to the original Lincoln Highway route. The Great Renumbering in 1926 gave the road the designation US 30. In 1928, the Lincoln Highway would be rerouted along this corridor.

When it was said and done, the afterthought route, directly connecting Valparaiso and Fort Wayne, and following the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago (Pennnsylvania) railroad that had even more directly connected the two for decades, would become the more important route across Indiana. A route that more or less started to create a way for visitors to get to Winona Lake.


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.

Some Auto Trails and Original Indiana State Roads

In the 1910’s, organizations were being set up all over the country to support building a system of roads, called Auto Trails, to facilitate the moving of traffic across the state and across the nation. I have covered several of these of the past 11 months: Lincoln Highway, Hoosier Dixie, National Road, Michigan Road, Dandy Trail, Crawfordsville to Anderson, Hoosier Highway, Ben Hur Route, Jackson Highway, Tip Top Trail, Riley Highway, Illinois Corn Belt and the Midland Route. The purpose of these organizations was to create good, hard surface roads, allowing better, faster and safer transportation across the United States. Some organizations were successful. Others were not. And some of these were brought into the early Indiana State Road system.

Now, when I say brought into the system, it should be known that occasionally I will be talking about corridors…although many of the the roads were taken directly by the State Highway Commission.

The Yellowstone Trail: The Yellowstone Trail connected Plymouth, Massachusetts, to Seattle, Washington, and both to the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. From Valparaiso to Fort Wayne, the Yellowstone Trail became SR 44 originally. Later, in 1923, it would be changed to SR 2. That designation would be gone in 1926, when the corridor became that of US 30.

Dixie Bee Line: Designed as a more direct route to the south, as opposed to the older and more famous Dixie Highway, the Dixie Bee Highway separated from its namesake at Danville, Illinois. It entered Indiana northwest of Cuyuga, and went roughly due south through Terre Haute, Vincennes and Evansville. In 1920, the section from Cuyuga south became SR 10. It would later become SR 63 to Clinton, then US 41 to Evansville.

Range Line: This route became part of, arguably, the most important north-south route in Indiana. The Range Line Road, connecting Indianapolis to Peru via Kokomo, started life in Indianapolis as the Westfield Road. It got its Auto Trail name from the fact that it followed a survey line, called the Range Line, up to west of Peru, where it ended at the Wabash Way, mentioned later. It was so important that the route would be made a Main Market Road in 1917, given the number 1. It became SR 1 in 1919. It was changed to US 31 in 1926.

Lincoln Highway: The original version of this first transcontinental highway connected across Indiana via Valparaiso, LaPorte, South Bend, Elkhart, Goshen, Ligonier, and Fort Wayne. Again, due to its importance, it became one of the first five Main Market Roads in 1917, given the number 2. It then became SR 2. In 1923, the Fort Wayne to Elkhart became SR 46, Elkhart to South Bend became SR 25 to Rolling Prairie, and the rest of the original Lincoln Highway to Valparaiso became SR 42, while the future Lincoln Highway became SR 2 along the Yellowstone Route corridor. The two ends of the road in Indiana became US 30, while from Valpo to Rolling Prairie, and from South Bend to Fort Wayne, became SR 2 again. Later from South Bend to Fort Wayne became US 33.

National Old Trails Road: While most of the way across Indiana, this Auto Trail follows the nation’s first highway, the National Road, it is not entirely the route. While most of the NOTR became Main Market Road 3 in 1917, then SR 3 in 1919, the portion east of Richmond was left out of the state road system. At Richmond, the NOTR turned toward Eaton and Dayton, before connecting back to the original National Road at Springfield. Later, in 1926, that section of the NOTR would become SR 11…then US 35 in 1935.

Dixie Highway: Ironically, that which was the first transcontinental north-south highway would only become part of the state road system in sections. From Danville, Illinois, to Crawfordsville would become SR 33, the Indiana-Michigan state line to Rochester became SR 1, Martinsville to Bedford became SR 22, Bedford to Paoli would become SR, originally Main Market Road, 4, and from Paoli to New Albany would be SR 42. This changed in 1923. SR 42 became part of SR 5, SR 4 became an extension of SR 22, as did the route from Martinsville to Indianapolis, from Indianapolis to Logansport became SR 15. 1926, and the number of state roads the old Dixie Highway became is large: SR 25, SR 29, US 31, SR 34, SR 37, and US 150.

Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean: This road had two routes through Indiana in its history. The first route came into Indiana west of Montezuma. From Montezuma to Danville, the original route became SR 31. By 1923, instead of SR 31 connecting to SR 3 (later US 40) near Cartersburg, it connected to SR 3 west of Indianapolis at where the (original) Rockville Road connected to the National Road. The new route would cross Indiana north of Indianapolis, with the route entering Indiana from Danville, Illinois, with the Dixie Highway. From Crawfordsville to Lebanon, it would become SR 33. From Westfield to Union City, the 1920 road number was SR 37. 1923 saw SR 33 extended from Crawfordsville to Union City, with the SR 37 designation from Anderson to Muncie. In 1926, SR 33 would be changed to SR 32. This was also the route of the Crawfordsville to Anderson Auto Trail.

There are far more routes that crossed the state. I will cover more of them at a later date.

The Riley Highway

Indiana had been a very busy state when it came to roads built during the Auto Trail era. With the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1919, the Auto Trails didn’t just disappear from the landscape. Many of them were absorbed into the new state highway system. For the longest time, the old highway names were still used along side the new state road numbers in those areas. But one would have thought that the coming of the state road would lead to the end of the creation of new named highways. That was far from what happened. These roads would still being created after the state entered the road building business. The logical question would have been “why bother?” One such named highway would be planned as the Riley Highway.

I covered part of this route when I discussed the coming of SR 9 to locations south of Greenfield. But what wasn’t covered was the actual plan of the complete route. Planning started for this highway in 1925, long after the ISHC had taken a lot of roads into its care. It was Summer 1925 when organizations started planning a “Jame Whitcomb Riley Memorial Highway” from Petoskey, Michigan, to Miami, Florida, through the poet’s hometown of Greenfield. Yes, you read that right. A cross country route through Greenfield.

Memberships in the organization was launched in Goshen in October 1925. (South Bend Tribune, 23 October 1925) It was hoped to sell 125 memberships at a cost of $25 a piece. The primary selling point of the road was that it would cut the travel from Michigan to Florida by nearly 600 miles compared to the already establish Dixie Highway. Strangely, the plan for the new named highway would use other Auto Trails that were already in place between Elkhart and Anderson. From Elkhart to Goshen, the Lincoln Highway would be used. The 110 miles between Goshen and Anderson would follow the route of the Hoosier Dixie Highway.

From Anderson to Greenfield, the plan was to use what was then SR 11 between the two cities via Pendleton. This had been the original Anderson-Greenfield State Road. South of Greenfield, the a collection of roads would be used to connect to Shelbyville, Hope and Seymour. South of Seymour, the Riley Highway would use what was then SR 1 to New Albany and Kentucky. The planned route had, for the most part, the benefit of already having been improved by the state of Indiana.

In my other post about the Riley Highway, I had mentioned that the route left south out of Greenfield using Franklin Street. This wasn’t entirely accurate. But the difference was not by much. According to the Hancock Democrat of 8 October 1925, signage was being posted along the Greenfield section of the new highway. These signs were posted along North Main Street, West Main Street, and South Riley Avenue. Part of this routing was to ensure that the highway bearing Riley’s name would pass by the homestead of the poet. From there, the highway would run west along what is now Tague Street to Franklin Street. From there, it was a relatively straight shot (as straight as could be accomplished in early Indiana!) to Fountaintown. A winding path would be followed from there to Shelbyville. From Shelbyville south, the road was relatively straight through Norristown and Hope, skirting to the east of Columbus, before curving to the southwest, then south, onward toward Seymour.

Shelby County would be an early adopter of the Riley Highway plan. The committee for the road had been put in place as early as mid-August, 1925. (Greenfield Daily Reporter, 15 August 1925) The committee included 36 businessmen from the Shelbyville area, and six residents of Fountaintown. Shelby County would have to come up with at least 100 memberships in the Riley Highway Association before there was even consideration of routing the road through Shelby County. These memberships cost either $10 a year or $25 for three years. One of the advantages that was touted for the Riley Highway was that the Fountaintown Road would become part of the state highway system. This wouldn’t happen until late 1931.

Marking of the route through Shelby County was started, according to the Shelbyville Republican, in October 1925. $2,500 was raised to sign and advertise the road through the county. (The Shelbyville Republican, as printed in the Greenfield Daily Reporter, 8 October 1925) “The road, designed to run from a point in Michigan to Miami, Florida, leads from Greeenfield, the boyhood home of Riley, into Shelby county. It comes from Fountaintown to Shelbyville, over what is known as the Greenfield road, and from here passes along the Norristown road, south and west to Hope.” Again, the selling point of the state highway system was used to raise the money. “It is figured that at the end of the three years the road would be taken over as a part of the State system of highways.” Along with marking the route, signs at all points of danger were also posted, as were curves along the route. The road was marked at road intersections along the way.

Backers of the road were many. According to the Greeenfield Daily Reporter of 26 August 1925, towns that had contributed to the plan were listed: Elkhart, Goshen, Warsaw, Wabash, Marion, Alexandria, Anderson, Pendleton, Shelbyville, Columbus, Seymour and New Albany. One sentence in the article is tinged with irony. “Every town and city in the State through which the road passes has contributed its quote of finances except Greenfield.”

Not all outside Indiana were onboard with the project either. An editorial in the Grand Rapids Press, republished in the South Bend Tribune of 14 May 1926, mentions that “Western Michigan had better make serious inquiry into the why and wherefore of the Indiana Riley Highway proposition before it subserviently hands over its Mackinaw trail designation and its established good will to the purposes of a one-man promotion scheme from another state.” It wasn’t finished there. “In the first place, it might be a wise precaution to send investigators into Indiana, to discoved (sic) what actual possibilities there are behind the optimistic ‘Riley highway’ plan to run another north and south road through that state. It is one thing to name a road and another to build it.” The editorial goes on to question what the ISHC would say about the project. “What does the Indiana state highway department say about this proposition? What does it say about the projected highway from Alexandria to Wabash, dodging the present state route?” The article ends with the question “wouldn’t cooperative work toward these highway linkings be a more practical and profitable plan for Michigan than the blind surrender of our Mackinaw trail with its traditions dating back to the romance of earliest Michigan history?”

Greenfield City Council voted in April 1926 for the improvement of “Riley avenue from Main street south to Tague street, and thence west on Tague street to the west corporate limits, by grading, draining and paving with cement or concrete in such manner and to such extent as may be ordered bu the county commissioners in a petition for improvement of this part of the proposed Riley highway, now pending before said Board.” (Hancock Democrat, 22 April 1926)

Though only parts of the ultimate route would be marked by the white and yellow bands of the Riley Highway, the name was used all over the state to give directions. Especially for the section from Greenfield south to Hope. A popular location in Shelby County was the Flat Rock Caves. Those caves were just off the Riley Highway at the Flat Rock River. The road is now Vandalia Road connecting Shelbyville to Geneva and Greensburg. (The road was originally part of the state road connecting Franklin to Greensburg.) The caves are still there, but have been closed for many years.

Ultimately, it looks like the national trail idea fell through. From what research I can gather, the Riley Highway designation was mostly only used from Pendleton to Seymour. This was especially true in Shelby County, which still maintains that as the name of the road, even though south of Shelbyville it is marked as SR 9. Most of the road can still be followed between these points, with a few places where the state replaced turns with curves. And, with the exception of Pendleton itself, and the section from Greenfield to Shelby County Road 750N, the route was, indeed, taken into the state highway system as SR 9.

Fight for Adding SR 44 from Martinsville to Rushville

When the Great Renumbering occurred on 1 October 1926, most of the roads were just that, renumbered. One of the purposes of the State Highway system in Indiana was to connect the centers of county government to each other in the form of state roads. There was, however, a large missing section in this plan. In the “donut” counties surrounding Marion County, to get from, say, Martinsville to Shelbyville using the highways required going far out of the way to accomplish this task. Today, people use SR 44…but this was a very late addition to the entire plan.

When SR 44 was created on that day in 1926, the road only connected Connersville to Liberty on a less direct route than is used today. The road was also under construction from Rushville to Connersville, although the route hadn’t been completely set out before maps were issued showing the new road numbers. The centers of government of Shelby and Johnson Counties were served by only one state highway each. The seat of Morgan County was served by two, but they were both north-south routes. Shelbyville was on SR 29, Franklin was on US 31, and Martinsville was served by SR 37 and SR 39, with a connection across the White River to SR 67.

For someone to travel from, say, Martinsville to Rushville, using state highways, required going either through Bloomington, Columbus and Greensburg via SR 46 and SR 3, or going through Indianapolis using SR 37 and US 52. Both Franklin and Shelbyville were suffering from the same fate.

But this wasn’t always the case. In the Auto Trail era, these three cities were connected to Rushville using a road called the Minute Man Route. This Auto Trail connected Farmersburg, on the Dixie Bee Line (future OSR 10/US 41) through Clay City and Spencer to Martinsville. From there, it was a (more or less) direct line through Franklin, Shelbyville, and Rushville to Connersville. At Connersville, the Minute Man Route used a more northern route to Liberty than the 1926 version or the current SR 44.

The Minute Man Route was designated when the Lexington Automobile Company, which had a plant at Connersville, started building a new model of car. That car was called the Minute Man, with the name being chosen for the highway that would be marked at that time.

The four counties from Martinsville to Rushville started very quickly to get the State Highway Commission to accept the Minute Man Route into the state highway system. It began before the Great Renumbering, with newspaper articles published on 17 July 1926 in both the Rushville Daily Republican and the Martinsville Reporter-Times reporting that the Franklin Star covered a meeting on 15 July 1926 “for the purpose of promoting the movement to have the State Highway Commission take over and improve the Minute Man route which connects Shelbyville, Franklin and Martinsville.” It was brought up that the ISHC was “neglecting southern Indiana.” An investigation into the subject “found that in comparison to other counties, the counties crossed by the Minute Man route do not have the east and west improved roads that they are entitled to.”

The Franklin Evening Star of 13 September 1929, three years after the start of the movement, reported that Shelby County was taking a decided step in the direction of getting the road accepted by the state. The county government in Shelbyville authorized $15,000 “for the purpose of widening the narrow grade between Shelbyville and Franklin.” It was believed by the newspaper that this improvement would help in the effort to get an east-west state highway across these counties. The state rebuffed such efforts at that time.

In 1930, the ISHC added some 600 miles of roads to the state highway system. Alas, according to the Franklin Evening Star of 09 October 1930, “the 600 miles of road taken over by the state, did not however, include the proposed state highway between Rushville, Shelbyville, Franklin and Martinsville.” It went on to state “agitation for the inclusion of this route in the state system has been urged by business men of the four cities at various times during the four years but no formal action has been taken by the highway commission.” The ISHC stated that “action was prevented at that time by a lack of finances but that the route would be placed on the preferred list and taken over as soon as conditions would permit.” One problem with this excuse, at least in my eyes, is that the Three Notch Route had been taken over by the state, connecting Nashville and Trafalgar to Indianapolis as SR 35. The state saw this as a relief route to US 31 to southern Indiana.

This rebuffing by the ISHC of taking the Minute Man Route into the state highway system continued. The Franklin Evening Star of 10 December 1931 stated that a report to the ISHC made it “Hardly Possible That Cross-State Road Will be Put in Highway System Soon.” This report was made by I. N. Brown after a conference with John J. Brown, the director of the State Highway Commission. The study included extending the route to Richmond.

Partial success occurred in early 1932, with the Franklin-Shelbyville section of the road taken into the state highway system. The section of the road between Martinsville and Franklin was in limbo at the time due to failure to reach an agreement with Morgan County officials regarding the payment of a bill for $8,000, which the county owed the state.

Over the years, SR 44 has been straightened in many places between the four cities involved. There are many sections of road through especially Johnson, Shelby and Rush Counties marked “Old SR 44.” The route, however, is no longer a continuous road. In the past decade (as of this writing on 25 October 2019), SR 44 was decommissioned through Franklin. SR 44 ends, on the west, at SR 144, west of the city. East of the city, the official beginning/end of SR 44 is at Interstate 65. Parts of a truck route around Franklin exist, but an official state routing requires a long drive to either Indianapolis or Edinburgh.

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.”

Road Trip 1926: US 52

Well, we are going a little out of order with today’s road trip. But, I am following the lead of Jim Grey, my co-admin of the Indiana Transportation History Facebook group, as today is a special day…number 52, as a matter of fact.

US 52 started, originally, at US 41 near Fowler, Indiana. This beginning of the route created an almost direct route from Cincinnati to Chicago, via Indianapolis. Through Indiana, it took the place of a couple of original state roads: the Lafayette Road (Lafayette to Indianapolis) and the Brookville Road (Indianapolis to Brookville). In the Auto Trail era, parts of the road were also part of the Jackson Highway (from Montmorenci to Lafayette and from Lebanon to Indianapolis). Those sections would become original SR 6 in 1919. By 1923, the section from Indianapolis to Brookville (and to the Ohio state line) became OSR 39.

The rest of what became US 52 was a “new route” (not part of the then state highway system) when the Great Renumbering happened on 1 October 1926.

Early Highway Markers

In 1919, when the Indiana State Highway Commission was (re)created, a method of signing the new state highway system had to be created. Marking of highways at this point had been done by painting markers on to utility poles. Because of this, the Auto Trails created a rainbow of colors and simple markers to make a road easy to follow. Unless you came to the junction of multiple highways. Then it got a little dicey.

Indiana decided that, in 1917, the new Market road system would be marked pretty much the same way. The difference is that the highways would be numbered, and the markers would be in the shape of the state, with the words “STATE ROAD” included with the number. These signs would be painted onto the same utility poles containing the markers of the roads that the new state roads were replacing. Almost all state roads created through 1930 were placed along the routes of the earlier Auto Trails. This made for a very confusing driving situation.

With the Great Renumbering of 1926, a new system of signage was created. At first, the words “STATE ROAD” were removed from the new signage for Indiana state roads. The 1926 version of this sign included the shore line of Lake Michigan as part of the Indiana outline. (It should be noted that looking at a map of the state of Indiana, there is a common belief that the state line follows the shore of Lake Michigan. That is not entirely accurate. The state line is a straight line concurrent with the lines between Illinois and Indiana, and Indiana and Michigan. The northern state lines are actually square.)

It was in 1926 that the state also decided to stop painting the route numbers onto utility poles. I would assume that this was two fold. First, there were so many highway markings that the poles were getting more confusing than ever. Second, the basic complexity of the new state road signs, and especially the new US highway sign, which included a shield, the word “Indiana,” the letters “US,” and a number. The new route markers would be put on flat steel signs, with the legend embossed (pressed) into the steel plate.

1930 Indiana state road markers.

By 1930, the markers, at least for state highways, would change again. This time, the outline of the state would include a square northern border. I imagine this was due to the fact that embossing a straight line is a bit easier than trying to emboss the shore line of Lake Michigan. The use of directional arrows would, mostly, not be put in place for almost two decades. The only exception would would the so-called “night signs,” which would be put in more dangerous driving situations.

1930 State highway “night sign” marker, with description.

The US highway marker wouldn’t change. They still didn’t use directional arrows, instead using smaller US shield shaped signs with the letters “L” and “R” in them for turning directions. These, unlike those that would come later, were cutout signs, meaning the shape of the sign matched that of the shield. Later, the shield would be embossed (then painted, and later [currently] printed and/or sticker cut) into a square sign with a black background.

1930 US Highway route markers.

The phaseout of the state shaped route markers would start in the late 1940s, with the new state road sign being square with the would “INDIANA” at the top. This is the current design, although, just like as was mentioned with the US markers above, the signs went from embossed, to painted to the current sticker cut or printing. The colors of the signs has never changed in over 100 years, still being black on white for the state and US highways.

Postscript. One of the earliest entries here on Indiana Transportation History made the point that US highways are actually state roads with a number that crosses a state line. That can be read here. From the same source that I “liberated” the above images comes the following description, shown in the image below.

1930 description of state and US highway markers.


Situated near the head of navigable waters on the Wabash River, the town of Lafayette was founded in 1825. At that location, it became an important transportation hub in north central Indiana. As the county seat of Tippecanoe County, it became the confluence of several early state roads and railroads, and a place on the Wabash and Erie Canal. Today, it still maintains that position, albeit with a bit of moving things around for efficiency.

A little history. Tippecanoe County was created from parts of the unorganized Wabash County (which at the time encompassed almost all territory in the state west of the second principal meridian) on 20 January 1826, effective 1 March 1826. Part of this territory had already been, jurisdictionally, part of Parke County. Part of the county’s territory wasn’t ceded to the state until October 1826. Lafayette, platted in May 1825, was made the county seat at the same time. Tippecanoe County is among the very few counties that have not had any territorial changes since its time of creation, with the exception of some unorganized territory jurisdiction until those areas were incorporated into counties of their own.

Other than river travel along the Wabash, the first transportation facilities built into the town were state roads from assorted places in Indiana. These included the Crawfordsville Road (now roughly US 231), the Noblesville Road (roughly SR 38) and the Indianapolis Road (roughly US 52). The original junction of the last two was on the SR 38 side of what is now Tippecanoe Mall. This can be seen in the Google Map image below by the property lines that remain.

Google Map image of the area of the original area of the junction of the Noblesville-Lafayette and Indianapolis-Lafayette state roads. The property lines diagonally from left of center bottom to the northwest show the location of the original Indianapolis road. Image snipped 14 September 2019.

The next facility built that connected to Lafayette would be the Wabash and Erie Canal, finished to the town in the 1840s, although the canal would actually be across the river from the town (through what is now West Lafayette). This canal would allow traffic from Lake Erie, at Toledo, to connect to the Ohio River, via the Wabash and White Rivers, at Evansville. The Wabash and Erie would end up being the longest canal built in the United States, a total of 497 miles. The canal itself competed with another canal from Toledo, connecting to Cincinnati. It connected to Lafayette in 1843. It would be the premium transportation facility to the town for less than a decade. It would be superseded by the railroad, even though canal traffic would continue for decades.

Three years after the coming of the canal, on 19 January 1846, the state of Indiana incorporated the Lafayette & Indianapolis (L&I) Railroad company. This was the most successful attempt at creating a railroad to connect the two cities. The first was an addition to the Madison & Indianapolis to connect to the town. Later laws allowed for this addition to be either a railroad, or if more financially efficient, a road to connect Lafayette to the Hoosier capitol town. (Indianapolis was legally a town until October 1847.) The original plan was to connect Indianapolis, via Crawfordsville, to Lafayette.

The L&I finished construction, on a more direct route, in 1852. On 14 February 1867, the L&I merged with the Indianapolis & Cincinnati Railroad to form the Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette Railway. That, in turn, was reorganized on 10 July 1873 to become the Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette (IC&L) Railroad. This version of the IC&L would be sold at foreclosure on 2 February 1880, becoming part of the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago (CISTL&C) Railway on 6 March 1880. This, in turn, would be consolidated into the new Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, better known as the “Big Four,” on 1 Jul 1889. The Big Four would have strong connections with the New York Central system, although it was technically its own company, starting in 1906. By 1930, the Big Four was merged into the NYC, ending its separate existence.

Between 1846 and 1852, a new railroad would be built from the south, starting in Crawfordsville, to connect to Lafayette. While this sounds like the original plan for the Madison, Indianapolis & Lafayette mentioned above, it wasn’t that company that had anything to do with it. Incorporated on 19 January 1846, the Crawfordsville & Wabash Railroad was created to build north from the title town. The 28 miles to Lafayette were finished in 1852, just in time for the C&W to be sold to the New Albany & Salem Rail Road company. This would become part of the ultimate line idea to connect New Albany to Chicago and Michigan City. Seven years later, the company would change its name to better show off its size: Louisville, New Albany & Chicago. This company went from being a (legally) railroad (24 October 1859), to a railway (7 January 1873), to a consolidated railway (10 August 1881), all while keeping the same base name. The last consolidation would include the Chicago & Indianapolis Airline Railway (“airline” in this context means the fastest and most direct route allowed for a railroad). Another name change in the company formed the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway. It wouldn’t be until 1956 when the name changed to the nickname the line had for many years during the CI&L period: Monon. The line is now part of CSX, like the old New York Central line mentioned above.

The next railroad to reach Lafayette would become the Wabash Railroad. Like the Wabash and Erie Canal, the railroad would connect Lafayette to Toledo. To the west, the line continued toward Danville, Illinois, through Attica. The original company to build the line was the Wabash & Western Railway, incorporated in Indiana on 27 September 1858. After several consolidations, and bankruptcies, the line would come under the umbrella of the nearly 2000 mile Wabash system.

On 13 July 1869, the Lafayette, Muncie & Bloomington (LM&B) Railroad was incorporated in Indiana to connect the title cities (Bloomington being in Illinois). Construction on the line started shortly after the incorporation was passed into law. It would start at Bloomington, Illinois, headed toward Lafayette. From there, it would traverse the Indiana countryside through Frankfort to its terminus at Muncie. The line was completed, for a total of just shy of 36 miles, to Lafayette from the Illinois-Indiana state line in 1872. The other 85 miles, to Muncie, was completed in 1876. The LM&B would not last long as a separate entity after its completion, being purchased by the Lake Erie & Western (LE&W) on 28 April 1879. 1879 was the year that several lines were purchased to create the overall LE&W. The railroad itself would find itself controlled by the New York Central from 1900 to 1922, when it was sold to the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, better known as the Nickel Plate.

These two railroads would become part of the Norfolk & Western (N&W) Railway on 16 October 1964, but in different ways. The Nickel Plate became part of the N&W flat out, via merger. Technically, the Nickel Plate ceased to exist that day. The Wabash, however, was leased by the N&W. As such, the Wabash maintained a more separate existence even through the N&W/Southern merger creating the Norfolk Southern (NS). The Wabash still existed, on paper at least, until the NS finally absorbed, in merger form, the Wabash in November 1991. Stock in the company would be traded until that time.

In 1902, a new form of transportation was aiming to come to the city. The Fort Wayne, Logansport & Lafayette Traction Company was trying to get the tow path from the (at that time) old Wabash and Erie Canal “from the west line of High street in Logansport westward to the county line” condemned for use as the right-of-way for the new interurban line. This was, as reported in the Indianapolis Journal of 27 August 1902, because the company claimed that the right-of-way was “necessary to construct its line in, through and between the cities of Fort Wayne, Huntington, Wabash, Peru, Logansport, Delphi and Lafayette.” The defendants in this action were the owners of property along that tow path. Another suit, involving the same company, sought the same action for the entire tow path, 39 miles, from Lafayette to Logansport. This would culminate in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (14 December 1902) headline “The Fort Wayne, and Lafayette Traction Company Can Have Tow Path if it Pays the Price.” The value of the land between Logansport and Lafayette was determined to be $38,750.80.

Another line entering Lafayette was built from Indianapolis. By 27 June 1903 (Indianapolis Journal), the Indianapolis & Northern Traction Company, building a line from Indianapolis along the Michigan Road, through Zionsville, Whitestown and Lebanon (roughly following the Big Four Lafayette Line), then through Frankfort to Lafayette was two miles away from the city. This line would become part of the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company, owners of a large number of the routes leaving Indianapolis. In 1930, this line was purchased by Midland Utilities, and consolidated into the Indiana Railroad (1930). After this purchase, the line wouldn’t last long before it was abandoned due to profitability issues.

With the (second) creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1919, Lafayette would be connected to the state highway system using state roads 29 and 32. State road 29 started in Boswell, connecting Oxford, Otterbein, West Lafayette, Lafayette, and Russiaville, ending at the Range Line Road, then SR 1 (now US 31) south of Kokomo. State road 32 started in Lafayette, connecting to Bloomington via Crawfordsville, Greencastle, Cloverdale and Spencer. State road 29 west of Lafayette would become US 52 and SR 22 in 1926. East of Lafayette, the number would be changed from 29 to 26. State road 32 would become part of SR 43. This would change with the addition of US 231 to Indiana, removing the SR 43 designation in favor of the new US route number, in 1951.

With the Great Renumbering, more state roads were added to, or authorized to be added to, the city of Lafayette. US 52 would follow the old Indianapolis state road to that city. Northwest out of Lafayette, there were already plans in place to move the newly designated US 52. Northeast out of town, a new state road was authorized to be built to Delphi. This was to be designated SR 25. Also authorized was an extension to SR 43 north from the city, ultimately connecting to Michigan City. In the years to follow, Lafayette would also be connected to SR 25 to the southwest and SR 26 to the west. The number 43 would remain north of town, as the new US 231 would follow US 52 and then replace SR 53 north from Montmorenci. The last state road to head toward the city would be SR 38, which roughly followed the original state road from Noblesville.

Many changes in transportation facilities have occurred in Lafayette since the creation of all those mentioned above. US 52 and US 231 have been rerouted around the city. The railroads have consolidated routes for efficiency through downtown. Lafayette is served by both of the major railroad companies in the eastern United States: CSX and NS. Prior to 1999, it was actually served by all three. The third being Conrail. Lafayette still serves as the transportation hub in the area.

1930: South Bend becoming State Highway Hub

South Bend Tribune, 28 August 1930. The headline reads “City to Become Hub in State’s Road System.” At the time, South Bend was at the crossroads of two United States highways, US 20 and US 31. Before that, in the Auto Trail era, South Bend had been the location of the junction of the two Carl G. Fisher brainchildren: the Lincoln Highway and Dixie Highway. But, the two different eras didn’t entirely use the same roads.

Indiana State Highway Commission officials held a conference about future plans. South Bend became a center of state truck routes, with the addition of three more state routes through the city. They would be through routes added. It would be the following week before definite plans and inspection by state highway officials would occur.

The following conclusions were made by the conference that was attended by Governor Harry G. Leslie, members of the State Highway Commission, the Chamber of Commerce good roads committee and city and county officials:

“1 – Announcement that a 40-foot highway from South Bend to Michigan City will be constructed over the route of the old Lincoln Highway before the world’s fair in Chicago in 1933, thus affording South Bend two arteries of travel to Chicago.”

“2 – Continuance of state road No. 2 from Elkhart to South Bend, entering on Lincoln Way East, and continuing through LaPorte over what is known as state route No. 20.”

“3 – Rerouting of U. S. highway No. 112 from Elkhart to South Bend, entering South Bend on north side of river and Fillmore road, which will be opened by the city through to LaSalle avenue.”

“4 – Indication by state highway commission that U. S. No. 112 after leaving South Bend will be routed west over Lincoln Highway.”

“5 – Decision of commission temporarily to route state road No. 23, also known as the Edwardsburg highway, southwest from the city over the Liberty highway as the first link of a Detroit, Mich., to St. Louis, Mo., highway.”

“6 – Announcement that the state will take over the Liberty highway and attempt to force the New York Central railroad to cooperate in eliminating the gap in pavement near the abandoned Consumers gravel pit.”

“7 – Promise of state officials that adequate snow removal equipment would be in operation in St. Joseph county this winter.”

It is important to realize that when the state highway system was renumbered in 1926, the Lincoln Highway, connecting Fort Wayne to Dyer through Ligonier, Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend, LaPorte and Valparaiso, was only partly on the new highway lines. The portion from South Bend to Rolling Prairie, also part of the historic Michigan Road, was notably left off official highway maps. Both points one and two above discuss the possibility of adding this old highway back into state property rolls. U. S. 20, also called state road No. 20 in this article, left South Bend to the west via what is now Western Avenue in a straight line to Michigan City, unlike the old Michigan Road/Lincoln Highway. As mentioned in point two, the Western Avenue route would become also part of SR 2. It turned out that it would become only SR 2 eventually.

Points three and four mention US 112, a daughter highway of US 12. US 12 traveled straight across Michigan from Detroit to Benton Harbor, then south along Lake Michigan into Indiana to meet US 20 near Michigan City. US 112 linked, originally, downtown Detroit to Elkhart. US 112 was one of the original US highways created in the 1925/1926 plan. US 112 following the Lincoln Highway west of South Bend made sense. The article goes on to mention that “the Lincoln highway was dropped from the state highway system when highway No. 20 was constructed. The Lincoln highway has a 100-foot right-of-way.” US 112 would be removed from Indiana by 1937.

Point five expands SR 23, not an original state road, through South Bend to eventually SR 10 between Bass Lake and Culver. The northern part of this route was added to the state highway system in 1930. The Liberty Highway was added to the system in 1932. This extension of SR 23 would lead to two daughter routes being created: SR 123 that followed Mayflower Road between SR 23 and US 20 (Michigan Road/Lincoln Highway), and SR 223 that followed Crumstown Highway from SR 123/Mayflower Road to SR 23. The former existed until 1981. The latter until 1972.

The plans mentioned in this article were all put into place by the end of 1933. South Bend would become a hub in the state highway system. Today, even with the reroute of US 31 and US 20 around the city, and US 33 being decommissioned from Elkhart west and north, South Bend still maintains a hub status. This is in part because St. Joseph County requested that its sections of old state roads not be removed from the state system (this is why SR 933 only exists in the county, and SR 931 south from South Bend ends at the county line, as well).

The Leavenworth or Three Notch Road in Marion & Johnson Counties

SR 135. The original route that it follows through Marion and Johnson Counties had two names until it was added to the state road system in 1930 as SR 35: Three Notch Road and Leavenworth Road. The latter name comes from the southern terminus of the original state road created in the 1820s, Leavenworth. (Actually, it connected Indianapolis to “old” Leavenworth, a town that is all but abandoned after being wiped out by the Great Flood of 1937.)

The other name, Three Notch, comes from a colonial road naming tradition. Most trails in Colonial America were marked by marking, or notching, trees along the route. The number of notches showed the relative length of the road. Three notches were the longest. Considering Leavenworth is actually south of Louisville, Kentucky, I have no problem understanding the three notches.

In Johnson and Marion Counties, what is now SR 135 follows a survey line one mile west of the range line separating Ranges III and IV East (in Marion County, that range line is Shelby Street, in Johnson County, it is CR 200W). The road follows that survey line until it reaches Trafalgar (at least currently). The old road followed that same survey line even further, to CR 625S . (That is covered here.)

The old road is almost completely straight. There are very few variations in the correction of the survey line this route follows. Correction lines in the survey occur every six miles. From Indianapolis south, the first correction line is at what is now Thompson Road. The second is in Johnson County, at what is now Smith Valley Road. A quick glance at a map will show that the road drifts a little to the west at those points as you are going south. The road migrates east (going south) at the next correction line at SR 300N (at Bargersville). At CR 300S, the last correction line before Trafalgar, the correction line moves a tad bit west again.

Along the original route, the road did swerve a little around a hill just south of the first correction line mentioned above. This hill was later used as a cemetery, a use it still has today. When the state decided to widen the road, it was moved to the east of that cemetery.

At the original northern terminus of the Three Notch Road, it also had two other names before the Auto Trail era: Waverly Road and Bluff Road. Now, both of these names stem from the same location: the Bluffs of the White River at Waverly. (More information here.) Yes, this is where the current Bluff Road started. With the Auto Trail era, this old road, at least to what is now Bluff Road, became part of the Dixie Highway created by Carl Fisher.

With the Great Renumbering in 1926, the first section of the old Leavenworth/Three Notch Road south from South Street, was SR 37. The original SR 37 followed (what is now) Meridian Street from South Street to Bluff Road. (Remember, SR 37, as originally numbered, ended at US 31 – South Street, Meridian Street, and Madison Avenue. It was not numbered north of Indianapolis, and the road that would become SR 37 north of Indianapolis was given the number SR 13…only it was a few years after 1926.) After Bluff Road, the old Three Notch Road was just a series of county roads connecting the Bluff Road/Dixie Highway to points south like Bargersville, Morgantown and Nashville.

When SR 35 was extended into Marion and Johnson Counties in 1930, it followed the old Three Notch Road. In Indianapolis, both SR 35 and SR 37 multiplexed from US 31 south to Bluff Road. It was still a multiplex in this section when SR 35 became SR 135 in 1935. (Wow…lots of 35s there, eh? :D) Eventually, SR 37 was moved to West Street, (almost) bypassing downtown Indianapolis. SR 135 would be pared back over the years. One thing that has remained is that SR 135 has always ended at US 31, no matter where that end is.

But the Three Notch Road has remained. Like most roads in Marion County, the name given to the county section didn’t continue once it crossed the Indianapolis city limits. For instance, when the city limits were at Southern Avenue, north of Pleasant Run the street was Meridian. The name Three Notch Road started at Southern Avenue going south. The name Meridian Street would creep its way down this old road until it reached the county line. This would coincide with the expansion of the city limits to the county line.

Another, non transportation related, piece of history is the fact that the section of the road between Southern and Troy Avenues was in Center Township, not Indianapolis. For those unfamiliar with the difference, Governmental townships in Marion County have their own school districts. Since the city of Indianapolis started, and was mainly contained in, Center Township, most people assume that Indianapolis and Center Township schools were one and the same. Until the early 1960’s, Center Township had their own schools. Four of them, as a matter of fact. With school consolidation, the Center Township schools became part of Indianapolis Public Schools. I share this because one block east of this road, on Yoke Street, is a building marked Center Township School #2.

One of the charms of this old road is the fact that it did take travelers, since the 1820s, through the rugged beauty of Brown County, more or less. It did connect, but not directly, to Nashville. Then again, that’s because Nashville is between Indianapolis and the Ohio River at Leavenworth.

As an aside, in southern Indiana, SR 135 is NOT part of the old Three Notch Road. It is part of another old state road that connected Indianapolis to the Ohio River: the Mauck’s Ferry Road. The road is now called Mauxferry Road. The road connected Indianapolis to Mauckport on the Ohio River via Franklin. It would follow the Madison-Indianapolis State Road to Franklin, then split off to go to Mauckport. That old road was cut in two with the creation of Camp Atterbury in 1942.

Old US 52 in Franklin County

Indiana has a ton of old roads that are marked “Old whatever.” Some of them are really old. For instance, there is an “Old SR 34” in Indiana, although there is no SR 34…and hasn’t been one since 1951. But while roaming Google Maps, I found an old state road that never was…Old US 52 northwest of Metamora.

Old US 52 from Lake View to SR 121. Map courtesy of Google Maps.

The above image shows a Google Map that was snipped on 14 June 2019. It shows a road called “Old US 52.” This interested me. Those that have read this blog, or the Facebook group, know that when I glom onto something that grabs my interest, I stick with it to the best of my ability. Well, with a road name like this, I was going to be interested. And what I found was, well, enlightening.

As usual, I will start with a brief history. The road that became US 52 in 1926 was part of the original Brookville State Road from Brookville to east of Indianapolis. On the Marion County end, it is still called Brookville Road. This road connected in Marion County to the National Road almost three miles east of downtown Indianapolis. Most of the old road traveled through rural areas, with only two bigger towns on the route: Rushville and Brookville. And, so, the Brookville State Road was used for this purpose for around 100 years.

1919 Rand McNally Auto Trails map showing the section of the old Brookville State Road from Rushville to Brookville. The circled and highlighted section shows that is now called “Old US 52.”

In 1923, the old Brookville State Road became Original State Road (OSR) 39. It included part of the above highlighted section. The road shown as OSR 39 on this map appears to be completely gone at this point. But the 1924 Indiana Official Highway maps shows that this section of OSR 39 was rerouted to roughly the current route of US 52.

Indiana Official Highway Map, 1923, showing OSR 39 between Rushville and Brookville.
Indiana Official Highway Map, 1924, showing OSR 39 between Rushville and Brookville.

On 1 October, 1926, what was OSR 39 became part of the United States Highway system as Route 52. This was basically a sign change, as the route changed very little between 1924 and 1926. OSR 39/US 52 fulfilled the same purpose as the original Brookville State Road, albeit a bit shorter route. It still does to this day.

But this also begs the question: why is the subject road called “Old US 52” when it, apparently, never was part of US 52. My bet, and this is only a guess, is that it all stems from the old Brookville State Road. The rerouted version became US 52, so the original road was “old” US 52. Again, this is only a guess.

The original route connected again to the current US 52 at the junction of US 52 and SR 121.

US 31 at Columbus

I can’t think of any highway in Indiana that has been bypassed and/or moved more that US 31. Part of this, honestly, was because the original route left something to be desired when it came to turns, curves and other hazards. Keeping in mind that US 31 came into being on 1 October 1926, there were a lot of changes before the coming of 1946, its twentieth anniversary.

At Columbus, it changed quite a bit over the years. At one point, there was a US 31 and a US 31A, an extended following of the old Madison State Road, a take over of both SR 9 and SR 9W, and a removal and replacement of a section of SR 7 (which would later become part of SR 46!).

1939 Indiana Official Highway Map of Bartholomew County

Let’s start with the original US 31, as marked on 1 October 1926. Coming from the north, US 31 followed the old Madison State Road, and the Jackson Highway Auto Trail, into Columbus along what is now Indianapolis Road to its junction at 8th Street (yes, I know, that intersection is gone). The road then turned south on Brown Street to Second Street, where the bridge crossed the Flatrock River. US 31 then exited Columbus on what is now SR 11.

1941 Indiana Official Highway Map of Bartholomew County

The first change in the routing of US 31 happened in the time frame of 1940-1941 (as shown in the 1941 Indiana Official Map), when the road was routed, from Second and Brown Streets, along SR 7 to the junction that, in 1939, was listed as SR 9W. That routing is the current path from what is now SR 46 south to Seymour. (SR 46 was rerouted over a decade ago to take over what was SR 9.) In 1939, there was SR 9W, which ran south from SR 7 to Bartholomew County Road 475S. At that time, CR 475S was SR 9, which then turned south on what is now US 31 (National Road). National Road would be the same as CR 400E. Old US 31 became US 31A with the moving of the official US 31 route. The 1941 map also shows that the current bypass from north of Columbus to SR 7 was under construction.

1942 Indiana Official Highway Map of Bartholomew County

As a side note, I mentioned that the original US 31 entered Columbus from the north on the original Indianapolis-Madison State Road. That old road left Columbus along what is shown on these maps as SR 7. Now, it would be SR 46 before it becomes SR 7.

The 1942 official map shows that the US 31 bypass of Columbus was complete. With this completion, not only was SR 9 removed south of Columbus (replaced by US 31), it was rerouted to the road that is now SR 46. At Newbern, SR 46 and SR 9 met for 70 years. INDOT would move SR 46 to the route of SR 9 south of that point, ending SR 9 at the same place.

1979 Indiana Official Highway Map of Bartholomew County

The 1979 official map shows something that I don’t remember ever seeing before: SR 31A. What was US 31A is marked on the 1979 as SR 31A. This makes sense, given the way Indiana does state road numbers. There have been very few “A” routes in Indiana history. Usually, if a bypass is built, Indiana gives the old route a “daughter” number. It was unusual that this route was given an “A” number, even more so that it remained officially a US route for 36 years. In 1983, the road would again be labelled, on maps anyway, as US 31A.

1985 Indiana Official Highway Map of Bartholomew County

The last official change made to US 31 in the Columbus area was in 1985, when the old US 31A was recommissioned as SR 11. This made the old road a continuation of SR 11 which connected at the end of US 31A at Seymour.

1999 would be the last year that the old US 31 leaving Columbus to the north would be part of the state highway system. In 2000, not only was that section of SR 11 removed, but SR 46 was rerouted along what was SR 9, and SR 7 ended at US 31. That would end 82 years of Indianapolis Road in Columbus being a state road. It all started by being part of State Market Highway 1 in 1917. Then original SR 1 in 1919.

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.:

(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 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.

US 31 in Hamilton and Marion Counties

When the original State Highway Commission law was passed in March 1917, one of the original “Main Market Highways” was the Range Line Road north of Indianapolis. This was designated Highway 1. The Range Line Road was, and still is, built basically due north and south through most of Hamilton County, and followed the old Westfield Pike through northern Marion County to Broad Ripple.

The old road followed what is now Meridian Street north to the old Central Canal, where it turned to follow the canal to near its connection at White River. The old road is called “Westfield Boulevard” through this section.

What this Google Map doesn’t show is how tight the road actually gets through this section. One of the purposes of the state road system was to make truck routes throughout the state. The system is designed so that all trucks, with some marked exceptions, be allowed to use the designated routes without hassles. The section at Broad Ripple was a little questionable with the width of the road in spots.

From Broad Ripple, the old road followed basically a straight line, the Range Line, to just south of Kokomo. Through when entering the old section of Carmel, the road name became Range Line Road, a tribute to the old Auto Trail name. North of Carmel, it was called Westfield Road until it reached Westfield, where it became Union Street.

This route, on 1 October 1926, became part of US 31. The limitations of the route had been apparent from the beginning. They really became a problem with more trucks on the road. It wasn’t long until the State Highway Commission decided to bypass the section from Broad Ripple to Carmel.

In 1929, plans were announced to build a new US 31 from the Central Canal to just north of downtown Carmel. There were some that didn’t like the idea. The citizens of Carmel didn’t like the idea of being removed from the state highway. They recommended connecting the new road from the canal north along what is now Meridian Street to the old road near Nora.

History shows us that the town of Carmel didn’t get their way. Sort of. And, well, bypass wasn’t exactly true either.

For starters, the new US 31 Carmel bypass was built to connect to the old road just south of what is now 146th Street, pretty much like it is now. The difference is that the road now known as Old Meridian Street was the bypass, not the current section from basically between where 121st Street would be and 136th Street/Smokey Row Road. The current US 31 in that section is a bypass of the bypass.

It’s not hard to see where the original bypass and the new bypass start and end in this Google Map.

The second thing that happened did address the fact that Carmel would have been removed from the state highway system. The old road was changed from US 31 to SR 431. This really didn’t fix the problems with the old road. It wouldn’t be until the mid-1960s that the suggestion that Carmel had made was acted upon. Again, sort of. By that time, construction of I-465 was moving right along, and the route of SR 431 was moved to follow Keystone Avenue from SR 37 (Fall Creek Parkway) north to 86th Street, then west along 86th Street to Westfield Boulevard. A couple of years later, with the completion of both I-465 and Keystone Avenue to 146th Street, the original SR 1/US 31/Range Line Road was reverted to local control. (As an aside, it would be a little over 30 years later that SR 431 was completely removed from the state road system.)

But it wasn’t ALL bad with the moving of US 31. First, it made traffic flow better and safer (ahem…well). Second, the state built built a beautiful bridge over the White River on what is now just Meridian Street. (US 31 inside I-465 was decommissioned on 1 July 1999, making Meridian Street a city property.) Jim Grey, a fellow blogger and road geek, posted a great write up about it. He comes at it with both a road geek and a photographer view.

It can be seen here: