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

1920-1960: Allen County Roads

Today is the second of the series covering state roads in Indiana’s counties in alphabetical order. Today, I will cover, as the title states, Allen County. And, just like the last post of this series, it will be done with a lot of maps, and start with the history of the formation of the county.

The creation of Allen County happened on 17 December 1823, when the Indiana General Assembly issued the following news: “Formation by statute, effective April 1, 1824. The formation affected Randolph and Delaware counties.”

“Beginning at a point on the line dividing this state and the state of Ohio, where the township line dividing townships twenty-eight and twenty-nine north, intersects the same; thence north with said state line twenty-four miles; thence west to the line dividing ranges ten and eleven east; thence south to the line dividing townships twenty-eight and twenty-nine north, thence east to the place of beginning.” (Revised Laws of Indiana, 1823-1824, pp 109)

One month after the creation of the county, Fort Wayne was made the seat of the county’s government.

1920 Indiana Official State Highway Map

Allen County is one of those few counties that actually acquired its first modern state road with the original creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1917. One of the five Main Market Roads, as they were called at first, connected Fort Wayne to near Chicago. Of course, it was built as the Lincoln Highway. That Auto-Trail would be given the number Main Market Road 2.

In 1919, Main Market Road 2 would become State Road 2. By 1920, four more state highways would be added to Allen County’s landscape: OSR 11; OSR 13; OSR 21; and OSR 44. OSR 11 would connect Fort Wayne to Huntington, ultimately ending in Greenfield at the National Road. OSR 13 would be the road from Fort Wayne to Bluffton, again ending at the National Road, this time at Lewisville. As mentioned in the Adams County entry, OSR 21 travelled from Fort Wayne, through Decatur, Portland, Winchester and Richmond to end at Liberty in Union County.

1923 Kenyon Map of Allen County, Indiana

Due to location, and the fact that Fort Wayne had, for decades, been one of the largest cities in the Hoosier State, the city, and Allen County, would find itself along quite a few Auto Trails during that era. In 1923, as shown on the map to the left, the following Auto Trails crossed Allen County: Hoosier Highway [B]; Yellowstone Trail [N]; Wabash Way [O]; Ohio, Indiana, Michigan Way [S]; Lincoln Highway [X]; and the Custer Trail [BB].

The Hoosier Highway has been covered numerous times in this blog. It started in Evansville, ultimately winding its way through the entire state to Fort Wayne on the way to Detroit, Michigan. Coming from the south, it was given the designation OSR 13 to Fort Wayne, but no state highway number was assigned to it leaving Fort Wayne to the northeast.

The Yellowstone Trail and Lincoln Highway would be intertwined, even though the only place they multiplex was east of Fort Wayne. Both of them would meet again at Valparaiso. The Lincoln Highway left to the northwest of Fort Wayne, with the Yellowstone heading more west. In 1920, as mentioned above, Lincoln Highway was OSR 2, and Yellowstone Trail was OSR 44.

The Wabash Way left Fort Wayne to the southwest, winding its way through Huntington, Wabash, Peru, Logansport, Delphi, Lafayette, and Attica, crossing the Illinois State Line to end at Danville. The ISHC gave it the number OSR 11 in 1920.

The Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way was mentioned in the Adams County entry. It was OSR 21 into Fort Wayne from the south. Leaving to the north, it wasn’t part of the state highway system. Neither was the Custer Trail, which started in Fort Wayne, leaving to the north for Auburn and Angola on a winding trail through Steuben county to enter Michigan.

1923 Indiana Official State Highway Map

In the fall of 1923, the ISHC decided to rearrange state highway numbers to make them easier to understand and follow. This led to numerous changes in Allen County. The Lincoln Highway, which had been OSR 2 for the previous six years was now OSR 46 heading northwest out of Fort Wayne. The OSR 2 label, while maintained on the Lincoln Highway east of Fort Wayne, became attached to the Yellowstone Trail west of the city. OSR 11, the Wabash Way, was changed to OSR 7. OSR 13 and 21 remained the same south of Fort Wayne, but a new addition to SR 31 was added north of the Allen County Seat. It encompassed neither the OIM or the Custer Trail. It was a “new” road, without any special designation prior to its addition to the state highway system.

1926 Indiana Official State Highway Map

Allen County became the home of quite a few United States Highways with the Great Renumbering of 1 October 1926. The 1923 version of SR 2, leaving Fort Wayne along State Boulevard and Leesburg Road, was rerouted to connect to the new SR 2, which was the route of the original Lincoln Highway, at what is now Lincoln Highway and Washington Center Road. From that connection, SR 2 continued its journey across the county to Churubusco. East of Fort Wayne, the OSR 2 that had existed since 1917 was changed to US 30.

The OSR 11 (1920)/OSR 7 (1923) was practically abandoned in Allen County. The old State Road 7 route was moved north, and would be changed to US 24. East of Fort Wayne, a new route US 24, one that had not been part of the state highway system before, was in the process of being added. It would connect to Ohio’s US 24 after leaving east-northeast from New Haven.

OSR 13 was given two designations. South of Fort Wayne, it became SR 3. North of the city, it became, along with OSR 21 south of Fort Wayne, US 27. This left Allen County with two state roads (SR 2 and SR 3) and three US highways (US 24, 27 and 30)..

September 1930 Indiana Official State Highway Map

With the number of additions that were made to the state highway system in 1930, the September map of that year showed many changes. Not in the way of the routes that had been established in 1926. No. The old OIM Way north out of Fort Wayne was added to the state highway system as an extension of State Road 3. The old Custer Trail route was also added, becoming the northern State Road 1. There was also an authorized addition shown on the map. It would come into Allen County from the west, travel through Fort Wayne, and leave to the northeast. The western end of that authorized addition was at State Road 15 at Silver Lake. A look at the map shows it to be an extension of State Road 14.

January 1932 Indiana Official State Highway Map

When it was finally added to the state highway system in 1931, that’s what it was: an extension of SR 14 across Allen County. SR 14 connected to Ohio State Road 18 at the state line. But the early 1932 map showed two more authorized additions the ISHC wanted to make. First, a road connecting to SR 1 north of Fort Wayne, heading due east to Leo, then roughly along the St. Joseph River heading northeast.

The second left SR 3 south of Fort Wayne, heading southwest through Nine Mile and Zanesville.

Other than that, still no real changes had been made to the 1926 highways that Allen County had been originally given.

1933 Indiana Official State Highway Map

Three “new” state roads were added in 1932 for the 1933 official map. First, the authorized addition through Zanesville and Nine Mile, which turned southwest off of SR 3 from Waynedale, was officially added, and given the number SR 3. The old SR 3, which had that number since the 1926 number shuffle, became the new SR 1 south of Waynedale.

But that wasn’t the only change in SR 1. The ISHC changed their minds, instead of routing a new state road due east into Leo, it was decided to use what is now Clinton Street toward what were the separate villages of Cedarville and Leo. This was given the number State Road 1. The old SR 1, that ran north along what is now Tonkel Road, was given the number State Road 427, another daughter route to US 27. Both routes connected at Auburn, with US 27 coming in from the west, and SR 427 coming in from the south.

1937 Indiana Official State Highway Map

Travelling east across Allen County, from New Haven to Edgerton, along what is now Dawkins Road, was a daughter route to US 30, State Road 230. SR 230 connected to Ohio State Road 113 at the state line.

The period between 1932 and 1936 saw very few changes. The Indiana State Highway Commission decided to authorize the building of an extension of SR 101, north and south, through eastern Allen County. At the time, SR 101 did exist in Adams County, but ended at the Adams-Allen County Line. The new SR 101 would directly connect to State Road 1 in Dekalb County at State Road 8. Although it was an authorized addition, State Road 101 was not, at least according to the maps of 1937, located. The route shown on the map was pure conjecture…and hoping. Also, SR 14 was then connected to both Ohio State Road 18, but a new Ohio State Road 2. The multiplexed route from the Ohio State Line connected to Hicksville, before Ohio 2 and Ohio 18 went separate ways.

1938 Indiana Official State Highway Map

There were two changes made in 1937, as shown on the 1938 map to the left. First was the building of SR 101 from the Adams-Allen County line to US 30. Second, US 33 came to Indiana. From Decatur, US 27 and US 33 used the same road to connect to Fort Wayne. But leaving Fort Wayne, the road that had been State Road 2 was then called US 33. This eliminated the State Road 2 designation east of South Bend. Both Lincoln Highways were now part of the US Highway System in Allen County. The original was now US 33, the replacement (marked in the mid to late 1920’s) had been marked US 30 since 1926.

1939 Indiana Official State Highway Map

1938, as shown by the 1939 Official Map, saw the completion of SR 101 through the county.

1941 Indiana Official State Highway Map

Changes made in the 1939-1940 time frame included the extension of SR 37 to Fort Wayne and beyond. SR 37 had ended at Indianapolis to this point, coming up from southern Indiana. It replaced, in Marion and Hamilton Counties, the original Indianapolis-Fort Wayne State Road, known as Allisonville Road in that area. It entered Allen County multiplexed with US 24. The designation SR 37 then replaced the SR 14 designation northeast of Fort Wayne. At the Ohio state line, it connected to only Ohio SR 2, as Ohio SR 18 was removed from that section of road in that state. But that wasn’t the end of SR 14 east of Fort Wayne. What was formerly SR 230 became the new SR 14.

1942 Indiana Official State Highway Map

1941 added another state road to Allen County. In the extreme northwest corner of the county, SR 205, which had ended at the county line, was extended as far as the Allen-Noble county line at Ari. SR 205 would eventually be extended into Dekalb County to end at what is now SR 327, but was, at the time, US 27.

1949 Indiana Official State Highway Map

Another state road was added in 1948, and showed up on maps in 1949. Connecting US 30/US 33 northwest of Fort Wayne to SR 3, US 27, SR 1 and SR 427 to end at SR 37 northeast of Fort Wayne was State Road 324. It would appear that the route of SR 324 is what is now Coliseum Boulevard.

1956 Indiana Official State Highway Map

The next change is shown on the first available map that has it. It seems that Indiana did not issue, that I can find, Official Highway maps for the years 1954 or 1955. I can not find them if they exist. I do not have any in my personal collection, nor does the state library have them in their digital collection.

There were two changes between 1953 and 1955. One was the continuation of SR 324 as a bypass to the east of Fort Wayne. That state road ended at New Haven Avenue, which was given the designation State Road 230 from SR 324 to the junction of US 30/US 24/SR 14 less than a mile east of the junction with SR 324.

1957 Indiana Official State Highway Map

The following year, 1956, saw the end of both State Road 230 and State Road 324. SR 324 was replaced with the US 30 designation. SR 230 was completely removed from Allen County.

The 1960 map, which I can not share here, shows the beginnings of Interstate 69 under construction from SR 3 in the north to US 24 in the south. (I can not share this map, as the one on the state library site has a big section missing through Steuben, Dekalb and Allen Counties. And I can not scan my personal copy since my scanner is not working properly at this time.)

1961 Indiana Official State Highway Map

I do want to share one last map, showing the state highway situation in Allen County according to the 1961 official map (meaning 1960 changes).

Interstate 69 is officially under construction at that time from US 24 in the south to the Allen-Dekalb County line. Also, a replacement for US 30 west of Fort Wayne is under construction.

Thus are the state highway changes in Allen County from 1920 (or, actually, 1917) to 1960.

Indiana – Car Maker Capital of … Well, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridge at New Harmony

Along the Wabash River is the town of New Harmony. The town dates from 1814, founded by the Harmony Society under the leadership of George Rapp. The Harmony Society was a group of German Lutherans that had separated from the official church and immigrated to the United States. That group, by 1824, moved back to Pennsylvania. The town then was purchased by Welsh industrialist Robert Owen for the purpose of creating a utopian community. That plan failed, but the community did contribute to American society.

Fast forward around 100 years. On 1 May 1928, the United States Congress chartered a private company, the Big Wabash Bridge Company of Carmi, Illinois, to build and maintain a bridge crossing the Wabash River between Carmi and New Harmony. Built by the Nashville Bridge Company of Nashville, Tennessee, the bridge opened to much fanfare on 30 December 1930. The bridge, as originally designed, is just shy of 2,600 feet long, with a 20 foot wide roadway on 47 spans.

Shortly after opening, the Indiana State Highway Commission made the New Harmony Toll Bridge a part of SR 66. Within a decade of that opening, ownership concerns began occurring. A bill passed through the Indiana General Assembly in 1939 created what was to be called the Indiana Toll Bridge Commission (ITBC). The ITBC was immediately asked by the Harmony Way Bridge Company, the then current owners of the bridge, to purchase the structure. Opposition to the bill creating the ITBC was questioning the end purpose of the commission, as State Senator Roy Dentiston, Rochester, stated, the bill was introduced in “an attempt to pull the irons out of the fire for somebody.” (Source: Indianapolis Star, 12 August 1939)

The bill became law without the signature of then Governor M. Clifford Townsend. Once the ITBC was created, questions also crept up about the fact that the commission was meeting behind closed doors. Meetings were held with various people “in the event the commission should buy the New Harmony bridge.” “‘No commitments have been made to anybody,’ George C. Simler of Corydon, commission president, said.”

The plan to buy the bridge went through in 1940. The ITBC agreed to buy the bridge, built for $640,000, for $945,000, with a surplus fund of $105,000 for emergencies. Governor Townsend had already blocked an effort, in 1939, to purchase the bridge for $1.3 million. The ITBC was in the process of not only buying the bridge at New Harmony, but building a toll bridge at Mauckport. Bonds for the purchase were sold, dated 1 October 1940 with a maturation date of 1 October 1960. But, the ITBC pointed out, that tolls collected from the bridge would not only retire the bonds in eight to ten years, but that the bridge would be made free to use around the same time. Operation costs were estimated to be $15,000 to $16,000 a year including painting, maintenance, and insurance.

The fallout from both the creation of the ITBC and the pending purchase of the Harmony Way Bridge was massive. Lawsuits were filed in the matter. The Indiana General Assembly heard a bill repealing the creation of the commission. The biggest complaint was the purchase price of the bridge. A. S. Thomas, representing the Indiana Farm Bureau, “said engineers have estimated that the bridge could now be built for approximately $475,000.” (Source: Indianapolis Star, 29 January 1941) “We consider the purchase price not based on good judgment. I am not trying to keep anyone in southern or western Indiana from having a bridge, but we are interested in the people who use that bridge,” Thomas added. Attorney for the ITBC, Lew O’Bannon (grandfather of future Governor Frank O’Bannon), explained that “at the present rate of income from the bridge it would be paid for in approximately 10 years and then converted into a free bridge.”

In the end, the state did not purchase the New Harmony bridge. Later in 1941, the United States Congress created a joint Illinois-Indiana agency called the White County Bridge Commission (WCBC) to purchase the structure for $895,000. This would be the organization that still owns the bridge to this day.

Tolling facilities had been on the eastern end of the bridge until replaced, in 1951, with the toll house that still exists on the Illinois side of the river.

In 1957, the Army Corps of Engineers warned that the structure was in danger of being destroyed or cut off by the Wabash River. (Source: Terre Haute Tribune, 31 May 1957) Testimony occurred before the House Public Works Appropriation Subcommittee asking for $405,000 for the shoring up of the west bank of the Wabash. The river had been developing a series of new bends. These threatened the stability of the bridge. The new channel being created by nature could have cut the bridge off from Illinois completely. Louis C. Rabaut, Democrat Representitive from Michigan, pointed out that during the Wabash Flood of 1943, the New Harmony bridge was the only crossing of the Wabash that remained open.

In 1961, the operations of the White County Bridge Commission came under Congressional scrutiny. Senator Robert S. Kerr, Democrat of Oklahoma, Chairman of the Senate Public Works Committee, announced that “his committee now wants to learn all about the manner in which the bridge at New Harmony, Ind., is operated. He said full investigation and hearings will be held.” (Source: Indianapolis Star, 22 September 1961) The whole ordeal was started by Representative Winfield K. Denton of Indiana, who had been trying to end the White County Commission for the previous six years. The effort was to free the bridge of tolls. Denton had put in a “secret amendment” into a bridge auditing bill to allow the Secretary of Commerce to name a new commission for the bridge, after wiping out the then current one. Denton stated that the facility had collected $4 million in tolls since the creation of the commission, but was still a toll bridge. The General Accounting Office had issued a scathing report in 1955 about the commission, prompting the entire scenario. After these hearings, the commission was left in place.

Funding became a serious issue, coming to a head in 2001, when the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs granted the WCBC a total of $120,000 for upgrades to the facility. The plan was to close the bridge at the end of 2001. At this point, the facility was in such poor condition that neither state wanted to take over operations and maintenance. It was, according to the Indianapolis Star of 12 December 2001, estimated that $2.2 million to $3.6 million would be required to bring the bridge up to Federal standards. It was also estimated that it would cost $25 million to replace.

According to the same article, the bridge had dropped its tolling earlier in 2001. This didn’t last very long. Daily average crossings, in 1999, numbered 2,660 vehicles. In October 2001 it was announced that the bridge would be closed by the end of that year. That ended up not happening. Officials of New Harmony were pleased with that news, as “closing the bridge would double the driving distance between the two towns (Carmi and New Harmony) from seven to 14 miles. That could be dangerous for emergency vehicles or people trying to reach a hospital.”

September 2007 did see the closing of the facility…but not permanently. Damage to one of the concrete piers warranted the closing for emergency repairs. At this time, the WCBC was operating on an annual budget of $460,000, not enough to keep the bridge in good condition. Again, the commission asked the departments of transportation of both Illinois and Indiana to take over the bridge. And again, this was shot down due to the cost of bringing the bridge up to federal standards. The bridge would reopen in April 2008.

In September 2011, it was made public that the bridge was in need of $8.4 million in repairs to bring it out of “structurally deficient” status. (Source: Seymour Tribune, 30 September 2011) This status was also applied at the time to the Sherman Minton Bridge carrying Interstate 64 over the Ohio River near Louisville. The difference between to two structures was that the Sherman Minton Bridge was a state owned facility. It also carried much more traffic. The end of the bridge’s useful life came to an end in May 2012 when it was announced that it would be closed at noon on 29 May 2012. This was announced by the WCBC on 21 May 2012. Unfortunately, that 29 May date was pushed up to immediately, as in 21 May 2012.

Today, the bridge still stands. It has been cut off from both ends, abandoned in place. Indiana SR 66 and Illinois SR 14 are still maintained up to a point near the approaches to the old structure. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, having received that honor in 2007.

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.


Carl Graham Fisher

There are few people that have had more influence on the current state of cross country travel than one Hoosier: Carl Graham Fisher.

Arguably, we owe the complete system of United States travel routes, whether it be US routes or Interstates, to a young man from southern Indiana that was not only interested in automobiles, but was also a promotion genius.

Carl Fisher was born in Greensburg, IN, on 12 January 1874. In the late 19th century, he became interested in bicycles. He opened a small bicycle shop with his brother. His love of bicycles led to his being involved in racing. This, in turn, led to an interest in the new automobile industry.

Mr. Fisher made his fortune, along with his friend James A. Allison, when he bought an interest in a patent to make acetylene headlights. The company formed to manufacture these headlights, Prest-O-Lite, went on to produce most headlights used on cars at the time. Prest-O-Lite began in 1904. It would be about a decade before the electric headlight became common. Fisher and Allison sold Prest-O-Lite in 1913.

While still owning Prest-O-Lite, Fisher had hands in two things that would change not only Indianapolis, but the entire country.

The first was as one of four people that put together a automobile test track in a large field along the Crawfordsville Road west of Indianapolis. That test track decided to put on a car race in 1909, which only met with disaster, injuries and death. Fisher convinced his partners to make some improvements in that track, paving it with 3.2 million bricks. In 1911, the race was tried again. Today, it is called the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The second was a brain storm. In 1912, Fisher conceived a great coast-to-coast road. That road would become the first Auto Trail, named the Lincoln Highway. It was this route that encouraged a then Lt. Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower to support the construction of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, or Interstate System, when Eisenhower became President of the United States.

After the sale of Prest-O-Lite, Fisher had another transportation brainstorm. He had already created the east-west route. Now a north-south route was in order. Starting in two locations, Chicago and northern Michigan, a series of roads was brought together in two paths to connect to southern Florida. According to sources, it was to allow people of his home state of Indiana to vacation in Florida. This highway was to be called the Dixie Highway.

His two ideas, the Lincoln and Dixie Highways ended up having a junction in South Bend.

Carl Fisher went on to work on other projects, just not as transportation oriented. He did create a city in a swampy area near Miami. That swamp would become Miami Beach.

Carl Fisher died on 15 Jul 1939 after a lengthy illness. Although he had lost his fortune in real estate with the stock market collapse of 1929 and following depression, he continued to work as a promotion man for his former partners.

Carl Fisher left an indelible mark not only on Indiana, but on the country as a whole.

Bonus fact: Neither of his highway brainstorms connected to his original home town, and only the Dixie Highway connected to his adopted hometown of Indianapolis. The Lincoln Highway, however, did connect to the namesake town of his hometown. Greensburg, Indiana, was named after the hometown of the wife of the founder of the town: Greensburg, Pennsylvania.