1952: Another New US Highway

Between 1951 and 1952, there were a lot of highways that were added to the US Highway system by the AASHO, or American Association of State Highway Officials. The main reason for this was, quite honestly, “tourist roads.” That was the purpose of expanding US 421, mentioned in my last post, from Tennessee to Michigan City. Another addition was US 231, which crosses the state from Owensboro, Kentucky, to Lake County, Indiana.

At the time, the two major US Highways that crossed Indiana, US 31 and US 41, were very busy doing what they do best – moving travelers north and south. Both highways start in northern Michigan, with US 41 beginning in the Upper Peninsula, US 31 starting at Mackinaw City. At the other end, US 31 ends in southern Alabama, US 41 end at Miami. Both highways were essentially “tourist roads.”

Since US 41 connected Chicago and Miami, it was the US highway replacement for the Dixie Highway. And as such, was very busy. AASHO decided that it would be a good idea to create another south bound highway to funnel off traffic from the two major roads crossing Indiana. That road would be US 231.

The Lizton Daily Citizen of 17 September 1952 mentions that the new route markers for the newest US highway in Indiana were in stock and to be replaced over the next month or so. It was also mentioned that the state road numbers that were assigned to route that would become US 231 would still be there after the marking of the US route. “The newly-designated U. S. 231 will travel from Chicago, Ill. to Panama City, Fla. It is to be called a ‘tourist’ highway and is designed to relieve overloaded U. S. 41 of some of its traffic.”

US 231 started life in 1926 with the creation of the US Highway system. At the start, it began at US 90 near Marianna, Florida. Its northern end was at Montgomery, Alabama. The first expansion of the road had it ending in Panama City, Florida.

US 231 crossed into Indiana from Owensboro, Kentucky, on what was then SR 75 (now it is SR 161), then east on SR 66 to Rockport. From there, it would follow SR 45 to near Scotland, SR 157 to Bloomfield, west on SR 54 to SR 57, then north on SR 57 to its junction at SR 67.

From the junction of SR 57 and 67, the new highway would follow SR 67 into Spencer, where it would be joined with SR 43. From here, it would follow (replace) SR 43 north from Spencer to Lafayette.

Now, here is where the description of the highway in the newspaper and the actual route differ. According to the route published in the newspaper, the route would follow SR 43 all the way to Michigan City, ending there. Well, it was already mentioned that it would end in Chicago (which, by the way, it never did), not Michigan City. Also, again, as mentioned in my last blog entry, US 421 took SR 43 into Michigan City.

At Lafayette, US 231 would multiplex with US 52 to Montmorenci, where it would turn north on SR 53. Now, for those of you keeping score with the US highways in the Hoosier state, this is where, from 1934 to 1938, there was another US highway that had been removed for being too much of a duplicate. That highway, US 152, used the US 52 route from Indianapolis to Montmorenci, where it replaced SR 53 (which it was in 1933) all the way to Crown Point. In 1938, with the decommissioning of US 152, the road reverted to SR 53 again.

And in 1952, that designation was once again removed for the placement of US highway markers. This time, US 231. But, the state road number wasn’t removed immediately this time. And US 231 rolled its way along SR 53 until it entered Crown Point. From there, it connected to US 41, the road it was supposed to help relieve traffic, near St. John using what was then SR 8.

For the most part, with the major exception of two places, the US 231 route is the same as it was back then. There may have been some slight moving of the road, especially near Scotland for Interstate 69, but the minor revisions are few and far between. The major relocations are definitely major. A complete reroute in the Lafayette area, which has US 231 bypassing both Lafayette and West Lafayette. It has, in recent years, taken to carrying US 52 around the west side of the area, replacing the much celebrated US 52 bypass along Sagamore Parkway. I will be covering that bypass at a later date. Let’s just say that there was a lot of newspaper coverage of that at the time.

The other major change in the route is near the Ohio River. A new bridge spanning the river was opened in 2002. The new bridge, called the William H. Natcher, is located north of Rockport. The original US 231 route, which followed SR 66 to due north of Owensboro, Kentucky, is now SR 161 between SR 66 and the Ohio River. It should also be noted here that at Patronville, SR 75 (US 231 now SR 161) had a junction with SR 45…the route that the new US highway would follow from northeast of Rockport to Scotland. Now that junction is just with Old State Road 45.

Due to its route across the state, at 297 miles long, US 231 is the longest continuous road in the entire Hoosier State. That may seem wrong, but consider that Rockport is actually south of Evansville…and the route through the state is nowhere near straight.

Adeway

Many highways were given names in the Auto Trail era. One that always intrigued me, and I have yet to find a good history for, is a road that led from Indianapolis to Chicago. It was called the “Adeway.” The best map of the route that I have found, however, shows the road only going from Crawfordsville to Chicago. That map is from 1923, and is available at the Indiana State Library online.

The Adeway left Crawfordsville via Lafayette Avenue, traveling northeast before coming to Old Oak Hill Road near the intersection of current US 231 and Lafayette Avenue. The old auto trail would follow Old Oak Hill Road, and Oak Hill Road, until it becomes what is now Old State Road 55. It would follow what would become SR 55 in 1932 all the way to just east of Wingate. The original route crosses private property now, as it would connect directly to Crawfordsville Road in Wingate. Today, it turns west onto Wabash Street. The Crawfordsville Road intersection has been moved to make a perpendicular junction between the two roads. The original route can still be seen in grass markings in the following Google Maps snippet from 25 October 2020.

From Wingate, the original Adeway would follow what is now SR 55 to Newtown. From Newtown, the road would turn north along what is now SR 341, following that current state road to what is now SR 28. The auto trail turned west along the current SR 28 to Attica. At Attica, instead of turning onto Jackson Street, as SR 28 does now, it continued along Main Street, then Mill Street, and would cross the Wabash River along the old Mill Street bridge. The current state road, and US 41, crosses at Jackson Street.

After crossing the Wabash, the original auto trail would turn on what is now Old SR 55…but that route goes into private property today. It is best to use current SR 55 north of US 41 to approximate the old road. There are places where the current state road was straightened for ease of use and safety, but it is still very close to the original country road that would become part of the Adeway.

At Warren County Road 600 North, the Adeway turned west. It would curve several times, then turn west again on Warren County Road 650 North heading towards Rainsville. The old highway follows what is now Rainsville Road to just before SR 26. The road had been moved for safety at this point. The old Rainsville Road was part of SR 26 before the move. It can be clearly seen on this Google Map snippet of 25 October 2020.

The Adeway then turned north along what is now Meridian Line Road, right at the end of the current bypassed section. This would take travelers (mostly) due north through Fowler, where the street is still called Adeway. After crossing the current US 52, the street becomes known as Washington Street, but also happens to be SR 55 once again for its trip northward through the Benton County countryside.

In an effort to maintain its own way, the Adeway would turn west on what is now Newton County Road 1700 South. This is one mile south of the Illinois Corn Belt Route, which would later become part of US 24 across northern Indiana. The highway would follow SR 1700S until it would turn north along what is now US 41, travelling into Kentland.

Although the road had been straightened in places, the US 41 route approximates the old Adeway route. At Benton County Road 900 South (which east from US 41 is SR 16), the Adeway turned west again…to enter the town of Ade. One might assume that this is where the road got its name…but I am not going to jump to that conclusion until I have more facts.

From Ade, the old highway followed CR 275 West and CR 300 West north through Morocco and onto what is now US 41 (again) northward to Enos. The distance from Ade to Enos is 10 miles according to the Rand McNally Auto Trails Map of 1920. At Enos, the old route leaves the current state highway system again, this time for a short jaunt along CR 100 North to CR 400 West. Five miles later, the old route turns east, along CR 600 North, to connect to CR 300 West, which is still US 41. Just north of the intersection of US 41 and CR 600 North was a place called Conrad. The name still exists there, but not as a town of any kind.

The Adeway still follows US 41 north until just south of Lake Village. Here, the new road bypasses the town, while the old road, called Old 41, enters the town, as did the Adeway. North of Lake Village, the old road connects back to US 41, but doesn’t share that route long. Just south of Schneider, US 41 veers off to the northwest, while the old route continued straight through the town along what is now Parrish Avenue. At what is now 219th Avenue, the Adeway turned east, then north again along what is now Austin Avenue for its journey towards Lowell.

The journey continues along Austin Avenue until the junction of Belshaw Road, where the Adeway turned northeast to Cline Avenue, one-half mile east of Austin. The route entered Lowell on Cline Avenue, but left on Morse Avenue. Here the old highway followed Morse Avenue north and then west along the northern edge of Cedar Lake. It followed what is now Lake Shore Drive until it turns into 135th Avenue. There, it followed what is now 135th Avenue west across US 41 again, until Calumet Avenue near Brunswick.

Turning north along Calumet Avenue, the next turn would be at what is now 101st Avenue near Keitzburg. West along 101st, the Adeway then turned north again on what is now Sheffield Avenue. It then followed Sheffield Avenue/Hart Avenue (Dyer)/Sheffield Avenue until it became what is now Columbia Avenue. The old route then connected back to Calumet Avenue, which it followed all the way up to Indianapolis Boulevard, for a northwesterly turn towards Chicago. From the connection of Columbia and Calumet Avenues, the road is not part of the state highway system. At I-94, Calumet Avenue becomes part of US 41, and the Adeway follows that road designation into Chicago.

As is typical of the Auto Trail era, the journey of the Adeway from Crawfordsville to Chigago is nowhere near a straight journey. It winds through the northwestern Indiana countryside, meandering its way from point a to point b. But it would make one heck of a road trip, should one want to do such a thing.

Lafayette Rail Relocation

Cover photo courtesy of Justin L. Grayson, as was the idea for the post.

When the railroads started coming to towns across the United States, it was a sign of prestige to have a railroad company build a line through the middle of a city street. While the towns thought it was something to be proud of, crossing the tracks was almost impossible. Lafayette was a town of rail crossings…and street running. As I have written about before, Lafayette was the home of several railroad lines. But toward the middle of the 1990’s, this was going to change…with the help of a lot of federal, state and local tax money.

1941 USGS Topo Map of downtown Lafayette, IN.

The actual beginning of discussions about relocating railroad tracks through the city of Lafayette occurred in 1926, when the city first proposed such relocations. Between 1963 and 1973, a series of engineering studies were commissioned by city officials to look at the possibility.

The idea of moving the railroad tracks through Lafayette started moving forward in 1974, when a study was conducted by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). It was announced by Mayor James Riehle, on 11 July 1975, that a project director was named for the relocation. That director would be Herbert Thomas, vice-president of transportation at Kaiser Engineers, Inc. His local resident manager would be James Ellis.

It was also announced that day that the first two phases of the project would be completed in about ten months from that time. Phase one included the above mentioned SRI study. Phase two would consist primarily of engineering. The final two phases, design and construction, were not put on any schedule as of July 1975.

Mr. Thomas said “relocation plans here are not the biggest he has seen in the country, but said ‘the Lafayette project would be a major one for any city,'” as reported in the Lafayette Journal and Courier of 12 July 1975. He also referred to the “railroad-motor vehicle situation in Lafayette ‘a serious problem,’ noting that on a previous visit he was stopped by a train while hurrying to reach Weir Cook Airport.”

According to the Journal and Courier, “one important aspect of the Kaiser work will be to determine if the negative impact on the Monon Avenue area can be lessened.” Thomas said that “the alignment developed so far can only be reguarded (sic) as preliminary.”

One year later, in July 1976, Kaiser Engineering was set to begin look at the various alternatives to the new railroad location. Project Manager Ken Knevel said that the company would concentrate its work on the riverfront corridor since it received the most support locally. “Everything we’re doing now is just in response to individuals’ comments. The riverfront has been indicated as the preferred corridor.” (Source: Lafayette Journal and Courier, 24 July 1976.) Paul Stitt of the Norfolk & Western and Jack Smith of the Louisville & Nashville both agreed that the riverfront corridor would be best for both their companies’ operations. Conrail’s representative, John Partridge, said “otehr alternative corridors – bypassing the city and using the current N&W and L&N lines – is less satisfactory than the riverfront.”

The Louisville and Nashville, by way of their purchase of the Monon, was running trains through the middle of Fifth Street at the time. However, they did own a stub line that started just north of Main Street (and the Main Street bridge across the Tippecanoe River) traveling northeast to connect to the the street running route, and railroad yards, northeast of Fifth Street. Connecting this stub to the Nickel Plate and Wabash two blocks south along the riverfront would not be that much of a stretch.

Funding was going to be a constant problem, especially from the mid-1970’s to 1980. Washington had become very tight fisted when it came to money. The mayor of Lafayette had gone to Washington DC in March 1977 to ensure that funding would be available for the project through 1980. There were no guarantees.

There were as many as 19 railroad relocation projects in some sort of process in the late 1970’s. Lafayette had gained national attention because it involved consolidating three railroad companies into one line through the city.

Between 1976 and 1978, two neighborhoods were the focus of studies for the relocation plan. Those neighborhoods, the Wabash and the Monon, were going to be directly affected by the moving of the tracks.

The first construction phase finally started in October 1984, when Congress appropriated $7 million. Less than a year later, in September 1985, five homes were torn down to prepare to place Wabash Avenue 23 feet below the relocated train tracks. Things started looking bad again in 1987 when a pending Presidential Veto threatened $20 million in funding over five years for the project…and the insistence from Federal officials that state and local governments pony up 20% of the cost. Something in which INDOT said they weren’t really keen on participating. That veto was overridden by the House and Senate.

The next phase of construction after the override of that veto included a replacement for the Main Street bridge over the Wabash River, new approach ramps to the Harrison Bridge (now Old US 231) and a rail corridor between Ninth Street and Wabash Avenue to replace the Fifth Street street running tracks. A new $11 million North Ninth Street rail underpass was scheduled to being construction in late 1987.

Construction photo of the Lafayette Railroad Relocation, date unknown. Photo courtesy of Justin L. Grayson.

By 1994, the street running along Fifth Street had come to an end. According to the Journal and Courier of 22 July 1994, those were “crossings eliminated today.” Also according to the same newspaper graphic, phase 5 was to be completed in 1998-99 that would relocate the Norfolk Southern’s Wabash double-track corridor to the riverfront route, eliminating 24 crossings from Kossuth Street to Underwood Street.

Lafayette Courier & Journal, 2 August 2003,
announcing the end of the Railroad Relocation
Office in Lafayette.

The project’s offices would finally closed down on 1 August 2003. There were a lot of behind the scenes work that needed to be finished by the office, but the relocation was done. There was also one thing, historically, that was brought up when construction was occurring in 1993. While digging up the foundation of the old Big Four Station in Lafayette, some timbers from the Wabash & Erie Canal were found. The officials with the Railroad Relocation sent those timbers to Columbia, SC, for preservation. They were returned to Lafayette and given to the Tippecanoe County Historical Society for display.

The project would cost a grand total of $186 million in the end. It would not only affect rail transport through the area, but road transport changed as well. The old Main Street bridge in downtown Lafayette was changed to a pedestrian facility. Ultimately, all INDOT facilities in the city itself would be removed…leaving no state or US roads to downtown.