Seymour

Indiana has always been proud of the fact that it is the Crossroads of America. Many cities in Indiana contribute to that nickname. And most people think of Indianapolis when the Crossroads moniker is brought up. But I want to focus on a city in south central Indiana that was not only a crossroads town, it was the crossing of the railroad that gave the city its name: Seymour.

The city itself came into being in 1852. That was the year that the Jeffersonville Railroad completed its track from its title city to Columbus through what soon would be Seymour. The Jeffersonville would be created in 1832 as the Ohio & Indianapolis Railway. In 1849, the railroad changed its name to the Jeffersonville Railroad Company.

In 1851, the State of Indiana chartered the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad Company. The goal of the company was to build a route that connected the Ohio River at Cincinnati to the Mississippi River at St. Louis. Its path through Indiana was far from settled when a mill owner in Rockford persuaded the railroad engineer to build the line two miles south of the then commercial center of Jackson County. That location south of Rockford where the O&M would cross would, in turn, be named by the mill owner after that railroad engineer: John Seymour.

The location had already been crossed by two state roads built in the decade or so prior to the creation of Seymour. The New Albany State Road entered the area from the north from Indianapolis. The original New Albany State Road turned east on the other state road, before turning south again bound for the Ohio River. That other state road connected Lawrenceburg (and Cincinnati) to Vincennes.

In the mid-1880’s, the city would have an addition to it crossroads status with the coming of the Evansville & Richmond Railroad. This would make Seymour a rail center, with direct connections (through the three railroads) to Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Chicago. The sixth route out of the city would connect to the Vernon, Greensburg & Rushville at Westport.

With the creation of the Auto Trails, Seymour found itself on three routes. The Jackson Highway, marked by the number 69 on Rand McNally maps of the era, entered Seymour along the old state road connecting the city to Indianapolis. It then followed the Cincinnati-Vincennes Road to the southeast towards Brownstown and Vallonia. That old state road would also be used, from west to east, through Seymour for the route of Rand McNally’s route 90, known as the French Lick Route. Rand McNally route 96 started in Seymour, and left the town going south, twisting and turning its way through Dudleytown and Crothersville to ultimately join the old New Albany State Road.

When the Indiana State Highway Commission was first formed in 1917, Seymour found itself on even footing with Indianapolis when it came to the state Main Market Road system. The state created five main market highways. Market Highway 1 followed the old New Albany State Road from Indianapolis to New Albany. Market Highway 4 would cross Indiana on the old Cincinnati to Vincennes state road from Bedford to Cincinnati.

This status quo would remain in place through the Great Renumbering on 1 October 1926. Although the official name of the Main Market Highway would change to State Road in 1919, Seymour would still be on both SR 1 and SR 4. With the renumbering, the city found itself on two cross-country highways, when SR 1 became US 31 and SR 4 became US 50.

By 1940, a US 31 bypass would be built from Columbus to Seymour, passing both cities to the east. At the south end of the bypass, the new US 31 connected to the original US 31 where it departed from the US 50. Up to this point, US 31 came in to downtown Seymour from the north, turned east along US 50, then turned south again east of Seymour. The old US 31 into Seymour would first become US 31A, then changed to SR 11.

Today, Seymour is still on US 50, but is bypassed by both US 31 and I-65, the interstate built to follow the venerable old US route. SR 11 still follows the old US 31 route into the city. After many name changes, the old Ohio & Mississippi would become part of the Baltimore & Ohio. The Jeffersonville would merge with one of its competitors, and then a bunch of other companies, to become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. CSX and the Louisville & Indiana, respectively, are the successors to those railroads that helped form the town in the first place. Trains still rumble through on those roads. The Milwaukee Road, the ultimate successor to the Evansville & Richmond would rip out the tracks from Seymour to Westport in 1961, and from Bedford to Seymour in 1978.

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.

Tip Top Trail

By 1920, the state of Indiana was crossed by a vast number of named routes, called Auto Trails, that connected many of the bigger towns of the state. Some of these were cross country routes. But many were only in Indiana. Today, we are focusing on the Tip Top Trail, one of those Indiana only roads. The maps included in this post are from the Rand McNally Auto Trails Map of 1920. The Tip Top Trail is labelled as [3] throughout those maps. A downloadable copy of this map is available from the Indiana State Library.

This route crossed eastern Indiana, starting near Madison on the Ohio River. Technically, the road ended at the Michigan Road in North Madison. Starting due west along what is now SR 62, the TTT turned northwest along the old Indianapolis-Madison State Road which is now SR 7. This routing took travelers through Wirt, Dupont and Vernon to enter North Vernon. At North Vernon, the French Lick Trail crossed west to east across town. The French Lick Trail here would later become US 50. The French Lick Trail is marked on this map as [90].

As the Indianapolis-Madison State Road continued to the northwest, the TTT left North Vernon due north aiming the same direction as what is now SR 3. This connected Brewersville, Westport, Letts and Horace before connecting, and multiplexing, with the Terre Haute-Columbus-Cincinnati (THCC) Trail (labelled as [82]) west of Greensburg. West of Greensburg, the THCC became, roughly, the route of SR 46. East of Greensburg, the THCC connects to Batesville and Lawrenceburg, where the above mentioned French Lick Trail begins at the junction of the THCC.

At Greensburg, the TTT crosses what Rand McNally labels as [26], known as the Michigan Road. The southern end of the TTT actually ends at the same road.

There are places between North Vernon and Greensburg where the old TTT would later become part of the state road system. Other places, the TTT went screaming across rural Indiana on county roads that, in some circumstances, have been removed from maps.

The next section of the road continues along the SR 3 corridor north on its way to connect to the National Road at Dunreith. Before getting there, the towns of Sundusky, Williamstown, and Milroy are traversed before the county seat of Rush County, Rushville. Here, the Minute Man Route crossed west to east. The Minute Man route, although connecting several county seats, was almost not ever included in the state highway system later. It would be long after the Great Renumbering that it would make it…I covered that with the post “Fight for Adding SR 44 from Martinsville to Rushville.”

Still following, roughly, the SR 3 corridor, the TTT continues northward. 13.5 miles north of Rushville, the TTT connected to, and multiplexed with, the National Old Trails Road. This multiplex only lasted about one half mile. Here the TTT turned north out of Dunreith on West Street, soon to become Old Spiceland Road. This carries the route through Spiceland into New Castle. The TTT is crossed by the Hoosier Dixie Highway.

Parts of the old TTT would be added, and removed, from the route of future (current) SR 3 between New Castle and Muncie. It leaves the current SR 3 south of Mount Summit, continuing due north (more or less) before turning west due east of Springport. There it, again, aims due north through Oakville to Cowan. West of Cowan, the TTT turned north once again, following Cowan Road and Hoyt Avenue into Muncie. At Muncie, the TTT connects to the Hoosier Highway (connecting Muncie to Indianapolis and beyond) and Hub Highway (Greenville, Ohio, to Lafayette).

The Hoosier Highway and the Tip Top Trail travel together north out of Muncie. At Hartford City, they split ways, with the Hoosier Highway multiplexing with the Auto Trail called the Belt Line, which winds its way across Indiana. The Tip Top Trail continues north toward Warren.

North of Warren, the road keeps going toward Huntington. Here, the TTT connects with three Auto Trails. First is the Wabash Way [81]. This trail connects Fort Wayne with Peru, Logansport, Delphi and Lafayette. Second is the Ben Hur Route, which I covered earlier. Third is another Indiana only Auto Trail called the Huntington-Manitau-Culver Trail, connecting Rochester, Indiana, to Lima, Ohio.

The next destination for the Tip Top Trail is Columbia City. Here, the east-west Auto Trial that connected to the TTT was a coast-to-coast highway known as the Yellowstone Trail. Later, after the creation of the United States Highway System, the Lincoln Highway was rerouted along roughly the same corridor.

From Columbia City to the end of the Tip Top Trail roughly follows the current SR 9 corridor through Merriam, Albion, Brimfield, and ends at Rome City. At Merriam, the TTT crossed the original routing of the Lincoln Highway. At Brimfield, the Toledo-Chicago Pike crosses east to west. At Rome City, the end of the Tip Top Trail comes with the junction of the Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way.

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 Trails Quick Take, Part 3

This is part three 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.)

(69) The Jackson Highway from Chicago to New Orleans, crossing Indiana by way of Crown Point, Rensselaer, Lafayette, Frankfort, Lebanon, Indianapolis, Franklin, Columbus, Seymour, Salem and New Albany. Originally marked by the highway association marked in parts by the automobile association and last year thoroughly remarked by the automobile association.

(81) The Wabash Way, extending from Fort Wayne to Danville, Ill., following the Wabash River by way of Huntington, Wabash, Peru, Logansport, Delphi, Lafayette, and Attica. Marked in part by local clubs, then by our state organization, and last year re-marked by the state organization.

(82) Terre Haute-Columbus-Cincinnati Trail, extending from Terre Haute to Cincinnati by way of Spencer, Bloomington, Columbus, Greensburg, Batesville and Lawrenceburg. Marked by the clubs along the route and partially re-marked by the state association.

(85) The Adeway, Indianapolis to Chicago by way of Crawfordsville, Attica, Fowler, Kentland, Morocco, Lowell and Hammond. Marked by the H.S.A.A. The Adeway joins with the Dixie Highway at Crawfordsville and has never been marked from Crawfordsville to Indianapolis as the Adeway.

(86) The Liberty Way, Chicago to Kokomo by way of Gary, Valparaiso, Kouts, North Hudson, Bass Lake, Winamac, Logansport and Kokomo. Marked and in many places re-marked by the automobile association.

(90) French Lick Route, Cincinnati to Evansville by way of Aurora, Versailles, North Vernon, Seymour, Brownstown, Bedford, Paoli, French Lick, Jasper, Huntingburg, and Boonville. Marked by the automobile association from the Ohio line to French Lick; is not marked from there to Evansville due to the unsatisfactory condition of the road at the time of route was established. This part of the route is now under construction by the state highway commission.

(91) The Ben-Hur Trail, from Terre Haute by way of Rockville, Crawfordsville, Frankfort, Kokomo and Marion going to Huntington. Marked in part by local clubs, finished and partially re-marked by the state association.

(94) Toledo-Angola-Goshen Trail [known as the TAG Trail], extending from Goshen by way of Lagrange, Angola, and straight east to Toledo. Marked by motor clubs along the route.

(96) Pigeon Roost Route, extending from Seymour by way of Scottsburg to New Albany. This route was originally marked by clubs at Seymour and Scottsburg, and partially re-marked by the state association. It is now practically replaced by State Road No. 1.

(97) Midland Trail, from coast to coast, entering Indiana at Vincennes, crossing the state by way of Washington, Loogootee, Shoals, Paoli and New Albany. First marked by county organization, partially re-marked by Hoosier State association out of New Albany. On list for re-marking the balance of the way to Vincennes.

(98) Huntington-Manitou-Culver Trail, extending from Chicago to Lima, O., by way of Hammond, Crown Point, Hebron, North Judson, Bass Lake, Culver, Rochester, Lake Manitou, North Manchester, Huntington and Decatur. Thoroughly marked by the state association.

The Dandy Trail, not shown on the auto trail maps, but extending for eighty-eight miles around the city of Indianapolis. Marked and re-marked by the Hoosier Motor club.