OSR 2/US 30 at Plymouth

When the Indiana state highway system was being expanded in 1920, one of the additions was what was, at the time, the Yellowstone Trail from Valparaiso to Fort Wayne. This Auto Trail snaked its way across the Hoosier landscape, nowhere near anything resembling a straight line. It was added to the system as SR 44, connecting at both ends with SR 2, or the Lincoln Highway. The original route had the road entering Plymouth from the west and the south. The Yellowstone Trail, and the state highway that came after, didn’t go straight through the Marshall County seat.

1923 Indiana Official State Highway Map showing SR 2 between Hamlet and Columbia City.

That was about to change. But first, a number change was in order. In 1923, the Indiana State Highway Commission started changing state road numbers. One of those that would change would be the Lincoln Highway…and SR 44. The SR 2 designation was moved from the Lincoln Highway to the Yellowstone Trail. This “straightened” the road between Valparaiso and Fort Wayne…SR 2 no longer ran through Goshen, Elkhart and South Bend. But the road still was a winding mess between Warsaw and Plymouth.

With the concept of federal aid funding sitting in the background, the state decided it wanted to fix the twists and turns of the original Yellowstone path. The first reference to this project that I found was in August 1925…but it wasn’t good news. The project was “abandoned” due to a $5 million shortfall in federal funding. Or, more to the point, a belief that the state was going to get $5 million from the federal government that hadn’t quite made it to Indianapolis. Two projects were actually put on hold with that shortfall…both of which were in northern Indiana. One was the SR 2 project. The other was the Dunes Highway along Lake Michigan.

The article that made it to most Indiana newspapers in mid-August 1925 lamented that the northern part of the state would be paying for the delays in funding. It also mentioned that most of the road was a hard surface (paved) road from Columbia City eastward to Fort Wayne. The section shown both in the map above and the one below show that the road is “gravel or stone (not treated)” between Warsaw and at least Hamlet…through Plymouth.

1926 Indiana Official State Highway Map showing the new US 30 (former SR 2) from Hamlet to Columbia City. This map also shows the pending reroute of the same road from Warsaw to Hamlet.

The new maps issued in late September and early October 1926, with the Great Renumbering, show the construction is at least still planned, as the circles on the map are listed as “proposed relocations.” The new US 30, which was SR 2, would be given a straighter route from Warsaw to Plymouth. And it would actually enter Plymouth from the east, not follow SR 1/US 31 south out of town like it did originally.

In relative terms, it wouldn’t take long for this new road to be completed. The South Bend Tribune of 20 November 1927 reported that construction was almost complete in a plan to avoid crossing the Pennsylvania Railroad for 75 miles, something the old Yellowstone Trail/SR 2/US 30 did quite a bit. As of the writing of the article, 16 miles to the west of Plymouth were completed. This connected US 30 to SR 29 (now US 35), a “recently improved asphaltic macadam” road.

As a side note, the section west from SR 29 to Hanna was also part of the project, but was in a serious holding pattern. The road was “a stretch of about 10 miles in which no concrete has been laid and cannot be laid this year because of two sink holes in the vicinity of the Kankakee river which have materially resisted grading and filling by the contractors.” That section of US 30 is still in use today…albeit a bit wider than it was at that time.

East from Plymouth, the road was open, according to the Tribune, to Bourbon, a span of 10 miles. Four bridges being constructed between Aetna Green and Warsaw were all that was standing in the way of opening the road on or about 1 December. The article mentions that the route actually enters Plymouth from the east along Pennsylvania Avenue. This is due to a bridge on what is now called Lincoln Highway over the Yellow River being built. Pennsylvania Avenue connects to Michigan Street (old US 31) just north of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Fort Wayne Line (and, for those that are landmark oriented…right at the Penguin Point restaurant).

And, in case you are wondering, the name Lincoln Highway would be officially applied to this road in 1928, one year after this construction. The places where the name “Yellowstone Trail” still exist as a road name were sections of the original path of that road…parts that weren’t improved as a part of the state highway system.

Indiana Auto Trails, Revisited

Indiana. The Crossroads of America. When the Auto Trails came to the state, there were quite a number of them. In 1922, there were 34 to be exact. While the State Highway Commission was busy putting state road numbers everywhere, people at the time still followed the colorful markers that appeared on utility poles throughout the state. In November 1922, an article was published in several newspapers across Indiana describing those Auto Trails. Those articles showed the signs that were posted along the way, and a brief description of the route. Anyone that has seen these lists in person know that the order of the highways is a bit weird. Yellowstone Trail is always listed first. Why? Because Rand McNally, when publishing the “official” Auto Trails maps in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s listed it first. It wasn’t the first such road…but Rand decided it would be.

Auto Trails Quick Take, Part 2

This is part two of the quick description of the Auto Trails, as listed in the Lafayette Journal and Courier of 1 November 1922. It gives a general idea of the roads that most of which would be accepted into the State Highway System. The numbering used corresponds to the numbers used on the Rand McNally Auto-Trails maps of the late 1910s through the mid 1920s.

(Note – all information in this entry comes directly, word for word, from the mentioned newspaper. Some may disagree with what was written.)

(25) The Dixie Highway originally was laid out over what is now known as the Michigan road running from South Bend, but later the routeing came from Chicago to Danville, Ill., and then into Indiana at Covington, and through Crawfordsville to Indianapolis (which road is now hardly used because of its condition), and then to Martinsville, Bloomington, Bedford, Paoli, and New Albany. Originally marked by the Dixie Highway association units at various places along the route. Later in parts re-marked by the H.S.A.A., and the Crawfordsville-Indianapolis-Paoli route now is being entirely repainted by one of the H.S.A.A. painting outfits.

(26) The Michigan Road, extending through Indiana by way of South Bend, Rochester, Logansport and Indianapolis, and on south to the Ohio River. Established by the state of Indiana in the early history of the state, right-of-way having been granted by the Indians. Marker adopted by the H.S.A.A. and the marking promoted through the motor clubs enroute – on list for remarking.

The only part of the historic road that didn’t make it as part of this Auto Trail is the section from Napoleon to Bryantsburg. The Auto Trail runs through Versailles, which was east of the original road.

(29) Crawfordsville to Anderson, marked by clubs enroute, but now replaced by state road markings practically all the way.

(30) Corn Belt Route, going entirely across the state of Illinois and entering Indiana at Kentland, extending to Goodland, Remington, Wolcott, Monticello and ending at Logansport. Marked by clubs along the route; due for re-marking.

(34) Lincoln Highway, extending through Indiana by way of Goshen, Ligonier and Fort Wayne. Established and marked by the Lincoln Highway association.

(36) Hub Highway, extending across Indiana from Lafayette through Frankfort, Tipton, Elwood, Alexandria, Muncie, Winchester, and Union City, and across Ohio by way of Dayton, Xenia to Washington Coury House. Marked by clubs enroute; now being re-marked by Hoosier State association.

(39) Custer Trail, principally a Michigan trail, but extending south through Angola, Waterloo, Auburn to Fort Wayne. Marked in Indiana by H.S.A.A.

(42) Hills and Lakes Trail, extending from Indianapolis by way of Noblesville, Elwood, Wabash, North Manchester to lake resorts. First marked by Hoosier Motor club and other clubs along the route, principally from Wabash; later re-marked by automobile association and soon to receive additional attention. Construction work on main route had held up matter of repainting the poles up to this time.

(43) The Dunes Highway, extending from Michigan City through the Dune region by way of Gary, Indiana Harbor and Whiting to Chicago, connecting with Sheridan pike at Chicago and with West Michigan pike at Michigan City. Established by the Dunes Highway association, marked by the H.S.A.A. Hard pavement now under construction between Gary and Michigan City.

(47) Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway. This route extends from San Francisco to New York, entering Indiana at Montezuma, extending by way of Rockville, Bainbridge, Danville, Indianapolis to Richmond and on east. Established by Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway association, marked by clubs in Indiana. Now being rerouted by the Pike’s Peak Highway association.

(48) South Bend to Knox, marked last year by the H.S.A.A.

(56) Atlantic-Pacific Highway, extending from Los Angeles, Cal., to Washington, D. C. The most recent national highway across the state of Indiana, entering at Princeton, crossing the state by way of Oakland City, Jasper, French Lick, Paoli, Salem, Scottsburg, Madison, Vevay, Rising Sun, Aurora and on to Cincinnati. Marked this year by H.S.A.A.