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.
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.
Today is the second of the series covering state roads in Indiana’s counties in alphabetical order. Today, I will cover, as the title states, Allen County. And, just like the last post of this series, it will be done with a lot of maps, and start with the history of the formation of the county.
The creation of Allen County happened on 17 December 1823, when the Indiana General Assembly issued the following news: “Formation by statute, effective April 1, 1824. The formation affected Randolph and Delaware counties.”
“Beginning at a point on the line dividing this state and the state of Ohio, where the township line dividing townships twenty-eight and twenty-nine north, intersects the same; thence north with said state line twenty-four miles; thence west to the line dividing ranges ten and eleven east; thence south to the line dividing townships twenty-eight and twenty-nine north, thence east to the place of beginning.” (Revised Laws of Indiana, 1823-1824, pp 109)
One month after the creation of the county, Fort Wayne was made the seat of the county’s government.
Allen County is one of those few counties that actually acquired its first modern state road with the original creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1917. One of the five Main Market Roads, as they were called at first, connected Fort Wayne to near Chicago. Of course, it was built as the Lincoln Highway. That Auto-Trail would be given the number Main Market Road 2.
In 1919, Main Market Road 2 would become State Road 2. By 1920, four more state highways would be added to Allen County’s landscape: OSR 11; OSR 13; OSR 21; and OSR 44. OSR 11 would connect Fort Wayne to Huntington, ultimately ending in Greenfield at the National Road. OSR 13 would be the road from Fort Wayne to Bluffton, again ending at the National Road, this time at Lewisville. As mentioned in the Adams County entry, OSR 21 travelled from Fort Wayne, through Decatur, Portland, Winchester and Richmond to end at Liberty in Union County.
Due to location, and the fact that Fort Wayne had, for decades, been one of the largest cities in the Hoosier State, the city, and Allen County, would find itself along quite a few Auto Trails during that era. In 1923, as shown on the map to the left, the following Auto Trails crossed Allen County: Hoosier Highway [B]; Yellowstone Trail [N]; Wabash Way [O]; Ohio, Indiana, Michigan Way [S]; Lincoln Highway [X]; and the Custer Trail [BB].
The Hoosier Highway has been covered numerous times in this blog. It started in Evansville, ultimately winding its way through the entire state to Fort Wayne on the way to Detroit, Michigan. Coming from the south, it was given the designation OSR 13 to Fort Wayne, but no state highway number was assigned to it leaving Fort Wayne to the northeast.
The Yellowstone Trail and Lincoln Highway would be intertwined, even though the only place they multiplex was east of Fort Wayne. Both of them would meet again at Valparaiso. The Lincoln Highway left to the northwest of Fort Wayne, with the Yellowstone heading more west. In 1920, as mentioned above, Lincoln Highway was OSR 2, and Yellowstone Trail was OSR 44.
The Wabash Way left Fort Wayne to the southwest, winding its way through Huntington, Wabash, Peru, Logansport, Delphi, Lafayette, and Attica, crossing the Illinois State Line to end at Danville. The ISHC gave it the number OSR 11 in 1920.
The Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way was mentioned in the Adams County entry. It was OSR 21 into Fort Wayne from the south. Leaving to the north, it wasn’t part of the state highway system. Neither was the Custer Trail, which started in Fort Wayne, leaving to the north for Auburn and Angola on a winding trail through Steuben county to enter Michigan.
In the fall of 1923, the ISHC decided to rearrange state highway numbers to make them easier to understand and follow. This led to numerous changes in Allen County. The Lincoln Highway, which had been OSR 2 for the previous six years was now OSR 46 heading northwest out of Fort Wayne. The OSR 2 label, while maintained on the Lincoln Highway east of Fort Wayne, became attached to the Yellowstone Trail west of the city. OSR 11, the Wabash Way, was changed to OSR 7. OSR 13 and 21 remained the same south of Fort Wayne, but a new addition to SR 31 was added north of the Allen County Seat. It encompassed neither the OIM or the Custer Trail. It was a “new” road, without any special designation prior to its addition to the state highway system.
Allen County became the home of quite a few United States Highways with the Great Renumbering of 1 October 1926. The 1923 version of SR 2, leaving Fort Wayne along State Boulevard and Leesburg Road, was rerouted to connect to the new SR 2, which was the route of the original Lincoln Highway, at what is now Lincoln Highway and Washington Center Road. From that connection, SR 2 continued its journey across the county to Churubusco. East of Fort Wayne, the OSR 2 that had existed since 1917 was changed to US 30.
The OSR 11 (1920)/OSR 7 (1923) was practically abandoned in Allen County. The old State Road 7 route was moved north, and would be changed to US 24. East of Fort Wayne, a new route US 24, one that had not been part of the state highway system before, was in the process of being added. It would connect to Ohio’s US 24 after leaving east-northeast from New Haven.
OSR 13 was given two designations. South of Fort Wayne, it became SR 3. North of the city, it became, along with OSR 21 south of Fort Wayne, US 27. This left Allen County with two state roads (SR 2 and SR 3) and three US highways (US 24, 27 and 30)..
With the number of additions that were made to the state highway system in 1930, the September map of that year showed many changes. Not in the way of the routes that had been established in 1926. No. The old OIM Way north out of Fort Wayne was added to the state highway system as an extension of State Road 3. The old Custer Trail route was also added, becoming the northern State Road 1. There was also an authorized addition shown on the map. It would come into Allen County from the west, travel through Fort Wayne, and leave to the northeast. The western end of that authorized addition was at State Road 15 at Silver Lake. A look at the map shows it to be an extension of State Road 14.
When it was finally added to the state highway system in 1931, that’s what it was: an extension of SR 14 across Allen County. SR 14 connected to Ohio State Road 18 at the state line. But the early 1932 map showed two more authorized additions the ISHC wanted to make. First, a road connecting to SR 1 north of Fort Wayne, heading due east to Leo, then roughly along the St. Joseph River heading northeast.
The second left SR 3 south of Fort Wayne, heading southwest through Nine Mile and Zanesville.
Other than that, still no real changes had been made to the 1926 highways that Allen County had been originally given.
Three “new” state roads were added in 1932 for the 1933 official map. First, the authorized addition through Zanesville and Nine Mile, which turned southwest off of SR 3 from Waynedale, was officially added, and given the number SR 3. The old SR 3, which had that number since the 1926 number shuffle, became the new SR 1 south of Waynedale.
But that wasn’t the only change in SR 1. The ISHC changed their minds, instead of routing a new state road due east into Leo, it was decided to use what is now Clinton Street toward what were the separate villages of Cedarville and Leo. This was given the number State Road 1. The old SR 1, that ran north along what is now Tonkel Road, was given the number State Road 427, another daughter route to US 27. Both routes connected at Auburn, with US 27 coming in from the west, and SR 427 coming in from the south.
Travelling east across Allen County, from New Haven to Edgerton, along what is now Dawkins Road, was a daughter route to US 30, State Road 230. SR 230 connected to Ohio State Road 113 at the state line.
The period between 1932 and 1936 saw very few changes. The Indiana State Highway Commission decided to authorize the building of an extension of SR 101, north and south, through eastern Allen County. At the time, SR 101 did exist in Adams County, but ended at the Adams-Allen County Line. The new SR 101 would directly connect to State Road 1 in Dekalb County at State Road 8. Although it was an authorized addition, State Road 101 was not, at least according to the maps of 1937, located. The route shown on the map was pure conjecture…and hoping. Also, SR 14 was then connected to both Ohio State Road 18, but a new Ohio State Road 2. The multiplexed route from the Ohio State Line connected to Hicksville, before Ohio 2 and Ohio 18 went separate ways.
There were two changes made in 1937, as shown on the 1938 map to the left. First was the building of SR 101 from the Adams-Allen County line to US 30. Second, US 33 came to Indiana. From Decatur, US 27 and US 33 used the same road to connect to Fort Wayne. But leaving Fort Wayne, the road that had been State Road 2 was then called US 33. This eliminated the State Road 2 designation east of South Bend. Both Lincoln Highways were now part of the US Highway System in Allen County. The original was now US 33, the replacement (marked in the mid to late 1920’s) had been marked US 30 since 1926.
1938, as shown by the 1939 Official Map, saw the completion of SR 101 through the county.
Changes made in the 1939-1940 time frame included the extension of SR 37 to Fort Wayne and beyond. SR 37 had ended at Indianapolis to this point, coming up from southern Indiana. It replaced, in Marion and Hamilton Counties, the original Indianapolis-Fort Wayne State Road, known as Allisonville Road in that area. It entered Allen County multiplexed with US 24. The designation SR 37 then replaced the SR 14 designation northeast of Fort Wayne. At the Ohio state line, it connected to only Ohio SR 2, as Ohio SR 18 was removed from that section of road in that state. But that wasn’t the end of SR 14 east of Fort Wayne. What was formerly SR 230 became the new SR 14.
1941 added another state road to Allen County. In the extreme northwest corner of the county, SR 205, which had ended at the county line, was extended as far as the Allen-Noble county line at Ari. SR 205 would eventually be extended into Dekalb County to end at what is now SR 327, but was, at the time, US 27.
Another state road was added in 1948, and showed up on maps in 1949. Connecting US 30/US 33 northwest of Fort Wayne to SR 3, US 27, SR 1 and SR 427 to end at SR 37 northeast of Fort Wayne was State Road 324. It would appear that the route of SR 324 is what is now Coliseum Boulevard.
The next change is shown on the first available map that has it. It seems that Indiana did not issue, that I can find, Official Highway maps for the years 1954 or 1955. I can not find them if they exist. I do not have any in my personal collection, nor does the state library have them in their digital collection.
There were two changes between 1953 and 1955. One was the continuation of SR 324 as a bypass to the east of Fort Wayne. That state road ended at New Haven Avenue, which was given the designation State Road 230 from SR 324 to the junction of US 30/US 24/SR 14 less than a mile east of the junction with SR 324.
The following year, 1956, saw the end of both State Road 230 and State Road 324. SR 324 was replaced with the US 30 designation. SR 230 was completely removed from Allen County.
The 1960 map, which I can not share here, shows the beginnings of Interstate 69 under construction from SR 3 in the north to US 24 in the south. (I can not share this map, as the one on the state library site has a big section missing through Steuben, Dekalb and Allen Counties. And I can not scan my personal copy since my scanner is not working properly at this time.)
I do want to share one last map, showing the state highway situation in Allen County according to the 1961 official map (meaning 1960 changes).
Interstate 69 is officially under construction at that time from US 24 in the south to the Allen-Dekalb County line. Also, a replacement for US 30 west of Fort Wayne is under construction.
Thus are the state highway changes in Allen County from 1920 (or, actually, 1917) to 1960.
Today, I want to return to the Auto Trail era. There were many Auto Trails created over the time before the US Highway system took full hold. Even today, the Auto Trail era lives in the names of city streets and county roads. The biggest one that comes to mind is the Lincoln Highway…both of them, actually. But some of the Auto Trails really made you want to ask one question: Why? Today’s road actually made me ask that very question: the Liberty Way.
Since this is an Indiana Transportation History site, I guess that it is good that I can’t find, so far, a map that follows this road outside Indiana. But then it makes me go back to the question above – why? The Liberty Way was an Auto Trail that started in Kokomo, connecting Logansport, Winamac, Bass Lake, North Judson, San Pierre, Kouts, Valparaiso, Hobart, East Chicago, and Whiting to Chicago. Those are the bigger towns along the way. The whole map is available at the Indiana State Library with this 1923 map. The Liberty Way was also shown on the 1920 Rand McNally highway map. Its routing was slightly different.
Basically, I want to do this with maps. Tracing the roads gets a bit complicated in this case. The red line on the maps marked “DD” are the Liberty Way in 1923. On the 1920 map, it is marked “86.”
The next two maps are a jumbled mess. Because of Indiana’s location, it has always been the crossroads of America. And these two maps show the importance of Chicago in the grand scheme of things when it came to highways. Indiana’s side of the state line near Chicago was cluttered with way too many road markers.
Doing a newspaper search for “Liberty Way” is not the straight forward grasp for information one would hope. Apparently that name was very popular for other places throughout the state. But an ad in the Logansport Pharos-Tribune of 23 July 1921 could tell you, using the Liberty Way, how to get to Bass Lake.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When the law creating the Indiana State Highway Commission was passed in early 1917, the announcement was also made that there were would five main market highways, later known as state roads, designated by that commission. There was a general idea of which roads would be involved, bot nothing set in stone. That is, until December 1917.
The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of 12 December 1917 announced the selection of the new main market highways. ISHC officials traveled throughout the state deciding which roads would be part of the new, and yet controversial, system. “A former election of four of the five routes was tentative, and although the general directions of the four roads announced formerly have been adhered to in the official selection, many changes have been made.”
The plan was to create a system which was typical of Indiana’s general demeanor: serve as many people as possible with as little cost and intrusion as possible. Due to the shape of the state of Indiana, it was decided that there would be three roads crossing the state, west to east, from the Illinois state line to the Ohio state line. One north-south road would be designated through the middle of the state. This was the basis of the first four main market roads. A fifth road would connect the fourth road to the Illinois state line in the southern part of the state. The December 1917 system included roughly 800 miles of roads.
The main market highways were officially described as follows: “No. 1. The highway beginning at the Indiana and Michigan state line, thence southerly through South Bend, Plymouth, Rochester, Peru, Kokomo, Westfield, Carmel, Indianapolis, Franklin, Columbus, Seymour, Scottsburg, Sellersburg, New Albany and Jeffersonville.” In the Auto Trail era, there was no one highway this route followed. It seems that it was planned very early to have a split in the highway at the south end, with one branch going to New Albany, and one going to Jeffersonville. And although the route numbers have changed, that split has existed in one form or another since that time.
Main Market Road #2: “The highway passing through the northern part of the state, beginning, at the Illinois and Indiana state line, thence easterly through Dyer, Valparaiso, Laporte, South Bend, Goshen and Fort Wayne via the Lincoln Highway to the Ohio and Indiana state line.” Depending on how one reads that, it could be that the Lincoln Highway was only used from Fort Wayne to the Ohio state line. This is far from true. It was decided that the entire original route of the Lincoln Highway through the state would be used for Road #2.
Main Market Road #3: “The highway crossing the central part of the state, commonly called the old national road trail, beginning at the corner of the Illinois and Indiana state line, thence easterly through Terre Haute, Brazil, Putnamville, Plainfield, Indianapolis, Greenfield, Knightstown, Cambridge City and Richmond to the Ohio and Indiana state line.”
Main Market Road #4: “The road crossing the southern part of the state, beginning at Evansville, thence easterly through Boonville, Huntingburg, Jasper, West Baden, Paoli, Mitchell, Bedford, Seymour, North Vernon, Versailles, Dillsboro, Aurora and Lawrenceburg to the Ohio and Indiana state line.”
Main Market Road #5: “The road connecting Vincennes and Mitchell, via Wheatland, Washington, Loogootee and Shoals.” Basically, this road was designated to connect main market road 4 to Vincennes. Again, this is due to the shape of the state. A (more or less) straight line across Indiana from Cincinnati west would, as is shown by the route of the current US 50, connect to Vincennes, leaving people south of there without a main market road. Evansville was, and still is, one of the top five largest cities in the state, population wise. So ignoring that city would not have been possible.
The article ends with the following: “The total mileage of the roads represents less than one-half of the total 2,000 miles of ‘main market highways’ which the commission may designate under the new state highway commission law prior to 1921.” The law that passed in 1917 created a state highway system so that Indiana could benefit from federal money for good roads. It wasn’t until the law was redone in 1919, with all of the 1917 law’s Constitutional questions answered, that the Indiana State Highway System was officially made part of the landscape.
November 1947. The mayoral elections in Valparaiso have just finished, electing Elden Kuehl. This now first term mayor decides that traffic through Valparaiso needs curbing. He recommends that the Indiana State Highway Commission build a bypass of SR 49 around the city. State Senator John Van Ness goes so far as to initiate a feasibility study for the road. And there it sat.
Porter County has always had plenty of roads crossing it to the east and west. Into the Auto Trails age, this included the Lincoln Highway, which entered Valparaiso from the west, leaving via the northeast. But north-south routes were lacking. Valparaiso itself had SR 49 that went right through downtown.
Mayor Kuehl thought there might be a groundbreaking for the new SR 49 by 1950. As it turned out, in the 1950s committees were formed to try to create a route for a bypass. Some plans included using SR 149 to the west of town. But most of the attention was placed on an eastern bypass of Valparaiso. In 1960, then Mayor Don Will said the plans for the eastern bypass were on the drawing board with the state. He announced that before the Valparaiso Lions Club. Later that year, an official from the ISHC told the same Lions Club that “a 49 bypass was not that day’s answer for moving people through the city.” (Source: The Times, Munster, Indiana, 20 July 2003)
The project was still in limbo into the 1970’s when what would become the Northern Indiana Regional Planning Commission stated that they were trying to keep the bypass alive. A bypass of Chesterton had been built in relation to I-94 construction. In 1975, Governor Otis Bowen tried to put locals at ease by saying that the bypass was still a high priority, but that the Federal government places a rather large roadblock in the way. The Governor said that there were now 236 steps from start to completion required according to government officials in Washington, DC. Some didn’t see this as honest, since an eight year completion date in 1975 was the same period that the bypass completion was going to take since 1963.
That eight years was an accurate statement. On 10 June 1983, a groundbreaking was held to commence construction on the new SR 49 bypass east of Valparaiso. At the groundbreaking was the then Mayor of Valparaiso…Elden Kuehl, the man that started discussions on the project in the first place way back in 1947. It would be exactly six years later, on 2 June 1989, that the grand opening was held.
A reconstruction project on the road in 2001 turned into a two year project when it was discovered that the soil along the route was inferior when it came to road construction. Previously, craks were starting to form in the concrete as the sub-base of the road was being destroyed by the weight of vehicles using the highway. In 2001, the just poured road had to be ripped up and replaced due to the inferior sub-base. A one year, $12 million project turned into a two year, $18 million project.
When the Auto Trail era began in Indiana, with the help of the Hoosier Carl G. Fisher, Fort Wayne was one of the cities that would benefit from this new found “Good Roads” movement. By 1920, the Rand McNally Auto Trails map listed six named routes passing through the city. These were, in numerical order according to the Rand, the Yellowstone Trail, the Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way, the Hoosier Highway, the Lincoln Highway, the Custer Trail, and the Wabash Way.
The Yellowstone Trail, like the name suggests, connected both coasts to Yellowstone National Park. In 1919, the Yellowstone Trail was designated out of Fort Wayne along what was the previous year marked the Winona Trail. Or so it would seem. While they both went to the same place, their paths west of Fort Wayne were completely different. Well, sort of.
The original 1919 Yellowstone Trail and the Winona Trail and the Yellowstone Trail left Fort Wayne using the same road…Bass Road. As a matter of fact, both used the same path to Columbia City – as follows: Bass Road/CR 500 N and Raber Road into Columbia City. This was one of two direct routes between Fort Wayne and Columbia City.
By 1920, the Yellowstone Trail was rerouted between Fort Wayne and Columbia City. It still followed Bass Road, but then it turned north on what is now Eme Road to head into the town of Arcola. The Yellowstone followed Eme Road until it turned northwest, then west, on what is now Yellow River Road. At the end of Yellow River Road, the trail turned north to Leesburg/Old Trail Road. In 1920, this also became part of State Road 44. It was renumbered in 1923 to State Road 2. With the Great Renumbering, it became US 30.
Now, since the 1928 reroute of the Lincoln Highway and the Yellowstone Trail followed the same corridor, one would think that the road that is called Lincoln Way would have been the old Yellowstone Trail. I did. But a quick glance at maps of the era, the Yellowstone Trail entered Columbia City heading southwest, while Lincolnway enters Columbia City heading northwest.
The Yellowstone Trail east of Fort Wayne headed off towards Hicksville and Defiance, Ohio, using the route that would ultimately become Indiana State Road 37/Ohio State Road 2. It would be joined, at least to Hicksville, by the Hoosier Highway.
The Hoosier Highway south of Fort Wayne would follow what is now the State Road 1 corridor to Bluffton. When the state road system was put in place, it was given the number State Road 13, which would become State Road 3 with the Great Reumbering of 1926.
The Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way entered Fort Wayne from the south roughly using the current US 27/US 33 corridor, which would be State Road 21 in 1920. It left Fort Wayne to the north using roughly the State Road 3 corridor, which didn’t get a state road number until sometime after 1926.
The Lincoln Highway is probably the most documented Auto Trail in history. Entering Fort Wayne from the southeast along the US 30 corridor, it was given the number State Road 2 in 1917. It left the city to the northwest, following the old Goshen Road. Today it is the US 33 corridor, but it was State Road 2, as well, in 1917/1919. It was changed to State Road 46 in 1923, when the designation State Road 2 was applied to the more direct Valparaiso-Fort Wayne route that is now US 30. In 1926, the State Road 46 designation gave way to, again, State Road 2. It stayed that way until the coming of US 33 in 1938.
The Custer Way started north of Fort Wayne at the Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way and what is now Clinton Street. It followed what is now Clinton Street to Tonkel Road, which carried the Custer Trail into Auburn. While it would become part of State Road 1, it carried no state road designation until much, much later.
The last one is the Wabash Way. The route itself ended in Fort Wayne as a multiplex with the Hoosier Highway. Parts of the Wabash Way’s old routing is gone now, as it followed the Lower Huntington Road from Fort Wayne to Roanoke. It never did receive a state road designation.
Fort Wayne is the second largest city in Indiana, and as such, had the second largest number of important routes. The Auto Trail era was very good to Fort Wayne, as was the state road era.
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.
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.
In the Auto Trail era, Indiana was a beneficiary of the massive good roads movement. There were many of these roads, and they were going every which direction. The Granddaddy of them all, The Lincoln Highway, crossed the state from Dyer to Fort Wayne..although through South Bend. A more direct route would come a little bit later. I covered that when I wrote about the Winona Trail. The following year, the Winona Trail would be taken over by the Yellowstone Trail. The Yellowstone Trail would cross the country just like the Lincoln Highway.
In November 1921, Fort Wayne held the annual convention of Indiana Trail Representatives. This convention was held at the Chamber of Commerce building. Surprise visitors arrived at that convention…officials from the Yellowstone Trail. The Fort Wayne Sentinel of 17 November 1921 announced that the Yellowstone Trail Association was to be more active during 1922. The General Manager of the Association, H. O. Cooley, of Minneapolis, had visited Fort Wayne to discuss the status of the trail. Many programs were mentioned by Mr. Cooley that would increase the visibility of the Yellowstone.
It was announced that the entire trail through Indiana would be marked with special iron signposts, as opposed to the common markers painted on utility poles, or the tin signs that the Yellowstone Trail used that were nailed to the same utility poles. Information bureaus would also be established across the country, with one in Fort Wayne and possibly one in Gary, to hand out information to tourists about the advantages of and facilities along the trail.
Unlike other states, the Yellowstone Trail was, in 1921, a road that was maintained by the Indiana State Highway Commission. This would help the Yellowstone Trail Association immensely. Since there was a program by the ISHC to pave its road in concrete, the Association stated that the entire route was “schedule for early paving in concrete.” Another plan that would be added to the road was unusual at the time. Two cars would travel the entire length of the Yellowstone Trail, visiting the above mentioned information bureaus, passing out information to people using the road, and information gathering about the conditions of the highway.
Construction along the Trail in February 1922 left the road, and its detour, in bad condition. “The temporary bridge five miles east of Columbia City is unsafe for heavy loads or trucks; the detour is bad. There is a temporary bridge between Atwood, Ind., and Etna Green, Ind., which is safe for light traffic, but dangerous for trucks. A good truck detour will be found by going west from Atwood one and one-half miles, then right one mile to school house, then left two and one-half miles into Etna Green.”
In August 1922, State Highway Commission construction caused confusion when it came to Yellowstone Trail trail out of Fort Wayne. It was best described in both the Fort Wayne Sentinel and the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of 13 August 1922 as follows: “The best way to reach the Yellowstone Trail (or Leesburg road) is to leave the city over the Lincoln Highway, turning left on the Butler road and following this road until it reaches the trail, or following the Lincoln Highway as far as Lincoln school, turning left on the California road, which leads back to the Yellowstone Trail.” It is mentioned that the Hoosier Highway and Yellowstone Trail were closed east of Fort Wayne, and recommended that travelers leave Fort Wayne on State Street. The Yellowstone Trail opened to traffic on 29 August.
Another mention of the Yellowstone Trail in 1922 is in the South Bend Tribune of 31 January 1922. But it wasn’t about the trail itself. There was a plan at the time for the State Highway Commission to take over the Liberty Road, which would connect South Bend to the Yellowstone Trail. This idea would not happened for several years…with the Liberty Road becoming part of SR 23.
A most confusing announcement was made in the South Bend Tribune of 12 November 1922. “A representative of the Yellowstone Trail association was here Friday and stated that it was proposed to pave the Yellowstone trail from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis next year. The road has been surveyed.” It would have to be assumed that this means that the Yellowstone Trail would be rerouted? Not sure. But, it was noted in other newspapers that the route between Chicago and Fort Wayne was nine miles shorter using the Yellowstone Trail versus the Lincoln Highway through South Bend. Such a reroute would seem, to me at least, strange at least.
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!
The Auto-Trail Era in Indiana led to a lot of different routes created for travelers. Some cross country routes, some were confined to the state of Indiana. Some of the routes disappeared as quickly as the appeared, at least as far as some people, and companies, were concerned. Today, I want to talk about an Auto Trail that lasted, according to Rand McNally, one year. That is the Winona Trail.
The first reference to the Winona Trail depends on when the above map was published. The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of 10 March 1918 stated that a new trail was being planned to create a short cut to Chicago from Fort Wayne. The new route would be called the Winona Trail, making a shorter drive to Valparaiso. The routes currently in use between the two cities included the Lincoln Highway, which connected through Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend and LaPorte, and an unnamed trail that connected through North Manchester, Rochester, Culver and Tefft.
The Fort Wayne Sentinel of 5 April 1918 reported that “Winona Trail Is To Be Established.” The route, “leading west of Fort Wayne through Columbia City over the Yellow River road, thence west through Larwill, Pierceton, Winona, Warsaw, Bourbon, Plymouth and Valparaiso, and eventually on to Chicago is to be established as a state highway.” Keep in mind that the Indiana State Highway Commission was in flux. The ISHC was created in 1917, but was dealing with a constitutional battle. That battle would not be resolved until 1919. So this reference to a “state highway” did not mean what it means today.
Rand McNally, one of the premier sources of Auto Trail information, removed the Winona Trail from their maps in 1919 with the coming of the Yellowstone Trail. That new road followed the same route the Winona Trail did. Since the latter was only in Indiana, while the former was a cross country route, one can assume that it was left off maps simply due to complete duplication.
The last reference to the Winona Trail in any newspapers (that I have access to, anyway) was made in the Fort Wayne Sentinel of 1 September 1921. This reference was made in a news story about the new “Washington Highway” that would connect Fort Wayne to Spokane in the west to Cleveland in the east. “The addition of this latest highway, in the opinion of Secretary H. E. Bodine, of the Chamber of Commerce, gives Fort Wayne the largest number of national highway of any city in the country.” The Winona Trail was mentioned in a list of the highways, other than the Washington Highway, that entered the city: Lincoln, Yellowstone, Ohio-Indiana-Michigan, Custer Trail, Hoosier, Wabash Way, and Winona Trail.
The route that was the Winona Trail/Yellowstone Trail would be added to the state highway system as SR 44 in 1920. With the first renumbering of the state highway system in 1923, this route was changed from SR 44 to SR 2, the number given to the original Lincoln Highway route. The Great Renumbering in 1926 gave the road the designation US 30. In 1928, the Lincoln Highway would be rerouted along this corridor.
When it was said and done, the afterthought route, directly connecting Valparaiso and Fort Wayne, and following the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago (Pennnsylvania) railroad that had even more directly connected the two for decades, would become the more important route across Indiana. A route that more or less started to create a way for visitors to get to Winona Lake.
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.
Indiana had been a very busy state when it came to roads built during the Auto Trail era. With the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1919, the Auto Trails didn’t just disappear from the landscape. Many of them were absorbed into the new state highway system. For the longest time, the old highway names were still used along side the new state road numbers in those areas. But one would have thought that the coming of the state road would lead to the end of the creation of new named highways. That was far from what happened. These roads would still being created after the state entered the road building business. The logical question would have been “why bother?” One such named highway would be planned as the Riley Highway.
I covered part of this route when I discussed the coming of SR 9 to locations south of Greenfield. But what wasn’t covered was the actual plan of the complete route. Planning started for this highway in 1925, long after the ISHC had taken a lot of roads into its care. It was Summer 1925 when organizations started planning a “Jame Whitcomb Riley Memorial Highway” from Petoskey, Michigan, to Miami, Florida, through the poet’s hometown of Greenfield. Yes, you read that right. A cross country route through Greenfield.
Memberships in the organization was launched in Goshen in October 1925. (South Bend Tribune, 23 October 1925) It was hoped to sell 125 memberships at a cost of $25 a piece. The primary selling point of the road was that it would cut the travel from Michigan to Florida by nearly 600 miles compared to the already establish Dixie Highway. Strangely, the plan for the new named highway would use other Auto Trails that were already in place between Elkhart and Anderson. From Elkhart to Goshen, the Lincoln Highway would be used. The 110 miles between Goshen and Anderson would follow the route of the Hoosier Dixie Highway.
From Anderson to Greenfield, the plan was to use what was then SR 11 between the two cities via Pendleton. This had been the original Anderson-Greenfield State Road. South of Greenfield, the a collection of roads would be used to connect to Shelbyville, Hope and Seymour. South of Seymour, the Riley Highway would use what was then SR 1 to New Albany and Kentucky. The planned route had, for the most part, the benefit of already having been improved by the state of Indiana.
In my other post about the Riley Highway, I had mentioned that the route left south out of Greenfield using Franklin Street. This wasn’t entirely accurate. But the difference was not by much. According to the Hancock Democrat of 8 October 1925, signage was being posted along the Greenfield section of the new highway. These signs were posted along North Main Street, West Main Street, and South Riley Avenue. Part of this routing was to ensure that the highway bearing Riley’s name would pass by the homestead of the poet. From there, the highway would run west along what is now Tague Street to Franklin Street. From there, it was a relatively straight shot (as straight as could be accomplished in early Indiana!) to Fountaintown. A winding path would be followed from there to Shelbyville. From Shelbyville south, the road was relatively straight through Norristown and Hope, skirting to the east of Columbus, before curving to the southwest, then south, onward toward Seymour.
Shelby County would be an early adopter of the Riley Highway plan. The committee for the road had been put in place as early as mid-August, 1925. (Greenfield Daily Reporter, 15 August 1925) The committee included 36 businessmen from the Shelbyville area, and six residents of Fountaintown. Shelby County would have to come up with at least 100 memberships in the Riley Highway Association before there was even consideration of routing the road through Shelby County. These memberships cost either $10 a year or $25 for three years. One of the advantages that was touted for the Riley Highway was that the Fountaintown Road would become part of the state highway system. This wouldn’t happen until late 1931.
Marking of the route through Shelby County was started, according to the Shelbyville Republican, in October 1925. $2,500 was raised to sign and advertise the road through the county. (The Shelbyville Republican, as printed in the Greenfield Daily Reporter, 8 October 1925) “The road, designed to run from a point in Michigan to Miami, Florida, leads from Greeenfield, the boyhood home of Riley, into Shelby county. It comes from Fountaintown to Shelbyville, over what is known as the Greenfield road, and from here passes along the Norristown road, south and west to Hope.” Again, the selling point of the state highway system was used to raise the money. “It is figured that at the end of the three years the road would be taken over as a part of the State system of highways.” Along with marking the route, signs at all points of danger were also posted, as were curves along the route. The road was marked at road intersections along the way.
Backers of the road were many. According to the Greeenfield Daily Reporter of 26 August 1925, towns that had contributed to the plan were listed: Elkhart, Goshen, Warsaw, Wabash, Marion, Alexandria, Anderson, Pendleton, Shelbyville, Columbus, Seymour and New Albany. One sentence in the article is tinged with irony. “Every town and city in the State through which the road passes has contributed its quote of finances except Greenfield.”
Not all outside Indiana were onboard with the project either. An editorial in the Grand Rapids Press, republished in the South Bend Tribune of 14 May 1926, mentions that “Western Michigan had better make serious inquiry into the why and wherefore of the Indiana Riley Highway proposition before it subserviently hands over its Mackinaw trail designation and its established good will to the purposes of a one-man promotion scheme from another state.” It wasn’t finished there. “In the first place, it might be a wise precaution to send investigators into Indiana, to discoved (sic) what actual possibilities there are behind the optimistic ‘Riley highway’ plan to run another north and south road through that state. It is one thing to name a road and another to build it.” The editorial goes on to question what the ISHC would say about the project. “What does the Indiana state highway department say about this proposition? What does it say about the projected highway from Alexandria to Wabash, dodging the present state route?” The article ends with the question “wouldn’t cooperative work toward these highway linkings be a more practical and profitable plan for Michigan than the blind surrender of our Mackinaw trail with its traditions dating back to the romance of earliest Michigan history?”
Greenfield City Council voted in April 1926 for the improvement of “Riley avenue from Main street south to Tague street, and thence west on Tague street to the west corporate limits, by grading, draining and paving with cement or concrete in such manner and to such extent as may be ordered bu the county commissioners in a petition for improvement of this part of the proposed Riley highway, now pending before said Board.” (Hancock Democrat, 22 April 1926)
Though only parts of the ultimate route would be marked by the white and yellow bands of the Riley Highway, the name was used all over the state to give directions. Especially for the section from Greenfield south to Hope. A popular location in Shelby County was the Flat Rock Caves. Those caves were just off the Riley Highway at the Flat Rock River. The road is now Vandalia Road connecting Shelbyville to Geneva and Greensburg. (The road was originally part of the state road connecting Franklin to Greensburg.) The caves are still there, but have been closed for many years.
Ultimately, it looks like the national trail idea fell through. From what research I can gather, the Riley Highway designation was mostly only used from Pendleton to Seymour. This was especially true in Shelby County, which still maintains that as the name of the road, even though south of Shelbyville it is marked as SR 9. Most of the road can still be followed between these points, with a few places where the state replaced turns with curves. And, with the exception of Pendleton itself, and the section from Greenfield to Shelby County Road 750N, the route was, indeed, taken into the state highway system as SR 9.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.