Although it doesn’t look like much today, from 1937 to 1964 a rural cul-de-sac east of Anderson represented about one ten-thousandth of Indiana’s State Road 67, which stretches diagonally across Indiana from Illinois near Vincennes into Ohio near Bryant. Forty years after it was decommissioned, this little stub became the first old highway alignment I ever discovered. This tiny segment, only measuring a fifth of a mile, woke up my inner roadgeek.
2004 was the year my maternal grandparents celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, and I remember riding along with my parents to Gordon Food Service in Anderson to buy Swedish meatballs, of all things, as well as other necessary supplies in the days before the celebration. As I stared out the window on our way back home, I noticed how this random street peeled off from the road at a higher grade than the rest of its surrounds only to terminate off in the distance and connect with nothing. It was a weird arrangement for a neighborhood that had only a handful of houses, so I asked my mom about it. She told me that it used to be part of the highway and that the stub had only recently been abandoned.
I was perplexed and intrigued. After all, we’d followed that exact route, I thought, to my grandparents’ house a hundred times or more over the previous decade and I’d never noticed it! It’d been a few years since grandma and grandpa had moved from Pendleton to Yorktown, though, and I hadn’t had much reason to go out that way in the intervening years- especially at the age of fourteen without a car or license. Hmm, I pondered, as I watched the cul-de-sac shrink from the window as we headed back home.
Nowadays I work on the west side of Anderson. There are about five good routes from work to my house on Muncie’s west side and they all take the same amount of time, thirty minutes. One of them goes right past this old alignment and as luck would have it, I’ve acquired a car, a license, and a camera over the years since I first set eyes on it.
Before we get into the details about this particular segment, it’d probably be wise to provide some backstory of the roads that once connected Anderson to neighboring Muncie. Indiana’s system of state roads were realigned and renumbered in 1926. From what I’ve gathered thanks to the work of the late Richard M. Simpson III, the road from Muncie to Anderson was initially known as State Road 67. By 1933 it’d become a multiplex known as both State Road 67 and State Road 32.
The highway crossed into Madison County just east of Chesterfield, where it turned southwest along what’s now known as Veterans Boulevard or Anderson Road. From there, the road crossed property now owned by the Anderson Municipal Airport before connecting with today’s State Road 232 and Mounds Road. It exited Anderson more or less on the current path of State Road 32 via Ohio Avenue and out West 14th Street.
Around 1934 or 1935, a new state highway, 236, was built along 53rd Street in Anderson to connect the city with the bedroom community of Middletown. You can see the road towards the bottom of either screenshot I’ve edited; it crosses I-69 near the bottom right corner of the image.
In 1937, 53rd Street in Anderson was improved and given the new designation of State Road 67. Linking with what was originally County Road 550-South in Delaware County, the new road let Highway 32 do its own thing and followed Union Township Pike southwest from the Delaware/Madison County line before turning due south onto Rangeline Road. The highway curved east at State Road 236 and followed 53rd Street to the initial routing of State Road 9, now known as Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Boulevard, or North Pendleton Avenue. That’s the street that my workplace sits on, but the curve where 67 connected with 236 from Rangeline Road on the other side of town is the alignment my family drove past eighteen years ago when we bought all the meatballz.
Here’s what this deaccessioned part of State Road 67 looks like when you first turn off onto it heading northbound. If I had the chance to talk to my fourteen-year-old self, I’d tell him that the power lines that follow the stub’s curve indicate that this was was once part of the the highway and not some weird, purpose-built neighborhood.
To prove my point and get that little whippersnapper to listen to me, another nifty trick I’d clue him into is to look at the driveways of the houses north of the alignment, because a close examination of where the gravel or pavement changes marks the angle that the old segment traveled. There are five driveways just north of the cul-de-sac, and four are entirely gravel aside from concrete hyphens added to connect their houses to the newer, straighter, roadway. Even if the old roadbed’s been graded down to match the surrounding earth, we can still tell where it connected by where the driveways were extended.
It was only twenty-seven years that what we’re examining represented State Road 67, since Interstate 69 was completed through Madison and Delaware counties in 1964 and State Road 67 was multiplexed onto it to bypass Anderson in an effort to reduce truck traffic downtown. Shortly after, State Road 67 in Madison County became County Road 67.
I’ll admit that I don’t have much of an idea about how the intersection worked regardless of whether it was a state or county road. Based on a 1998 satellite image, it appears that though traffic on 67 and 236 was prioritized over cars traveling along Rangeline Road between the two.
As you might imagine from its configuration, this intersection was dangerous: In 1956, motorist Georganice Abel, aged 31, was killed in a head-on collision just west of it. The following day, another traffic accident that involved a truck, auto, and scooter killed another person. I wouldn’t be shocked if other fatal accidents didn’t happen over the years.
By the way, in 2004 my mom had been absolutely right about this little stem of Old 67 being an recent concern: Here’s a photo from 2003, when work was being done to improve the intersection. This image was taken a year before we crossed it on the way back from GFS, and it solves the mystery of why I hadn’t noticed it any earlier.
Another image, taken in 2005, shows that the former alignment had been truncated to its present state. Today, Rangeline Road north of State Road 236 is a heavily-trafficked rural thoroughfare: the road’s name comes from marking the “range,” or boundary, between Madison County’s Union and Anderson Townships, and a short distance north of where I took these photos the road provides north-south access to Indiana 32, Indiana 232, and Mounds State Park. Traffic on Rangeline south of the intersection is inconsistent as the road narrows since it was never part of State Road 67.
The abandoned section of State Road 67 I focused on ends just a fifth of a mile from where it started, at this turnaround marked by a bevy of red signs which suggest that traveling further north would be unwise.
Six houses cluster around the old alignment. I’d imagine that the proximity of those homes made widening and improving the safety of the corridor difficult or even impossible. I bet that’s why it was bypassed in 2003, though I’ve not been able to find any specifics in period newspaper articles.
This old alignment of State Road 67 ends where it came from via a jog to meet the current State Road 236. Decommissioned sections of highway often curve to meet or cross their connector at a right angle to assist with visibility. It’s a safety thing.
Today, this segment of Old State Road 67 still looks just about exactly like it did when I first came across it eighteen years ago. Before that encounter, I’d never even considered the possibility that highways could be abandoned! I obsessively kept my eyes peeled for hints of old roads whenever I found myself in a car on a family trip to some exotic East-Central Indiana locale like Winchester or New Castle, even if I wasn’t completely sure how to identify them. The freedom of my first car in high school finally led me to discover a couple myself, including additional segments of Old 67 between Daleville and Muncie in Delaware County. I was hooked!
Since then, I’ve found more resources to find and explore the old roads. Probably the best asset I’ve discovered is Jim Grey’s blog, Down the Road. Though Jim writes about diverse subject matter, his passion for the old roads is unrivaled; they feature heavily on his blog. I’ve learned a lot from reading it over the last several years, and not just about the old roads.
The Indiana Transportation History blog, written by the late Richard M. Simpson, III, has also been a lot of fun to dive into, though it’s not as easily navigated or parsed as Jim’s work.
One of these days I’ll let my inner roadgeek bloom fully! Until then, here’s what started it.
8 thoughts on “A short segment of old State Road 67 near Anderson woke up my inner roadgeek”
Outstanding work. I hope you’ll share this on the Indiana Transportation History Facebook group.
It’s been several years now since I’ve done a road trip on a road I haven’t explored before. Saturday I return to form, along SR 67 from southwest Indy, southbound. I’m going with a longtime road-tripping friend who happens to live just off the old 67 alignment in that part of Indy. We’ll go as far toward Vincennes as time allows, following the Richard Simpson outline of the road from 1926. There’s a section near the itty bitty town of Romona that doesn’t look drivable, for the most part. At least not in my sedan. Maybe in a Jeep, which I don’t own.
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Thank you! I’m super excited to read the trip report. I’d never heard of Romona until now. Is that section south of Romona, across the tracks from Romona Road?
Yes, right here:
Awesome!!! I can’t wait.
I have always loved studying old alignments using topo maps, aerial photos, historical maps, etc. There is an Old Highway Alignments group on Facebook that has a lot of interesting pictures and writeups. And this was a great article. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for pointing that out and sorry for just now seeing this. I’ve been added to it!
That is an area I have never really been familiar with, but it is interesting nonetheless. The one thing I have learned about old roads is that “putting things back the way you found them” does not apply when a road gets abandoned.
“A whole ‘nother” post could be devoted to the roads that were left in complete disarray once this new alignment was finished!
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