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.

Subway Street, Beech Grove

When the Big Four Railway started to build their new yards in what would become the city of Beech Grove, they realized very quickly that train traffic was going to be, at best, horrifying for those that were trying to get to the town from the north and east. The main road from the north was the line separating Center from Warren, and Perry from Franklin townships. This would be called First Avenue in the new town of Beech Grove, and Emerson Avenue in the rest of Marion County.

1905 Map of the Beech Grove area, before construction of the town. Center of the map is where the four townships (Center, Franklin, Perry and Warren) meet, now the intersection of Emerson and Albany Street (Troy Avenue).

This road, before Beech Grove was built, stretched from a point in Washington Township, near Millersville, to the Johnson-Marion County line east of Greenwood. Part of this was considered to be part of the Churchman Free Gravel Road extension when the Big Four started buying the property. What became Albany Street (Troy Avenue in the rest of Marion County) extended from the Bottoms Road (now Harding Street) to what is now Kitley Road near the Hancock-Marion County line.

With the construction of the new railroad shops, and the new town, at Beech Grove, the railroad knew that it wouldn’t be long before it came up that two major roads in the county were being clogged by rail traffic. The elevation movement had already been in full swing in Marion County, although there were no such facilities completed to that point. Arguments were still being had about who was supposed to pay for all the bridges necessary to accomplish the plan. It was here that the planners decided to make sure that both carriage (and later car) traffic was unimpeded by the mass amounts of train traffic.

Emerson Avenue would be cut off just north of the Big Four railroad tracks north of the new town. This would put the cutoff just shy of 1/2 mile north of Albany, or 1/2 mile south of what would become Raymond Street. A new street would be built just north of the northern right-of-way of the railroad tracks, where it would connect 1/2mile east of Emerson, becoming the continuation of Troy Avenue. About 2/10’s of a mile east of Emerson, a new road would be built at a 90 degree angle to the railroad tracks, going under said railroad tracks, connecting to the new Second Avenue and the street running along the southern railroad right-of-way (to become Bethel Avenue) in Beech Grove.

1956 MapIndy aerial photograph of the Subway Street/Connection Street/Emerson Avenue/Bethel Avenue area near Beech Grove. west of the spur tracks leading into the Beech Grove Shops is a stub end of Emerson Avenue starting at Subway Street. It would connect to essentially a long driveway and a house west of Emerson and south of the railroad tracks.

The first street mentioned would be given the name “Connection Street.” The road that would go under the railroad tracks would be called “Subway Street.” The name subway actually has a historical context in Marion County. When traffic at Indianapolis Union Station got beyond horrible, the city of Indianapolis decided to build an underpass along Illinois Street, under the railroad tracks at the station. This was, for years, called the Illinois Street Subway, although it was more a bridge, even a tunnel, than a subway.

This wasn’t to say that Emerson Avenue disappeared completely between the two sides of the railroad tracks. A small section of Emerson Avenue existed from Subway Street north to a road, and house, 1/4 mile north of Albany Street. It existed this way for years. Until the early 1970’s, as a matter of fact.

Indianapolis Star, 15 April 1971. The photograph shows a four lane bridge in the middle of nowhere, over the tracks of what was, at the time, the Penn Central Railroad at Beech Grove. That bridge would be connected to the surrounding area, and would carry Emerson Avenue into Beech Grove from the north.

The new Emerson Avenue bridge over the Penn Central tracks, as they were called then, was completed in Spring 1971, although the connections to the new bridge weren’t complete. The road that connected to the house in the 1956 photo above would become the new Subway Street, which was turned to intersect and cross Emerson Avenue north of the old connection point.

1956 MapIndy aerial photograph with a 2020 overlay of then current conditions. This shows the driveway and the house, that would be removed when Subway Street was relocated with the building of the Emerson Avenue bridge north of Beech Grove.

The new ending of Subway Street would be at Fifth Avenue, instead of Second. Sections of the old Subway Street, from the new turn to Second Avenue, still exist to this day, almost 50 years later. And looking at the Google Map, or even MapIndy, will show that the property lines of the old Subway Street are still valid.

The railroad that created the town of Beech Grove is long gone. The Big Four became part of the New York Central, officially in 1930. The New York Central gave way, in 1968, to the Penn Central, which found the NYC merging with its long time rival the Pennsylvania. Soon after the creation of the National Passenger Rail Corporation, called Amtrak, there was a move to have Amtrak purchase the Beech Grove shops from Penn Central. This would happen in 1975.

A quick glance at the MapIndy property records leads to some confusing things, however. The property that the Amtrak shops is on does actually belong to the National Passenger Rail Corp. But it has to cross property that is still legally owned by the Penn Central Transportation Company. Now, I realize that the tangled web of property ownership and changing railroads can cause such things. But the property right next to it is owned by New York Central Lines LLC c/o CSX Transportation. As does most of the property north of the Amtrak Shops and south of the railroad mainline. The property records lead to a lot of fun reading. There are four different railroad companies legally listed as owners in that area: National Passenger Rail Corp.; CSX Transportation; New York Central Lines LLC (CSX); and Penn Central Corp (c/o C E Parker General Tax Agent Penn Central Trans Co, Chicago, Illinois). What’s strange is that all the property owned by the Penn Central is exempt from property tax.

Indianapolis: Sand Street

Northeast of where Kentucky Avenue crosses the White River, there is a short, and barricaded, street that connects south southeast to McCarty Street. It is used as access to a parking lot for Lucas Oil Stadium today. Looking at it closely, one can see the remnants of the old stone paving. It is called Sand Street. And where it is today isn’t always where it was. But throughout the history of the city of Indianapolis, it has been really close to where it is today.

Google Earth image of the stone paving of Sand Street, Indianapolis. This image was captured on 27 September, 2020. The Google Image was taken in August 2018.
1875 map of Sand Street in Indianapolis.

The general location of today’s Sand Street was, at one point, actually in the White River. In 1875, the original Sand Street formed the end of Kentucky Avenue at the time. It was crossed by a branch from the Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad that extended south to Pogues Run, located at the corner of what is now S. Dakota Street and Terrace Avenue (if it weren’t private property). Looking at the 1875 map to the left, one would notice that the intersection of McCarty and Sand Streets doesn’t exist, as it would be in the river.

1889 Sand Street area.

Due to its “insignificant” nature, Sand Street found itself on and off maps for many years. The 1889 Atlas of Marion County shows that the White River channel had been moved, but that Sand Street was not included on the map. The location of the street, however, is, as shown by the lonely little line connecting to Kentucky Avenue and the Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad. Notice that crossing the White River was done at River Avenue, which connected the intersection of River and Oliver Avenues to a bridge that connected south of Greenlawn Cemetery. This bridge had been in place for many years, and would be for years to come.

1894 Sand Street area.
1898 Sand Street area.

Sand Street would again appear on maps in 1894 and 1898. It would be shown as running along the original path, not a straight line between Kentucky Avenue and McCarty Street, which still didn’t connect past one block west of West Street. It should be noted that a second crossing of White River was completed in the years between 1894 and 1898, as the Kentucky Avenue bridge was built.

1926 Sand Street area.

The earliest map reference that I have seen that shows Sand Street in its present location is this 1926 snippet. The previous map that I have found, 1914, doesn’t show Sand Street at all. It should be noted that the two crossings of White River are still River and Kentucky Avenues, although the River Avenue crossing is labelled as Oliver Avenue on this map. Within a decade, the river crossing situation would change.

The first aerial photograph of the area that I have found comes from 1937, and is included below. It shows the new Oliver Avenue bridge across White River, connecting to Kentucky Avenue just south of the intersection of Sand and Kentucky. At this time, the entire area is very industrial in nature, and two branches from the Panhandle (formerly Vandalia, and before that, Indianapolis & Vincennes) curve across Kentucky Avenue on either side of Sand Street. The one on the east side of Sand still heads south towards industrial areas along Dakota Street (have to be careful, it is just Dakota Street…the fact that it runs north and south can create confusion!).

1937 MapIndy aerial photograph of the area of Sand Street, Kentucky Avenue, McCarty Street, et al.

With the exceptions of widenings of Kentucky and Oliver Avenues, and the curving of the Oliver Avenue bridge (between 1956 and 1962) on the east end to connect to the intersection of Kentucky Avenue and McCarty Street, not much changed in the area of Sand Street for many years. Yes, the plants along the street became abandoned and in poor shape, and the railroad connections that cross on either side of the street were removed, the street itself continued in place, and in use.

In 2009, the industrial buildings on either side of Sand Street were demolished, leaving the street itself as an abandoned reminder of what was. 2010 saw it fenced off from the McCarty Street end for the first time. The Google image below shows the Kentucky Avenue end as it appeared in 2009.

Google image of Sand Street, August 2009. If you look carefully, you can see the stone paving that is still in place today.

As mentioned above, Sand Street is still accessible…on days where parking downtown is needed. It is a privately owned street now, and has the consistency of an alley anywhere else in the city. Since it was basically vacated by the City of Indianapolis, maintenance is taken care of by the owners.

As an aside, the Indianapolis News, on 16 September 1979, ran a story called “Paving the Way to Yesteryear,” which included two photos of the granite paving of Sand Street. I will share those here.

The Indianapolis News, 16 September 1979.

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.

Planning and Building I-65 in Southeast Jackson County

When the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 was made the law of the land, states throughout the United States started looking at how to cash in on the new superhighway plan. Rough routes had already been laid out. It was up to the states, more or less, to nail it down even more. While there were already sections of road that were going to be added to the new interstate system, I want to focus on one of the built from scratch sections that was planned. This section was so quick to be added to the highway system that it was announced in the Seymour Tribune on 14 February 1958. It would connect US 50 east of Seymour to Uniontown.

“Early Construction May Put New Road Near Here In Use Before Rest Of New Highway.” That was what the sub-headline read in the Tribune that day. Engineer for the Seymour District of the Indiana State Highway Commission, E. C. Willis, announced on that Valentines Day 1958 that the new superhighway, not mentioned by number in the article, was on the 1958 State construction plans.

According to the information put out by the ISHC, interchanges were to be built at US 50, just west of the then current US 31, and at SR 250, east of Uniontown. “This will permit the new stretch of the superhighway to be used between those two points before the remainder of the new limited access highway is completed.” The new highway would run roughly parallel to US 31, the major highway through the area.

“Survey parties of the state highway department still are working on staking the right of way for the proposed new road and one of them is now engaged between U. S. 50 and Kriete’s curve southeast of Seymour. Due to the deeply frozen condition of the ground from the recent continued near-zero temperatures, the survey party is encountering difficulties but is continuing its work with interruption for the extreme cold in order that the project can be rushed under this year’s schedule.”

The article goes on to state that right of way purchase at the Jeffersonville end of the new road had already begun.

Google Maps image of the area known as the Kriete Curve.

“The programming of the Uniontown-U.S. 50 stretch in the 1958 highway plans will permit the early construction of that section of the new road, which will include the utilization of the three sets of new dual-lane bridges south of the present Kriete curve, which have been under construction for some time and are about ready for use when a road is built to them.” I would assume from that statement that the state had already planned to move US 31 southeast of Seymour, and that bridges were already built pending completion of the road. With the creation of the interstate system, those bridges could be easily moved to the replacement highway, to be called Interstate 65. It is also safe to assume that the bridges in question crossed the Muscatatuck River, as shown in the Google Maps image.

The section of Interstate 65 in question was shown as under construction on the 1959 Indiana Official State Highway Map. It was shown as complete to a point north of SR 256 near Austin on the 1960 version of the same map. The same 1960 map shows completion of I-65 north from Jeffersonville to Underwood, with the section between Underwood and Austin under construction.

Madison Avenue Expressway

In the early 1950’s, much had been done to help with traffic issues throughout the city of Indianapolis. With the exception, as pointed out by the Indianapolis News Editorial Staff on 21 June 1954, of the south side. But things were going to be changing soon. The Indiana State Highway Commission decided that there will be another upgrade to US 31 in the state. This time, in the city of Indianapolis on the south side. But many things not only had to come together to do this project, many controversies were unleashed with the project, as well.

First mention of the project, at least in the newspapers, came in August 1953. The Indianapolis News of 6 August 1953 covered the project on page 23. The $3 million project would lower the roadway of Madison Avenue, at the time US 31, some 20 feet to allow for the road to pass under the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Louisville line and the Indianapolis Belt Railway. A large chunk of the money for the project was to be paid out for the acquisition of properties in the 15 block project area. However, most of the coverage in that day’s News was the fact that the State Highway Commission was creating a “District of Dead Ends.” Apparently, the original plan was to start at Morris/Prospect Streets, working south. It was later decided that the work would begin at Terrace Avenue, leaving that street connected to Madison Avenue at the north end of the project.

However, from Terrace to the Indianapolis Belt Railway, no less than six streets were going to be cut in two. Palmer, which actually connected to Madison Avenue at the Pennsylvania Railroad crossing was sure to be removed. Lincoln would be cut off at the Pennsylvania Railroad. Both Minnesota and Iowa would be truncated, as they both crossed Madison in a straight line. Caven did a stutter step type crossing of the state highway. Adler ended at Madison, just north of the Belt. South of the Belt, LeGrande Avenue stutter stepped its way across Madison Avenue, as well.

While the expressway was the major part of the project, that wasn’t the entire scope. From Southern Avenue, one half mile south of Raymond Street, to where Madison Avenue becomes Delaware Street near what was Wilkins Street (now the I-70 overpass), the road would be widened to a six lane facility. Right-of-way would be purchased on opposite sides of the road, with the section from Southern to Pleasant Run Parkway, and from the Pennsylvania Railroad north to Delaware Street being taken from the east side of the street. Between Pleasant Run Parkway and the PRR, the west side would be taken for the project.

A look at a satellite image of the area today shows exactly how much property was taken in each section. The new Madison Avenue is actually west of Old Madison Avenue. (Old Madison Avenue is one of the very few roads in Marion County that includes a hint that it used to be an important facility. And even then, this only occurred when the new street signs started showing up around the year 2000, because prior to that, the street was officially called “Madison Avenue.”) The old road, which sits along the top of the hill that was created with the new road, is in two sections, the the old Belt Railway crossing removed, connecting where Iowa Street was to Raymond Street. All of the property from the old road to the alley between Delaware Street and Madison Avenue was taken for the new canyon expressway.

As an Indianapolis history aside right here, one of the most famous restaurants on Indianapolis’ south side, the Key West Shrimp House, existed in this section of Madison Avenue. It was half way between LeGrande Avenue and Raymond Street (2138 Madison Avenue). By 1955, due to pending construction, it had moved to its more famous location, 2861 Madison Avenue. Almost anyone, of sufficient age, can tell you about the pink building on Madison Avenue that once housed the Key West. Now, they still have a location…at the other end of the road – in Madison, Indiana.

Not only was the road going to be part of the project, in October 1953, it was announced that the ISHC was going to take a “pedestrian census” to see whether a pedestrian bridge would have to be built somewhere in the project area. Plans were to have pedestrian crossings at both Terrace and LeGrande Avenues. However, the project removed the LeGrande Avenue crossing when the construction was completed. The only true pedestrian specific accommodation made in the project area would be a walking bridge crossing at Palmer Street.

Contracts for the first phases of construction of the new Madison Avenue were announced in May 1954. And while the south side of Indianapolis had always been hampered by narrow roads and railroad crossings, causing it to lag behind the rest of the city, it wasn’t long until newspaper editorial staffs began to realize what was about to become a real problem. The Indianapolis News Editorial of 21 June 1954 spelled it out quite succinctly: this is gonna get bad. “Of course, the Madison Avenue expressway is coming – but there will be a crisis for the south side motorists before the expressway is completed.” With the pending closure of Madison Avenue during construction, something that could last up to two years, an already strained city traffic system would be stretched to the limit. And most of that traffic, according to the thoughts of the Indianapolis News, through Fountain Square. “Cars pile up along Shelby, Virginia and Prospect trying to get through the area. This goes on morning, noon and night.” “One improvement has been made. Woodlawn has been straightened and widened between Virginia and Shelby. But the project primarily has provided more parking space and does not help move traffic.”

It would be in December 1954 that the state announced a change in the construction plans. The original idea was that Prospect and Morris Streets would connect to Madison Avenue as they always had, as shown in this snippet from a 1915 map of Indianapolis. Morris crossed straight over Madison Avenue, with Prospect being almost one block north. It is important to note that both these streets are important arteries in Indianapolis traffic. And, they are survey roads, meaning that their location is along a survey line. (That line is Morris Street west of Shelby Street, and Prospect west of it. Shelby Street is a survey correction line, so every street corrects to the north at or near Shelby Street on the south side.) It was announced that the state would create an underpass for Morris Street, with connecting facilities to allow traffic access to Morris and Prospect Streets. As it turned out, east bound Prospect Street became a very long ramp to allow northbound Madison Avenue traffic access to west bound Morris Street. In the same vein, a slightly moved westbound Morris Street became the eastbound Morris to northbound Madison ramp.

This change, along with the grade separation at Raymond Street that had been announced the previous August, were recommended by the United States Bureau of Public Roads, which provided half of the funding for the project. These two changes added over $1 million to the entire project. Construction on the Madison Avenue expressway was “probably” going to start in 1955. But plans for the new changes hadn’t even been worked out as of the announcement, so no one was quite sure of that.

June 1955 saw the start of getting rid of “the old Shrimp House, 18 homes, and an undisclosed number of garages near Raymond and Madison.” The state would be auctioning off the properties on 28 June 1955. Those properties would have have to be moved within 30 days of the auction. The same day that the auction was announced, it was also mentioned that construction was expect to begin that summer. As it turned out, November 1955 came news that the construction would begin in 1956, as contracts had just been awarded for the project.

That didn’t apply to other locations along the project area. It was announced that the new Madison Avenue bridge over Pleasant Run would be opened to traffic on 29 July 1955. The plan was to open four lanes of the six lane span that day. Since Madison Avenue had been closed, at this point, for almost a year, traffic had been slowed to a crawl anyway.

Indianapolis News, 25 September 1956, showing construction of the Madison Avenue expressway at the Indianapolis Belt Railway.

Another sticking point with the local news media, especially the Indianapolis News, was the lack of security when it came to all the old buildings that were being removed in the construction area. This was especially apparent when it came to the fact that there were three schools in or near the construction zone: School 31 on Lincoln Street east of Madison; School 35 at Madison and Raymond; and Manual High School at Pleasant Run and Madison. There were a bunch of buildings that looked like tornado damage, and more than fair share of basements that were just open to the public without any protection whatsoever.

The article to the left, which was published on 22 March 1956, shows the opinion of the Indianapolis News, and the parents of students in the area. Especially at School 35.

Indianapolis News, 25 September 1956, showing the construction area on Madison Avenue, and expressing the Indianapolis News’ concern about the safety of children in the area. An exact location of this photograph has not been determined, but not for lack of trying.

All wasn’t roses on the ISHC end, either. I will cover it in a later post, but irregularities were exposed in 1957 when it came to property acquirement for the Madison Avenue Expressway project. These irregularities were exposed in April 1957, and found itself in court the following October. It involved someone making a ton of money from real estate purchases and sales in 1954 and 1955. Part of the problem was that these types of shenanigans caused the delay of construction, and hence, an extension of the traffic nightmare on the south side of the city. It was, in June 1957, projected that construction would be completed by September 1958.

That construction projection would be close to true, as the 1959 Indiana Official Highway Map cover shows. The new Madison Avenue Expressway was shown in its brand new, completed, status. But even with the completion of the project, the controversy remained. Stanley T. Siegel, Indianapolis traffic engineer, stated, according to the Indianapolis Star, that the project is a “beautiful road that starts nowhere and leads to noplace.” Mr. Seigel took a lot of criticism for that opinion. The problem is, on the surface, he is absolutely right. What he didn’t take into his consideration is the removal of a narrow, overcrowded street (now Old Madison Avenue), and the constrictions placed on it by two busy railroad crossings (which, at the time, they were very busy), and made a better connection with a very busy United States highway running through south central Marion County.

The Expressway would be completely opened to traffic officially on 23 September 1958. It would still be technically closed for another week for curbing and other details, and the interchange at Morris/Prospect Streets would not be ready for several more weeks after that (for railroad elevation just west of the interchange). The project would cost almost $8 million, more than twice the original estimate. It was also announced that the State Highway Department had plans to extend the expressway another 10 miles. This extension would be along State Road 431, also known as Madison Avenue, in the non-bypassed sections of the old road.

Farmers Ferry

Greene County, 1989. A ferry across the White River, owned by Greene County, is sold to private interests. The ferry had been in roughly the same location for over 120 years. The Greene County Commissioners decided that the cost of maintenance and insurance was getting too much to keep giving the free service to the public. Slowing use didn’t help much. With no income, and an outlay of between $10,000 and $15,000 annually, the county sold the ferry, ending a service that had seen its fair share of tourists and mishaps over its history.

1950 USGS Topographical Map of Farmers and Farmers Ferry.

Farmers Ferry began life crossing the White River at the unincorporated town of Farmers, an Owen County community 12 miles south of Spencer on both the Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad and the Indianapolis-Vincennes state road (which would, eventually, become SR 67). The town was named after a merchant in the area. The railroad, which had commenced construction in 1867, built a station at the town called Farmers Station. A post office there opened in 1869. That post office was changed from Farmers Station to Farmers in 1882, and closed in 1931.

The ferry was used, once the railroad was in operation, to move cattle and hogs across the White River to be loaded onto trains to be sold in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Stock Yards were located close to the Indianapolis end of the I&V, making this railroad convenient for farmers in the area. The ferry service chugged along its merry way until 1918, when a change of course of the White River caused the service to migrate downstream by about one half mile into Greene County. The wooden ferry boat was replaced with a steel one in 1930. The moving of the river caused the town of Farmers, which at the turn of the 20th Century, had “three doctors, two drugstores, three groceries, and ice plant and a feed mill,” (Source: Indianapolis News, 3 August 1977) to become, by 1977, a place described as “although you can find Farmers on the official Indiana highway map, there is nothing here but a pump with no handle.”

Local residents were working on replacing the ferry as early as 1940. According to the Linton Daily Citizen of 28 February 1940, petitions had been filed with the Greene County Board of Commissioners asking for the old SR 54 bridge across the White River at Elliston be moved to replace the ferry near Farmers. Dirt approaches had been built, but the cost of moving and maintaining the bridge were too much for the county to bear. At the time, the ferry cost around $6,000 yearly.

One of the best descriptions of the Farmers Ferry was published in the Indianapolis Star of 1 February 1948. “Just south of the Owen-Greene County line a winding country road branched off Indiana Highway 67, meanders through cornfields and woodland and after a mile or so comes to an abrupt end in front of a cottage-like dwelling on the west bank of White River. Tied up at a rude landing below the little house is the Green (sic) County Navy – an unimpressive two-craft fleet but, nonetheless, the only county-owned navy in all Indiana.” The ferry operator at the time was George Baker, referred to, jokingly, as “Admiral Baker.” At the time of this article, “the officials of Greene County presently are engaged in modernizing their fleet. They have on order, with delivery promised soon, a new flagship – an all-metal 10 feet longer than the present ferry.” “I ought to get a new uniform to go with the new boat,” Baker says.

Over its history, the ferry had seen its share of mishaps. In 1957 or 1958, due to poor loading of the ferry, two loads of cattle were dumped into the river. Clyde W. Thompson, local resident, stated recalled the story that happened to his father. The cattle swam back to the bank and climbed out of the river “after their dip.” (Source: Indianapolis Star, 2 July 1989). “One ferryman had the distinction of sinking the same truck – his own – twice: once when it slipped off the ferry, and again when it rolled into the water from the bank.” A truckload of lime slipped from the ferry on 17 April 1956. (Source: Linton Daily Citizen, 18 April 1956) The truck was declared a total loss, and the load of lime was swept away by the swift currents of the White River.

The South Bend Tribune of 1 November 1981 interviewed the ferry operator at the time, Bernard Calvert. With the $700 a month he was paid to run the ferry, he was helping support poor families in Malaysia and the Philippines. His personal history was covered in that story. I don’t plan on going into it here. Suffice it to say after losing almost everything, he decided that it wasn’t going to happen again.

By the time an article was published in the Princeton Daily Clarion on 14 May 1965, there were only two intrastate ferries left in Indiana. One was Farmers. The other was southwest of Bloomfield, which had began operation in 1957 to replace a 400-foot long covered bridge built in 1889. The bridge approaches were undermined by the 1957 spring floods, forcing the county to decide a ferry was cheaper than building a new bridge. This made Greene County unique in that it operated two toll-free ferries, as the Linton Daily Citizen of 20 June 1960 pointed out, “across a stream that’s considered ‘not navigable,’ White River.” The two ferry boats were referred to as the “Greene County Navy.”

Martinsville Reporter-Times, 27 June 2004, picture showing the Farmers Ferry in 1987, two years before it was closed. The article attached to this photo is a “this week in history.”

The Farmers Ferry, by 1987, had dropped to an average usage of six people a day. The ferryman at that time, Jesse Burton, made roughly $7,000 a year to run the facility. Those people worked the fields in the area. They used the ferry to avoid the 26 mile journey to cross the river otherwise.

The Greene County Commissioners sold the ferry to Carter M. Fortune, who had just purchased a ranch along the river. The ranch, known by locals as the “Flying-T,” who sold to Fortune by the family of Clyde W. Thompson, mentioned above. Fortune’s goal was to keep the ferry active, but due to insurance concerns, only for private use. At that point, the Farmers Ferry had been listed in tourist brochures as the “last passenger ferry in Indiana.” With the closing of the Farmers Ferry, crossing the White River required travelers to either go south to Worthington, where SR 157 crosses the river, or to Freedom where the CR 590 bridge allows passage. These crossings are ten miles apart.

The Indiana Toll Road(s)

Indiana, due to its location, has always been a vital cog in the transportation facilities of the United States. This is obvious when it comes to the Auto Trails age and the highways age. Indiana has been connected to the east coast, Florida, the Mississippi Delta, the Great Plains, and beyond, due to its location on the Auto Trail/US Highway system. But one road in the state shows a connection dependence like no other in Indiana: The Indiana Toll Road.

Any discussion of the “Indiana East-West Toll Road,” its official title, must start with a highway hundreds of miles to the east that opened on 01 October 1940: The Pennsylvania Turnpike. If there ever was a more telling transportation facility of the triumph of cars and trucks over railroads, the “Pike” (what locals call the Pennsylvania Turnpike) is it. Heck, the original section was built on an old railroad right-of-way! The Pennsylvania Turnpike would connect to the Ohio Turnpike in December 1954. The following October, the Ohio Turnpike was completed from the Indiana state line to the Pennsylvania state line. Next came Indiana.

The law creating the Toll Road Commission was passed in 1951, as “Chapter 281, Acts of 1951, page 848.” There was some question about the constitutionality of the law creating the commission. The Indiana Supreme Court settled the question with an unanimous decision handed down on 17 November 1952. The stated reason for the act was to allow Indiana to create a new type of high speed, safer highway: “emboying safety devices, including center division, ample shoulder widths, long-sight distances, multiple lanes in each direction, and grade separations at intersections with other highways and railroads.” (Source: Angola Herald [Angola, Indiana], 03 December 1952, pp 15) Also included in the law was the fact that the Governor must approve the location, with the Indiana State Highway Commission approving alignment and design. The act specifically stated that the Toll Road Commission (ITRC) was “authorized and empowered to construct, maintain, repair and operate toll road projects at such locations as shall be approved by the Governor.” This sounds like the ITRC was allowed to build more than one such road. Since this would happen before the creation of the interstate system in 1956, with basically the same design standards, this makes sense.

It was reported in the Munster, Indiana, Times of 23 October 1953 that the route for the toll road had been set, encompassing 156 miles across northern Indiana. The total cost of the project was expected to be $218 million. The details of the road were reported as “it will be dual lane, separated by grass strips, 156.06 miles long connecting the state lines (Ohio and Illinois) north of Angola and in northwest Hammond. It will be between the Michigan border and U.S. 20.” This route was not without controversies. Some of these included the closing of county roads along the route.

Groundbreaking at South Bend was celebrated 21 September 1954. The Ohio Turnpike had already turned into a successful venture. With the completion of the road, at least to South Bend, it was hoped it would be more so. And, yes. Yes it was. When the Indiana Toll Road opened in 1956, traffic in Ohio skyrocketed.

As mentioned above, the law creating the ITRC allowed for more than just the northern Indiana extension to the Ohio & Pennsylvania Turnpikes. The first such project was a “north-south toll road proposed to begin in the Calumet and end within five miles of Lizton in Hendricks County.” This project was, ultimately, surveyed by the ITRC. But the law creating this project had even more constitutional battles. Mainly, the requirement that the ITRC also improver both SR 100 and US 136 as freeway feeders to the new route. It was that specific requirement with which some legislators had problems. Before the 1851 Constitution, the General Assembly passed hundreds of these “special acts.” Those led to the constitutional rewrite.

The second proposed toll road would have connected Vincennes to Lawrenceburg across southern Indiana. Basically, a limited access replacement for US 50. There was a third proposal for a toll road, connecting Fort Wayne to the East-Wet Toll Road with a 45 mile highway. In the end, these roads were eliminated by the pending interstate system. The US 50 route would never be built as it was not considered for part of the interstates. The closest that came to being is I-64, but that actually was more an upgrade for US 60 for most of the route.

The Terre Haute Star of 28 October 1960 reports that, at the time, there were 85.8 miles of interstate highways in Indiana, with the 157 mile East-West Toll Road to “become a part of the interstate system, but it was built with bonds before the federal interstate program was started.” It should be noted that the toll road from Chicago to Philadelphia was originally designated some form of I-80. In Indiana, and most of Ohio, it was I-80. West of Youngstown, Ohio, it became I-80S. That designation would be replaced with the number I-76.

I have decided to end the discussion of the Toll Road with the building of the facility. Many changes have happened over the 60+ years since it was opened. It still seems fairly busy, at least that what it looks like when I visit South Bend. South Bend also has one of the longest interchange ramps I have ever seen on a limited access highway. The connector from the toll road to (now old) US 31 comes in at about one mile. I have no idea why…one would assume it has to do with the University of Notre Dame, which is right across SR 933 (Business 31) from the end of the ramp. I don’t know. If any of you are privy to such information, I would LOVE to know. You know…that whole curiosity thing.

As an aside, I find it ironic that the Indiana East-West Toll Road, with its counterparts in Ohio and Pennsylvania, would almost directly rival, and help end, the state named railroad based in Philadelphia. With the three state toll road, it was possible to compete directly with the Pennsylvania Railroad “Broadway Limited” that ran from Philadelphia (actually, New York City…but that’s not on the turnpikes) to Chicago. And I would bet do it both faster and cheaper. Just another nail in the coffin of the railroads in the United States, or at least the passenger railroads.

US 52 at Lebanon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


US Highways: They are actually State Roads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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