Pigeon Roost Route

Today’s entry will be short. Just a little shorter than the road I am writing about. In the Auto Trail era, not all routes were long, cross country experiences. Today’s route, the Pigeon Roost Route, would clock in at 57.5 miles.

Labelled as “96” on this 1920 Rand McNally Auto Trail Map, you can see that the route only ran from Seymour south to New Albany. This is one of those roads that is going to take some time to look into. The southern part of the route, from Crothersville to New Albany looks to be along the route of US 31. It is not. While it connects some of the same places, it actually runs, for the most part, east of the current US 31.

According to newspaper accounts of the time, specifically from 1922, this route was the original State Road 1.

Towns that were included on the Pigeon Roost Route was Seymour, Dudleytown, Crothersville, Scottsburg, Vienna, Underwood, Henryville, Memphis, Sellersburg and New Albany.

It looks like I will be planning a road trip along this old route. Since I do have a dash cam, this will make documenting the Pigeon Roost that much easier.

The name of the road comes from the Pigeon Roost massacre, that occurred near Scottsburg. On 3 September 1812, a settlement named Pigeon Roost was attacked by native Americans. 15 children and nine adults, according the the State Historic Marker at the site, were killed. One family escaped to spread the alarm. I have read that the people of Scott County never found the ones that committed the killings.

Just a short blub today about the Pigeon Roost Route, a short Auto Trail that became part of the bigger state highway system…as its first inclusion.

Indiana Auto Trails, Revisited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auto Trails Quick Take, Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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