1920-1960: Bartholomew County Roads

Today, we look at the third county in alphabetical order in the State of Indiana. Bartholomew County would have very few changes in its state highway history. It was located on the Jackson Highway south of Indianapolis, along what would become State Road 1. That very same road branched at Columbus, with one branch continuing south to Jeffersonville and the other running to Madison. It was the latter branch that gave the name to the same road in southern Marion and northern Johnson counties.

January 8, 1821: Formation by statute effective February 12, 1821. The formation affected Jackson County and Delaware. The county was organized by act January 9, 1821, effective February 12, 1821.

Boundaries: “Beginning at the south west corner of section eighteen in township seven north of range four east, thence north to the northwest corner of township ten north of range four east, thence east with the line dividing townships ten and eleven north to the north east corner of township ten of range seven east, thence south with the range line dividing ranges seven and eight to the south east corner of section thirteen, in township eight north of range seven east, thence west to the range line dividing ranges six and seven at the north west corner of section nineteen in township eight north of range seven east, thence south with said range line to where it intersects Big Sand Creek, thence down said creek with the meanders thereof to its junction with Driftwood river, thence down said river with the meanders thereof to when an east and west line running through the centre of township seven north strikes the north west side of the aforesaid river, thence west with the said line to the place of beginning.”

The territory of Bartholomew County would change with a law passed on January 16, 1828. All of that territory in Range 3 East, townships 8, 9, and 10 north, would be attached to Bartholomew County. That territory, plus half of Range 4 east in the same townships, and six section in the northwest corner of township 7 north, would be removed from Bartholomew County to create the new Brown County effective 1 April 1836. A law of 17 February 1838 brought Bartholomew County to its present shape, with the removal of the final three sections of the northwest quarter of Range 4 East, Township 7 North that were still attached to the county. It was moved to Jackson County.

The County Seat location was chosen as part of sections 24 and 25, township 9 north, range 5 east on 15 February 1821. “The name Tiptona was suggested, but on March 20, the name Columbus was adopted.” The decision to change the name of the town, which had actually already been platted and settled, from Tiptona to Columbus upset one person in particular. I covered that in the article “The Location of the Mauck’s Ferry Road, A Case of Revenge” on 11 November 2020.

1920 Indiana Official State Highway Map

We start, as we always do, with the map of 1920. But, like Allen County that I covered last week, Bartholomew County was actually on the state highway system since 1917. Main Market Road 1 connected through the middle of the state from Jeffersonville to South Bend, including Scottsburg, Seymour, Columbus, Franklin, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Peru, Rochester and Plymouth. With the second creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1919, it was changed from Main Market Road 1 to State Road 1.

The branch towards Madison that was mentioned in the first paragraph was given the number State Road 26, and was continued west of Columbus to Nashville in Brown County.

1923 Kenyon Map of Bartholomew County, Indiana

There were only two Auto Trails that connected to the county. The first was also mentioned in the opening paragraph, marked as (C) on the map to the left, which was the Jackson Highway.

1923 Indiana Official State Highway Map

The other, marked (P) was the Terre Haute-Columbus-Cincinnati Highway, connecting, pretty close, those three cities. The Jackson Highway followed what was by then State Road through the County. The THCC was made part of State Road 26 from west of Columbus to the city. East of Columbus, it sued county roads for its journey towards Greensburg. This will come back into play in a few short years with the Great Renumbering of 1926. The official map of 1923 showed no change in the state highway system at all in the county.

1926 Indiana Official State Highway Map

With the Great Renumbering, State Road 1 became what it is still known as today – US 31. The THCC highway through the county became SR 46, although it was only an authorized addition at that time east of Columbus. This road connected the county seats, directly, of Brown, Bartholomew and Decatur Counties (Nashville, Columbus and Greensburg). It connected to more (Bloomington, Spencer, Terre Haute and Lawrenceburg).

The Madison Road would become State Road 7. It would connected directly to the county seat of Jennings County, Vernon, but would end at the county seat of Jefferson County, Madison.

1930 Indiana Official Highway Map

Late 1930, and another state road was being authorized in Bartholomew County. Given the job of state roads was to connect county seats, this one would connect to the seats of Shelby and Hancock Counties (Shelbyville and Greenfield), among others. It was not given a number as of that time, however, it was an extension of State Road 9, which ended at Greenfield. The new extension of State Road 9 was authorized to the junction of State Road 46 between Petersville and Newbern.

1932 Indiana Official State Highway Map

By 1932, the extension of the now built State Road 9 was pushed all the way through the county to a point east of Seymour, through Elizabethtown. Another authorized addition coming from Bedford to Columbus was granted, as well.

1933 Indiana Official State Highway Map

That state road that would come in from Bedford would be completed the following year and given the number State Road 58. Ultimately, it was built to connect to US 31 south of Columbus and Garden City.

The State Road 9 extension listed in 1932 was removed from the maps of 1934 and 1935. That addition to State Road 9 would, however, still by in the hearts and minds of the Indiana State Highway Commission. In 1936, a new State Road 9 was being built from State Road 7 south to US 50 east of Seymour. And an authorized addition connecting State Road 46 to State Road 7 was in the works.

1936 Indiana Official State Highway Map
1937 Indiana Official State Highway Map

The State Road 9 extension would be added to maps for the 1937 issue. The connection from State Road 46 south to a point on the under construction new SR 9 west of Elizabethtown was complete. At that point, State Road 9 just dead ended at the construction. It is important to note that the route used by the extension of State Road 9 was in place for many, many years before the state decided to add it to the state highway system. Today, that route, coming off of State Road 46 (old State Road 9, I’ll get to that!) uses County Road 750 East and Legal Tender Road where it connects to US 31 southeast of Columbus.

1939 Indiana Official State Highway Map

By 1939, State Road 9 would be completed to its greatest extent. North of what is now Legal Tender Road going east into Elizabethtown, the new highway was given the designation State Road 9W. This, as you will see, would be a temporary thing.

1941 Indiana Official State Highway Map

A reroute of US 31 was in order in 1941. There had been talk of moving the old route of US 31 throughout the state. In Bartholomew County, this would happen twice. First, a new bypass of Columbus was under construction. At that point, State Road 7 from downtown Columbus to the new State Road 9W would become part of US 31, then all of State Road 9W, and State Road 9 from the end of SR 9W to Seymour, would be changed to US 31. Old US 31 would be redesignated US 31A. By the time the 1942 maps came out, the new US 31 was completed, and State Road 9 was removed from Elizabethtown, having been routed along what became County Road 200 South to its junction with the new US 31 (old SR 9W).

1942 Indiana Official State Highway Map
1945 Indiana Official State Highway Map

The other change in US 31 happened with the creation of Camp Atterbury in Johnson and Bartholomew Counties west of Edinburgh. To facilitate traffic to the new Army camp, the state expanded US 31 to a four lane divided highway. This required the bypassing of Edinburg, since the towns streets were narrow at that time. It did, however, add a new state road to the landscape. It was given the highest “mother” number of the state roads in Indiana (other than SR 135, which began life as SR 35…but that is another story). The old US 31 through Edinburgh would be given the designation State Road 79.

1950 Indiana Official State Highway Map

The only other changes in the state highway system in Bartholomew County prior to 1960 was 1) the construction of a new connection between US 31 and US 31A north of Columbus and 2) the widening of US 31 north of Columbus.

In the years to come, Interstate 65 would come to the county, US 31A would be renamed State Road 11, State Road 58 would be moved further south, State Road 46 would replace State Road 9 south of Newbern, and State Road 7 west of US 31. And State Road 79 would be given to the town of Edinburgh and removed from the state highway system. Ultimately, SR 11 from Columbus north would be also removed from the state highway system.

1957 Indiana Official Highway Map
1959 Indiana Official State Highway Map

SR 32/SR 67 in Madison and Delaware Counties

Today on a map of Indiana, there are two state highways connecting Anderson and Muncie. As the subject suggests, they are SR 32 and SR 67 (even though SR 67 actually hasn’t entered either for decades. But it wasn’t always that way.

When the Great Renumbering happened in 1926, SR 32 only connected Crawfordsville to Anderson, much like the Auto Trail of the same name. SR 67 would be applied to Ohio Avenue and Mounds Road. The original road crossed what is now the Anderson Municipal Airport to connect (as now Anderson Road) in Chesterfield to what is now SR 32. From there, SR 67 continued its journey to Muncie. While technically Mounds Road and Anderson Road are still connected, the road in place today is a replacement around the airport, as the old road west straight across what is now the runway.

At Muncie, what is now SR 32 east of the city was originally SR 28. That would change in 1931, when SR 28 (east out of Muncie) was changed to SR 32. According to the map sources that I have seen, however, the only state road connecting Anderson to Muncie was still SR 67. In 1933, the connecting road would share both the numbers 32 and 67.

Things got interesting in the Anderson area in 1934/1935. Two new state highways were being constructed along 53rd Street and 38th Street. The 53rd Street route was being added to the state highway system from SR 9 to Middletown as SR 236. The 38th Street route was, from information available, to become an Anderson bypass of SR 67. That route would travel across 38th Street to Rangeline Road, then connect to the then current SR 32/67 along Mounds Road.

Things changed again in 1936, when it was decided by the State Highway Commission to build a new state highway staying south of the Big Four (“B” Line) railroad, staying south of Daleville, and crossing Delaware County in a relatively straight line to Sharps, then turning toward, but not actually entering, Muncie until meeting SR 21/US 35. By this time, SR 236 was completed to Middletown. The new route would use 53rd Street, and the 38th Street route was removed from the pending state highway status.

53rd Street in Anderson was officially made SR 67 from SR 9 to Rangeline Road in 1937. SR 32 still used the Ohio Avenue/Mounds Road/Anderson Road route. The two state roads would reconnect using what is now Madison County Road 300 East. This short section would connect Mounds Road (SR 32) in the north to Union Township Pike (SR 67) in the south.

The new route of SR 67 would be along the corridor that is still SR 67 today across Delaware County. This would be what is also Delaware County Road 550 South to Honey Creek Road. From there, would again follow what is now SR 67 for a short distance, then the current route turns east before the 1937 route continued northeast to Fusion Road. It would then turn northeast, then north, along Madison Street, where it would combine with SR 21/US 35 into Muncie.

The new State Road 67 route would be completed by 1938. At that time, the State Road 32 route would still be located on the Mounds Road/Anderson Road route. What is now Madison County Road 100 N was given the number SR 232 from between Mounds Road (SR 32) to Union Township Pike (SR 67).

The next change would occur in 1960, when SR 32 was rerouted out of Anderson along the Third Street/University Boulevard corridor. Here it would connect to the original SR 67/32 route at Chesterfield. The old SR 32, along Ohio Avenue/Mounds Road to the Union Township Pike route of SR 67 would be changed to SR 232, which most of it is today. In 1965, the designation SR 232 would be truncated into Mound State Park, no longer connecting to a soon to disappear SR 67.

SR 67 would be rerouted along Interstate 69 from SR 9/67 between Pendleton and Anderson to near Daleville. The 1937 route of SR 67 would be returned to Madison County, and is currently referred to as Old State Road 67.

In the 21st Century, slight changes in SR 67 in Delaware County would occur, making the very long “S” curve that exists today.

1930’s Indianapolis Street Name Changes

Street name changes in Indianapolis have been a constant thing. Major renamings have occurred several times. But minor changes were made throughout the history of the city. Today, I want to look at some of the minor changes that happened, or would have happened, in the 1930’s. There is no particular reason I chose the 1930’s, other than the fact that was the time period that I was researching for something that didn’t pan out.

In June 2019, I wrote an article called “Why Do Indianapolis Street Numbers Start at 9?” Originally, it was planned that 10th would be the first numbered street. But right before Christmas 1931, the City Council decided that the new lowest street number would be Nine. Pratt Street, a historic name in the city, would be changed to Ninth Street. The street had been named after Julius Pratt, a prominent citizen in the early days of the area. “Somebody conceived the idea that the name was not sufficiently dignified and, naturally, it was not difficult to get an array of signatures on a petition to change it.’ (Indianapolis Star, 23 December 1931, pp 8)

A street extension, mostly by the city, but would be taken over by the state later, called for a street name change. Daisy Avenue, a street that connected Raymond Street just east of the White River to Bluff Road was changed to West Street. This was in preparation for the city to complete West Street from 16th Street to Bluff Road. The ordinance making the street name change was passed by the City Council on 15 October 1934. Eventually, the entire section of West Street mentioned (from Bluff Road to 16th Street) would find itself part of the state highway system. South of Washington Street, it became SR 37, replacing Bluff Avenue (Road) and Meridian Street. (SR 37 ended in downtown Indianapolis at the time.)

In April 1937, a “discussion” between the City of Indianapolis and residents of Irvington were started, and finished, about the changing of street names in the neighborhood. The biggest fear was that Julian Avenue, named after one of the founders of the town, would be changed to Maryland Street in an effort to keep street names consistent through the city. The City Council announced that very few changes would be recommended…and there would be public meetings about them as they were announced.

There was a post in one of the newsgroups on Facebook to which I subscribe. The poster was asking about a relative that lived on Manlove Street. What happened to Manlove Street? May 1939, a series of 11 name changes were urged on the northside. These name changes would be between 42nd and 52nd Streets. The names were to be changed to the names of roughly the same streets north of 59th Street.

These name changes were: Arsenal to Indianola; Sheldon to Rosslyn; Hovey to Primrose; Ralston Avenue to Ralston Drive; Schofield to Buckingham Avenue; Sangster to Norwaldo; Manlove to Crittenden; Baltimore to Evanston; Caroline to Burlington; Hillside to Cambridge and Brouse to Allenby. Not all of these proposed changes were actually done.

There weren’t many. Street name changes are not taken lightly due to all of the things that go along with it: new street signs; address changes with the post office; property records; etc. But I plan to cover more as time goes on.

1952: Another New US Highway

Between 1951 and 1952, there were a lot of highways that were added to the US Highway system by the AASHO, or American Association of State Highway Officials. The main reason for this was, quite honestly, “tourist roads.” That was the purpose of expanding US 421, mentioned in my last post, from Tennessee to Michigan City. Another addition was US 231, which crosses the state from Owensboro, Kentucky, to Lake County, Indiana.

At the time, the two major US Highways that crossed Indiana, US 31 and US 41, were very busy doing what they do best – moving travelers north and south. Both highways start in northern Michigan, with US 41 beginning in the Upper Peninsula, US 31 starting at Mackinaw City. At the other end, US 31 ends in southern Alabama, US 41 end at Miami. Both highways were essentially “tourist roads.”

Since US 41 connected Chicago and Miami, it was the US highway replacement for the Dixie Highway. And as such, was very busy. AASHO decided that it would be a good idea to create another south bound highway to funnel off traffic from the two major roads crossing Indiana. That road would be US 231.

The Lizton Daily Citizen of 17 September 1952 mentions that the new route markers for the newest US highway in Indiana were in stock and to be replaced over the next month or so. It was also mentioned that the state road numbers that were assigned to route that would become US 231 would still be there after the marking of the US route. “The newly-designated U. S. 231 will travel from Chicago, Ill. to Panama City, Fla. It is to be called a ‘tourist’ highway and is designed to relieve overloaded U. S. 41 of some of its traffic.”

US 231 started life in 1926 with the creation of the US Highway system. At the start, it began at US 90 near Marianna, Florida. Its northern end was at Montgomery, Alabama. The first expansion of the road had it ending in Panama City, Florida.

US 231 crossed into Indiana from Owensboro, Kentucky, on what was then SR 75 (now it is SR 161), then east on SR 66 to Rockport. From there, it would follow SR 45 to near Scotland, SR 157 to Bloomfield, west on SR 54 to SR 57, then north on SR 57 to its junction at SR 67.

From the junction of SR 57 and 67, the new highway would follow SR 67 into Spencer, where it would be joined with SR 43. From here, it would follow (replace) SR 43 north from Spencer to Lafayette.

Now, here is where the description of the highway in the newspaper and the actual route differ. According to the route published in the newspaper, the route would follow SR 43 all the way to Michigan City, ending there. Well, it was already mentioned that it would end in Chicago (which, by the way, it never did), not Michigan City. Also, again, as mentioned in my last blog entry, US 421 took SR 43 into Michigan City.

At Lafayette, US 231 would multiplex with US 52 to Montmorenci, where it would turn north on SR 53. Now, for those of you keeping score with the US highways in the Hoosier state, this is where, from 1934 to 1938, there was another US highway that had been removed for being too much of a duplicate. That highway, US 152, used the US 52 route from Indianapolis to Montmorenci, where it replaced SR 53 (which it was in 1933) all the way to Crown Point. In 1938, with the decommissioning of US 152, the road reverted to SR 53 again.

And in 1952, that designation was once again removed for the placement of US highway markers. This time, US 231. But, the state road number wasn’t removed immediately this time. And US 231 rolled its way along SR 53 until it entered Crown Point. From there, it connected to US 41, the road it was supposed to help relieve traffic, near St. John using what was then SR 8.

For the most part, with the major exception of two places, the US 231 route is the same as it was back then. There may have been some slight moving of the road, especially near Scotland for Interstate 69, but the minor revisions are few and far between. The major relocations are definitely major. A complete reroute in the Lafayette area, which has US 231 bypassing both Lafayette and West Lafayette. It has, in recent years, taken to carrying US 52 around the west side of the area, replacing the much celebrated US 52 bypass along Sagamore Parkway. I will be covering that bypass at a later date. Let’s just say that there was a lot of newspaper coverage of that at the time.

The other major change in the route is near the Ohio River. A new bridge spanning the river was opened in 2002. The new bridge, called the William H. Natcher, is located north of Rockport. The original US 231 route, which followed SR 66 to due north of Owensboro, Kentucky, is now SR 161 between SR 66 and the Ohio River. It should also be noted here that at Patronville, SR 75 (US 231 now SR 161) had a junction with SR 45…the route that the new US highway would follow from northeast of Rockport to Scotland. Now that junction is just with Old State Road 45.

Due to its route across the state, at 297 miles long, US 231 is the longest continuous road in the entire Hoosier State. That may seem wrong, but consider that Rockport is actually south of Evansville…and the route through the state is nowhere near straight.

Indianapolis Street Car Saturday – Getting to Irvington

1870. Sylvester Johnson and Jacob Julian laid out a town four miles east of Monument Circle on the National Road (or, at that time, the Cumberland Turnpike). They named their town after Washington Irving, hence Irvington. In the fall of 1875, the North Western Christian University moved from its home at College and Home Avenues (now College Avenue and 13th Street) to the southwest corner of Irvington between the Panhandle (Pennsylvania Railroad) and the Junction (Baltimore & Ohio) tracks. At the same time, there was a mule car line being built to the new suburb.

1889 Map of Irvington, Indiana.

The Irvington Street Car line was planned along the following route: From Virginia Avenue and South Street, east on South Street (now Fletcher Avenue) to Reid Street (now State Street), north on Reid to English Avenue, east to English to Butler, north on Butler to Burgess, east on Burgess to Audubon, and north on Audubon to end just south of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The line, according to the Indianapolis News on 25 February 1875, was expected to be in operation in June 1875.

On 2 August 1875, a small paragraph was in the Indianapolis News mentioned “the construction of the Irvington street railway has not come to a standstill, owing to a lack of funds, as stated in the Journal, but on account of the wet weather. The Stratford bridge has been washed away and it is impossible to ballast the track.” Two weeks later, the News reported, in a story about the new college campus, that the Irvington line was quickly nearing completion.

The line opened later in October 1875. The trip from downtown to North Western Christian University, using mule cars, was 45 minutes. It wasn’t long before the Irvington street car line found itself closed to service. A freight train on the Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette jumped the tracks, causing a large section of the street car line to be ripped up. The IC&L crossed the street car line at English Avenue just east of Reid Street (now State Street). “In consequence no cars are running to-day on that line.”

Some might be wondering why service to Irvington was routed along English Avenue. As mentioned in my last blog post (Toll Roads in Marion County), Washington Street was a toll road outside the city limits. English Avenue was called a “shun pike,” a road that was improved and extended to avoid paying tolls to the toll road companies. That, and I believe that the toll road would have charged the street railways to use the road.

The line route was changed in 1881, when it was removed from Burgess to University Avenue between Butler Avenue and Audubon Avenue. That would be the last change in that line until the power lines stopped being used on 15 August 1934.

The East Washington line was mentioned in the last “Indianapolis Street Car Saturday.” The franchise for the Citizen’s Street Railway East Washington line extension to Irvington was issued on 20 September 1889, the day after the National Road was purchased by the county from the toll road company.

Connecting 16th Street from US 52 to SR 29

When I posted about routes to get to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, someone of Facebook had posted a comment about the direct route using Indiana Avenue and 16th Street from downtown Indianapolis. I responded that part of the problem was that 16th Street, at the time (1919) did not exist between Lafayette Road and Northwestern Avenue (now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street). After crossing the White River on the Emrichsville Bridge, the streets turned either north onto White River Parkway East Drive or southeast onto what was Crawfordsville Road.

The junction of Indiana Avenue/10th Street/Fall Creek/
Crawfordsville Road

It should also be noted that the most people, at that time, thought of Crawfordsville Road (now Waterway Boulevard) as the first choice as it was the one that had been in place the longest. Indiana Avenue came long after the Crawfordsville Road, and both of those streets connected to Indiana Avenue at 10th Street across Fall Creek. The moving of the south end of Waterway Boulevard, as it is today, didn’t happen until sometime after World War II.

But west of the White River, at 16th Street, was both US 52 (Lafayette Road) and SR 34 (16th Street). The state roads followed White River West Drive to Washington Street, because the road didn’t exist east of the river. This would connect US 52 (and possibly SR 34) to US 40 under what is now the Indianapolis Zoo.

It would be shortly after the 1919 map was published that 16th Street would be built from Indiana Avenue to the Emrichsville Bridge. But that was the extent of the new 16th Street. And even then, the 16th Street that was built was north of where it should have been. 16th Street through Marion County, of most of it, is along the half section line. Since the Emrichsville Bridge was angled north as it crossed west to east, 16th Street would be connected north of the half-section line where it belonged.

1926 Indianapolis map of the sections of 16th Street at that time between White River and Northwestern Avenue.

Fast forward to 1933. The Indianapolis Board of Public Works decided on several projects to be completed during the 1934 construction season. Two of the projects included bridges over Fall Creek. One of those would be on 16th Street. By this time, there was a short section of 16th Street from Gent Avenue to Fall Creek and just barely west of Northwestern Avenue.

The bridge over Fall Creek would allow connection between the two sections of 16th Street. Another part of the project would be widening the road that was there. In 1934 money, the project to construct and widen 16th Street from Northwestern Avenue to the Emrichsville Bridge would cost $280,000. The new bridge over Fall Creek would cost $250,000.

A remodel of the Emrichsville Bridge would also be part of the project. The northwest wing of the bridge would be cut off and the south sidewalk to be completely removed to create a better turning angle between the sections of 16th Street on either end. The city wouldn’t have to foot the entire bill for the new construction and widening. The city was working with the Indiana State Highway Commission for federal funding (at that time, a 50/50 split) for the project as the state would most likely (and did) add that section of 16th Street to the state highway system as part of US 52 and SR 34.

Another part of this project would be the widening of West Street from 16th Street to Bluff Road. From Washington Street north West Street was SR 29. From Washington Street south, it would become SR 37. Again, the cost would be shared between the ISHC and the federal government.

Indianapolis News, 27 October 1948

The Emrichsville Bridge would last another 14 years. It was torn down in 1948 to create a wider, more direct bridge for 16th Street/US 52/SR 34 across White River. Ultimately, the new 16th Street from White River to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street would look as it does in the Google map shown below. It would also remain a state road until the late 1970s, when US 136 (formerly SR 34) was removed from inside the I-465 loop. US 52 had been the first removed and rerouted along I-465 when that road was complete from the northwest side to the southeast side.

Rockville State Road, US 36, near Bainbridge

When the original state roads were built, the state of Indiana created a road that connected Indianapolis to Rockville, via Danville. That road, still known today as Rockville Road in Marion County, is almost as straight as any road can get in this state. However, there were places where straight just wasn’t possible. Such a place is in Putnam County.

It should be noted that there were two things at play when it came to the building of the original state roads. First, the construction was done to keep costs to a minimum. There was no need to cat a path through a hill when one could just go around it. Path of least resistance was the motto of the day. Second, as a general rule, the state didn’t tend to take people’s property to build a road that would just be turned over to the county after it was built. This is one of the reasons that a road connecting two towns in early Indiana didn’t always go directly between two points. While it isn’t as noticeable on maps today, a quick glance at older maps shows the curvy way someone got from point A to point B in the early days of the state.

The Rockville State Road was (mostly) built along a section line, meaning very little property would have to be taken to create it. Generally, property lines in Indiana tend to work along the survey lines. Survey line separate townships, ranges and sections. Most of the time, property was purchased in one section or another, usually not crossing the section line. But there were several places that the old road did have to venture off of the survey lines beaten path.

One was east of Danville. Main Street through the city was the original Rockville State Road. When a short bypass between Danville and Avon was built, the old road was kept in place, but turned slightly at both the western and eastern ends. The following Google Map snippet shows the old property lines when it came to the western (Danville) end of old Main Street/SR 31/US 36. Main Street turns southwest, while the old property lines turn due west to connect to Danville itself.

The other section was a much larger bypass built by the state in 1933. East of Bainbridge, the old state road took a dive to the south of the survey line…sometimes venturing almost a mile south of the line itself. The following map is from 1911, showing the postal routes that were followed at that time, and showing the old Rockville State road in its original alignment.

As shown on the map, going west to east, the old road started turning southeastward in Section 12, continuing further southeast in Section 7, and hitting its southern most point in Section 8. From there, it worked its way back northeastward until it reached the section line again in Section 10. This created a variance from the section line that was nearly four miles long.

Editor’s Note: As is typical of the original surveys, sections along the western edge of the range [sections 6, 7, 18, 19, 30 and 31] are smaller than one mile wide. The Range Line between those sections listed above, and sections 1, 12, 13, 24, 25 and 36 of the range west, is known as a correction line. This can be spotted throughout the state, not only by the less than one mile wide sections, but the occasional deviance from a straight line going west to east. In Marion County, Shelby Street and Franklin Road are those correction lines…and looking at the roads crossing them shows the correction. The survey line along the north edge of the map is the township line, separating survey townships 15 North and 16 North. Following that line to the east, it becomes part of the Danville State Road in eastern Hendricks County, 10th Street (the geographic center) through Marion County, and the numbering center of Hancock County. It is also a correction line in the surveys, so sometimes survey lines jog a bit when crossing it as well.

This section of the old road was very curvy, narrow, and did not lend itself well to the pending explosion of traffic that would be coming its way with the creation of the Auto Trails and, later, the State Highway System. When the Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean highway was created, it followed the old Rockville Road from Rockville to Indianapolis. Thus, it followed this curvy, winding line through Putnam County.

Things would change in 1933, when the Indiana State Highway Commission announced that construction would begin on US 36 from Danville to Bainbridge. This project would complete the straightening of the federal highway from west of Indianapolis to the Illinois-Indiana State Line. The Indianapolis Star of 1 April 1933 reported “a twenty-five mile detour from Danville to Bainbridge on United States Road 36 over pavement and dustless type road has been established to take care of traffic pending completion of new pavement between Danville and Bainbridge which will complete the project from Indianapolis to the Illinois state line.”

The above Google map snippet shows the exact same area as covered by the 1911 USPS map shown above. The route of US 36 through the area, shown in yellow, is the 1933 bypass built by the ISHC. The old road is still very narrow and winding, but still can be traveled to this day. The Indiana Official Highway map of 1933 shows the new road under construction, with the old road removed from the map. By the time the next official map was released for June 1934, the new road was completed and opened. The following is the 1936 survey map of Putnam County roads, including road width, constructing materials and bridge of the same area.

The new roadway included bridges marked as AS, AT, and AU on this map. The old road included CN, CM, CH, CG, and CK. (Note, they are marked on the map in lower case letters. I am using upper case to denote them since it is easier to read.) Both AS and AU were built 24 feet wide, while AT was built 20 feet wide. All three had a safe working load of 20 tons.

The old road’s bridges were a bit more complicated. CN was 12.7 feet high, 12.7 feet wide, and had a safe working load of three tons. CK was 16 feet wide and could handle 15 tons. CM was 19.5 feet wide, with a working limit of 20 tons. This would make it almost equal to the bridge that replaced it (AT), only being six inches narrower with the same work load limit. Both CG and CH were 20 feet wide with a 20 ton safe load limit.

The old road, according to the figures on the 1936 map, had a right-of-way 40 feet wide. The new US 36 through the area had a right-of-way of 60 feet in width. Most of the county roads in the area had a right-of-way narrower than the old Rockville State Road, usually less than 10 feet.

The other part of this realignment project was through Bainbridge itself. The old road traversed the town along Main Street. The new road bypassed Main Street to the north…by only one block. It still does to this day.

Jim Grey, on his old web site, covers the sections of the old road that connect to the current US 36 fairly well. That page is at: http://www.jimgrey.net/Roads/US36West/04_Bainbridge.htm. I think I have read somewhere that this website will be migrated over to his WordPress blog, “Down The Road.” If this is the case, get it while you can. And who knows, maybe after all the “stay at home” mess is over, I might make a trip out to this section of the old road to take some onsite surveys. (I would love to say take pictures…but my lack of photography skills is only surpassed by my complete lack of patience to take the time to make them good. Not gonna lie here, folks.)

US 52 at Lebanon

If you ask people that know (or even care), the Interstate system came into being in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the plan to create a system of controlled access highways that would bare his name later in time. But what most people don’t realize is that the first part of what would become part of that system in Indiana predates that law by half a decade. Although not originally built to be a controlled access highway, the US 52 bypass of Lebanon started in 1948 would eventually be added to what is now I-65.

Lebanon would be the next relatively large town on what, in Marion County, was known as the Lafayette Road. The original road’s starting point in Indianapolis has been moved several times. In the Auto Trail era, the section from Lebanon to Indianapolis would be part of the Jackson Highway. It would become, in 1919, the first state road added after the original five 1917 Main Market highways, as OSR 6. The original state road north of Lebanon was not included in the state system until 1924.

With the Great Renumbering, the old Lafayette Road, in its entirety, would become US 52. Between 1934 and 1938, it would also carry the designation US 152. (US 152 didn’t last very long. There is still a small remnant of this highway as SR 152 in Hammond.) As an aside, originally US 52 north of Indianapolis ended at US 41 at Fowler. US 152, in its short lifespan, would be longer (at least north of Indianapolis) than its mother road, as it ended in Hammond.

The route changed very little around the Lebanon area. Entering from the south on Indianapolis Avenue, then following Main Street to then use Lafayette Avenue north out of town. As the (still) most direct route between Indianapolis and Chicago, this route would see way too much traffic for Lebanon to handle. With the State Highway Commission putting a lot of time and money into the expansion of US highways throughout the state (US 40 and US 31 come to mind immediately), the decision was made in 1947 to build a wider US 52 around Lebanon.

Construction would start in 1948. There was an article in the Indianapolis Star of 28 October 1948 concerning the auto accident death of a man that was employed by the construction company that was building the bypass at the time. The accident would involve three tractor-trailers, a dump truck and two passenger cars. The man killed was driving the dump truck.

1950 Indiana Official Highway Map showing the new bypass of Lebanon under construction.

The Indiana Official Highway Map of 1950 shows the Lebanon bypass under construction. The route taken would completely remove US 52 from the Lebanon corporate limits at the time. The bypass would be shown as complete on the 1951 map, although it still shows US 52 as part of the state highway system through Lebanon. It would be shown this way until 1953.

By 1960, this section of highway become I-65 and would join parts of I-74, I-80, I-90 and I-94 as the first officially completed additions to Indiana’s part of the future interstate system. This section of I-65 would be shown from the Hendricks-Marion County line to the end of the old US 52 bypass northwest of Lebanon.

1960 Indiana Official Highway Map showing the US 52 bypass and first sections of I-65 built.

The northern end of the original bypass would have an exit built to US 52 according to the 1961 map. This would be the location where I-65 would aim more north than the old road. I-65 would roughly parallel US 52 to north of Lafayette, listed as under construction starting in 1966.

There were no more real changes to the routing of US 52 around the Lebanon area since. This section of US 52 joins a small section of US 421 in Marion and Shelby Counties as the only US highways in Indiana that were to become directly part of the Interstate Highway system.


US Highways: They are actually State Roads

I originally posted the following in the Indiana Transportation History group on 11 Jun 2014. It has been slightly edited to correct some “oopsies” in my original.

For those old enough to remember (and I, unfortunately, am not one of them) before the Interstate system came into being, and US routes were the cross-country method of auto transport, this post is for you.

Somewhere lost in the history of transportation is the true story behind the US Highway system. Believe it or not, the Federal Government was late to the “good roads” party, and really only joined it half-heartedly. Let me explain.

Near the end of the 19th Century, there was a craze sweeping the nation – bicycling. The problem was that most roads at the time were basically dirt paths through the country. Some were graveled, yes. Some were bricked, but mainly only in towns. Those that rode bicycles started clamoring for better roads to reliably and safely use their new-fangled transportation method.

The US Post Office was also involved in this movement, mainly because mail was that important. And delivering the mail in some rural locations was troublesome at best.

With the creation of the automobile boom in the early 20th century, the Good Roads Movement started including the drivers of the horseless carriage. Again, because most roads at the time were dusty at best, and practically impassible at worst.

Clubs started nationwide to encourage auto travel (the Hoosier Motor Club was one). Clubs were also started to encourage the creation of travel routes that were more than dirt roads to the next county seat.

These last clubs led to many named highways throughout the nation. For instance, Indianapolis was served by the (Andrew) Jackson Highway, Dixie Highway, Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, National Old Trails Road, the Hoosier Highway, Michigan Road, the Range Line Road, the Hills & Lakes Trail, and the Hoosier Dixie.

The most famous of the Road Clubs was the Lincoln Highway Association, which crossed Indiana through the northern tier of counties. On its trip from New York to San Francisco, it passed through Fort Wayne, Ligonier (included because it was the SECOND Ligonier on the route – the other being in Pennsylvania!), Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend, La Porte, and Valparaiso. (As you can guess, it wasn’t exactly a straight line at first!)

In 1926, the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Public Roads finalized a national route system that became the US Highways. This was to combat the numerous named highways that led to some major confusion among the automobile traveling public. The system was discussed starting in 1924, with a preliminary list issued in late 1925.

Named highways painted markers on utility poles most of the time. It, apparently, was not unheard of to have numerous colored markers on one pole. And new named highways were popping up monthly. (They even kept appearing after the numbered highways started appearing.)

A misconception is that a US Highway is a Federal road. US Highways have a distinctive shield with a number. It can also have, legally, a State Road marker. That’s because US highways were really just state roads that shared the same number for its entire distance. So SR 40 in Indiana was also SR 40 in Illinois and Ohio, and so on. (INDOT has even posted SR 421 signage on SR 9 at the entrance ramps to I-74/US 421 in Shelbyville.)

While US highway numbers have come and gone across the state, most of them appeared in one of two phases – 1927 and 1951.

The original US Highways in Indiana were: 12, 20, 24, 27, 30, 31, 31E, 31W, 36, 40, 41, 50, 52, 112, and 150.

The second major phase included US 136, US 231, and US 421.

Between these two phases, the following roads were added:
– US 6 (1928)
– US 33 (1937)
– US 35 (1934) It required changing SR 35 to SR 135.
– US 36 – Yes, it is listed twice. US 36 originally ended at Indianapolis from the west. It was extended east in 1931.
– US 152 – Mostly followed US 52 (Lafayette Road) north from Indianapolis from 1934 to 1938. It never left the state, so it was downgraded to mostly state road 53 (which, strangely, was added BACK into the federal numbering system as US 231).
– US 224 (1933)
– US 460 (1947-1977)

These were added to the system in sections. For instance, US 6 came into Indiana from the east and ended up being routed along what, at the time, was Indiana State Road 6.

There have been many changes in the original US highways. Some have bypassed towns in many places (like US 31). Some have just been removed from the system (like the northern end of US 33). Some were replaced by the interstate system created in 1956 (like US 27 north of Fort Wayne).

The beginning of the end of the major importance of the US Highway system started in 1947, when AASHO deemed it “outmoded.” This led to the creation of the interstate system with a law signed by President Eisenhower in 1956.