I must be getting old, since I can’t think of a better way to commemorate my 32nd birthday than continuing my examinations of the old highway alignments that once connected the cities of Muncie and Anderson in East Central Indiana. With my newfound age in mind we’ll focus on two discontiguous old alignments of Indiana State Road 32 in Madison County. Though we can quibble on specific boundaries, the highways spans about twelve miles from the western edge of Muncie to the east side of Anderson. The two discontinued alignments in Madison County measure around 3.5 miles.
Why State Road 32? It’s pretty simple: I’ve literally driven or ridden down this stretch of highway thousands of times. My elementary school stands on it, as do the Subway restaurant I managed in high school and the miserable apartment I spent a portion of my mid-twenties in. Just counting five years of daily commutes, three years of band practices down it, and an arbitrary corrective factor of .88, I can pretty much nail down twelve-hundred drives down Highway 32 from Yorktown to at least Daleville as an adult. That’s a lot of time!
All that said, I must have taken the old highway for granted since I never really looked into its history until my grandma was recovering from from cancer about three years ago. After she finished her chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Anderson’s Community Hospital, Grandma spent some time in a rehab facility in Chesterfield on what was signed as Anderson Road. As East Plum Street, the road veered southwest off of State Road 32 at an angle that seemed to be an old stretch of the highway. I’m embarrassed that the provenance of East Plum Street in Chesterfield never occurred to me before then, but we’ll move forward by pretending that I’ve known it from the start. Consider it your birthday gift to me.
Let’s step back a bit. Although the the road from Muncie to Anderson was known as the Hoosier Highway and signed as State Road 24 as early as 1920, a renumbering in 1926 rechristened the thoroughfare as State Road 67.
By 1933, the highway carried both State Roads 67 and 32, a multiplex that lasted until a new routing of State Road 67 was completed in 1937. We’ll travel as much as the original route between the two cities as can be traveled today, but the majority of this post will focus on its two discontinued alignments in Madison County.
From Muncie, the highway travels through three communities on its way to Anderson. The first is Yorktown, where State Road 32 takes the local name of Smith Street. Around 5,000 people lived in Yorktown proper until the town annexed the entirety of Mount Pleasant Township in 2013. Thanks to its expanded borders, today about 11,500 residents call Yorktown home. Around these parts, the community is thought of as a relatively-affluent bedroom community of Muncie and, if outward appearances are to be believed, the past several years have seen Yorktown go full Carmel or Fishers: In 2019, the town erected a $12 million town hall and civic green complex, along with completing a $1.8 million expansion of its library. This year, work finished up on a $6 million mixed-use development called “The Oliver,” as well as a $19 million dollar expansion and renovation of the town’s middle and elementary schools. The ground floor commercial space of The Oliver remains empty, as of yesterday at least.
Despite all of the changes, Yorktown’s downtown core still features a great row of historic structures: the building on the far left was constructed to be a Knights of Pythias Hall, while the edifice clad in red siding continues to serve as an Odd Fellows’ Hall. The one with the multi-tiered facade near the far end of the photo was a furniture store for a long time, but now it’s apartments. A friend of mine lived in them, on the first floor which featured windows made of glass blocks. It was always disconcerting for her to emerge from the shower only to see wavy silhouettes of the old men walking past to get breakfast at Osborn’s Country Kitchen!
A cool side-note about State Road 32 in downtown Yorktown is that, at one point, the row of buildings pictured featured stairways cut into the town’s sidewalks that enabled access to a variety of basement businesses there. In the 1940s, the cellar of the Odd Fellows’ Hall was used as the Yorktown Teen Canteen, an after-school nightclub of sorts for school-kids. The exterior stairs were filled in when the Indiana Department of Transportation reconstructed the highway and its sidewalks in 2007, but the old doors and windows -since bricked in- can still be seen from the building’s basement.
In Delaware County, State Road 32 never strays far from the White River as it exits Yorktown. As a result, it’s a winding road that keeps up with the meanderings of the river. Two miles west of Yorktown, the highway curves sharply to the south at what was originally Mount Pleasant Township’s District 9 schoolhouse, known as the Kilgore school. From the schoolhouse, the road continues 3.5 miles along its original path to Daleville, a village of about 1,700 people. If Yorktown’s spent the last several years trying to be a mini-Fishers, Daleville’s spent that stretch attempting to mold itself into a mini-Yorktown, building a large new splash pad and combination town hall-police station in recent years.
Those developments came to the detriment of much of Daleville’s historic downtown. Unfortunately, these two buildings are the only old commercial structures left there. The shorter building to the left was originally a livery stable, but I’m not sure what business its taller counterpart housed. Most recently, both were used by Sater Electric, a local contractor.
Exiting Daleville, the highway follows its original course for just over a mile until it reaches the Madison-Delaware County Line. From there, it’s another mile to the heart of Chesterfield, a town of about 2,500 where the first old alignment of the highway can be found.
Today, the route heads due west to follow East Main Street through town towards Anderson. Originally, though, it continued southwest along East Plum Street. It splits off from the modern routing near the Bamboo House Buffet, a former gas station and, for a time, a video store, if memory serves.
Before we head down Plum Street, a truly-abandoned segment of State Road 32 that’s about a hundred feet long serves as the driveway for a home that stands at 401 E. Main Street in Chesterfield. In the 1980s, this building was home to a business called Carpet Direct and the pictured section of the old road was its parking lot.
Headed southwest, several old storefronts and service stations line East Plum Street despite its location a block south of Chesterfield’s main commercial drag, the current State Road 32. One of the most prominent is the old storefront of Graham Furniture, which was built in 1919 and stands about a third of a mile west of the Bamboo House.
After two blocks, East Plum Street meets Anderson Road at the 1930 Chesterfield Elementary School, which along with its 1936 gymnasium and subsequent additions now serves double-duty as the community’s town hall and civic center. Anderson Road veers sharply to the southwest at the school, and represents the continued original routing of State Road 32.
Old State Road 32 travels for about half a mile past the rehab facility where my grandma stayed before abruptly ending at, um…this.
We can chalk this discourteous end of what was once State Road 32 up to Anderson’s progress: though the city was originally home to two privately-operated airports, neither was equipped to handle the type of traffic that General Motors brought in through its massive Guide Lamp and Delco Remy installations there. In 1959, workers began building a better airport for the city largely at the General’s behest, one that included a 4,300 foot-long diagonal runway on a tract of land that overtook State Road 32’s path near Chesterfield. The following year, officials began working on a new routing of the highway that took it on its modern path:- extending west from Chesterfield, the new highway -first known as Airport Road- was built on top of right-of-way that the Union Traction Company had abandoned when it shut down its interurban operations from Muncie to Anderson in 1941. A 400-foot bridge, consisting of seven spans and a roadway thirty feet wide, was completed in 1960, and the new routing of State Road 32 intersected with Anderson’s bypass at what’s now known as University Boulevard.
I frequently take that newer segment of IN-32 home via the Anderson bypass, a clogged commercial strip now known as Scatterfield Road. Preserving the older version of the highway would have made some sense for local traffic, though, and it seems like county officials did that initially, since the segment of State Road 32 from Mounds Road to State Road 67, or Union Township Pike, was first designated as State Road 232. Five years later, 232 was truncated to end just north of Mounds State Park and the remainder of the road’s path towards the airport was signed as Mounds Road. Nowadays, it too ends unceremoniously with some gates and a warning.
That’s because the airport’s primary runway was extended by 1,300 feet in 1968. At the time, airport officials responded to qualms about Old 32 being cut off by the airstrip by saying that the old highway -then known as either Mounds Road or Anderson Road- would be routed around the airstrip. Helpfully, the airport authority also noted that the segment of Old State Road 32 that traveled onto its property was, technically, one of Anderson’s city streets, and it’d be their responsibility to maintain it.
In 1960, the old routing of State Road 32, from Scatterfield Road to State Road 67 (also known as Union Township Pike) was realigned as a new spur route called State Road 232. Five years later, the routing was truncated to end at Mounds Park after 67 was multiplexed onto the just-finished I-69. As for the old road through the airport, it appears that some rerouted version of it called Mounds or Anderson Road, made it through the airport’s history at least until 1990, when Madison County officials agreed to maintain the road between State Road 232 and the Chesterfield town limits. Today, it’s cordoned off. Segments of the old road still exist on the airport’s property, but they’re hard to take photos of. I briefly considered bringing my drone to hover about twelve feet off the ground to get a whiff of the old pavement, but flying a drone in close proximity to an airport is frowned upon by the FAA. I left it at home.
If you’ve ever gone to Mounds State Park, you’ve traveled on an old alignment of State Road 32. Its successor, State Road 232, starts at Scatterfield Road and extends just over a mile to provide access to the park before wrapping around to a quick stop at the airport. If you’re leaving Mounds State Park, Old 32 -as current State Road 232- picks up just after the exit, where another old alignment sits and leads towards the DNR’s Law Enforcement District site.
That old alignment ends by implying its connection with the modern route of State Road 232. Turning around and heading northbound, though, leads to this path out of the DNR substation. The original path of State Road 32 is visible here, though the truncated routing from the DNR station turns to curve into the modern section at a safe angle.
From Mounds State Park, the old alignment of State Road 32 continues towards Anderson, where this stucco house can be seen. Once the home of Judge Syd Cleveland, it’s a landmark on this old route. My brother John took a picture of it for me as I drove past.
Two and a half miles after the route picks up from its terminus at the southwestern side of the Anderson Municipal Airport, Old State Road 32 reconvenes with its current iteration at the south side of what was once Anderson’s Mounds Mall.
At Scatterfield Road, State Road 32 follows Mounds Road up into town, when it turns to Ohio Avenue. Eventually, the road changes names to East 14th Street as it follow a path due east. After several miles, Indiana-32 jogs north on Arrow Avenue before following Nichol Avenue out of town. That all being the case, I’m glad to have found State Road 32’s old alignments in Chesterfield and near Mounds State Park. I followed these routes yesterday, a part of a great birthday present from my brother, who graciously agreed to go with.
As for me? Today promises to be low-key. I’m headed to work soon and, later, I’ll get dinner with my parents. 32 is no milestone birthday, but I’m sure I’ll have some typical birthday introspection posted here in the days ahead. Regardless of the unimportant benchmark thirty-two-years represents, Indiana’s State Road 32, at least in Delaware and Madison Counties, has been a constant presence in my life since my family moved to Muncie when I was about five. It was good to finally get off the beaten path and explore a little bit of it yesterday.
4 thoughts on “Exploring State Road 32 between Muncie and Anderson on my birthday”
Nice! But just understand that as you age, you’ll have to go farther and farther south in Indiana to continue this series!
And after doing some quick research, I’ve found that, apparently, I might be out of luck for 34. In Indiana, at least!
That road became US 136 in western Indiana. There are plenty of fun old alignments, including one brief dead-end that’s brick! So you could do 24 in spirit.
Thanks! I will for sure!