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.

1920-1960: Adams County Roads

Today, I want to start a series, with a lot of maps, that shows the evolution of the state highway system in each county from 1920 to 1960. Starting with the first county, alphabetically.

First, let’s start with the creation of Adams County. Dated 7 February 1835, “formation by statute, effective on publication. The formation affected territory attached to Allen and Randolph counties. Adams was organized under an act of January 23, 1836, effective March 1, 1836.” The county was legally described as follows: “Commencing at the south east corner of Allen county, thence west with the southerly border of said county, to the north east corner of section five in township twenty eight range thirteen, thence south with the section lines to the township line between townships twenty four and twenty five, thence east with the said township line to the eastern boundary line of the state, thence north with the state line to the place of beginning.” This information was included on page 44 of the Laws of Indiana, 1834-35.

The county seat was also included in my source: “Commissioners appointed under the organization act reported to county commissioners on May 18, 1836, their choice of a site in section 3, township 27 north, range 14 east of the second principal meridian, where Decatur now stands.”

1920 Indiana Official State Highway Map

When the state highway system was officially created in 1919, state roads were being all over Indiana. The major purpose of the system was to connect to each county seat. To that purpose, the first of the new state roads to be added in Adams County was known as State Road 21. It was laid out, as shown on the 1920 map to the right, in a not so straight path connecting Geneva, Berne, Monroe and Decatur. From Decatur, it aimed off towards Fort Wayne.

I have access, through the state library online, to two different maps from 1923. The state did two things in that year. First, it issued the first official highway map since 1920, and two, the reason it was issued was due to the fact that the Indiana State Highway Commission was going through what I have referred to as the “Little Renumbering.” The other map, one that I use quite a bit, lists the state roads prior to the renumbering.

1923 Kenyon Map of Adams County, Indiana

The non-official map included the state road numbers in use at the time, as well as the Auto Trails that were in place. That map uses circles with numbers for the state roads. As shown on the map to the right, state road 21 is still the only state road in the county. But it was also known as the “Ohio, Indiana and Michigan Way” Auto Trail.

OIM Way Marker

The other road marked on that map, shown as “GG” is the “Huntington, Manitou, Culver Trail.” While the title cities were on the trail, it did connect to someplace in Ohio and possibly beyond. I am trying to find any information I can to figure it out. At the west end, the road went at least as far as Chicago.

The first renumbering of state highways in September 1923 didn’t affect Adams County at all. The former state road 21 remained the same afterwards.

1926 Indiana Official State Highway Map

The number of state roads in Adams County doubled with the Great Renumbering on 1 October 1926. The new SR 16 would cross through the county west to east, connecting Decatur to Huntington. What is now County Road 600 North east of Decatur was, at that time, SR 16. The road ended abruptly at the state line. There was a state road in Ohio (Ohio SR 109) that ended at the state line, as well. But it was one mile north of the new SR 16.

The old state road 21 would become part of the United States Highway system, given the number 27. The original route of OSR 21 was still followed across Adams County as US 27, including the curvy route from Geneva to Berne. Today, that route is known as County Road 150 West.

By 1930, State Road 16 was moved one mile north east of Decatur, to connect to what was Ohio State Road 17 (formerly Ohio SR 109). (Ohio changed state road numbers quite a bit…and have done that since.)

Indiana Official State Highway Map, 1 September 1932

1931 brought another state road to Adams County: SR 118. But there were also authorized additions to the state highway system crossing from Bluffton, in Wells County, through Monroe, to the Ohio state line near Willshire, Ohio. Another authorized addition, also starting near Willshire, crossed northwest bound to end in Decatur.

SR 118 started at SR 5 along the Huntington-Wells County line, due east through Berne to end at a county road at the Indiana-Ohio state line in Mercer County, Ohio.

1933 Indiana Official State Highway Map

The two authorized additions to the state highway system were given designations in 1932. The east-west route through Monroe was called SR 124. The northwest/southeast route was made a daughter of US 27, given the name SR 527.

1933 made another change to the state highway numbers in Adams County. State Road 16 would be removed from the county, with the road redesignated part of the United States Highway system as US 224.

1935 Indiana Official State Highway Map

Changes kept occurring in the connections to Adams County. In 1935, an authorized addition to the highway system was added to maps as SR 101. This road would start at the new US 224 (old SR 16), going north toward Monroeville in Allen County.

Another state road to US highway change was made in 1938, when the US 33 designation replaced SR 527.

By 1941, a US 27 Decatur bypass, moving outside the town to the west, would be in operation. US 33 still traversed Decatur, meeting US 27 north of the town. The new US 27 would also bypass Monmouth to the west, while US 33 still used the old route of US 27 to northwest of Monmouth.

Also that year, another state road was added to Adams County. That road, starting in Geneva and working its way west, north, and northwest towards Bluffton. It would be designated SR 116.

1941 Indiana Official State Highway Maps

Changes continued during World War II…but mainly with just marking the roads. According to the Indiana Official State Highway map of 1945, SR 101 was extended in its line from US 224 to SR 124. SR 116 was extended through Geneva, down to New Corydon and along the south county line.

Along the way, US 33 would connect to US 224, then “travel over” US 224 to US 27, where US 27 and US 33 would join forces again like they did when US 33 was created.

1945 Indiana Official State Highway Map

No changes were made for the next nearly decade and a half. By 1959, SR 101 between US 224 and SR 124 was moved to the east one mile. to its current location.

I hope that you like this possible series of articles. I look forward to your opinions and comments about it.

1910: The National Road West of Indianapolis

Today, I want to show some map snippets of the National Road, and its replacement sections, as of 1910. Now, there is a small problem with this. The maps that I am going to use here are from the United States Postal Service from 1910. And while they are available from the Indiana State Library online, there are two that are noticeably absent from the collection: Clay and Marion Counties.

Marion County is easy to deal with. There are so many historic maps of Marion County available on the web that if I really wanted to, I could get something to cover the area. Clay County is an entirely different story. That is going to take some work.

Many people, today, are used to the straight ribbon of asphalt and concrete that is US 40 through Indiana. But that wasn’t the case when the road was created in the 1830’s. As was the standard operating procedure at the time, roads were built as straight as they could be. There was no heavy machinery to move a hill, or flatten a valley, in the early to mid 1800’s. Surveyors were extremely important at that time, to get the best road possible. If it could come in using less materials, and more importantly, less money, so be it. Most bridges across streams along the way crossed at a right angle to the stream. This was to make the bridge both safer and less expensive.

The hilly terrain of the area southwest of Indianapolis made the National Road surveyors a bit of hassle, as well. Hence, the relatively straight road that we know today was a lot of work and bending the old road into shape…and out of existence. The following maps show the road as it was in 1910. I wanted to give a comparison map from USGS maps…but the earliest available at this time is 1941, meaning that the road has already been replaced in most areas. And looking at Google Maps, there are very few sections that still exist of the original road that was replaced. But, I hope that these maps will start your own research into the original federal highway.

1910 USPS Map of Rural Delivery Routes in Vigo County west of the Wabash River.
1910 USPS Map of Rural Delivery Routes in Eastern Vigo County.
1910 USPS Map of Rural Delivery Routes in Western Putnam County.
1910 USPS Map of Rural Delivery Routes in Eastern Putnam County.

The map above shows the Reelsville bypass of the original National Road. I covered it in the article “National Road at Reelsville.”

1910 USPS Map of Rural Delivery Routes in Western Hendricks County.
1910 USPS Map of Rural Delivery Routes in Eastern Hendricks County.

I-65 and I-465 On The Northwest Side – A Pictorial History

Today, I want to use MapIndy and USGS Topographic maps to show the progression of the interchange between I-65 and I-465 on the northwest side of Marion, just east of Eagle Creek Park. I am going to have four aerial photos in this entry: 1941, 1956, 1962 and 1972. Also, small snippets of several topo maps are used. Strangely, the 1941 and 1956 are almost identical.

1941 MapIndy aerial photo of the area around the I-65/I-465 interchange on the northwest side of Marion County.
1956 MapIndy aerial photo of the area around the I-65/I-465 interchange on the northwest side of Marion County.
1961 USGS Topographic Map of the interchange between I-65, I-465, and future SR 100, now known as I-465.

The 1961 USGS Topo map shows the pending SR 100 connection. Bridges appear in the 1962 aerial, especially Lafayette Road over I-465. It should also be noted that on the USGS maps, the pending I-465 was also marked SR 100. Also, what is now I-65 fed directly into Lafayette Road at this point. This made sense, since I-65 was the replacement, between Indianapolis and Labanon, of US 52…which followed Lafayette Road in this area.

The next photo is from 1962. The missing section in the picture had not changed much, if at all, from the 1956. The Dandy Trail did not cross Eagle Creek at a right angle to the creek. It had been replaced by a bridge on 56th Street. And the reservoir still hasn’t been built. Both interstates, I-65 going straight through the area, and I-465 veering off to the south, catch the eastern edge of the park like area west of Lafayette Road north of 62nd Street. That park like area is listed on the 1953 USGS topographic map as “Eagle Creek Forest.”

1953 USGS Topographic Map of Eagle Creek Forest.

It should be noted that 62nd Street was completely orphaned west of the interstate when it was built. Reed Road, which at the time before the building of the reservoir and the park ended at 62nd Street, was the access to the orphaned section west of the interstate.

The state had already made plans to make the complete I-465 loop, including between 56th Street north to the north leg. However, it never did get federal approval. If it was going to be built, the state would have to build it not as the interstate, but as a state road. Hence it was decided that the road that I-465 was replacing, SR 100, would be the designation for that section.

1962 MapIndy aerial photo of the area around the I-65/I-465 interchange on the northwest side of Marion County.

The topo map of 1967 (1969 edition) shows the completion of Eagle Creek Reservoir and Park. It shows the area that had been the Dandy Trail Bridge over Eagle Creek. I have included two snippets of that map. The first is the I-465/I-65 interchange, with the proposed SR 100 connection. The Second shows the 56th Street causeway over the reservoir.

1969 USGS Topographic Map of the I-65/I-465/Proposed SR 100 interchange.
1969 USGS Topographic Map of the 56th Street Causeway over Eagle Creek Reservoir.

By the time that the 1972 photo was taken, the Eagle Creek Reservoir and Park was in place. Reed Road, which allowed access to the park area with the circular road, was still in place, but as I recall it had been closed to traffic on the 56th Street end. The Dandy Trail bridge had been replaced with the 56th Street Causeway, mainly because the old road was under water at that point.

The major change, relating to the subject at hand, was the completion and connection of the section of I-465 north of I-65 heading off towards the north leg of the bypass route. That section was built not as part of I-465, but as SR 100. It wouldn’t stay SR 100 long, as the Feds allowed it to become I-465…as long as the state continued to pay 50% of the building cost as opposed to the normal 10%. So, yes, that section of I-465 was a state choice…the Feds approved it after construction was started. This would cut even more of 62nd Street, and High School Road, out of the city landscape. The curve, connecting Lafayette Road to 62nd Street heading east, had already cut the corner of 62nd Street and High School Road off from connecting with anything other than Lafayette Road to the west.

1972 MapIndy aerial photo of the area around the I-65/I-465 interchange on the northwest side of Marion County.

It hasn’t change much in that area since 1972. There are some rumblings of changing the interchange to make it more friendly to interstate-to-interstate transfer. But nothing has come of it.

US 40: Bridgeport to Plainfield

When the National Road was surveyed in the 19th century, the people that laid out the road had very little to worry about when it came to man made obstructions to its path. The road was built in the most efficient way possible. Not necessarily the straightest, but the most efficient. An example of this is just west of downtown Indianapolis with the National Road bridge. The original route crossed the White River at a 90 degree angle…typical of bridge building at the time. And although that bridge would be later supplemented, then replaced, by a straighter Washington Street bridge, the old bridge would survive until 1904…a little over 70 years.

Another section of the old National Road that would survive into the 20th century before getting the straightening treatment would be the section starting just west of Bridgeport, heading toward Plainfield. Here, for two and half miles, the National Road would first curve its way across a creek, then find its way, in 1852, across a dangerous railroad crossing near the Marion-Hendricks County line.

Let’s start with the railroad crossing. In 1850, the Terre Haute & Richmond Railroad was chartered to create a route between its two title cities through Indianapolis. Typical railroad construction involves laying out the route to be as flat as possible. Through most of Indiana, being that most of the terrain is relatively flat, this is not a problem. The routing of the the TH&R west of Plainfield found itself winding through some very hilly territory. At Plainfield, the road started on a straight path to the Hoosier capital. When construction was completed in 1852 to Indianapolis, the railroad was a very straight line from west of Plainfield to Indianapolis.

Railroad construction at the time also didn’t take into consideration the roads that were in place when they were built. One half mile west of the Marion-Hendricks County line, at a spot that would later become known as Six Points, the TH&R was built to have a very flat crossing of the National Road. A crossing of about 15 degrees. On a clock, that is about the angle from 12:00 to 12:02:30, or half way between 2 and 3 minutes. Given the little amounts of traffic, the speed of trains, and what little there was normally involved horses, this was not seen as a problem.

Fast forward to the Auto Trail era when automobiles were taking over. Train traffic was booming, locomotive speeds were much higher, and the traffic was getting clogged with cars and trucks. The crossing at Six Points became one of the most dangerous in the state. With the state takeover of the old National Road as Original State Road 3 in 1917, the Indiana State Highway Commission became responsible for the conditions of both the road and the railroad crossing at this point. As traffic increased, this dangerous situation would remain into the mid-1930’s, when the ISHC started turning what had become US 40 into a divided highway across the entire state. The routing of US 40 curved to the north of the old road, crossing the Hendricks County Road (later to become 1050 East) a little over .1 mile north of the old crossing. The railroad, by this time the Pennsylvania Railroad, was then crossed at a 30 degree angle three tenths of a mile west of the Six Points Road.

This improved the situation at the crossing…but didn’t fix it completely. There were news stories of crashes, sometimes fatal, between cars and trains at that crossing, as well. But it did improve the situation.

The other quirk in the National Road would be the crossing of the creek at the west edge of Bridgeport. Bridgeport was an old village, mainly started as a watering hole along the old National Road. It is located less than 1/2 mile east of the Marion-Hendricks County line. At the west edge of town, the National Road curved slightly north of its straight path to cross over the White Lick Creek. The road then turned to become a straight line again aiming towards Plainfield.

This Google Map snippet shows the property lines of the old National Road from a point west of Raceway Road to west of Bridgeport. The road labelled “Old Washington Street” is the original path of the National Road/US 40.
This MapIndy aerial photograph, taken in 1941, shows the construction of the new US 40 west of Bridgeport.

When the state started working on connecting the two sections of already widened US 40, the section that remained was through Bridgeport and over the White Lick Creek Bridge. The work started on this section in 1941. The first task was to eliminate the curve at the White Lick Creek, making a straight line road between the 1936 bypass of Six Points and Bridgeport. It was mentioned in the Indianapolis News of 7 July 1941 that traffic through Bridgeport had dropped quite a bit with the old National Road/US 40 being closed for this construction. By 1942, the new section of US 40 would be completed, and the old road was left to flounder in the weeds.

The Beginning, and End, of SR 534

As the Indiana State Highway Commission’s inventory of state roads was growing, the thought of putting a bypass around the city of Indianapolis hit the planning sheets. The original plan started appearing on official highway maps in 1932. But little would be done for almost a decade. In 1941, the start of a bypass road was contracted…and built. But there was more to it than just a section along the east side from Fort Harrison to Nora.

Yes, that’s right. From Fort Harrison to Nora. The original road that was started in 1941 followed 56th Street from Fort Harrison out to a new construction road along what was, and still is, the Shadeland corridor. At the time, it was Shadeland Road. But that corridor only ran from 10th Street to 56th Street, creating a dead end road north of 56th Street into the Woolen Gardens. A complete history of the road is available as “SR 100: How did it come to be?

The Indianapolis News, 24 July 1941
Legal notice for contract to build SR 534 from
56th Street to Castleton.

Things started happening on the bypass route in 1941, when the first contracts were let. As is typical of the ISHC at the time, the road was contracted separately from the bridges. The first contracts for the road were let in July 1941. The legal notices were published for the contract, as shown on the left. The bids were to be in the hands of the ISHC by 5 August 1941 at 10 AM Central Standard Time (the time zone Indianapolis was in at the time). The plan was for a reinforced concrete road surface north from 56th Street to the old state road that turned west along what is now 82nd Street.

The bridge over Fall Creek was let out for contract in September 1941, with the description “structure on State Road 534” details as a five span arch bridge “over Fall Creek, 2.7 Mi. North of Lawrence.” Those spans were to be, in order: one at 40 feet; three at 80 feet, and one at 40 feet. The bridge was to be of reinforced concrete arch design. Bids were to be at the ISHC by 10 AM CST on 7 October 1941.

The next leg of the road was published for contract in December 1941, with a due date of 16 December 1941. It was to include 4.578 miles of reinforced concrete from Nora to Castleton. (For the route prior to SR 534 construction, check out 82nd and 86th Street Before SR 534 (SR 100).) This would complete the first opened section of SR 534 in Indiana.

Then World War II started.

The Indianapolis News, of 21 December 1942, opined that the ISHC was in a holding pattern when it came to the building of the bypass road. The road was not mentioned by number, but the route was discussed. “One link, approaching Ft. Benjamin Harrison by way of Allisonville and Castleton, has been completed and is in use. The belt highway, discussed for years, will extend south, intersection Roads 40, 52 and 29, until it reaches the Thompson Road, where it will continue west, intersecting Roads 31, 37 and 67.” With the Shadeland Road corridor only extending as far as 10th Street, this would require the acquisition of right-of-way and building of four miles of new road from 10th Street to Troy Avenue/Southeastern Avenue/SR 29. South from here, the road was already in place as the Five Points Road.

“At Valley Mills it will turn north, crossing roads 40, 36 and 34, eventually intersecting Road 52, where it will join the northern east-and-west link that has been built.” This would put the road along the High School Road corridor on the west side. This would also include a state road that connected US 40 to the Indianapolis Municipal Airport. That state road was designated SR 100 when it was commissioned.

“The practical value of such a construction program has long been recognized, both for ordinary traffic and for commercial vehicles that will be enabled to by-pass Indianapolis without contributing to traffic congestion be traversing the downtown streets.”

The article concluded as follows: “A belt line around Indianapolis has been considered ever since the old days of the “Dandy Trail” when gravel roads were marked and motorists wore linen dusters. The successor to that trail is one of the numerous tasks that are being held in abeyance until the war is won.”

The designation of SR 534 would be applied to the east leg from Washington Street north to 82nd Street, then along the 82nd/86th Street corridor to SR 29, Michigan Road. In the summer of 1949, the following was published in the Indianapolis News: “Some of our highways are known by name as well as number. Thus the route called State Road 534 could be more easily found if you called it Shadeland Drive. This road, leading north from Road 40, east of Indianapolis, intersects with Roads 31, 431, 37, 52 and 29 and is part of what, some day, will be a belt line around the city. But what we started out to say is that on the new Indiana highway maps it is 534 no longer. The new number is 100.”

And with that, the ISHC removed one of the “daughters” of State Road 34, stretching the SR 100 designation from a short section of High School Road to the entire bypass. Or, at least, the sections that would be completed before it was entirely replaced by Interstate 465.

Interurban Freight Service

In the Golden Age of Electric Traction, the interurban lines covered quite a bit of the state of Indiana. This is a subject that I have covered several times in Indiana Transportation History. However, today, I want to cover more than just Indiana, in a way. In 1924, a freight service was created using the interconnected electric traction lines across several states. It was given the name of “the Minute Man of the Traffic World.”

The freight system set up, covering 4,728 miles of electric traction track, covering an area from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York, in the east to Chicago and beyond in the west. It was entirely possible to ship something, via interurban, across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

A statement, issued on 18 July 1924, by Harry Reid of the Central Electric Railway Association, “described the position of the interurban railway as that of a minute man always ready to rush out on a hurry call.” The interurbans were in an ideal place to serve industries and their workers. (Source: Muncie Evening Press, 18 July 1924, pp 15)

“The development of the motor car has taken much local traffic off the hands of the electric and steam roads, but the demand for speedy service has more than repaid the electric lines, at least, for the loss of that business.”

One of the advantages the electric railroads had over the steam roads was less than carload deliveries. Steam railroads would spend a great deal of time and money on the creation of truck trailer service and less than carload service. Traction lines used free space to move parcels.

Fresh fruit, for instance, was shipped by rail into places like Indianapolis. Then the interurbans could deliver that produce to smaller towns along the line. Even livestock was transported by interurban. Indianapolis itself, in 1923, received 10,510 car loads of livestock…and sent out 1,086.

The Indianapolis traction freight yards, also in 1923, handled 229,150 tons of freight. “With the development of the new Indianapolis electric freight terminal, and the addition of new rolling stock by all lines, this total should be greatly exceeded this year.”

This freight service would find itself in trouble in less than a decade. With the Federal Government ordering the separation of electric utilities and electric traction companies, and the Great Depression, the traction lines would start failing. Private automobiles also helped in the demise. The Traction Freight Terminal, located on Kentucky Avenue near White River, didn’t last long. And the interurban was completely gone from Indianapolis in 1941.

Celebrating The “Greenwood Line” For Johnson County’s 150th

1 January 1900. The first electric traction car runs into Indianapolis. More importantly, however, according to the Daily Journal of 6 March 1973, it ran into Greenwood. “Townsfolk cheered and applauded as the orange-colored passenger car screeched to a halt at the end of the line.” Thus was the beginning of the interurban era in Central Indiana. “At that proud moment, none of the overjoyed citizens had the slightest idea that the flashy monster called interurban would die some 40 years later – only a few miles down the track.”

Daily Journal photo, 6 March 1973

Greenwood, when it was created, found itself astride two important forms of transportation at the time: the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad and the Madison State Road, later the Madison Toll Road. Both of these facilities connected the little village, called Greenfield starting in 1825, to the state capital directly. The railroad ended at South Street, between Pennsylvania and Delaware Streets. The Madison State Road ended at the end of Meridian Street at South Street.

The idea started in 1894 when $150,000 was invested to construct a 12-mile line from Indianapolis to Greenwood. In 1895, the plan was laid out by Henry L. Smith to create an electric traction company to connect Greenwood to both Indianapolis and Franklin. The route would follow the Madison State Road (then known by the names of either the Madison Free Gravel Road or the Indianapolis-Southport Road depending on where you were). From Greenwood, it would run along the east side of the Madison Road right of way, switching over to the west side of the road just south of Union Street (now Southport Road) in Southport. The route would turn north on Shelby Street when it connected to Madison…connecting to the Indianapolis Street Railways just south of Troy Avenue.

While riding the new electric traction in the rural areas of Marion County, between Greenwood and Southport, “a passenger, Charles Coffin took out his pocket watch to check the interurban’s speed. In that brief stretch the motors of the car had propelled it nearly 38 miles per hour.” That was extremely fast for the time. Interurban stops were 1/2 mile apart at the time. Stops 13 and 14, numbered from Indianapolis, allowed passengers to partake of a popular picnic grounds on the north end of Greenwood – Greenwood Park. Rural stops 10, 11 and 12 were mainly for rural residents to go shopping in downtown Indianapolis. Southport did not have a stop number. Towns and/or housing additions were later built at stops north of Southport: Stop 9 (Homecroft – Banta Road); Stop 7 (Edgewood – Epler Avenue); Stop 6 (Longacre – Thompson Road); and Stop 4 (University Heights – Hanna Avenue).

By June 1900, with the financial success of the Greenwood line, the electric traction route had been extended to Franklin. And that success kept growing, for by September 1902 the interurban crossed all of Johnson County as it headed off to its end at Columbus. By 1910, the interurban had become part of the lives of thousands of people across Indiana. And that is when the wheels started coming off.

Between Bluffton and Fort Wayne, on 21 September 1910, the “worst wreck in the history of traction operations” occurred. More than 40 people were killed in the crash. On 2 February 1924, another tragic accident, caused by two interurban cars meeting head-on, killed 21 people. But nothing would hurt the interurban more than the car and the bus.

The interurban had teetered on the brink of financial failure for years. Then the Great Depression occurred. Many of the Indianapolis-centric traction routes would be consolidated. But 1933 came, and that consolidation was taken out of the hands of its owners, and placed in receivership. Many of the lines were closed at that point – either outright, or replaced with the very busses that helped seal their downfall.

But the Greenwood line soldiered on. For almost another decade. The first line into Indianapolis was also the last when a crash occurred south of Columbus. 8 September 1941 spelled the end of the interurbans along the Greenwood line. “In the end the interurban system had one weary passenger car remaining out of a mighty army of 700 as the hearts and minds of the public turned to other marvels.”

Daily Journal photo, 6 March 1973

The article in the Daily Journal is actually two parts. The top of the page covers the Greenwood line, in parts. The bottom talks about the electric street cars in Indiana, and the birth, life and death of the interurban. The best quote in that part of the story is this: “Before the interurban craze was over – and it hit like a meteor and died a painful death – there were about 200 operating companies; 250 with incorporation papers filed; and another 250 companies which tried to start. Just like canal companies and steam railroad companies, they went big in Hoosierdom.” They sure did. But in Central Indiana, it started with rumbling its way to a point south of the Hoosier Capital.

National Road at Reelsville

1952 USGS topographic map of the Reelsville area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Bicycling the Lafayette Road

Bicycle Routes as published on 02 May 1896 in the Indianapolis News. (image courtesy of newspapers.com)

The Indianapolis News, in its bicycling routes series, on 02 May 1896, covered leaving Indianapolis via the Crawfordsville Pike and the Reveal/Centennial Pike. This would bring the “wheelman” of the day through what is now Speedway out to and along the Eagle Creek valley to the town of Trader’s Point. That town was, before the building of the Eagle Creek Reservoir, was located at the crossing of Big Eagle Creek by the White River and Big Eagle Creek Pike, which was built as the Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road. Today, that name has been shortened to Lafayette Road.

After turning southeast along the road out of Trader’s Point, the road crosses the Big Eagle Creek then climbs a “stiff hill.” “After climbing this hill the road is undulating for some distance until the valley of the Big Eagle is left far behind.” Before leaving the hilly area, one half mile from Trader’s Point, is a “pump at the roadside all by itself. The water is very good.” One mile from “the Point” is a dirt road that crosses the Pike west to east. That dirt road, to the east, turns into the New Augusta Free Gravel Road, connecting to the town of that name, the Michigan Road and ending at the Spring Mill and Williams Creek Free Gravel Road.

Two miles from Trader’s Point “is a grocery store and blacksmith shop, where one dirt road turns north and another runs east and west. There is a little settlement at this cross-roads and a pretty white church with a green pump in the church yard.” The road to the north is now Shanghai Road. The east-west road, running from a road on the east side of Big Eagle Creek to the Michigan Road, first became Isenhour Road. That would be changed to 62nd Street with the renumbering of Marion County. There are no remnants of that “little settlement,” as the construction of Interstate 65 wiped out the intersection of 62nd Street and Lafayette Road.

From the settlement southeast, Lafayette Road is “much more level.” The first two roads encountered are the Kissell Road (became High School Road, now gone with the same I-65 construction) that heads south and the Centennial Road (running from the Reveal Road to the Michigan Road at Crooked Creek, now known as 56th Street). One half mile later, the Zionsville and Pike Township Free Gravel Road leaves heading north. That road is now Moller Road from north of 52nd Street to 62nd Street. When it was built, it was part of the Zionsville Pike.

Just southeast of the Zionsville Road junction is a post office town called Snacks. Here there is a white church, store, blacksmith shop, brick schoolhouse, and several houses. Next, the bicyclist would encounter the Russe Road, also known as the Reveal and Russe Free Gravel Road. The east end of this road is at the Lafayette Pike. The west end of this road is at the Crawfordsville Road, at a point one mile east of Clermont. The end at Lafayette Road is now known as 46th Street.

South of what is now 46th Street the Lafayette Pike jogs a little to the due south then more east than southeast, and back to the original line of the road. Those turns are shown in the 1941 aerial photograph to the left. (Image courtesy of MapIndy, a service of the City of Indianapolis.) The News mentioned, also, that the Little Eagle Creek comes very close to, and even parallels, the Lafayette Pike at this point.

The article reports that the road gets into better condition as it gets closer to the city. The next Post Office town encountered is Flackville, located at what is now Tibbs Avenue and Lafayette Road. Before that point, two schoolhouses, one with a green pump in the yard, and two uninviting dirt roads. Those roads, the first heading east, is now 38th Street, and the second heading west in now 34th Street.

At Flackville, several roads are encountered. The Guion Gravel Road turns north towards its end at New Augusta. The Flack Road, now 30th Street, crosses west to east. From here, the rider can follow the Flack Road east to the Michigan Road and back to the city. Continuing along the Lafayette Pike, what is now Tibbs Avenue crosses the road north to south. South of Pike is the Marion County Poor Farm.

Before reaching the Crawfordsville Pike at Emrichsville (now 16th Street), the Lafayette Road encounters the Cooper Avenue Free Gravel Road (now Kessler Boulevard) and the Meyers Free Gravel Road (now Cold Spring Road). The Meyers Road connects to the town of Brooklyn Heights and the Michigan Road near Mount Pleasant (Alliance Post Office).

At Emrichsville, the historic Lafayette and Crawfordsville Roads combine for the trip back to the center of Indianapolis. Both roads crossed the Emrichsville Bridge and followed what is now Waterway Boulevard (see The Lafayette State Road In Downtown Indianapolis). Historically, the Crawfordsville and Lafayette Roads both began at the Michigan Road.

The complete trip, as listed in this article was measured at 32 miles. This included the round trip that went out the Crawfordsville Pike, north along the Reveal and Centennial Roads, and back the Lafayette Road.

The Lincoln Highway, The Michigan Road and Rolling Prairie

With the coming “dog bone” intersection completion at US 20 and SR 2 east of Rolling Prairie, I thought it would be a good idea to cover the multiple copies of both of these routes and the roads that were in place before the state highway system was created.

Rolling Prairie, Indiana, showing the multiple transportation facilities around the area. Original image courtesy of Google Maps, snipped 03 September 2019. Colored lines added using Microsoft Paint.

In the 1830s, the state of Indiana created a road that connected Michigan City (a new town created for the end of the road) to Madison on the Ohio River, via Indianapolis. This new road would be called the Michigan Road. One of the things that is constantly wondered about is why the road went through South Bend instead of directly to Michigan City. The reason for that was a very large swampy area known as the Kankakee River. The road was built to stay on dry land as much as possible, simply because it was easier than building across a swamp.

This caused the road to take a very strange detour to the north of a straight line between South Bend and Michigan City. The original path of that road is marked on the image above as the green line. (The orange spots on any of those lines show where the road can’t be followed because it has been moved over the years.) Later on, a road was added connecting South Bend to LaPorte. As was typical of the time with early “state roads,” it would use the then road that was in place until the new road would branch off to go to its new destination. This created the red line on the map above.

In the 1850s, with the coming of the railroads, a line was built from South Bend to Chicago roughly following the Michigan Road for the eastern portion. As is typical at the time, the railroad company basically built in the straightest, most level, line possible. And, being also typical, it didn’t matter to the railroad what they built through. This caused a very dangerous crossing northeast of Rolling Prairie of the old Michigan Road and the new railroad. The town of Rolling Prairie would be put in place to take advantage of both these routes.

1910 USPS map of rural mail delivery in LaPorte County in the area of Rolling Prairie. Image courtesy of the Indiana State Library, available here. (http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15078coll8/id/970/rec/4)

Fast forward to the 20th Century. The dangerous crossing of the (then) New York Central is still in place. Due to this crossing, even the post office planned their routes around it, as shown in the above map.

In the mid-1910s, with the beginning of the Auto Trail era, it was decided that the coming Lincoln Highway (original route) would traverse this area. The Lincoln entered Indiana on the west at Dyer, exiting on the east southeast of Fort Wayne. A close look at a map shows that there can be a (relatively) straight line between the two points. And, looking even closer, such a line exists as US 30. But it was decided that the road would be routed through Valparaiso, LaPorte, South Bend, Elkhart and Goshen, among other places. This brought the road along the old state road connecting LaPorte and South Bend, passing to the east of the railroad at Rolling Prairie.

With the creation of the original Indiana State Highway Commission in 1917, it was decided that the new “State Road 2” would follow this original Lincoln Highway route. Again, that would be the red line on the Google Map at the top of the page, then the green line leaving the image at the top right. In 1923, the old Michigan Road, completely, from South Bend to Michigan City, through Rolling Prairie, was changed to SR 25, with the Lincoln Highway’s original route becoming SR 42. (The SR 2 designation was moved to what would become the new route of the Lincoln Highway…aka what became US 30 in 1926.)

Things would change (again) in October 1924 (Source: South Bend Tribune, 03 October 1924), when it was announced that “the Indiana State Highway Commission has determined to relocate state road No. 25 on Division street extended and that maintenance has been withdrawn from state road No. 25 between South Bend and Rolling Prairie through New Carlisle and Bootjack and on state road No. 42 between New Carlisle and a point where Division street extended will connect with state road No. 42.” This was a fancy way of saying that the Lincoln Highway and Michigan Road was being from east of Rolling Prairie to South Bend was being returned to county responsibility. This is shown as the blue straight line from the east (current SR 2) that turns northwest at the original Lincoln Highway, connecting to Rolling Prairie’s Michigan Street (historic Michigan Road). According to the same article, this would shorten the distance between South Bend and either Rolling Prairie or LaPorte by 1.5 miles. The other thing at play with this removal from the state highway system is the pending desire to remove a dangerous grade crossing at New Carlisle. With the rerouting of SR 25 at this point, that makes that crossing a St. Joseph County problem, not one of the Indiana State Highway Commission.

It should be noted that the “straighter” SR 25 from South Bend to Michigan City was also determined, in part, by the desire of the Federal Government. That desire was “for the construction of what might be called a military road through this part of the country in as straight a line as possible.” The decision to use Division Street (now called Western Avenue, by the way) out of South Bend was made by an official of the Federal Government looking at the situation. One comment that made no sense is that “the decision was affected partly by a decision to keep as far away from the central business district of the city as possible.” In South Bend, that would be about 1/2 mile or so, really.

With the Great Renumbering of 01 October 1926, the replacement SR 25 would be recommissioned as US 20 through the area, with the old Lincoln Highway branching to the southwest becoming (once again) SR 2. Half a decade later, the original Lincoln Highway from east of Rolling Prairie to South Bend would be returned to the state highway system. In 1932, US 20 was rerouted to the old road. It was at this time that the US 20 and SR 2 routes would change at their intersection. US 20 would be moved again, from Rolling Prairie to the junction of SR 2, to the route shown on the map at the top as the yellow line, in 1940 or 1941. The old (blue line) route of US 20 through Rolling Prairie would become SR 220 in 1945. It would be that way until 1953.

1963-1964 Indiana Official State Highway Map showing the area of Rolling Prairie.

The final modification in this area would be the creation of the current intersection of US 20 and SR 2 in 1963. The map to the left is from the 1963-1964 ISHC official map. The following official map, of 1964, shows the completed, new, intersection of the two routes.

Let me say, personally, I have never understood why these routes were numbered the way they were. To me, it would have made far more sense to leave US 20 where it was, and make the old route SR 2. But that is not what happened. And now, with the construction of a “dog bone” interchange at that location, the road numbering makes even less sense.

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.