Newspaper Blurbs about Lincoln Highway in Indiana

I spend a lot of time looking through old newspapers. It all started with my genealogical research. But I realized that this blog could benefit from the very same resources. And, if you have followed this blog, you know I do use them a lot. Today, I want to cover some newspaper articles about the early days of the Lincoln Highway, and construction of same.

The Indianapolis News of 18 June 1914 spent almost an entire column page to the Lincoln Highway. The majority of the article was about what Carl Fisher planned when it came to both the Lincoln Highway and the Michigan Road in his home state. Fisher was in South Bend, witnessing the beginning of work on his brain child. According to the News, he “has started another big movement. It is the improvement of the Michigan road from Indianapolis to South Bend to connect the speedway city with the coats-to-coast highway and to give central and southern Indiana an outlet to it.”

Plans were also to have a “General Good Roads Day” in Marion, Boone, Clinton, Cass, Fulton, Marshall and St. Joseph Counties. He was also calling for the oiling of that road. Calls for a state trunk road system were announced, as well.

The plans for the Lincoln Highway in South Bend called for an 18 foot cement road way with three foot graveled shoulders on each side, make for a total 24 foot wide road right-of-way. Fisher let the St. Joseph County Commissioners know that specifications only called for a 15 foot roadway, with the same three foot shoulders. This would make the right-of-way a total of 21 feet wide.

The cement mixture, according to Fisher, was also too expensive for the work. He recommended that the mixture include one part cement, two parts sand and three parts gravel. This was the same mixture that had been successfully in use in Wayne County, Michigan. This one change decreased the cost of construction of the Lincoln Highway across St. Joseph County from around $194,000 to roughly $150,000.

The Lincoln Highway was, at the time of this article, also completely marked across northern Indiana. Traffic along the new Auto Trail was increasing with travelers moving between the two coasts. The prospect of major traffic from the east going to the California-Panama Exposition in 1915 was on the minds of the people involved with completing the highway across the United States.

Fisher also expressed his concern that the Lincoln Highway be built “under competent engineers and honest contractors.” His belief that “nothing shows worse than concrete construction any underlying graft. It only takes two or three years to label a skimping contractor a thief or an incompetent.”

As a human interest story, less than a month later, in the Indianapolis Star of 19 July 1914, it was announced that “Fred Callahan, the young man who walked from New York to San Francisco and who is now walking back over the Lincoln Highway, reached Ashland, O., a short time ago. He averages about thirty miles a day and has covered more than 5,000 miles. He carries a pack on his back weighing about thirty-five pounds. Callahan says the Lincoln Highway is being put in good shape all across the country, and he ought to know.”

An article covering the entire Lincoln Highway in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of 13 January 1918 mentions that of the 94 counties crossed by the Lincoln Highway in the United States, only one has completely finished the concrete pavement of the route. That county is St. Joseph, Indiana. The same article mentions that there is an official feeder road to the Lincoln Highway at Dyer. That feeder road connects the coast-to-coast highway to the city of Chicago.

The Indianapolis Star of 7 July 1918 mentions the work that the Indiana State Highway Commission made appropriations for that year. The ISHC, created in 1917, had taken the original route of the Lincoln Highway into the fledgling state highway system. It was called Main Market Road 2. According to the newspaper, $37,000 was allocated for the Lincoln Highway between Elkhart and the Elkhart-St. Joseph County line. The same amount was earmarked be Elkhart County. St. Joseph County was also starting the grading of the highway near Osceola. A contract for a new bridge in St. Joseph County was also let.

Tree planting was the news of the day in the South Bend Tribune of 25 June 1921. St. Joseph County planned to plant as many as 5,000 trees along the national highways that connected to South Bend. Keep in mind that both of Carl Fisher’s “children,” the Lincoln Highway and the Dixie Highway, met in South Bend. The roadside was “barren,” according to the newspaper. They also ran the following two pictures to make their point.

South Bend Tribune, 25 June 1921.

One of the bad things about looking through newspapers for a topic like the Lincoln Highway is that it was such an important feature in the United States that news from across the country would appear in the newspaper. Most of the coverage was for the national perspective, not the Hoosier one. I will continue to scour the newspapers of the state to find more information like this. Just that some projects are so large that local information is usually mainly ignored.

1952: Another New US Highway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way

In the Auto Trail era, I have mentioned many times that there where many roads that crept up all over the state. Many of these Auto Trails connected Indiana to far flung locations across the United States. Today, I want to discuss a road that connected Cincinnati, Ohio, to Kalamazoo, Michigan, through the eastern part of Indiana – the Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way.

On old Rand McNally maps of the era, the OIM was listed as number nine in their list. I was never sure why Rand put the roads in the order they did. It certainly wasn’t in any kind of chronological order, since the Dixie Highway and the Lincoln Highway, two of the longest, most important and oldest Auto Trails around, were numbers 25 and 34 respectively.

Most of the original road is still followable today. From the south, it entered Indiana at College Corner, Ohio, southeast of Liberty. After passing through Cottage Grove, it made its way into Liberty. In Liberty, from what I can tell, it followed Liberty Avenue, Union Street, turning north on Main Street, then followed Market Street north out of town. Since it entered Indiana, it followed the route now covered by US 27. North of Liberty, an old bypassed section of the same US 27 is the original route of the OIM.

Just north of Potter Shop Road, or Old Indiana 122, the OIM turned northeast on Esteb Road, which it followed until it connects back into US 27. South of Richmond, the old road and US 27 split again, with the old road following Liberty Avenue on its way into the Wayne County seat.

Leaving north out of Richmond, it again follows what is now US 27 towards Chester. Before reaching that town, the old road turns north to follow Arba Pike, then turns northwest on Martin Road to again connect to the current highway.

After leaving Fountain City to the north, a small section of the road is now out of service. At Bockhofer Road, to follow the old OIM, turn left and then turn right on Hough Road. This trip will keet the traveler off of the modern highway for a little over 2 miles, when the old road and the current highway come together again to travel to Lynn.

At Lynn, a westerly turn onto Church Street will take the traveler out of Lynn. At the end of Church Street, at County Road 100 East, the OIM turned north. Here it followed that county road for five miles, where, at CR 300 South, it connects, once again, to US 27. Just north of CR 200 South, it followed what is now Old US 27 into, and through, Winchester.

The section through Geneva gets a little hard to follow. North of Geneva, however, the road veers to the northeast, following Covered Bridge Road to CR 0, which it follows to north of Monroe. Again, the old OIM connects to the current US 27 north of the town. At Decatur, the old road turns onto Winchester Street, the through town follows Second Street. Again, it connects to US 27 for its journey toward Fort Wayne.

At Fort Wayne, Decatur Road is the original path of the OIM…while US 27 was rerouted to the west. It’s best to follow US 27 through Fort Wayne. North of the city, the road changes to become SR 3. South of Huntertown, the old path veers off onto Lima Road and old State Road 3 until the two come back together north of Avilla. South of Kendallville, turn onto Main Street to enter that town. Here, it basically follows US 6 to SR 9, where it turns north bound for Michigan.

The next major detour from a state road occurs south of Valentine, where the OIM turned west on what is now County Road 500 South. At LaGrange, the OIM followed what is now Old State Road 9 north out of town to what is now SR 120. Here it turned west to connect back to the current SR 9 for the last of its journey to the Michigan State line and points north.

SR 37, A Review

One of the blogs that I follow everyday is that of Jim Grey. I started reading his blog over a year before I created the Indiana Transportation History Facebook page. It was because of that blog that I asked him to help me admin that group. He was also the one that encouraged me to start this blog…telling me, correctly, that it would be easier to keep track of the information I have been sharing in blog form than in a Facebook group. His blog is called “Down The Road.”

Jim had been sharing his passion for photography and road trips in the Facebook group. His topic has been that of SR 37. Due to those posts, I decided to put together a collection of posts that I have shared over the past 16 months that cover the same subject. Check out his photos on the subject at his blog, or through links on the Facebook group.

Waverly

In the early years of the state of Indiana, a small village located at the Bluffs of the White River became the meeting place for commissioners that set out to determine the location of the new state capital. Two years before that, in 1818, a trail was cut through the wilderness from Brookville that came to be known as the Whetzel Trace. Later on, a road was built north to the new state capital at Indianapolis. Because it went to the Bluffs of the White River, it was called Bluff Road.

Paoli State Road

When the Bluff Road was built, it was included in a longer “state” road that stretched from Indianapolis, through Martinsville, Bloomington and Bedford to Paoli. It would become the basis for original state road 22, and later, the original path of State Road 37.

White River on Indianapolis’ South Side, and its Effects

This article focused more on the effects of the Indianapolis Southern/Illinois Central Railroad, but it DID affect the routing of State Road 37. When SR 37 came into being, it ended at Washington and Meridian Streets, following Meridian Street south to Bluff Avenue (now Road) for its journey out of Marion County. The White River was moved, and the state built a new SR 37 over the old river.

Road Trip 1926: SR 37

On 1 October 1926, the entire state road system was renumbered. State Road 37 was given to what had been State Road 22 from Indianapolis south. The new State Road 37 was designated only south of the capital city.

Winners and Losers, Routing the Dixie Highway Through Indiana

When the committees met to create Carl Fisher’s Dixie Highway, political and personal gain played a part. Especially south of Indianapolis. While Fisher wanted the route to go directly from Indianapolis to Louisville, someone else wanted the same thing…just with a detour through Paoli. The latter won.

Original SR 22 – The “Fight” For the Way to Martinsville

The fastest way to Martinsville from Indianapolis wasn’t always the Bluff Road. When the state started taking over roads, a discussion was had to decide what road would be taken over to get to Martinsville. The choice was between the Vincennes Road and the Bluff Road. Eventually, it would be both.

Removing the Bluff Road Bridge Over the Illinois Central/Indiana Railroad

The Indianapolis Southern Railroad was chartered in 1902, and it crossed the old Bluff Road at an odd angle. The Dixie Highway used the route starting in 1914. In 1923, it became State Road 22. In 1925, a bridge was built over the railroad due to increased traffic on both the road and the railroad.

The Dixie Highway In Morgan County

One of the most bypassed roads in the state is SR 37. And very few more so than SR 37 in Morgan County. But this article focuses on the Dixie Highway through the county…and how it was originally routed through the area.

State Highway Department Construction Plans for 1963-1965

This article is included because part of the plan was to build a new SR 37 through the west side of Indianapolis, and connect it to I-465 at Harding Street. The Harding Street connection would be made. It would be a complete reroute of SR 37 from I-465 south to Martinsville. It ended up that SR 37 would be routed along I-465 from Harding Street to East Street (US 31), and be multiplexed with US 31 all the way to 38th Street on the northside of the city.

Expanding SR 37 from Martinsville to Oolitic

The last article about the routing of SR 37 I want to share is the latest one posted. In the 1970s, SR 37 was being moved and widened from Martinsville to Bedford. The section north of Martinsville had already been moved and widened…in conjunction with the construction of I-465 around Indianapolis.

Removing the Bluff Road Bridge Over the Illinois Central/Indiana Railroad

The year is 1902, and the Indianapolis Southern Railroad has just been chartered to enter the city of Indianapolis and rumble through the Marion County countryside south of the city. Once the railroad entered Perry Township from Center Township (at what is now Troy Avenue), the railroad right of way followed the survey line one mile west of the Three Notch Road (Meridian Street) and two miles west of the Range Line (Shelby Street). Just south of what would become Stop 8 Road, now Edgewood Avenue, the railroad crossed the Bluff Free Gravel Road.

Rail and road traffic near this intersection of the Indianapolis Southern and the Bluff Road wasn’t a real problem for several years after the building of the railroad. In 1914, the Bluff Road was to become part of the Dixie Highway. This highway, connecting south Florida to Chicago and northern Michigan, actually connected to Indianapolis, the hometown of its creator, in four different directions. This led to a traffic increase along the Bluff Road, creating more problems at the railroad crossing which was at a very bad angle to begin with.

The problem was made worse when the state took over the Bluff Road in 1923, making it original State Road 22. This made the Indiana State Highway Commission responsible for the maintenance of the very old road. In 1925, the state decided that enough was enough, and a bridge was built over the Indianapolis Southern railroad, which had become part of the Illinois Central.

The bridge that was built was a very narrow facility. Two lanes wide, at best. But it would serve its purpose, creating a safe crossing of the Illinois Central by SR 22, or as it would soon become, SR 37. And it did just that until the state started moving SR 37 to the west in 1964, and completing the job in 1965. The overpass then became property of Marion County. And here is where it went downhill.

MapIndy 1937 aerial image of the Bluff Road bridge
over the Illinois Central Railroad.

Reconstruction work on the deteriorating span was scheduled in both 1971 and 1977. The Indianapolis Transportation Board posted a long list of bridge projects for that year in newspapers in mid May 1971 and early April 1977. By 1984, the city was looking at removing the bridge all together. Unfortunately, getting the right of way to do this proved troublesome. The bridge was built with very little clearance when it came to the actual right-of-way used. It was suggested by John Willen, DOT Chief Engineer, that land acquisition was a problem, and that the bridge would not be replaced due to decreased rail traffic at that location.

Legal notice was published in the newspapers in December 1984 that the Indianapolis Department of Transportation, with the cooperation of the Federal Highway Administration and the Indiana Department of Highways, had decided that the overpass on Bluff Road over what was then the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad would be removed and an at-grade crossing would be put in its place. “The proposed project begins at a point approximately 210 feet south of Banta Road, then extends in a northerly direction mostly along the existing alignment of Bluff Road, and terminates at a point about 750 feet south of Edgewood Avenue for a total project length of 0.42 mile (2,210 feet).” In addition to the removal of the overpass, the following was listed as part of the project: “The portion of Bluff Crest Drive between Bluff Road and Bluff Crest Lane, approximately 280 feet will be removed and Bluff Crest Drive access to Bluff Road will be terminated.”

MapIndy aerial image from 1986 of the
Bluff Road bridge over the Indiana Railroad.

In September 1986, the city of Indianapolis introduced a resolution to implement a five ton weight limit on the overpass. The notification of the resolution in the newspapers of the time stated “whereas, the Indianapolis Department of Transportation Street Engineering Division was notified that certain portions of this structure had a stage of deterioration.” Prior to this, the bridge had had a ten ton weight limit. In May 1987, the bridge was closed completely as the city of Indianapolis decided it would be better off replacing the structure with an at-grade crossing. The city reported that the work would be completed by 15 July 1987. The original plan to remove Bluff Crest Drive was apparently just dropped along the way. That residential street still connects to Bluff Road in the same location as it had before the removal of the overpass.

On 29 July 1987, the Indianapolis Star announced that “Bluff Road, closed since April from Banta Road to Edgewood Avenue for extensive reconstruction, was reopened for traffic Tuesday (28 July 1987).” The project cost the city $540,000 and involved the removal of the “severely deteriorated Indianapolis Southern Railroad overpass built in 1925.” Even in the end of the overpass’ life, the newspaper still called it the Indianapolis Southern instead of the company that had taken it over just the year before, the Indiana Railroad.

Dixie Short Line

In the Auto Trail era, roads were popping up everywhere. Road Associations were being formed to cash in on the idea that people in the United States were more mobile than ever with the explosion of automobile manufacturing. Some became quite famous – and still serve as highway names, in spots, to this day. Some came and went without any real notice. Some were pipedreams that would never really happen. One of those was called the Dixie Short Line.

The Dixie Highway was a multi-route major Auto Trail, connecting the north to Florida. Due to this, the Dixie Highway started having a lot of “daughter” roads, although they were never officially related to the original road. One of those daughters traversed western Indiana as the Dixie Bee Line, a play on words because it was designed to be the “B” route of the Dixie Highway, and a “bee” line to the south, or faster way to the same destination.

Another of these “daughters,” although it was specifically mentioned that the name chosen was not to be an “infringement” on the other highway’s name, was the Dixie Short Line. What made this a “short” line is the more direct route that it took from Indianapolis to Cincinnati. The Dixie Highway followed the National Road east out of the Hoosier Capital, then turned southeast out of Richmond towards Eaton, Ohio.

The creation of the DSL was put together by members of the Brookville Commercial Club and the automobile routes committee of the Rush County Chamber of Commerce. This was announced in the Rushville Republican of 2 July 1915. “The Brookville men agreed with the Rushville people that the short route between Cincinnati and Indianapolis should be listed in the auto guides and this will be one of the first things taken up by the two bodies.”

According to the news story, “the name, ‘Dixie Short Line’ was suggested by Brookville and was adopted. The name is not an infringement on the name ‘Dixie Highway.'”

The Rushville Daily Republican of 12 May 1916 reported that signs marking the route had been paid for, but hadn’t been installed to that point. The Rush County Chamber of Commerce had asked the county motor club to install the “$18.50 worth of signs to mark the ‘Dixie Short Line,’ through Rush County.” “The club has the matter under consideration.”

“The proposed marking of the ‘Dixie Short Line’ is the outgrowth of several good roads meetings here and at Brookville to boost the motor route from Indianapolis to Cincinnati by way of Brookville and Harrison, Ohio, which is the same route that will be followed by the Cincinnati extension of the I. & C.”

The name of the road was used locally quite a bit…mentions of farm sales into 1920 is the location of the sale as on the “Dixie Short Line.” Most mentions of the road were in 1915 and 1916, as the local businessmen were trying to get the road recognized by outside organizations.

The Dixie Short Line started on the east side of Indianapolis. It started at the corner of what is now Washington Street and Sherman Drive. (Sherman Drive is three miles east of downtown Indianapolis.) The DSL commenced going south on Sherman Drive, crossing the Baltimore & Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroads, to the old Brookville State Road, still called Brookville Road today.

From there, the DSL simply followed the Brookville Road to the title city. This would take travelers through Rushville to Brookville. After Brookville, the DSL followed the Whitewater River to cross the Indiana-Ohio State Line at West Harrison, Indiana/Harrison, Ohio.

While my collection of available maps is not inexhaustible, I have only ever seen this road listed on one map – and that is shown below. It is the “Standard Series Map of Indiana,” published by the Standard Map Company of Chicago in 1919. It is available from the Indiana State Library digital collection.

To end the discussion of the Dixie Short Line, I want to share a paragraph from the Rushville Republican of 24 August 1949. “How many remember the short-lived campaign about 35 years ago (1915 to be exact) to rename the Brookville Road (now U. S. 52) as the ‘Dixie Short Line’? The campaign was sponsored by the Brookville Commercial Club and the Rush County Chamber of Commerce as a means of attracting the increasing automobile traffic between Chicago, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. We don’t think the ‘Dixie Short Line’ name ever stuck, due principally to the fact that the famed ‘Dixie Highway’ through Louisville got its name about the same time and the proposed name for the Brookville Road was too near like it. Anyway the boys tried and a good share of the traffic came through here even if they didn’t get a fancy name for the route.”

By 1920, the route that would have been the Dixie Short Line was taken over by the Indiana State Highway Commission to be known as State Road 39. As mentioned above, it would become part of US 52 in October 1926.

Sections of Auto Trails that Were Left Behind By the State Roads

When the Indiana State Highway Commission was created, and the state road system being expanded, it was natural to believe that most of the Auto Trails at the time would have been incorporated into that new state system. Most Auto Trails were created to put in place a hard surface, easily traveled, road to make it easier to cross the country by car. And yet, the plans and the results often weren’t the same.

When I discussed the coming of the way from Indianapolis to Martinsville, the powers that be at the time were making a choice between two routes – one west of White River, and one east of White River. Today, we know those as the SR 67 corridor and the SR 37 (I-69) corridor. But there was a third route that would be forgotten in the discussion. The Hoosier Highway, connecting Evansville to Detroit, left Indianapolis to the southwest along what was known, then, as the Mooresville Road. It ventured away from that road west of Friendswood, taking a more stair step route into Moorseville. South of Mooresville, it went back to following the Indianapolis-Vincennes State Road, of which teh old Mooresville Road was a part. The Hoosier Highway parted ways again with the old road at Centerton. Here, the Auto Trail followed that is now Blue Bluff Road from Centerton to Martinsville, coming into the later on what is now Main Street. The Hoosier Highway then turned west, crossing the White River to meet the old Vincennes Road again. That westerly turn would be part of the state highway system from 1920 on. But the Blue Bluff Road route would never be part of the highway system.

The Hoosier Dixie Highway was a Dixie Highway feeder road that connected Goshen to the Dixie Highway in two places – one at Cincinnati, and the other at Dublin. One of the branches of the Dixie Highway would traverse the Indiana countryside from Indianapolis to Richmond via the old National Road, which would become part of the National Old Trails Road. The Hoosier Dixie section from New Castle to Dublin would connect the three highways. And even the promoters of the Hoosier Dixie Highway made sure to avoid using a direct road between the two. The Dublin Pike, a former toll road connecting New Castle and Dublin, would have been the most logical to use. And, for the southern and northern ends, it does. Out of New Castle, it follows Dublin Pike until it reaches what is now Henry County Road 300S. The HDH turned due east along this county road, then turned south along Henry County Road 600E. It then connected back into Dublin Pike when 600E ends, following the old Pike into New Lisbon. Coming out of New Lisbon, the HDH turned due south on (what is not) Wilbur Wright Road for a journey to Henry County Road 700S. Turning east on 700S will take the HDH traveler back to the Dublin Pike, and on into Dublin and a crossing of the National Road.

The Tip Top Trail, connecting Madison on the Ohio River to Rome City near the Michigan state line, had mainly been taken into the state highway system by 1923. One section, connecting Oakville to Muncie, however, didn’t make it. Before it was moved, the original SR 13, which would become part of SR 3 with the Great Renumbering, followed what is now Prairie Road north to Main Street in Springport. It then turned west along Main Street to what is now County Road 50W. North along CR 50W, at the town of Oakville, the new SR 13 and the Tip Top Trail parted ways. The TTT continued north into Cowan. There it turned west on what is now County Road 600S just to turn north again on Cowan Road for its journey into Muncie. At Hoyt Road, the TTT would turn northeast. This section of Hoyt Avenue would later become SR 67. The Tip Top Trail entered Muncie from the southwest, the new SR 13 entered from the southeast.

These are just a few examples of roads that would connect the small towns of Indiana to each other, but were left behind when the Indiana State Highway Commission started its work. These sections of roads never made into the state highway system. Others would be taken into the system, then either just dropped or bypassed for a better route. I will be covering more of these in a later post.

Indianapolis and the Original ISHC State Road System

I have posted much about the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission. As of the posting of this article, the age of the Commission is either 103 or 101 years old. The original ISHC was established in 1917…but met with a lot of problems. It was finally nailed down in 1919 and made permanent.

This also creates a dating problem when it comes to the state highways. The first five state highways, then known as Main Market Roads, were established in 1917 with the original ISHC. Two of those original Main Market Highways connected to Indianapolis. The original National Road had been given the number Main Market Road 3. The Range Line Road, connecting Indianapolis to Peru, and through further connections, to South Bend, was given the Main Market Road 1 label.

When it was finally established, the ISHC changed the name of the Main Market Road to State Road, in keeping with other states surrounding Indiana. The markers used along the roads, painted onto utility poles like the old Auto Trail markers were, resembled the image to the left…the state shape with the words “STATE ROAD” and the route number. In this case, as of 1920, State Road 2 was the original route of the Lincoln Highway through northern Indiana.

The state highway system was designed to, eventually, connect every county seat and town of over 5,000 population, to each other. Indianapolis, as the state capital and the largest city in the state, would have connections aiming in every direction. Most of those roads marked with the original numbers would still be state roads into the 1970s and early 1980s, before the Indiana Department of Highways started removing state roads inside the Interstate 465 loop…and INDOT finishing the job on 1 July 1999. These road were removed for state statutory limitation reasons, and I have discussed that in a previous blog entry. So I won’t do it here.

The original state road numbers that came to Indiana varied greatly, as did their directions. There were no set rules when it came to state road numbers. They were assigned as they came…and stayed that way until the first renumbering of 1923, or the Great Renumbering of 1926.

Let’s look at the original state roads in Marion County, some of which actually did not reach Indianapolis itself.

State Road 1: As mentioned before, State Road 1 was originally called Main Market Highway 1. North of Indianapolis, it followed the Range Line Road, a local Auto Trail, through Carmel, Westfield, to Kokomo and points north. The route north followed Meridian Street north to Westfield Boulevard, then Westfield Boulevard on out to Carmel and beyond. In Carmel, the old road is still called Range Line Road, and serves as the main north-south drag through the town, as it does in Westfield.

South of Indianapolis, State Road 1, like its Main Market Highway predecessor, followed the old Madison State Road out of the city to Southport, Greenwood, Franklin and Columbus. The original SR 1 route is still able to be driven through the south side of Indianapolis, with the exception of the section replaced in the 1950s by the Madison Avenue Expressway. But Old Madison Avenue exists, if you can find your way back there.

While the entirety of original State Road 1 became US 31 with the Great Renumbering, bypasses in Marion County were put in place very early. The northern section, through Broad Ripple, and Carmel was replaced as early as 1930. The southern section, including the Southport/Greenwood bypass, was put in place in the 1940s.

State Road 3: As mentioned above, Main Market Highway/State Road 3 followed the National Road through Marion County. One exception to this is the section of the 1830s National Road that crossed the White River downtown. That section of the old road was removed in 1904 with the demolition of the National Road covered bridge and its replacement with a new, and short lived, Washington Street bridge. With a couple of exceptions other than that (the Bridgeport straightening of the early 1930s, and the new Eagle Creek bridge built in the late 1930s), the old road was followed very accurately until the mid-1980s with the creation of White River State Park. The successor to original SR 3, US 40, was moved to make room for the park. Both US 40 and US 31 lost their designations on 1 July 1999 with the removal of those two routes inside the I-465 loop.

State Road 6: This old state road was a through route when it came to Marion County. From the north, it followed the route of the original Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road from Lebanon. After passing through downtown Indianapolis, it left the county using the original Michigan Road on its way to Shelbyville and Greensburg. The original State Road 6 followed the Michigan Road Auto Trail, not the Historic Michigan Road, meaning it still went to Madison, but it went by way of Versailles, which the historic road did not. With the Great Renumbering, the northern SR 6 became US 52, while the southern SR 6 became SR 29 – later to be renumbered again to US 421.

State Road 22: This road, as it was originally laid out, only lasted from 1920 to 1923. Out of Indianapolis, it followed the old Mooresville State Road through southwestern Marion County. It was designated the original route from Indianapolis to Martinsville, as described in this blog entry. This road will be discussed again a few paragraphs from now.

State Road 39: Another 1830s state road that was taken into the Indiana State Highway Commission’s custody in 1919. This road followed the old Brookville State Road from the National Road out of the county through New Palestine to Rushville and Brookville. The original end of that road, both the 1830s original and the 1919 state highway, is discussed here. The road would become, in October 1926, the other section of US 52 through Indianapolis. It would also eventually become the first state highway removed inside the I-465 loop in Marion County. And even then, it would be rerouted in the late 1990s to go the other way around the county.

That covers the 1919 highways. More would come to Marion County before 1923.

State Road 12: Originally, this road, north of Martinsville, was the old State Road 22 mentioned above. When a new SR 22 was created, the SR 12 number was continued from Martinsville to Indianapolis along the old Vincennes and Mooresville State Roads. This road, in October 1926, would become part of the new State Road 67.

State Road 15: While the southern route of the Michigan Road was State Road 6, the northern part, heading off to Logansport, was added later and given the number State Road 15. The entire route of the historic Michigan Road would never become a state highway, but major sections did…although late in the creation of the state highway system. With the Great Renumbering, this road became SR 29, and in 1951, redesignated, like its southern half, US 421.

State Road 22: Here we go again. State Road 22 was given to the route between Indianapolis and Paoli. In 1919, that included the route along the west bank of the White River from Martinsville to Indianapolis along the Mooresville Road. This was changed by 1923 to keep SR 22 on the east side of White River, where it followed the old Paoli State Road, and the Bluff Road, through Waverly to the south edge of downtown Indianapolis at Meridian and South Streets. This was one of the routes of the Dixie Highway through Indianapolis, and would later become part of SR 37 in 1926.

State Road 31: In 1920, when this road was originally created, it turned south to connect to the National Road west of Plainfield. It had followed the Rockville Road from Montezuma to Danville, then turned southeasterly to meet State Road 3. By 1923, the road was moved from what would later become part of what is now SR 39 to continuing on the Rockville Road into Marion County. State Road 31 would meet the National Road outside the city limits of Indianapolis at what is now the intersection of Holt Road and Washington Street. It would become US 36 before it was extended along the new section of what is now Rockville Road to the intersection at Eagle Creek with Washington Street.

State Road 37: One of two state road numbers that still served Indianapolis after the road numbers were changed in October 1926 (the other being State Road 31). The original State Road 37 left Marion County in a northeasterly direction on its way to Pendleton, Anderson and Muncie. Inside the city limits, the street name was Massachusetts Avenue. When it reached the city limits, the name of the road changed to Pendleton Pike. This still occurs today, with the name change at the old city limits at 38th Street. In October 1926, the number of this road would change to State Road 67.

There were two other major state roads in Marion County, but they weren’t part of the state highway system until after the Great Renumbering. One was the Crawfordsville State Road, part of the original Dixie Highway, connecting Indianapolis to Crawfordsville via Speedway, Clermont, Brownsburg, and half a dozen other towns. It would be added to the state highway system by 1929 as State Road 34. The number would change later to US 136.

The other road was the original Fort Wayne State Road, also known as the Noblesville State Road, but even more commonly called the Allisonville Road. It would be added to the state highway system in 1932 as State Road 13. Less than a decade later, its number would be changed to the more familiar State Road 37.

US 33 – And Plans of Such

In the 1910’s, Indiana was crossed by one of the first cross country highways ever created – the Lincoln Highway. The original route of that road took it through Fort Wayne, Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend, Laporte, Valparaiso, and finally left the state at Dyer.

When the Indiana State Highway Commission was created in 1917, the original Lincoln Highway was given one state issued name for its entire length – Main Market Road #2. This would be changed to State Road 2 when the ISHC was again created in 1919 after settling some state constitutional issues.

The state would change the number of the road in several places, as State Road 2 was applied to a more direct route between Fort Wayne and Dyer in 1923. But the original route was still kept under state maintenance. The Great Renumbering, and the section from Fort Wayne to South Bend was once again given the name State Road 2. And this would last until 1937…when a new U. S. highway came to Indiana…US 33.

But that isn’t the entire story. In 1932, officials were negotiating to get a new US highway added to the Indiana landscape. That highway would cross the state, connecting Detroit with Fort Wayne, Muncie, and Indianapolis, ending at Vincennes. The requested number for the new US highway? 33.

In the Lafayette Journal and Courier of 20 April 1932, it was reported that “delegations from a number of cities including Fort Wayne and Muncie, called on the Indiana highway commission here today to request that a new federal highway, to be known as U. S. 33, connecting Detroit, Mich., with Vincennes, Ind., by way of Fort Wayne, Muncie, and Indianapolis, be authorized.”

Such a highway could not be approved by the Indiana State Highway Commission. Approval of US highway numbers and routings were done by the American Association of State Highway Officials, and today the successor organization still does that job. But it didn’t stop people from trying.

What would such a route look like? When the Great Renumbering occurred in 1926, there was hope that a US highway connecting southern Illinois to Cleveland, Ohio, would be designated across Indiana. The number that was supposedly going to be assigned to such a route is US 67. In Indiana, US 67 would have entered at Vincennes, going through Indianapolis, Anderson, and Muncie to leave the state somewhere (probably) in Jay County. But Indiana was thinking ahead…and gave the pending US route the name State Road 67. The US route never came…but we are left with a reminder of what was (hopefully) to be.

The wanted US 33 would have, most likely, followed SR 67 from Vincennes to Muncie. From Muncie, it would have been more likely to have used SR 3 north. In 1932, when the request was made, SR 3 didn’t follow the route that it does today. It turned east at SR 18 then turned north again on what is now SR 1. The following year, SR 3 was continued due north, and did connect directly to Fort Wayne via Hartford City. This is most likely the route that would have been chosen had that US 33 been approved.

But the approved route of US 33 wasn’t done in a vacuum. The entire highway, running from Richmond, Virginia, to (now) Elkhart, Indiana, was formed in conjunction with an auto trail, called the Blue and Gray Trail, which was designed to promote a direct link from the Great Lakes to the Tidewater Region of Virginia. (Tidewater is the name given to the area that encompasses what is now Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, and other communities near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.) A motorcade, starting in Richmond, Virginia, trundled its way along the new US highway to St. Joseph, Michigan, where it ended originally.

Outside of Indiana, US 33 has the distinction of being labeled directionally wrong. Starting in Ohio, the highway is labeled as EAST US 33 and WEST US 33. This is in Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. This is a throwback from when the route was originally labeled as “SOUTHEAST US 33” and “NORTHWEST US 33.” Indiana never labeled the road that way. Even if the road does go the wrong direction (i.e. State Road 47, which ends going east and west), the roads label would still be correct.

The Blue and Gray Trail was one of the last Auto Trails to be named. It was created at the same time as US 33, meaning that it was long after most of the other Auto Trails were winding down. To me, it seems fairly appropriate that in Indiana, at least from Fort Wayne to South Bend, it would follow the Lincoln Highway. And…the Dixie Highway from South Bend to Niles, Michigan. That has to have been planned.

Indianapolis in the Auto Trail Era

Indiana has been known as the “Crossroads of America” for most of its history. No other place in the state exemplifies that more than the Hoosier Capitol. Although Indianapolis, as a town, started as a remote outpost in the forests and swamps of central Indiana, it would soon become a transportation center. The National and Michigan Roads started the journey toward Indianapolis’ connections to the rest of the country. The coming of the railroads from 1847 to the middle 1850’s accelerated it. The automobile would seal the deal.

A quick look at a Rand McNally Auto Trails map of 1920 shows that Indianapolis was well served when it came to the new routes. Some of these were old roads, using names that had been used for almost a century. Others were new names on old country roads. Today, I want to look at the Auto Trails of 1920 radiating from Indianapolis. For this, I will be using that mentioned Rand McNally map, and using Rand’s numbering system.

8 – Range Line Road: Leaving Indianapolis due north, earlier on Illinois Street, later on Meridian, this route connected Indianapolis to South Bend via Kokomo, Peru, Rochester and Peru. In Marion County, the Range Line followed the Central Canal into Broad Ripple, then northeast along the Westfield Pike, which once it crossed the Hamilton-Marion County Line followed a survey range line north to Kokomo and beyond. In 1926, this would be the route of US 31.

22 – National Old Trails Road: In Indiana, this old route followed what was the first United States road that had been built to connect Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois. This was called the National Road. In Indianapolis, it followed that route as closely as it could. (Downtown, the original path of the National Road had been removed in 1904 with the demolition of the covered bridge over the White River.) In 1926, it became US 40.

24 – Hoosier Highway: This road crossed the city southwest to northeast. It would come into Marion County along the old Mooresville State Road, also known as the West Newton Pike/Maywood Road/Kentucky Avenue. It left the city along Massachusetts Avenue where it became the Pendleton Pike at the city limits. The Pendleton Pike was also called the Oakland (Oaklandon) Toll Road for a time. This routing, both ways, would become SR 67 in 1926.

25 – Dixie Highway: Indianapolis found itself in a very nice position when it came to this road. It was created by an Indianapolis resident, Carl G. Fisher. And it used four roads to enter and exit the Hoosier capitol. From the north, it entered Indianapolis along the path of the historic Michigan Road. From the west, the Dixie followed the old Crawfordsville Pike. Southward, the Dixie Highway left using the Bluff Road heading toward Waverly, Martinsville and Bloomington. The route also followed the National Road to the east toward Richmond and Dayton, Ohio. The former three routes are still known by those names today. With the Great Renumbering, Michigan Road became SR 29, Crawfordsville became SR 34, and Bluff Road became SR 37.

26 – Michigan Road: The historic old Indiana state road connecting the Ohio River to Lake Michigan. Through Indianapolis, that would be Southeastern Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street/Michigan Road. The Michigan Road Auto Trail to the north ended at South Bend, even though the historic road left the west toward Michigan City. The entirety of the Michigan Road was made SR 29 in 1926.

42 – Hills And Lakes: This route was created to make a more or less direct route from Indianapolis to Lake Wawasee. It left Indianapolis along the Range Line Road, until it reached the Maple Road (now 38th Street), where the H&L turned east to follow the old Fort Wayne State Road, also known as the Allisonville Pike, out of the county. It did not get a state road number until 1932, when it became SR 13. It would later be renumbered SR 37.

47 – Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway: The original route of this road came through Indianapolis, using Rockville Road on the west and Washington Street/National Road to the east. It would later be moved to north of the city through Lebanon, Noblesville and Anderson. The original PPOO was made US 36 and US 40 in 1926.

69 – Jackson Highway: The Indianapolis section of this north-south long distance road used the old Lafayette State Road from the north (US 52 in 1926) and the old Madison State Road (US 31 in 1926) to cross the city.

92 – Terre Haute & Indianapolis Scenic Route: In Marion County, this duplicated the National Old Trails Road from downtown to the west, diverging in Belleville in Hendricks County.

The Dixie Highway In Morgan County

One of the most bypassed, and most used, roads in the state of Indiana is SR 37. When the Great Renumbering occurred, SR 37 followed what was then the Dixie Highway, a cross country Auto Trail that connected northern Michigan and Chicago to Miami, Florida, using two routes through Indiana. One of those routes reached southwest toward French Lick, due to the machinations of Thomas Taggart, which I covered in “Winners and Losers, Routing the Dixie Highway Through Indiana.” This route had been turned into SR 22 in 1920. (Not all of the Dixie Highway would be turned into state roads when the system was created. Some of the sections didn’t make it into the state road system until after the Great Renumbering.)

The route that would be followed for the Dixie Highway south out of Indianapolis started life in the 1800’s as the Paoli State Road, connecting Indianapolis to Paoli through Martinsville, Bloomington, and Bedford. Like other state roads created at that time, the route was anything but straight between its terminus towns. It also had many names between those two towns.

The first town, going south, encountered by the old state road would be Waverly. At this point, it left Indianapolis as “Bluff Road,” because Waverly was at the Bluffs of the White River. (The Bluff Road started at the edge of the Indianapolis Mile Square at Meridian Street, South Street and the Madison State Road. It is now called Meridian Street until it turns southwest on Bluff Road.) Before entering Waverly, the road turned south along what is now Higgin Hollow Road from what is now Old State Road 37. It follows Huggin Hollow Road from its beginning at Old State Road 37 to its end, again, at Old State Road 37 in Waverly itself.

From Waverly, the original road follows Old State Road 37, where it exists, southwest to Cragen Road. The old state road then turned south on that road to connect to the unincorporated community of Exchange. Exchange is where Cragen Road and New Harmony Road come together. The old road curved onto New Harmony Road heading back towards SR 37. The bridge connecting Exchange to SR 37, according to Google Maps, is long gone. From New Harmony Road southwest to Martinsville, there are several places where the old road was straightened and bypassed.

The entrance to Martinsville along Morgan Street is the old Paoli State Road and old SR 37. But Morgan Street isn’t entirely part of the old road. Before Morgan Street turns more southwest, the street now known as Kristi Road is the original route. Amanda Avenue is the place where the original road connected to the Minute Man Route, which would later become SR 44. (Covered in “Fight for Adding SR 44 from Martinsville to Rushville.”) Here, both roads curved onto what is now Reuben Drive then connected back to Morgan Street. The Minute Man Route and the Dixie Highway/Paoli State Road parted when the latter turned south on Main Street. The former continued through Martinsville, ultimately crossing the White River and connecting to the old Indianapolis-Vincennes Road (later SR 67) for its journey towards Spenser.

The old state road which became the Dixie Highway curved southwest along Morton Avenue. This route, a little down the road, would become SR 39 later. It is now SR 39 where it connects back to SR 37 (now I-69). For the rest of the route in Morgan County, most of the old SR 37 route is either accessible or replaced along side the interstate that replaced it. I am unsure about the northern connection of Old SR 37 to Interstate 69/SR 37, since I have not been down there to see it in person. Google Maps shows an at grade intersection…with I-69. It may be required to make a detour onto Burton Avenue before coming to I-69, following that and Jordan Road to Old SR 37. Again, even though this route has been replaced in places, and bypassed in others, it is still close enough to the old route to make the journey worth it.

From there, the road to Bloomington uses the original route of the Paoli State Road. I will not cover the Monroe County route today. Suffice it to say that there would be some confusion if someone were to decide that Old SR 37 in Bloomington was the original Dixie Highway route. That is due to the fact that there are actually two old SR 37s in parts of Monroe County…especially in Bloomington. Although one of them is marked “Business SR 37” or Walnut Street.

Indiana – Car Maker Capital of … Well, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lebanon

1919 transportation map of Boone County, Indiana.

Lebanon, county seat of Boone County. Boone County was created in 1830, effective 1 April 1830. Lebanon would become the seat of Boone County after Jamestown was not met with a great deal of approval. The choice was made when Commissioners chosen to find a new site met at the center of the county and basically said “yep, this is it” on 1 May 1831. In 1833, the move was officially made…and the town was given a name. From that point on, Lebanon had been a crossroads town both in trails and trains.

The town would find itself along the paths of several “state roads” the were created in the 1830’s. The first I want to mention is the Richmond-Crawfordsville State Road. As the name suggests, it started at Richmond. I covered parts of this road several times in the past year. It basically follows what is now SR 38 out of Richmond to Noblesville, then SR 32 across Indiana through Westfield and Lebanon to Crawfordsville. This road would connect the town to the cross-state highway called the Michigan Road.

The second road that would traverse the town would be the Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road. This road started in near downtown Indianapolis, leaving Marion County on what was the original US 52. This is a topic we will come back to. This historic route would continue through the town to its terminus in Lafayette, where it ended right at the banks of the Wabash River. Through Lebanon, it would become Indianapolis Road southeast of town, and Lafayette Road northwest of it.

Another road connecting the town would become an important feed to Lebanon in the early 20th Century would be the Frankfort State Road. Frankfort would become the county seat of Clinton County in May 1830, two months after the creation of the county and one month after the creation of Boone County. (Yes, you read that right…Clinton County is one month older than Boone County!) The Frankfort State Road left Lebanon along what is now SR 39. But, like other early state roads, the path between the two towns was anything but a straight line.

1953 (1955 edition) USGS topographical map of Lebanon, Indiana.

The next topic of this crossroads town is the railroad. Lebanon would come to have three railroads connecting it to the rest of the country, and all three would be in the hands of the two largest railroads in the United States east: New York Central and Pennsylvania. The third would be, eventually, owned by both.

The Lafayette & Indianapolis Railroad was created on 19 January 1846 to connect the title cities. The route that was chosen took the railroad through Lebanon. (It should be noted that this railroad did some street running in Zionsville on its way to Lebanon.) The Lafayette & Indianapolis would be consolidated into several different companies to eventually become part of the Big Four – Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis.

The second railroad that connected to the town was the Midland Route, which started life in 1871 as the Anderson, Lebanon & St. Louis Railroad. The railroad would find itself in constant financial bad times, as most smaller roads did in Indiana. After one of its bankruptcies, the ownership of the company fell into the hands of both the New York Central (through the Big Four) and the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was planned to be used as an Indianapolis bypass. That plan never really came to fruition.

The last railroad that would connect to Lebanon would be the Indianapolis & Frankfort, a Pennsylvania Railroad line that would commence construction from Ben Davis, near what is now the Indianapolis International Airport, in 1913. The road was built because up to that point, the Pennsylvania had no direct route from Indianapolis to Chicago, and it was using trackage rights on other routes to connect to PRR tracks heading into Logansport. The railway was completely elevated through Lebanon, along the western edge of the town.

Before the Indianapolis & Frankfort came to town, though, Lebanon was already the center point of another railroad empire – the interurban. For a smaller city, Lebanon had three interurban routes crossing the town. The Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company connected the town to Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, Frankfort and Lafayette. A short line connected to Thorntown. Unfortunately, the lines would be abandoned relatively quickly when they started going out of business. The Lebanon-Thorntown like would be abandoned 27 August 1926. The Indianapolis-Lafayette line would end services on 31 October 1930. In 1933, the Indiana State Highway Commission was attempting to acquire the right-of-way from Lebanon to Frankfort for SR 39. But the traction company that owned it had quit claimed the deed to the property…causing it to revert to the 66 owners of the land prior to the coming of the interurban.

When the Auto Trail era came into being, Lebanon was included in that, as well. The Indianapolis-Lafayette State Road, into Lebanon, and the Frankfort State Road north out of Lebanon, became part of the Jackson Highway. The Jackson Highway started in Chicago, roughly following the Dixie Highway, usually on a different path, to Nashville, Tennessee. From there, it connected to New Orleans. It entered Lebanon from the north on Lebanon Street, leaving town along Indianapolis Avenue.

Another Auto Trail that came through Lebanon was the Crawfordsville to Anderson. Just as it sounds, it crossed the state between the two titles cities along what would become, in 1926, SR 32. Most of the route is still in the same place, with the state making very few changes in SR 32 over the years (with the exception of north of Nobleville to Lapel). Later, this road would also carry the Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway across Indiana. From 1916 to 1922, the PPOO connected to Indianapolis. From 1922 on, it connected (just like the Crawfordsville to Anderson) Crawfordsville, Lebanon, Westfield, Noblesville, and Anderson.

Lebanon also has the distinction of having the very first section of Interstate 65 that was built in Indiana. The section in question was built as a bypass of the town for US 52, skirting Lebanon along the south and west sides. When the interstate system was being created (and it was decided that I-65 would go from Indianapolis to Chicago instead of following US 31 like it did since southern Alabama), the logical route to use was what was already in place around Lebanon…a limited access highway that was wide enough to become part of the Interstate system.

Today, Lebanon sits with most of its transportation facilities close to intact. US 52 had been removed from the city in the early 1950’s. SR 32 and SR 39 still traverse the town. The Big Four railroad line from Indianapolis to Lafayette has long since been removed. The Midland Route to Westfield and Noblesville, likewise gone. CSX now runs trains along the old Indianapolis & Frankfort, which still connects to the title cities.

2019 USGS topographical map of Lebanon, Indiana.

Some Auto Trails and Original Indiana State Roads

In the 1910’s, organizations were being set up all over the country to support building a system of roads, called Auto Trails, to facilitate the moving of traffic across the state and across the nation. I have covered several of these of the past 11 months: Lincoln Highway, Hoosier Dixie, National Road, Michigan Road, Dandy Trail, Crawfordsville to Anderson, Hoosier Highway, Ben Hur Route, Jackson Highway, Tip Top Trail, Riley Highway, Illinois Corn Belt and the Midland Route. The purpose of these organizations was to create good, hard surface roads, allowing better, faster and safer transportation across the United States. Some organizations were successful. Others were not. And some of these were brought into the early Indiana State Road system.

Now, when I say brought into the system, it should be known that occasionally I will be talking about corridors…although many of the the roads were taken directly by the State Highway Commission.

The Yellowstone Trail: The Yellowstone Trail connected Plymouth, Massachusetts, to Seattle, Washington, and both to the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. From Valparaiso to Fort Wayne, the Yellowstone Trail became SR 44 originally. Later, in 1923, it would be changed to SR 2. That designation would be gone in 1926, when the corridor became that of US 30.

Dixie Bee Line: Designed as a more direct route to the south, as opposed to the older and more famous Dixie Highway, the Dixie Bee Highway separated from its namesake at Danville, Illinois. It entered Indiana northwest of Cuyuga, and went roughly due south through Terre Haute, Vincennes and Evansville. In 1920, the section from Cuyuga south became SR 10. It would later become SR 63 to Clinton, then US 41 to Evansville.

Range Line: This route became part of, arguably, the most important north-south route in Indiana. The Range Line Road, connecting Indianapolis to Peru via Kokomo, started life in Indianapolis as the Westfield Road. It got its Auto Trail name from the fact that it followed a survey line, called the Range Line, up to west of Peru, where it ended at the Wabash Way, mentioned later. It was so important that the route would be made a Main Market Road in 1917, given the number 1. It became SR 1 in 1919. It was changed to US 31 in 1926.

Lincoln Highway: The original version of this first transcontinental highway connected across Indiana via Valparaiso, LaPorte, South Bend, Elkhart, Goshen, Ligonier, and Fort Wayne. Again, due to its importance, it became one of the first five Main Market Roads in 1917, given the number 2. It then became SR 2. In 1923, the Fort Wayne to Elkhart became SR 46, Elkhart to South Bend became SR 25 to Rolling Prairie, and the rest of the original Lincoln Highway to Valparaiso became SR 42, while the future Lincoln Highway became SR 2 along the Yellowstone Route corridor. The two ends of the road in Indiana became US 30, while from Valpo to Rolling Prairie, and from South Bend to Fort Wayne, became SR 2 again. Later from South Bend to Fort Wayne became US 33.

National Old Trails Road: While most of the way across Indiana, this Auto Trail follows the nation’s first highway, the National Road, it is not entirely the route. While most of the NOTR became Main Market Road 3 in 1917, then SR 3 in 1919, the portion east of Richmond was left out of the state road system. At Richmond, the NOTR turned toward Eaton and Dayton, before connecting back to the original National Road at Springfield. Later, in 1926, that section of the NOTR would become SR 11…then US 35 in 1935.

Dixie Highway: Ironically, that which was the first transcontinental north-south highway would only become part of the state road system in sections. From Danville, Illinois, to Crawfordsville would become SR 33, the Indiana-Michigan state line to Rochester became SR 1, Martinsville to Bedford became SR 22, Bedford to Paoli would become SR, originally Main Market Road, 4, and from Paoli to New Albany would be SR 42. This changed in 1923. SR 42 became part of SR 5, SR 4 became an extension of SR 22, as did the route from Martinsville to Indianapolis, from Indianapolis to Logansport became SR 15. 1926, and the number of state roads the old Dixie Highway became is large: SR 25, SR 29, US 31, SR 34, SR 37, and US 150.

Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean: This road had two routes through Indiana in its history. The first route came into Indiana west of Montezuma. From Montezuma to Danville, the original route became SR 31. By 1923, instead of SR 31 connecting to SR 3 (later US 40) near Cartersburg, it connected to SR 3 west of Indianapolis at where the (original) Rockville Road connected to the National Road. The new route would cross Indiana north of Indianapolis, with the route entering Indiana from Danville, Illinois, with the Dixie Highway. From Crawfordsville to Lebanon, it would become SR 33. From Westfield to Union City, the 1920 road number was SR 37. 1923 saw SR 33 extended from Crawfordsville to Union City, with the SR 37 designation from Anderson to Muncie. In 1926, SR 33 would be changed to SR 32. This was also the route of the Crawfordsville to Anderson Auto Trail.

There are far more routes that crossed the state. I will cover more of them at a later date.

Jackson Highway in Indiana

In the Auto Trail era, there were a lot of highways, for lack of a better term, cobbled together to reach distant parts of the United States. The granpap (or for those not of Pennsylvanian heritage, grandfather) of them all was the Lincoln Highway. Then came the Dixie Highway. After that, organizations were popping up creating more and more of these collections of country roads into named highways. One such road was named to honor Andrew Jackson.

Looking at it in the grand scheme of things, the Jackson Highway was, well, strange when it came to routing. It was designed to compliment the Dixie Highway. From Nashville, Tennessee, to Chicago, Illinois, the two road ran quite a bit of the time together, but usually not on the same road. At Nashville, the Dixie turned toward Florida. Confusingly, the Jackson turned southwest towards New Orleans. I say confusingly because it’s not very often that going from Chicago to New Orleans requires a long journey through Indiana.

The Jackson and the Dixie (at least one branch) both started in Chicago, and left Indiana at New Albany. As the Dixie aimed south toward Danville, Illinois, the Jackson goes straight for Hammond. From there, the Jackson Highway connected Crown Point, Rensselaer, Lafayette, Frankfort and Lebanon on its way to Indianapolis. At Indianapolis, the Jackson Highway met both branches of the Dixie Highway. The Dixie came into town on what would become SR 34 (US 136) and US 31, leaving along what became SR 37 and US 40. The Jackson came into town along what became US 52 and left via US 31.

In 1917, one year after the creation of the Jackson Highway, original state road 1 was created using the Dixie Highway north of Indianapolis and the Jackson Highway south of it. That state road designation would become official in 1919. The OSR 1 designation would separate from the Jackson at Seymour.

That would mean that from Indianapolis, the next stops on the Jackson would be Greenwood, Franklin, Columbus, Seymour, Salem and New Albany before crossing the Ohio River into Louisville.

Also in 1919, according to the Logansport Pharos-Reporter of 3 June 1919, traffic reports were issued, at least as far as Clinton County was concerned. The headline read “Michigan Road Traveled Much – County Kept During Friday and Saturday on Two Best Highways.” According to the Clinton County officials, the traffic counts along the two roads was decidedly leaning toward the Michigan. Cars were 714 to 319, Michigan. Trucks, 53 to 9, Michigan. Motorcycles 13 to 26, Jackson. And horse drawn vehicles, 165 to 1, Michigan.

A more detailed destination list of the Jackson, according to the Rand McNally Auto Trails map of 1919 is as follows: Whiting, Hammond, Chicago Heights, Highland, Schererville, Crown Point, Shelby, Thayer, Demotte, Virgie, Aix, Rensselaer, Remington, Wolcott, Montmorenci, Lafayette, Dayton, Mulberry, Frankfort, Mechanicsburg, Lebanon, Royalton, Flackville and Indianapolis.

From Indianapolis, the route connects Southport, Greenwood, Whiteland, Franklin, Amity, Edinburgh, Taylorsville, Columbus, Walesboro, Waynesville, Jonesville, Seymour, Brownstown, Vallonia, Millport, Kossuth, Salem, Pekin, Borden, Bridgeport, Bennettsville, and New Albany.

Most references in Indiana to the Jackson Highway were gone from the local newspapers by 1933. Occasionally afterwards, the name would be used in places where there was no state road designation. By 1936, even those had dried up.

Indianapolis and Its Decoration Day Race

If there is one thing that Indianapolis is known for, it is racing. Oh, yes. Almost anyone in the WORLD would respond “Indianapolis 500” if you mention the city. Memorial Day weekend has become a time when the population of the city doubles and triples, with all of the visitors coming to watch “the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” But the subject of this post isn’t something related to a farm field with a large rectangle with curved corners in Speedway. As a matter of fact, the subject article of this post dates from the Indianapolis News of 23 May 1896, some 13 years before that other race started.

Before it became known as Memorial Day, 30 May of each year was known as Decoration Day. The holiday floated depending on the location of 30 May on the calendar. It was declared a Federal Holiday in 1868. In Indianapolis, the end of May signified, among other things, the end of the “rainy season,” otherwise known in the rest of the world as Spring. The weather starts getting drier and hotter right after Decoration Day. So it made almost perfect sense to use that holiday as a day to get together to watch a race.

Indianapolis News, 23 May 1896. This map shows the route of the annual Decoration Day Bicycle Road Race of 1896.

The Indianapolis Cycle Club and the Cycle Board of Trade put together the annual Decoration Day Road Race through the streets of Indianapolis. At the time of the source article, thirty men were in the list of racers. Those racers, unlike previous years, weren’t all from Indianapolis. Entries would be taken until 26 May, the following Tuesday. It was estimated that seventy-five to one hundred riders would be at the starting line when the race kicked off. Batches of racers would be set off on the 13.625 mile course at intervals of one minute.

Prizes for the race, due to its amateur status, could not include money. But there were 38 prizes to be given to the riders. The rules state that each rider is only allowed to win one prize. Prizes include four different bicycles, tires, suits, caps, hats, electric lantern, a Kodak, fishing rods, shoes, lamps, golf hoses, sweaters, luggage and a speed indicator. These prizes came from merchants across the city. Carl G. Fisher, future creator of the Lincoln and Dixie Highways, and his bicycle store donated two sweaters, a pair of shoes, and a “speed indicator.”

The course was chosen due to the relative good condition of the route. “It is probable that not another road race will be run on Decoration Day throughout the entire country on a finer course than the one which will be used here.” There are a few bad spots along the way, but they are few and far between.

The race started at the corner of Meridian and 14th (now 21st) Streets , heading north to 30th (now 38th) Street. Here it turned west one block to follow Illinois Street, which since it was outside the city limits at the time, was called the Indianapolis and Westfield Road (which is now Illinois Street and Westfield Boulevard to Broad Ripple). From there, it followed what is now Broad Ripple Avenue to the Fall Creek and White River Gravel Road (now called Keystone Avenue). South along the Fall Creek Road, the course then turned southwest onto the Allisonville Pike (now Fall Creek Boulevard). The Allisonville Pike went as far as what is now 38th Street, with the Allisonville name being used across that numbered street. The route then turned south on Meridian Street at 30th, going back to the starting point at 14th.

A three block stretch of asphalt starts, and finishes, the course. Two bad street car track crossings, one at 26th (34nd) Street and the other at 28th (36th) Street, are encountered. From the Fall Creek bridge to 30th (38th) Street is “one of the worst spots along the whole course.” Potholes and loose gravel make this section a rough going. Turning at 30th (38th) Street gets interesting, with a wooden culvert to be crossed, with boards at one end being lose. Three-eighths of a mile after turning onto Illinois Street riders will encounter a small rise. Further along Illinois Street requires crossing a wooden culvert, a small wooden bridge and climbing a 200 yard long, fairly stiff hill. “This hill stops just beyond the carriage entrance for Fairview Park (now the location of Butler University).” This entrance would be at what is now 46th Street. From here, for the next one-half mile, is a gradual down grade. At the canal, the route drops along a steep grade for about 100 yards.

“Some riders may seek to cross the canal and take advantage of the cycle path, but this will not be allowed.” The first quarter mile along what is now Westfield Boulevard is reported in excellent condition. Then comes 300 yards of horrible conditions, including potholes on both sides of the road. After that, fresh gravel with wheel tracks already in place on each side of center.

At Broad Ripple, the course encounters the Monon tracks and follows the street car tracks along what is Broad Ripple Avenue (previously 62nd Street). The Broad Ripple section is reported as being the worst section of the entire course. One of the best parts of the route is along the Fall Creek and White River Road. “Men who are still in the hunt will be able to come down this road at a lightning clip.” This road runs along the west border of Malott Park (at what is now 52nd Street), and just south of the village is the crossing of the Lake Erie & Western Railroad (Nickle Plate). (As an aside, the street that runs along the railroad tracks is now called Erie due to the name of the railroad company. This is common throughout Indianapolis.)

A turn onto Allisonville Pike (Fall Creek Boulevard), the LE&W tracks are crossed again near 38th Street. Then the course, still following the old Allisonville Pike turns west along 38th Street until Meridian Street, while the Allisonville Road turned south on what is now Central Avenue. The Monon tracks are crossed again on the west side of the Fairgrounds. At Meridian Street, the repeat of the conditions encountered on the way out happens. To avoid having racers cutting across the course, checkers were located at each cross street. “If the race is at all close, there will be a great sprint from Fall Creek to the tape.”

Racing, it seems, has been a part of Indianapolis’s Memorial Day for much longer than the creation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which included a partner that provided prizes for this race.

** edited 06/03/2021 by Paula Trefun Simpson to note that the ‘canal’ mentioned was the Central Canal

Ben Hur Route

I am sure that almost everyone has heard of Ben Hur. Some even know that it was written by Lew Wallace: Major General US Army, 11th Governor of the New Mexico Territory; Minister to the Ottoman Empire; Adjutant General for his home state; and, oh yeah, Hoosier. The book he wrote, Ben Hur, made him and his family wealthy and famous. Lew Wallace was born in Brookville. He lived, and died, in Crawfordsville. So, it made sense to have an Auto Trail with the name. And hence, it was.

The Ben Hur Route was created in 1918-1919. The ultimate route would start in Huntington, traverse the state via Marion, Kokomo, Burlington, Frankfort, Crawfordsville, Rockville and Terre Haute. The route would find itself, in big sections, left out of the state highway system when it was created and renumbered. As state roads were added over the years, parts of the old road became state maintained.

Starting in Huntington, the Ben Hur route left the town to the southwest along Etna Road. By 1920, this would become OSR 11. The route between Huntington and Marion was covered in my Road Trip 1926 series, the entry for SR 9. The original route would travel through the town of Mt. Etna. I mention this because SR 9 doesn’t. SR 9 was moved with the creation of Lake Salamonie. The current SR 9 is west of the town by about a mile. After the Mt. Etna bypass rejoins the old SR 9, that state road is followed to north of Marion, where it turns on Washington Street.

The Ben Hur Route left Marion via what is now CR 200 to the town of Roseburg. From here, the highway traveled south for a mile along CR 300W. At CR 300S, the Ben Hur Route turned west to travel through Swayzee. CR 300S becomes CR 200N at the Howard County line. The old road then turns south on CR 1100E to Sycamore. There, travelers would make their way to CR 850E, and the town of Greentown, via CR 100N.

At Greentown, the original Auto Trail followed what became OSR 35, now, incidentally, US 35/SR 22, into Kokomo. While SR 22 turns west on Sycamore Street in Kokomo, the original Ben Hur Route turned west on Jefferson Street, rejoining SR 22 west of town, on its way to Burlington. As SR 22 curves to the southwest going into Burlington, the Ben Hur Route continued west on what is now Mill Street. Here, the Ben Hur Route met the Michigan Road and Dixie Highway.

South from Burlington, the utility poles contained three painted signs (Dixie Highway, Michigan Road and Ben Hur Route) from there to Michigantown. The ISHC would take over this section of highway in 1920, creating OSR 15. At Michigantown, the Ben Hur Route left the other two roads to follow Michigantown Road towards Frankfort. It enters Frankfort as Washington Avenue. In Frankfort, the route gets a little hard to determine, with the exception of the fact that one most go from Washington Avenue to Armstrong Street. Whether that be using Main Avenue or Jackson Street (now SR 39), it is unknown by me at this time.

The continuing Armstrong Street is the Ben Hur Route through rural Clinton County. The current road turns due west as CR 200S. At CR 350W, the highway turned south for one mile, then turning west again on CR 300S, also known as Manson Colfax Road. At Colfax, the road turns south along Clinton CR 850W until it becomes Boone CR 1050W. A jog in the road, then becoming Boone CR 1075W, the route encounters what is now SR 47.

Northeast of Darlington, a quick turn west onto CR 500N, then Main Street, into Darlington. The old highway then turns south on CR 625E, to CR 300N. West along this county road brings the traveler back to current SR 47 which takes the old route into the east side of Crawfordsville. Southwest bound out of Crawfordsville, the route still follows SR 47. At least as far as northeast of Waveland. At CR 600W, the Ben Hur follows Waveland Road into Waveland, crossing the town along Main Street (SR 59) until it intersects CR 1150S. Here, it follows that road, and Saddle Club Road to intersect SR 59/236. It the follows SR 236 into Guion.

At Guion, the Ben Hur follows Guion Road to Judson, then Nyesville Road to what is now US 36 east of Rockville after travelling through Nyesville. Out of Rockville, the old road doesn’t follow what is now US 41, but Catlin Road through Catlin and Jessup to Rosedale. From there, the rest of the old Auto Trail heads towards its end at Terre Haute. Rosedale Road, Park Avenue, and Lafayette Avenue brought the old road to end at what is now US 41 in Terre Haute. Lafayette Avenue was, at the time, the Dixie Bee Line, and would become OSR 10. At the intersection of Park and Lafayette Avenues, the Ben Hur and Dixie Bee multiplex their way toward downtown Terre Haute. At the time, Lafayette Avenue ended at Third Street, not Fifth like it does today. And the Ben Hur Route ends at Wabash Street, at the junction of the Dixie Bee Line and the National Old Trails Road.

This Auto Trail was not the only reference to the “Ben Hur Route” in Indiana. The Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company, the interurban lines, also had a route called the “Ben Hur Route.” It had been originally the Indianapolis, Crawfordsville & Danville Electric Railway. This small company was purchased by the THI&E in 1912. There are very few remnants of either of the Ben Hur Routes today. While the old Auto Trail can be followed, most of it is county roads with some in questionable shape…at least those that are still intact. It is a trip that someday I would love to tackle.

The First Five State Roads, and the Auto Trails They Replaced

When the Good Roads Movement started in the United States, the rush was on to create a system of highways connecting all points of the country. This led to a collection of rural roads being marked with multi-colored signage painted on utility poles, sometimes with large numbers of marking on some routes. When the Federal Government started getting into the road funding business, it was through the states be giving money to each state that had a government agency to control that money. In Indiana, this was accomplished, originally, in 1917. Constitutionality of the new State Highway Commission caused the agency to be recreated in 1919. The ISHC decided that it would be easiest to start the new state highway system with the already (somewhat) improved system of Auto Trails.

In 1917, five “Market” roads were created as the start of the state highway system. The first of these roads was a collection of different Auto Trails stretching from north of South Bend to New Albany. At the Michigan state line, original state road (OSR) 1 started along what was the Dixie Highway. At South Bend, the Dixie Highway was joined by the Michigan Road. This arrangement was used to Rochester. Here, OSR 1 would turn southeast along the Range Line Road, while the Michigan Road and Dixie Highway would veer to the southwest, using the historic route of the former. OSR 1 would continue through Peru and Kokomo on its way to Indianapolis. At what is now SR 18, the Range Line Road was joined by the Belt Line, an Auto Trail connecting Lafayette to Fort Recovery, Ohio, via Kokomo. This multiplex would continue to what is now SR 26 south of Kokomo.

At Indianapolis, where the Range Line Road officially ended, the original route of OSR 1 would leave the city southbound on the Jackson Highway. This would be followed to Seymour. A small section south of Seymour failed to follow any Auto Trail, but this would only last for a few miles, where OSR 1 began following the Pigeon Roost Route, which only ran from New Albany to Seymour. OSR 1 left Indiana as part of the Dixie Highway and the Jackson Highway.

The next two Market roads added to the state highway system, OSR 2 and OSR 3, followed Auto Trails for their complete routes through the state. OSR 2 followed the original route of the Lincoln Highway through northern Indiana. This road connected Valparaiso, Laporte, South Bend, Elkhart, Goshen and Fort Wayne. OSR 3 used teh National Old Trails Road, in Indiana known as the National Road, from Terre Haute through Indianapolis to Richmond.

One of the few new state highways that would not originally be part of the Auto Trails system, at least at the beginning would be OSR 4. The new state road would start in Evansville and follow a country road to Boonville. From there, it would continue to Gentryville to Huntingburg. At Huntingburg, the old French Lick Route would become part of OSR 4 through Jasper, French Lick, West Baden to Paoli.

At Paoli, OSR 4 left to the north following the Dixie Highway, the French Lick Route and the Midland Route. The Midland Route entered Indiana at Vincennes and left via New Albany via Mitchell and Paoli. At Mitchell, the Midland Route left OSR 4 to the west. At Bedford, OSR 4 would turn east, still following the French Lick Route. The French Lick would be part of this state road across Indiana to Lawrenceburg. At Vallonia, the Jackson Highway would join the road to Seymour. At the eastern end of the road, OSR 4 changed from the French Lick Route to the Terre Haute-Columbus-Cincinnati Trail to head off toward the state line.

The final original state highway, OSR 5, basically followed the Midland Route from OSR 4 at Mitchell west to Vincennes. While this is along the general line of what is now US 50, the original route bounced north and south quite a bit connecting Vincennes and Mitchell.

Auto Trail: Crawfordsville to Anderson

Utility pole marker for the Crawfordsville to Anderson Highway

In the early days of auto travel, the United States was criss-crossed by a large number of “highways,” known as Auto Trails. These were privately funded roads, signed along existent county routes. Some of these routes were cross-country routes, like the National Old Trails Road and Lincoln Highway. Some were just connecting routes that made some people wonder about what they were thinking when they created them. Such is the Crawfordsville to Anderson Highway.

While this road, or most of it, would come into the state highway system as SR 32, in the beginning, it was just a road to connect two county seats. This would connect all of the major Auto Trails between the two cities to each other.

Map of the Crawfordsville to Anderson Highway. The route marked “29” is the route in question.

The section from Crawfordsville to Noblesville, through Lebanon, was built as a state road connecting New Castle to Crawfordsville. This route would change a little from here and there before and after becoming SR 32. At Noblesville, the CtoA followed the old Fort Wayne State Road to what is now 191st Street across to Fishersburg, where it again meets what is now SR 32 to Anderson. This would have been part of the Anderson-Noblesville State Road…again from the 1830s.

Again, there was a private association created to fund and maintain this route. As best as I can figure, the Crawfordsville end of this road connected to the Dixie Highway route that connected Crawfordsville to Indianapolis. Thus this route became a feeder route for the Dixie Highway to Chicago. Also, by 1923, this route would become the route of the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean road through Indiana…replacing the old Rockville State Road and National Road as the PPOO.

When the new state highway system was created in 1917 (1919), this route would become part of OSR 33. Some of the original state roads would end up part of the new state highway system for this reason. Basically, it was a state takeover of a county road that had been a private road, built by the state and given to the county and sold to a private company.

With the Great Renumbering, the road changed from SR 33 to SR 32. Again, the route was moved around in a few places to allow better traffic flow.

Plymouth

In north central Indiana, where the Yellow River is crossed by the Michigan Road, is a town that, ultimately, would be connected directly to Indianapolis if three ways, connected directly to New York City and Chicago the other way, and would become a home on two major Auto Trails of the early 20th Century, although one would be a reroute. That town is the county seat of Marshall County, Plymouth.

A little history: Marshall County was organized by an act of the Indiana General Assembly on 4 February 1836, which became effective 1 April 1836. The territory that became part of Marshall County would take parts of St. Joseph County directly, with some of the county having been under the jurisdiction, legally, of St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties. Because the original law creating the county was actually put together on 7 February 1835, the actual law creating Marshall County, passed the following year, moved the Marshall-St. Joseph County line three miles north. As originally enacted, the county line was the dividing line between townships 34 and 35 north. The law a year later moved that line north to the center point of township 35 north. Commissioners appointed on 1 April 1836 decided on 20 July 1836 that Plymouth would be the center of government for Marshall County.

By this time, the area around Plymouth was already connected to the rest of the state when it came to transportation resources. Okay, well, sort of. The Michigan Road had been created and built through the central part of Marshall County, north to south. Both Fulton (Rochester) and Marshall Counties were created at the same time. The Michigan Road, as such, was a route connecting Logansport and South Bend, with nothing in between. Also, the center of the county would be surveyed different than the rest of the county and state. For more information about that, check out my post “Survey Lines and the Michigan Road,” published 6 August 2019.

Railroads would come to the area in three forms, two of which would ultimately fall under the Pennsylvania Railroad umbrella. The first would connect Plymouth to both Chicago and Pittsburgh, via Fort Wayne. This railroad would start life on 11 May 1852 as the Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad. By 6 May 1856, when the railroad was consolidated with two other struggling railroads to create the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago (PFtW&C), only part of the route between Plymouth and Columbia City (45 miles) was partially completed. The PFtW&C would complete the route between Fort Wayne and Chicago in February 1858.

The second railroad that came to Plymouth would be what would become the Lake Erie & Western, and, in 1922, the Nickle Plate. The Cincinnati, Peru & Chicago Rail Way built a line south from LaPorte to end at Plymouth in 1855. Between 1863 and 1867, the Indianapolis, Rochester & Chicago Railroad began construction of the line connecting Peru and Plymouth. It was to be completed by the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad company in 1869. This company was sold at foreclosure and, along with the original Peru & Indianapolis (and its successors), formed the foundation of the Lake Erie & Western Railroad in 1887.

The last railroad to be completed to Plymouth was built by the Terre Haute & Logansport Railroad in 1883 and 1884. This was a line from Logansport to South Bend. In time, this line would become part of the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute Railroad company, also known as the Vandalia. Ultimately, it would become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system, connecting the PRRs two major subsidiaries, the PFtW&C and the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (aka the Panhandle), together at Plymouth.

Into the 20th Century, with the coming of the Auto Trails era, Plymouth found itself on multiples of these routes. First and foremost was the Michigan Road, which had been the catalyst for its location in the first place. The Dixie Highway, connecting Michigan to Florida, was also using the Michigan Road for its route from South Bend to Indianapolis. Also connecting those two cities was the Range Line Road, which separated from the Michigan Road at Rochester, with the Michigan Road heading towards Logansport, and the Range Line heading toward Peru.

East and west through the area gets to be a bit fun. Originally, the city was located on a road that connected Plymouth, Massachusetts, to Seattle, Washington, with a spot on the road in Wyoming that gave the route its name: the Yellowstone Trail. From the west, the Yellowstone would come into town along the Valparaiso-Plymouth State Road, then would share the Michigan Road/Dixie Highway/Range Line Road south out of town to what is now 12B Road, then headed east toward Bourbon. (Side note: there is a small jog in 12B road east of the current US 31, which is also an original part of Michigan Road. That jog is a remnant of the survey of the Michigan Road mentioned in the link above in the third paragraph.)

Now, because of the chronological order of things, the story of transportation in Plymouth moves to the Indiana State Highway era of 1917. Yes, 1917. Plymouth was one of the cities connected to the original original ISHC system when it was created in 1917. It is located on what was Main Market Road (MMR) 1. Because the law of 1917 was questioned under Constitutionality issues, it wouldn’t be until 1919 that the dust settled creating the ISHC that survives today as INDOT. MMR 1 would become Original SR 1. By 1920, another state road would connect to Plymouth, this time given the number 44. OSR 44 would follow the path of the Yellowstone Trail through the area. This would be changed to OSR 2 in 1923. OSR 2 was the original designation of the Lincoln Highway through Indiana. This will be important later. (Unless you have already looked at modern maps of the area and know the answer.)

When the Great Renumbering occurred on 1 October 1926, OSR 1 became US 31 and OSR 2 became US 30. It should also be noted that US 30 still didn’t leave Plymouth to the east. US 30 followed US 31 south to, again, what is now 12B Road. But the plans were in place to change this. The road that was being constructed to change the route of US 30, at least the first time, is currently called “Lincoln Highway.” Now, it wasn’t entirely officially the Lincoln Highway…not yet anyway. The Lincoln Highway Association set up two routes in Indiana. The first route, established in 1913, went through South Bend. The second route would more or less follow US 30 across the state (and into Ohio and Pennsylvania). This would be made official in 1928 (after the Great Renumbering).

The reroute of US 30 had been completed by 1929 (maybe earlier, still looking at sources that are hard to find). This reroute would straighten US 30 quite a bit between close to Wanatah to Warsaw.

Changes after that, as far as roads go, are these: the coming of SR 17 to the city in 1935; the US 31 bypass (and the naming of US 31A through town) in 1963; the building of the US 30 bypass north of town (while still maintaining US 30 through town) in 1965; and the removal of US 31A and US 30 through Plymouth in 1968. At the time of the removal of US 31A, SR 17 was continued along the route of the old US 31 (and its numerous names I won’t repeat) to the junction with the US 30 bypass.

The Vandalia line connecting Terre Haute and South Bend would also go away in time. Most of the Plymouth section would be officially abandoned by Conrail in 1984. The Nickle Plate line, or at least the tracks, are still in place connecting to Rochester, and for a short distance northwest out of town. Even the PFtW&C, which had been one of the most profitable lines, and home of one of its crack passenger trains (Broadway Limited between Chicago and New York), under the Pennsylvania Railroad umbrella, has been sold by the Norfolk Southern to another company.