Dandy Trail – Revisited

In the early days of the automobile, the Hoosier Motor Club created a scenic tour of Marion County. That tour, an 88 mile journey through the countryside around Indianapolis, was named the Dandy Trail. When one looks at a map, the only part of Dandy Trail that exists by that name is in the northwestern part of the county. And almost none of it was part of the original scenic tour route.

This particular route has been covered by me before in a post called “Dandy Trail.” Jim Grey, another blogger and co-admin of the Facebook companion to this blog, also covered it with his article “It’s 1921, and you’re taking a pleasure drive on the Dandy Trail.” But today, I want to put the Dandy Trail, and its changes, into a historical context.

Starting off with an overview of the section of the original Dandy Trail from about 65th Street south to its original connection with Crawfordsville Road from back in 1953. Above 56th Street, it wandered through the Eagle Creek valley on the west side of that stream. It crossed the creek at 56th Street, then followed the lay of the land on the east side of Eagle Creek. From 56th Street south, it was also mostly a dirt road…never having been improved over its 30+ years of existence.

The connection to Crawfordsville Road was made at what is now called Salt Lake Road, although, as one can tell by looking at the map, that name was actually applied to what is now 34th Street. The current westerly bend of the road, connecting it to the dotted line in the bottom left corner of the snippet, came later. I will cover that. That dotted red line is County Club Road.

The next snippet shows the next point of interest…crossing Eagle Creek. Now, I have shown this several times, but I have not been able to do so with maps that actually show the lay of the land before the reservoir was built.

The northern end of the interest area shows the town of Traders Point. The following snippet is from 1953, as well. Traders Point was located on the old Lafayette Road, just north of Big Eagle Creek.

Historical Topographic Map Collection

Several changes occurred in the path of the Dandy Trail between 1953 and 1967. First, the building of Eagle Creek reservoir. Second, the building of Interstate 74. And, as show in the following map snippet, the almost complete removal of Dandy Trail between 38th and 46th Streets. Also, the southern end was connected to Country Club Road, as it is today.

And as shown in this map, from 46th Street north to the northern end of this particular quad of USGS topo map, most of the original route was either placed in the flood plain, or in the actual reservoir. One can still see the outline of the old bridge over Eagle Creek near 56th Street in the topographical data. At this time, Dandy Trail didn’t connect between 46th Street and 56th Street.

Historical Topographic Map Collection

The northern end didn’t fair much better. Traders Point, a town prior to the building of the reservoir, was no more. But it wasn’t because it was in the reservoir…it was in the flood plain. I will post a link to that particular map to show exactly how much area the reservoir was expected to cover in case of emergency. This particular map shows the area in 1966. The road that is broken by Interstate 65 in the center of the snippet is the original Dandy Trail. Notice that it skirts the northern bank of the reservoir. It is still there today, although accessibility is questionable.

The last image I want to share is the 1967 topo map that had been updated showing conditions in 1980. The purple marks on this map show the updates. A new map was not made, just modifications to the old one. This shows the new Dandy Trail from 38th Street north to 56th Street.

In 1980, 46th Street became Dandy Trail as it turned north toward Eagle Creek Park. Today, that traffic situation is reversed, as 46th Street turns south to become Dandy Trail. Also, the intersection at 38th Street, which was 38th Street ending at Dandy Trail, has been changed over the years to become 38th Street westbound turning south to become Dandy Trail.

Very little of what is called Dandy Trail today is what was originally given that name. But the name survives…as if there is still a connection to the past. The name Dandy Trail seems strange on the Hoosier landscape. But it remains, even if we have to explain why it’s there.

The link to the Traders Point topo map showing the flood plain of the Eagle Creek Reservoir according to the United States Geological Service is this: https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/ht-bin/tv_browse.pl?id=16e9e185f52a80db3128924a7ab11716

Interstate 70 Tidbits

Indiana is the home to four major interstates. Two of those share a route across northern Indiana mainly due to geography. (Let’s face it, Lake Michigan is one of those things that is kind of hard to miss.) The other two connect Indianapolis to St. Louis, Chicago, Louisville, and Columbus, Ohio. Today, I want to focus on little newspaper items that I found concerning the main east-west route labelled as Interstate 70.

The plan in Indiana, as approved by the Federal Bureau of Public Roads, had I-70 being a parallel route to US 40. This would be the case through most of the eastern United States.

According to Indiana state law at the time, the Indiana State Highway Commission was required to publish annually its construction plans for the following two years. While most of the projects would be built, some were placeholders and pipe dreams that still, even to this day, never seemed to appear on any official maps. It should be noted that the plans run from 1 July to 1 July, and are subject to change along the way. And, any project after the ending 1 July (in this case 1965) would be on the following two year plan (in this case, 1965-1967).

In the post “State Highway Department Construction Plans for 1963-1965,” I mentioned I-69 and I-74. One interstate highway left off the original two year plan was I-70. The Jasper Herald of 14 November 1961 mentioned that “there was no Interstate 70 construction in the program.” State Highway Commission Chairman David Cohen mentioned that “the problem is, the route is not approved.” However, engineering work on the route would be conducted during that two year plan. 108 miles of I-70 in all the counties that it would be built would be part of the preliminary engineering projects for the 1963-1965 plan.

One of the projects that came to be with the building of I-70 was a replacement for SR 1. The Highway Commission decided to move SR 1 two miles to the east. At the time, SR 1 entered Cambridge City using Boyd Road and Center Street. It left Cambridge City on Dale Avenue at the west end of the town. The state’s new plan was to move SR 1 due north from Milton, removing the road from Boyd Road and Center Street.

The National Road Traveler (Cambridge City) of 10 June 1965 reported that the ISHC would open bids for paving of the newly constructed Interstate 70 from New Lisbon to its end, at the time, east of Cambridge City. The newspaper reported lamented that an oft used county road would be dead ended at the new interstate highway. Cambridge Road, which leaves Cambridge City as Lincoln Drive, would not have a bridge over the highway. This decision was made by the federal Bureau of Public Roads. What would become Old SR 1 and the New SR 1 would cross I-70. But Cambridge Road, being a mile between each, would not. “A bridge for East Cambridge Road would be the third span in the two-mile stretch between new and old Indiana 1 and would be a waste of funds.”

The Muncie Star Press reported on 28 April 1965 that a contract had been let to Rieth-Riley Construction Company for $2,920,987.69 to build the interstate from south of Mohawk east to 1/2 mile west of SR 209. This included three bridges: SR 13 northwest of Greenfield, SR 9 north of Greenfield, and Brandywine Creek northeast of Greenfield. The traffic disaster that would occur near the Hancock County seat was covered 20 April 2019 in an article “I-70 in Greenfield.”

The 1965-1967 two year plan, according to the Muncie Star Press of 18 October 1962, included a grand total of 21.4 miles of Interstate 70 construction. This only included sections in Henry County, and entering Wayne County. But it involved not only building the road, but also constructing 25 bridges in that section.

The 1971-1973 plan, as reported on 26 June 1971 in the Richmond Palladium-Item, included 5.8 miles of Interstate 70 in Marion County: Belmont Avenue to River Avenue (0.9 mile); south leg of the inner belt (1.5 miles); and from what is now called the North Split to Emerson Avenue (3.4 miles).

Indianapolis News, 15 July 1975.
Indianapolis News, 9 January 1975

1967: Kokomo Plans a Second and Third Bypass

US 31 has always been a rather important road in Indiana. So much so that before it was US 31, it was SR 1. This importance is shown by the fact that the original US 31 has been bypassed in several places throughout the state…and some of those are bypasses of bypasses.

An example is in Carmel. When the “new” US 31 was built along what is Meridian Street north of the Central Canal, it was, for a long time, a two lane road through Carmel. When the state decided to expand it to a four lane divided highway, the section that is now Old Meridian Street was bypassed for its current alignment.

But Kokomo was a different story. The US 31 bypass of that town opened in 1951. This moved the US 31 route from the city streets through downtown to a new alignment then east of the city. But for several years after construction, the new US 31 would be an alternate route. (The Vidette-Messenger of Porter County reported that the ribbon cutting on the Kokomo bypass was held in December 1959.) It wouldn’t take long until Kokomo moved out to the east to crowd the new bypass, making traffic overbearing on the new road.

How long, you ask? How about less than a year. There were already news stories at the end of 1951 stating that the new bypass was a traffic problem. But the State Highway Department decided to stand pat for a little while longer: almost two decades, sort of.

In the Kokomo Morning Times of 18 October 1967, it was announced that a NEW US 31 bypass was being planned…possibly. State and Howard County officials were contemplating several projects to make traffic smoother through the area. These projects involved US 31, US 35 and SR 19. It would take until the mid-2010s for two of these projects to come into full fruition. The SR 19 plan, which included extending that road from its end at US 35 north towards and into Peru, still has not happened. It is likely never to happen at this point.

Map of the planned highway program in Howard County, as published in the Kokomo Morning Times of 18 October 1967.

The two US route projects were to go hand-in-hand. The plan was to build a new northern bypass of Kokomo for US 35. At the time, US 35 still entered downtown Kokomo, along Markland Avenue. The road then turned north on Washington Street until it followed Davis Road to the northwest out of the city. The 1967 plan called for US 35 to break from Davis Road roughly where it does today, bypassing Kokomo on the north and east to a point between the then current US 31 bypass and SR 19. Unlike the now almost decade old US 31, this new road would be a limited access route, allowing better traffic flow.

But the other part of the plan would be even more ambitious. US 31 would bypass Kokomo on the west, in an area between Howard CR 300W and CR 400W. It would start leave the then current US 31 south of SR 26, connecting back to its mother road near the Howard-Miami County Line. It would then cross the new US 35 bypass north of Kokomo. This would have the effect of creating a three-quarter loop around the city of Kokomo. This new facility, like US 35, would become a limited access alignment. This was, again, unlike the US 31 bypass completed in 1959.

The projects in this plan were, according to the newspaper, “projected for work by the year 1982.” The bypasses were to be taken into consideration with the “still planned for a near-future construction program will be completion of dual-laning between Kokomo and Peru of U.S. 31.”

The Morning Times also mentions that the “current” US 31 bypass wasn’t working as planned by the State Highway Department. “The present bypass was built to gear traffic away from the congestion of the city’s center. But, planners were not far-sighted enough to implement limited access as part of the present bypass.”

The newspaper also added an editorial comment to the end of the article. “It may be ten years until active efforts materialize to spark construction of the new bypass and an expansion of Ind. 19, but planners have committed themselves in 1967 as favoring these projects for the future.”

As it turned out, this project never came into being. SR 19 still ends at US 35. The newspaper claims that “the Ind. 19 to Peru stretch would accomplish three things at once. It would link Ind. 19’s broken portions, it would provide a north-south route around Kokomo and on the east side, and it would provide an adequate access route toward the Misissinewa Reservoir.”

The northern bypass of Kokomo would be accomplished with the completion of the current US 31 bypass of the city, some 40+ years after the plan mentioned above was created. US 35 now connects, and multiplexes, with US 31 east of Kokomo, following the new route to almost the end of the newly constructed bypass. The new bypass is also controlled access, or interstate standard. In the end, a bypass of Kokomo on the north, east, and south sides was completed. And, even though it added a couple of miles to the route, it would cut the travel time from Indianapolis to South Bend by up to 30 minutes.