Rockville State Road, US 36, near Bainbridge

When the original state roads were built, the state of Indiana created a road that connected Indianapolis to Rockville, via Danville. That road, still known today as Rockville Road in Marion County, is almost as straight as any road can get in this state. However, there were places where straight just wasn’t possible. Such a place is in Putnam County.

It should be noted that there were two things at play when it came to the building of the original state roads. First, the construction was done to keep costs to a minimum. There was no need to cat a path through a hill when one could just go around it. Path of least resistance was the motto of the day. Second, as a general rule, the state didn’t tend to take people’s property to build a road that would just be turned over to the county after it was built. This is one of the reasons that a road connecting two towns in early Indiana didn’t always go directly between two points. While it isn’t as noticeable on maps today, a quick glance at older maps shows the curvy way someone got from point A to point B in the early days of the state.

The Rockville State Road was (mostly) built along a section line, meaning very little property would have to be taken to create it. Generally, property lines in Indiana tend to work along the survey lines. Survey line separate townships, ranges and sections. Most of the time, property was purchased in one section or another, usually not crossing the section line. But there were several places that the old road did have to venture off of the survey lines beaten path.

One was east of Danville. Main Street through the city was the original Rockville State Road. When a short bypass between Danville and Avon was built, the old road was kept in place, but turned slightly at both the western and eastern ends. The following Google Map snippet shows the old property lines when it came to the western (Danville) end of old Main Street/SR 31/US 36. Main Street turns southwest, while the old property lines turn due west to connect to Danville itself.

The other section was a much larger bypass built by the state in 1933. East of Bainbridge, the old state road took a dive to the south of the survey line…sometimes venturing almost a mile south of the line itself. The following map is from 1911, showing the postal routes that were followed at that time, and showing the old Rockville State road in its original alignment.

As shown on the map, going west to east, the old road started turning southeastward in Section 12, continuing further southeast in Section 7, and hitting its southern most point in Section 8. From there, it worked its way back northeastward until it reached the section line again in Section 10. This created a variance from the section line that was nearly four miles long.

Editor’s Note: As is typical of the original surveys, sections along the western edge of the range [sections 6, 7, 18, 19, 30 and 31] are smaller than one mile wide. The Range Line between those sections listed above, and sections 1, 12, 13, 24, 25 and 36 of the range west, is known as a correction line. This can be spotted throughout the state, not only by the less than one mile wide sections, but the occasional deviance from a straight line going west to east. In Marion County, Shelby Street and Franklin Road are those correction lines…and looking at the roads crossing them shows the correction. The survey line along the north edge of the map is the township line, separating survey townships 15 North and 16 North. Following that line to the east, it becomes part of the Danville State Road in eastern Hendricks County, 10th Street (the geographic center) through Marion County, and the numbering center of Hancock County. It is also a correction line in the surveys, so sometimes survey lines jog a bit when crossing it as well.

This section of the old road was very curvy, narrow, and did not lend itself well to the pending explosion of traffic that would be coming its way with the creation of the Auto Trails and, later, the State Highway System. When the Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean highway was created, it followed the old Rockville Road from Rockville to Indianapolis. Thus, it followed this curvy, winding line through Putnam County.

Things would change in 1933, when the Indiana State Highway Commission announced that construction would begin on US 36 from Danville to Bainbridge. This project would complete the straightening of the federal highway from west of Indianapolis to the Illinois-Indiana State Line. The Indianapolis Star of 1 April 1933 reported “a twenty-five mile detour from Danville to Bainbridge on United States Road 36 over pavement and dustless type road has been established to take care of traffic pending completion of new pavement between Danville and Bainbridge which will complete the project from Indianapolis to the Illinois state line.”

The above Google map snippet shows the exact same area as covered by the 1911 USPS map shown above. The route of US 36 through the area, shown in yellow, is the 1933 bypass built by the ISHC. The old road is still very narrow and winding, but still can be traveled to this day. The Indiana Official Highway map of 1933 shows the new road under construction, with the old road removed from the map. By the time the next official map was released for June 1934, the new road was completed and opened. The following is the 1936 survey map of Putnam County roads, including road width, constructing materials and bridge of the same area.

The new roadway included bridges marked as AS, AT, and AU on this map. The old road included CN, CM, CH, CG, and CK. (Note, they are marked on the map in lower case letters. I am using upper case to denote them since it is easier to read.) Both AS and AU were built 24 feet wide, while AT was built 20 feet wide. All three had a safe working load of 20 tons.

The old road’s bridges were a bit more complicated. CN was 12.7 feet high, 12.7 feet wide, and had a safe working load of three tons. CK was 16 feet wide and could handle 15 tons. CM was 19.5 feet wide, with a working limit of 20 tons. This would make it almost equal to the bridge that replaced it (AT), only being six inches narrower with the same work load limit. Both CG and CH were 20 feet wide with a 20 ton safe load limit.

The old road, according to the figures on the 1936 map, had a right-of-way 40 feet wide. The new US 36 through the area had a right-of-way of 60 feet in width. Most of the county roads in the area had a right-of-way narrower than the old Rockville State Road, usually less than 10 feet.

The other part of this realignment project was through Bainbridge itself. The old road traversed the town along Main Street. The new road bypassed Main Street to the north…by only one block. It still does to this day.

Jim Grey, on his old web site, covers the sections of the old road that connect to the current US 36 fairly well. That page is at: http://www.jimgrey.net/Roads/US36West/04_Bainbridge.htm. I think I have read somewhere that this website will be migrated over to his WordPress blog, “Down The Road.” If this is the case, get it while you can. And who knows, maybe after all the “stay at home” mess is over, I might make a trip out to this section of the old road to take some onsite surveys. (I would love to say take pictures…but my lack of photography skills is only surpassed by my complete lack of patience to take the time to make them good. Not gonna lie here, folks.)

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.

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.

Plymouth

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.

Survey Lines and the Michigan Road

I have mentioned, several times, in both this blog and the ITH Facebook group, survey lines and their effects on Indiana transportation. In general, the survey lines break Indiana up into one mile by one mile sections. These sections are combined into a six mile by six mile collection known as ranges and townships. There are several roads in the state named “Range Line,” as they are the north-south lines, roughly six miles apart, that separate the state into ranges east to west.

This system was set up in the “Northwest Ordinance,” the federal law passed to make sure that the land that would be sold would be easily located and documented. This was necessary because in the older states, sequentially from Delaware to Kentucky, marking land depending on more natural markers. This caused land claims to be hotly debated. It was possible that several people could own the same section of land due to these debates. Some people won, some people lost. This was not going to happen in the Northwest Territories and every territory added afterwards.

In Indiana, there are only three sections of the state that don’t follow the rules set out in the Northwest Ordinance: the Clarksville area; the Vincennes area; and the Michigan Road. The first two are actually angled to match the Ohio and Wabash Rivers, respectively. This was due to the fact that they were surveyed before the system of ranges and townships were set up. The Michigan Road doesn’t match the rest of the survey due to the treaty that created the road in the first place. While the sections are still one mile by one mile, they are not numbered as if they belong to the rest of the state.

1876 map of the Michigan Road in Cass County.

Along the old Michigan Road, now SR 25 out of Logansport, the town of Meta sits right on the border of the old Indian Territory. The treaty that created the Michigan Road stated that the Native Americans would allow the United States to purchase a 100 foot wide path from Logansport to South Bend, then west to the newly created terminus town of Michigan City. Starting east of what is now Meta, the land was surveyed, roughly from the center of the new road, in mile squares. Looking at a survey map of the state, one will notice that these sections are actually just a few feet south of the rest of the later surveyed areas surrounding it. Another thing that came be noticed is that the sections on either side of the Michigan Road sections are not, generally, one mile square. Most of them are narrower, east to west, then the mile square set by law.

Meta is in Section 16, just west of the “Michigan Road Section 45,” the is the highest number of these sections. They are numbered sequentially to a point two miles north of the Marshall-St. Joseph County line. The Michigan Road enters Fulton County, from Cass County, at the line separating sections 42 (Fulton County) and 43 (Cass County).

1876 map of the Michigan Road in Fulton County.

The Fulton County town of Fulton, still along SR 25, is located in the center of section 40. Eight miles up the road from Fulton, in section 32, the town of Rochester was planned. This is where the old road changes from what was, in 1917, the Michigan Road (not part of the new state highway system) to Original State Road 1. This is now where SR 25 intersected with the original US 31 in downtown Rochester.

North of Rochester, the Michigan Road turns due north, with the survey sections centered on the road. This starts in the center of section 28, due north to the Fulton-Marshall County line between sections 24 and 25.

The town of Argos was laid out in the very center of Michigan Road Section 20. From section 21 north to section 18, the township line between Green and Walnut townships runs along the western edge of the Michigan Road survey.

1876 map of the Michigan Road in Marshall County.

At section 13, the town of Plymouth would be platted. At this location, between 1850 and 1920, the area would be covered by the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway (later Pennsylvania Railroad), the Indianapolis, Peru & Chicago Railway (later the Nickel Plate), the Yellowstone Trail, the Dixie Highway and the Michigan Road. A later version of the Lincoln Highway was also traverse the area in 1928. But by then, the two major roads became US 30 and US 31.

The last of the older towns in Fulton county along this route would be La Paz, platted on the line separating sections 4 and 5. The Marshall-St. Joseph County line is located on the survey separating sections 3 and 4.

1876 map of the Michigan Road in southern St. Joseph County.

The last of the Michigan Road surveys ends one mile south of Lakeville, in St. Joseph County. Lakeville is actually in Range II East, Township 36 North, Section 34. It is located along the south line of that section, making it the line that separates Section 34 of the Indiana survey and Range II East, Township 35 North, Section 3 of the Indiana survey. The Michigan Road Survey Section 1 actually doesn’t exist.

Google Map snippet of La Paz, Indiana, showing the Marshall County roads.

Another consequence of this separate survey is that county roads, especially in Marshall County, are usually located just south of the Indiana survey lines in a section one mile around the old US 31. As shown in the map snippet above, Marshall County 1st Road jogs south as it crosses what is now called Dixie Highway (Old US 31). This was caused by the Michigan Road survey.

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.

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.