Road Trip 1926: Forgotten SR 11

The one road that was forgotten, even by the Indiana State Highway Commission, on the Indiana Official State Highway Map of the Great Renumbering was SR 11.

The original planned SR 11, as published in the newspapers at the time, became marked SR 7. But there was a SR 11…near Richmond. And it had that number because it was a continuation of SR 11 in Ohio.

Both SR 11’s, in Indiana and Ohio, were part of the National Old Trails Road Auto Trail. This carried traffic from Richmond to Dayton, then Springfield, instead of the route of the National Road, which became US 40, from Richmond to Springfield.

National Road at Reelsville

1952 USGS topographic map of the Reelsville area.

When the National Road came to Indiana, part of the requirements for the building of the road was that it be in as straight a line a possible connecting Indianapolis to Vandalia, Illinois (then the capital of that state). Southwest of Indianapolis, the terrain got a little rough to be able to maintain a straight line. Especially in Putnam County. But the surveyors did a very good job in keeping it as straight a line as possible.

1864 map of southwestern Putnam County courtesy of the Library Of Congress. The National Road runs through the southern part of Section 19, the center of Sections 20 through 23. The Big Walnut Creek bridge that washed out in 1875 is in the eastern central portion of Section 20.

And so, the National Road chugged along for around four decades. In 1875, a bridge over Big Walnut Creek, southwest of Reelsville was washed out…and not replaced at the time. Since the National Road, at the time, belonged to a private company, they decided to reroute the road through the town of Reelsville. This would solve the connection problem, road wise, between Terre Haute and Indianapolis, but would create a few more while it was at it.

The Terre Haute & Richmond (TH&R) Railroad was chartered on 24 January 1847 to connect the two title cities through Indianapolis. By 1852, the TH&R had built a railroad connecting Terre Haute to Indianapolis. This railroad, near Reelsville, was to the north of Big Walnut Creek from where the National Road was, and connected to the town of Reelsville proper. There was even a station at Reelsville. On 6 March 1865, the Terre Haute & Richmond became the Terre Haute & Indianapolis.

The National Road replacement route took travelers up a long hill into Reelsville. At the town, the new road, which had been in place long before being used as a bypass, followed and crossed the TH&I several times before reconnecting to the original National Road. These railroad crossings were considered some of the worst in the state, especially due to the angle of the crossing.

1912 United States Postal Service map of southwestern Putnam county showing the roads around Reelsville. Notice that the National Road, marked as Mail Road RE 2 east of Reelsville, does continue after turning north to enter Reelsville proper. The old road did still contain houses, even though through traffic had been gone from the route for 37 years.

The Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad ceased to exist as a separate entity on 1 January 1905. That was the day that the TH&I, the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute, the Terre Haute & Logansport, the Logansport & Toledo and the Indianapolis & Vincennes merged to become the Vandalia Railroad Company. Among the items that were taken up by the new Vandalia was the crossings near Reelsville. Money was set aside in 1907 to correct the problem. By the end of 1912 (October to be exact), the Brazil Daily Times was reporting that no such work had been completed to date.

Part of the plan in 1912 was to return the original National Road route to use. According to the same article in the Brazil Daily Times, this would cut 1/2 mile off of the route then in use through Reelsville. And, the railroad crossing situation, with its inherent dangers, would be addressed…and partially eliminated. But, as with other well laid out plans, this did not go to schedule. At all.

The National Old Trails Road, an Auto Trail that, through Indiana, mostly followed the original National Road used the Reelsville cut off when it was created. The old route was still out of commission at Big Walnut Creek. This situation would not be resolved until after the (second) creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1919. ISHC surveyors were out in the field looking at ways to improve the situation at Reelsville, with the decision made that a bridge would be built in the same location that had been used over 80 years prior when the National Road, now called State Road 3, was built. The new bridge would be a concrete arch facility.

Even then, the new bridge for the National Road would take some time to get started. Over two years, as a matter of fact. Construction started on the replacement of the National Road in January 1922. The winter that year was relatively mild, allowing for construction to start very early in the year. But it was decided that the new route of State Road 3 would skirt the Pennsylvania Lines (the then operators, later owners, of what was the Vandalia Railroad) to the south, bringing the new National Road closer to the Big Walnut Creek.

Even then, the replacement route would only be in place for less than two decades. The Highway Commission made plans to make a true four lane highway across Indiana along what was then the US 40 corridor (which was original State Road 3 until the Great Renumbering of 1 October 1926). The new new road would take a straight course through the area south of Reelsville, the railroad and the old new path of SR 3/US 40. This realignment would occur in 1941.

Editor’s Note: This post took a long time to convince me to write. There are several subjects that I have been avoiding because they are MUCH better covered by others. In this case, my Co-Admin of the Facebook ITH Group, Jim Grey, covered it much better than I ever will. And, generally, he has done a great job covering the entire National Road. His post, “Puzzle solved: The National Road at Pleasant Gardens and Reelsville in Indiana,” served as the spring board for this post. The irony is that some articles that I posted in the ITH Facebook group led to the puzzles being solved for Jim. Such is the way of the world in this field. I recommend checking out Jim’s stuff when you get the chance. He is more of a road trip person, going out to see what’s on the ground. I tend to look more into the documented history of the same scenes.

Indianapolis in the Auto Trail Era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Auto Trails and Original Indiana State Roads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip Top Trail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auto Trail: Crawfordsville to Anderson

Utility pole marker for the Crawfordsville to Anderson Highway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US 40 East of Richmond

In the early days of the Auto Trails, one of the earliest organizations created was the “National Old Trails” road (NOTR). Through Indiana, this route mainly used the National Road, built by the federal government, at least in Indiana, in the 1830s. That route crossed the state from west of Terre Haute to east of Richmond. At Richmond, the original road crossed into Ohio on a straight line heading for Springfield and Columbus.

Google Maps image showing the current US 40 and surrounding area east of Richmond. Snippet taken 10 September 2019.

By the time the NOTR, the organization decided that the new Auto Trail would head toward Dayton, as opposed to directly to Springfield. Part of this was the fact that the Eaton Pike, the trail that connected Richmond to Dayton, was in much better shape than the old National Road. There have been some reports that the National Road, coming from the west, actually ended at the Indiana-Ohio State line, with the Indiana section having pretty much reverted to being a private farm field.

1910 USPS map of rural delivery mail routes east of Richmond. This map shows, or more to the point doesn’t show, the missing section of the original National Road that was replaced by the road connecting to Eaton and Dayton.

But the Indiana State Highway Commission decided early on that old road be restored. With the Great Renumbering, the US 40 designation was applied to the original route of the National Road, not the NOTR route. That route, over what is still called “Old National Road,” became SR 11. This number was assigned since it was the number that the Ohio transportation officials gave to it as it rumbled its way toward Eaton and Dayton.

It is important to note that the old National Road wasn’t entirely a straight route from Richmond to Springfield. A large hill at a point 1.5 miles west of the state line caused the old road to curve in a large arc around said hill. More on that later.

Another change was to occur in 1931. When the original roads were added to the state highway system, there were two crossings of the Pennsylvania Railroad that turns south in eastern Wayne County. These crossings were at both US 40 and SR 11. As paving of US 40 started across the state, a project was to pave the last 2.5 miles of the National Road at the east end of the state. This project included a new bridge to be built by the ISHC under the Pennsylvania Railroad. This would also require a reroute of SR 11, as well. This removed the “Old National Road” crossing of the tracks. This reroute of SR 11 would have the Eaton Pike connect to US 40 one half mile west of the state line instead of 1.5 miles, cutting one mile from state maintenance.

This old route, including the arc around the hill, would still be in place in 1935, as shown on the map below. 1935 would be the year that the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) would extend US 35 across Ohio and Indiana, replacing SR 11 in both Indiana and Ohio. In both states, the number 11 would be reused. In Indiana, it replaced SR 33 in southern Indiana in the 1930s. In Ohio, it would be 30 years later.

1935 map of Wayne County, Indiana, showing the routes of US 40 and US 35 east of Richmond.

1947 saw the last big change in US 40 east of Richmond with the expansion of the road to a four lane highway. This would also require a rebuild of the PRR bridge that was put in place 35 years earlier. This would also see the removal of the great arc that is now Woodside Drive from the state highway system. One can look at the right-of-way space on Woodside Drive to tell that it was once part of the old road. It is shown on this Google Map link. And the old right-of-way connecting to US 40 on the west end is shown here.

Early Railroad Projects, Even Some Became Roads

In the early days of Indiana, much attention and money was spent on transportation facilities. Most of Indiana was a wilderness, and connecting remote places in the state became a priority. Starting in 1832, the General Assembly started passing laws creating railroad companies. In those early days, railroad technology wasn’t as advanced as it would be in the decade or so to come. Some of these projects would be dumped as railroads, becoming toll roads instead. One even took over, in the eyes of locals, the routing of the National Road.

On 3 February 1832, an act was passed by the Indiana General Assembly to “incorporate the Richmond, Eaton and Miami Rail Road Company.” However, less than one year later, on 2 February 1833, an amendment to that act had been passed. The amendment stated that the company is “vested with full power and authority to construct a turnpike road, in lieu of the rail road.” (1833 Acts of the Indiana General Assembly, Chapter XCVII) The toll road that would be built as a result of this act and amendment would, in the Auto Trail days, become part of the National Old Trails road. It was treated as part of the old National Road between Richmond and Springfield via Eaton and Dayton.

Chapter CXXVI of the 1834 Acts of the Indiana General Assembly, approved on 24 December 1833, sets forth an act “to incorporate the Evansville and Lafayette Rail Road Company.” The act specified that the railroad should connect Evansville, Princeton, Vincennes, Terre Haute, Covington before ending in Lafayette. While investigating ICC reports from 1917-1922, I can find no reference to this company whatsoever. The part of the route south of Terre Haute would be followed by what would become the Chicago & Eastern Illinois.

Two chapters after the last one, an act “to incorporate the Indianapolis and Lafayette Rail Road company.” This railroad was different than the one that would eventually be built through Lebanon and Thorntown. This route was laid out to connect Indianapolis, through Jamestown, Crawfordsville, Columbia (Tippecanoe County) to Lafayette. The route prescribed roughly follows what became part of the Big Four route to Crawfordsville, then along the Monon to Lafayette.

The 1835 Acts of the General Assembly list several possible railroad or turnpike projects. One section (13) of Chapter XVI, “an act to provide for the further prosecution of the Wabash and Erie Canal and for other purposes,” would allow the governor “to employ a competent engineer or engineers” for the following projects: a railroad or turnpike from Madison, by way of Indianapolis, Danville and Crawfordsville to Lafayette; a rail or turnpike road from Crawfordsville by way of Greencastle, Bloomington, Bedford and Salem to New Albany; and a railroad from Evansville to Vincennes via Princeton.

Section 16 of the same act provided that “engineers shall examine a route for a canal from or near Indianapolis to the Ohio river, at or near Jeffersonville, and if found not practicable to construct a canal between said points, then said engineers shall survey a route for a rail or turnpike road from Jeffersonville to intersect the rail road line in this act (mentioned in Section 13 above) directed to be surveyed from Madison to Indianapolis, at or near Columbus.” Both a toll road and railroad would be built in this case…the road would become part of US 31 later, and the railroad would become the Jeffersonville. The Jeffersonville would end up buying the railroad that it was to connect to “at or near Columbus.”

Section 18 allocated money for surveying a railroad from Terre Haute to Vincennes. The “report the same with an estimate of the probably cost of constructing the same, to the next General Assembly.” Section 19 allowed the same for the Lawrenceburgh and Indianapolis railroad. All of the money spent on this act was to come from funds allocated for the Wabash and Erie Canal.

This is the total list of railroad projects put forth by the Indiana General Assembly prior to the massive projects that would ultimately nearly bankrupt the State of Indiana implemented in 1836. Part of that plan was covered here.

Auto Trail Quick Take, Part 1

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

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

(1) The Yellowstone Trail enters Indiana from Chicago, extending by way of Gary, Valparaiso, Plymouth, Warsaw, Pierceton, Columbia City, Fort Wayne and thence to Cleveland. Well marked with metal signs on poles.

(2) The Chicago Trail barely cuts the corner of the state, extending from Detroit to Chicago, entering Indiana and Michigan City, passing through Gary, Indiana Harbor and Whiting.

(3) The Tip-Top Trail, extending from Lagrange on the north straight south by way of Albion, Columbia City, Huntington, Hartford City, Muncie, Newcastle, Rushville and Greensburg. Thoroughly marked by H. S. A. A. (Hoosier State Automobile Association).

(4) The Dixie Bee Line, extending from Chicago down the edge of Illinois, entering Indiana near Danville, Ill., going through Clinton and Terre Haute, and leaving at Evansville to cross Kentucky and Tennessee to Florida. Thoroughly marked and re-marked by the H.S.A.A.

(8) The Range Line, extending from Indianapolis to Rochester by way of Carmel, Westfield, Kokomo and Peru. Was marked by the county organizations enroute and is now replaced by State Road No. 1.

(9) Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Way, extending from Cincinnati by way of Richmond. Fort Wayne and Kalamazoo, Mich. First marked by the county organizations and remarked by the state organization. Some parts of this route are yet to be remarked. “O-I-M” on the poles.

(12) The Toledo-Chicago Pike enters Indiana at Butler, extending west through Waterloo, Kendallville and joining the Lincoln Highway at Ligonier.

(13) The Belt Line, same being a continuation of the Bloomington Way in Illinois, entering from Hoopeston, Ill., crossing the state by way of Lafayette, Kokomo, Marion, Hartford City and Portland. Marked by the county organizations – on schedule for remarking by the state association outfits.

(16) Hoosier Dixie Highway, extending from Goshen to Cincinnati by way of Warsaw, Wabash, Marion, Anderson, New Castle, Cambridge City, Connersville and Brookville. Marked by the Hoosier Dixie Highway association through its county organizations and remarked in parts by the H.S.A.A.

(17) Minute Man Route extending from Farmersburg on the west, across the state by way Spencer, Martinsville, Franklin, Shelbyville, Rushville, Connersville and Liberty. Marked by state association – on our list from remarking now.

(22) National Old Trails Road, established by government, marked by red, white and blue bands partly by local clubs and partly by the state organization, but more dependable marked by special enamel steel signs placed at frequesnt intervals across the state. Coincides with State Road No. 3 across Indiana from Terre Haute to Richmond. (The section east of Richmond is not the same road established by the government.)

(23) Wonderful Way, same being a branch of the Atlantic-Pacific Highway branching off from that route at Paoli and extending south by way of Corydon, New Albany and along the river by Charlestown, Madison, Vevay, Patriot, Rising Sun to Cincinnati. Marked by the H.S.A.A.

(24) The Hoosier Highway, extending from Detroit to Memphis, crossing Indiana by way of Fort Wayne, Bluffton, Huntington, Muncie, Anderson, Martinsville, Spencer, Worthington, Washington, Petersburg, Oakland City, Princeton and Evansville. First marked by the Hoosier association with a red “H” on a white background and now remarked with a black “H” on a white background. Northern half of route just repainted.

Toll Roads, and State Takeover

There was a point in Indiana transportation history when the majority of “improved roads” in the state were toll roads. The National Road, for instance, originally built across Indiana in the 1830’s, fell, by 1842, into the maintenance responsibility of the counties through which it passed. Congress turned over the National Road to the state in 1848. In 1852, the entire road was let to a toll road company.

The National Road wasn’t the only one. Almost every major road in the state went through the toll road treatment. It wasn’t only the “state” roads that ended up being made into turnpikes. Land owners could, and did, by law create their own toll roads.

In 1883, a law was passed by the Indiana General Assembly that allowed for the “Appraisement, Purchase and Conversion of Toll Roads into Free Roads, and for their Maintenance as Free Roads.” This allowed counties to purchase toll roads when :they have been petitioned to do so by a majority of the land owners and stockholders in said toll road.” Often times, it would be put to a vote by the residents of the county. From what I have seen in newspapers, Cass County (Logansport) tried at least three times to get a positive vote. It would take several years for this law to become fully used by the counties of the state.

The Richmond Item of 10 February 1893 reported that the county had issued its list of purchase prices for toll roads in Wayne County. (For instance, The National Road was appraised at $12,000. This would end up not being the original road east of Richmond, having been replaced by the Richmond-Eaton Pike. That road is now called “Old National Road.”) The Fort Wayne Daily News of 13 December 1897 reports that Allen County has finally appraised the Fort Wayne and Little River Turnpike, the last toll road in Allen County.

Indianapolis News, 25 October 1889. List of toll roads that
were purchased by the Marion County commissioners
to become “free gravel” roads.

The purchases were going on all over the state. Looking through newspapers.com, with a search of “toll road” from every available newspaper in Indiana, the number of newspapers is fairly large. That only includes entries between 1800 and 1940.

Indianapolis News, 25 October 1889. List of roads that still
collect tolls, but have been petitioned to be purchased.

The attached snippets show the toll and free road situation in Marion County in October 1889. The bottom of the picture to the left shows that, at this time, Marion County contained 215 miles of gravel road, 70 being toll roads. Looking at a map of Marion County of that period, this is just a very small percentage of the roads in the county.

Until the counties started taking over the turnpikes (or toll roads, you decided which to use), toll houses were not only a common sight all around Indiana, they were basically landmarks. There is still one in existence along the old Michigan Road northwest of Indianapolis. Another Jim Grey entry, “For sale: Michigan Road Toll House” covers this quite well.

Now, the only toll road in the state is the Indiana Toll Road that runs across the top tier of counties. It is basically an extension of one toll road (or turnpike in Ohio and Pennsylvania) from Chicago to Philadelphia. This may change in the future. No one can ever be sure.

Indianapolis: Crossroads City

Originally published 24 March 2015.

When the Good Roads Movement started in the late 19th century, the primary focus was on, more or less, two things: bicycle transportation and mail delivery. Cars came later into the discussion.

Indianapolis was already a crossroads city. Unfortunately, most of that was eclipsed by being a major crossroads in the world of railroads. While you could get to the city using the trails at the time, Indianapolis really took off when the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad came to town. And to be honest, Indianapolis WAS a town until the railroad was built. 1847 not only marked the coming of the M&I, but the incorporation of the City of Indianapolis.

When the named highways started appearing on the scene, they naturally followed the paths that were already there. The major roads into Indianapolis became a hodge-podge of named routes linking the city to far away destinations.

But what WERE those roads before they became the Dixie, or the Jackson, or any other of the names. That is the purpose of this post.

The National Old Trails Road for 80 years had a shorter name here: the National Road. For those that don’t know, the National Road was built along its route to connect the (then) capital cities of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. (The irony is that there STILL is a road to connect Indianapolis to the now capital of Illinois, it’s just not US 40, it’s US 36).

Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean: The original route from the west connects Indianapolis to Springfield, IL. (See above.) It came into town as the Rockville Road, leaving as the National Road to the east.

Dixie Highway: One route entered from the west along the Crawfordsville Road. The other route entered from the north along Indiana’s first state road, the Michigan Road. One route left the city along the Bluff Road (named for going to the bluffs of the White River at Waverly), the other, again, followed the National Road towards Richmond.

Jackson Highway: Entered from the northwest along the Lafayette Road, left southeast along the Madison Road.

Hoosier Highway: Entered from the northeast along the Oaklandon Turnpike (changed and shortened to Pendleton Pike), left southwest via the Mooresville Road.

Hill & Lake Trail: Entered from the north along the Fort Wayne (Allisonville) Road, left via the Three Notch Road.

Range Line: Entered from the north along the Range Line (Westfield) road, left south via the Madison road.

Some of you may notice that road names are still the same in some cases.

Auto Trails and Historic Roads, Not Quite the Same

In looking at the old Rand McNally Region 2 Auto Trails maps, I have found some things that are different than the historic trails that the Auto Trails claimed to be.

I have mentioned several times about the differences in the Michigan Road. For those that don’t know, the Michigan Road was Indiana’s first state highway. It was created to connect Lake Michigan, at Michigan City, to the Ohio River at Madison. The Auto Trail era of the Michigan Road turned southeast from Napoleon, connecting to Versailles before continuing on to Madison. The original road made no such detour. That detour was continued when the state highway system designated it as Original State Road 6. In 1926, the OSR 6 became SR 29, further cementing the Auto Trails version of the road as the “official” Michigan Road. Thank goodness for groups like the Historic Michigan Road to make sure that the original route was not only not forgotten, but memorialized as a State Byway.

But, in looking at the RM maps, I noticed another section of the Michigan Road that never made it to Auto Trail Status. That was the section west out of South Bend to Michigan City. Now, a part of that was part of the Auto Trail system – from South Bend to outside Rolling Prairie. But that was because that section of the original Michigan Road was part of the Lincoln Highway. The section from Rolling Prairie to Michigan City was a “side road” on the RM maps. It was not a part of any Auto Trail.

Then there is the National Road. Most people think, and I was one of them, that the Auto Trail called the National Old Trails Road followed the old National Road through Indiana. And for the most part, that is correct. Jim Grey, through his blog, spent some time showing that the NOTR around Reelsville did not follow the original route.

(https://blog.jimgrey.net/2018/01/22/puzzle-solved-the-national-road-at-reelsville-indiana/)

But that was due to a bridge that washed out in the 1870s and was not replaced.

Then I noticed another section that differed from the old National Road. And what’s funny is that it starts on a street that is named “Old National Road” in Richmond. The NOTR actually turned southeast out of Richmond, following what would eventually (though not permanently) become US 35 to Eaton and Dayton in Ohio. The original National Road was built in as much a straight line as was possible from Wheeling, VA (to become Wheeling, WV, in 1863), through the (then) capitals of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. At that time, that would have been Columbus, Indianapolis and Vandalia.

Dayton was not included on the original road. But the NOTR went through Eaton and Dayton, connecting back to the original road at Springfield.

Those two Auto Trails were the only ones in Indiana that actually tried to be roughly the historic roads. Most of the rest of them had non-local type names, or names of the connecting cities. The only other local name for an Auto Trail that I could find was the Range Line Road. Yes, it is still called that inside the central part of the city of Carmel. But the concept of the “Range Line” predated even any roads there. It was named after a survey line. The survey line separates two survey ranges, hence the name. It actually separates Range III and Range IV, both east of the Second Principal Meridian. A Range is (supposed to be) six miles east to west.

Now, back to my maps. (As a personal note, let me say that reading maps online is really a lot easier to do when you can bring it up on a 32″ monitor, while writing a blog entry on another monitor.)

US Highways: They are actually State Roads

I originally posted the following in the Indiana Transportation History group on 11 Jun 2014. It has been slightly edited to correct some “oopsies” in my original.

For those old enough to remember (and I, unfortunately, am not one of them) before the Interstate system came into being, and US routes were the cross-country method of auto transport, this post is for you.

Somewhere lost in the history of transportation is the true story behind the US Highway system. Believe it or not, the Federal Government was late to the “good roads” party, and really only joined it half-heartedly. Let me explain.

Near the end of the 19th Century, there was a craze sweeping the nation – bicycling. The problem was that most roads at the time were basically dirt paths through the country. Some were graveled, yes. Some were bricked, but mainly only in towns. Those that rode bicycles started clamoring for better roads to reliably and safely use their new-fangled transportation method.

The US Post Office was also involved in this movement, mainly because mail was that important. And delivering the mail in some rural locations was troublesome at best.

With the creation of the automobile boom in the early 20th century, the Good Roads Movement started including the drivers of the horseless carriage. Again, because most roads at the time were dusty at best, and practically impassible at worst.

Clubs started nationwide to encourage auto travel (the Hoosier Motor Club was one). Clubs were also started to encourage the creation of travel routes that were more than dirt roads to the next county seat.

These last clubs led to many named highways throughout the nation. For instance, Indianapolis was served by the (Andrew) Jackson Highway, Dixie Highway, Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, National Old Trails Road, the Hoosier Highway, Michigan Road, the Range Line Road, the Hills & Lakes Trail, and the Hoosier Dixie.

The most famous of the Road Clubs was the Lincoln Highway Association, which crossed Indiana through the northern tier of counties. On its trip from New York to San Francisco, it passed through Fort Wayne, Ligonier (included because it was the SECOND Ligonier on the route – the other being in Pennsylvania!), Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend, La Porte, and Valparaiso. (As you can guess, it wasn’t exactly a straight line at first!)

In 1926, the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Public Roads finalized a national route system that became the US Highways. This was to combat the numerous named highways that led to some major confusion among the automobile traveling public. The system was discussed starting in 1924, with a preliminary list issued in late 1925.

Named highways painted markers on utility poles most of the time. It, apparently, was not unheard of to have numerous colored markers on one pole. And new named highways were popping up monthly. (They even kept appearing after the numbered highways started appearing.)

A misconception is that a US Highway is a Federal road. US Highways have a distinctive shield with a number. It can also have, legally, a State Road marker. That’s because US highways were really just state roads that shared the same number for its entire distance. So SR 40 in Indiana was also SR 40 in Illinois and Ohio, and so on. (INDOT has even posted SR 421 signage on SR 9 at the entrance ramps to I-74/US 421 in Shelbyville.)

While US highway numbers have come and gone across the state, most of them appeared in one of two phases – 1927 and 1951.

The original US Highways in Indiana were: 12, 20, 24, 27, 30, 31, 31E, 31W, 36, 40, 41, 50, 52, 112, and 150.

The second major phase included US 136, US 231, and US 421.

Between these two phases, the following roads were added:
– US 6 (1928)
– US 33 (1937)
– US 35 (1934) It required changing SR 35 to SR 135.
– US 36 – Yes, it is listed twice. US 36 originally ended at Indianapolis from the west. It was extended east in 1931.
– US 152 – Mostly followed US 52 (Lafayette Road) north from Indianapolis from 1934 to 1938. It never left the state, so it was downgraded to mostly state road 53 (which, strangely, was added BACK into the federal numbering system as US 231).
– US 224 (1933)
– US 460 (1947-1977)

These were added to the system in sections. For instance, US 6 came into Indiana from the east and ended up being routed along what, at the time, was Indiana State Road 6.

There have been many changes in the original US highways. Some have bypassed towns in many places (like US 31). Some have just been removed from the system (like the northern end of US 33). Some were replaced by the interstate system created in 1956 (like US 27 north of Fort Wayne).

The beginning of the end of the major importance of the US Highway system started in 1947, when AASHO deemed it “outmoded.” This led to the creation of the interstate system with a law signed by President Eisenhower in 1956.

Crossroads of America

Indiana. The Crossroads of America.

In the early days of automobile travel, Indiana ended up with more than its fair share of “Auto Trails.” The reasoning for this makes sense. Let’s face it, to get from New York to Chicago, by land, Indiana is in the way.

The Auto Trails are what I want to focus on today.

One of the earliest Auto Trails maps that I have been able to get my hands on is the Rand McNally (RM) Official 1920 District Number 2. RM broke the country into sections, and most of Indiana ended up in District 2.

One of the things to keep in mind is that the 1920 RM shows the Auto Trails, and state roads for both Ohio and Michigan. It shows nothing as far as Indiana state roads. This is really easy to explain. Indiana didn’t have state road numbers until 1919. And even then, there were only five of them.

Some of the most well known Auto Trails were roads like the Dixie Highway, National Old Trails Road, and the Lincoln Highway.

But there were so many more. Old US 31 south of Indianapolis was part of the Jackson Highway. As was US 52 north out of Indianapolis. The Auto Trail version of the Michigan Road basically follows the original route, with the exception of the section from Napoleon to Bryantsburg, which to this day is still marked as a highway…only now it is US 421.

There are so many more in the Auto Trails system. To have a look, I want to share this link:

http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15078coll8/id/2943

It is a link to the Indiana State Library copy of the RM 1920 District 2 map.

There are far too many Auto Trails to cover in one short blog entry. But trust me, I will be covering them in the future.