I’ve been hooked on exploring old roads since I was fourteen and stumbled across a residential cul-de-sac that once carried Indiana State Road 67 from Anderson toward Muncie. The regions between the two cities have served as my stomping grounds for nearly thirty years. and we’ve talked about the old alignments of State Road 32 and State Road 67 that once connected them. Today, we’ll complete the series by discussing Jackson Street Pike, along with the highway that superseded it, State Road 332.
Jackson Street is one of Muncie’s most prominent east-west thoroughfares. It carries Indiana State Road 32 through downtown. Exiting the city center, the road crosses the White River and, in the late 1800s at least, became Jackson Street Pike at the bridge. The word “pike” is short for turnpike, a privately-owned road with a toll station where travelers had to pay a fee before they were allowed to proceed. The fees collected at the toll stations paid for the upkeep of the roads, and the term “turnpike” got its name from a “pike,” or a barrier set across the road, which was physically “turned” by the toll house operator to provide entry after the traveler paid the toll.
In 1908, residents of Center Township circulated a petition to pave 1.75 miles of Jackson Street Pike with brick and stone from the Jackson Street Bridge to the township’s western boundary. From the bridge to Tillotson Avenue, residents demanded that officials pave the road with brick thirty feet wide. From Tillotson west to the Center Township line, citizens compelled officials to establish a forty-foot right-of-way, and to pave it with crushed stone twenty feet wide1.
Over the years, the improved Jackson Street Pike became the best way to travel from Anderson or Alexandria to Muncie, while the original toll house was eventually moved to Dill Street where it was incorporated into a home that’s since been demolished2.
I had to drive to Alexandria on Saturday. Rather than take the modern highway, I took Jackson Street Pike from Muncie to State Road 9. Starting from my house near Morrison Road on Muncie’s northwest side, Jackson Street Pike angles northwest and travels two and a half miles through a mix of suburbs and countryside until it reaches the unincorporated hamlet of Cammack, which is officially part of Yorktown.
Though a settlement here was first known as “Switch A” because of the railroad, David Cammack platted the village in 1882 around a sawmill he established3. Home to about 250 people if I had to guess, Cammack (pronounced kuh-MACK) features a landmark grain elevator; a renovated Red Man’s Lodge; two tool-and-die shops; two churches; and an American Legion post. One of the tool-and-die shops is located in the expanded Cammack schoolhouse, which closed in 1937.
In recent years, Cammack’s boosters have fully embraced turning the village into a nostalgic approximation of the 1950s. The hamlet’s biggest draw is Cammack Station, an enormously popular restaurant in what was once the long-running Pete’s Grocery. When I was a kid, Pete Davis still owned the place, which was tiny at about a fifth of the expanded restaurant’s size. Even in the late 1990s, you could still buy a pack of candy cigarettes for a quarter or a tootsie roll for a penny! Pete Davis retired in 2005 and, sadly, died twelve years later at the age of 87.
Jackson Street Pike jogs northbound on Yorktown-Gaston Pike as it leaves Cammack, heading due west just past the Norfolk Southern, formerly Nickel Plate, railroad tracks. A mile later, Jackson Street Pike passes Reed Station. Platted in 1877, Reed Station was once home to a stockyard, grain elevator, and grocery store4. In 1886, residents established a church. The current sanctuary, erected ninety years later5, is the only structure left in the community that’s not a house. A sign identifying Station Street is the only indication that a passing motorist is in the little burg.
Jackson Street Pike continues west for just over a mile before it abruptly swings north and crosses State Road 332. From there, the pike curves west around Jones Cemetery, which dates to 1842 although its cemetery association was established forty-one years later6. About 3,300 people have memorials at the cemetery, though sparse record-keeping practices in its earliest days mean that more are probably buried there.
The most prominent landmark at the cemetery is the soaring Neeley family obelisk. The monument is a cenotaph- although markers for several family members ring the tower, only Thompson G. Neeley is actually buried there. The rest of the Neeley’s rest at the Mount Pleasant Church Cemetery several miles away.
Thompson Neeley was a man of means, with real estate and farm holdings in both Madison and Delaware Counties. When he died in 1936, Neeley’s wife filed suit against his estate, through which he had bequeathed $200,000 ($4.2 million today) to Purdue University7. Perhaps that’s why most of the Neeley family was buried elsewhere, and why his wife’s final resting place is fifty miles away in Kokomo.
Just north of the cemetery sits the foundation and basement of the Pleasant Run Church, at Jackson Street Pike’s intersection with North County Road 850-West. This church was so rural that a bridge out of the back door led to an outhouse that deposited its congregants’ contents right into Pleasant Run Creek itself8! At times, Pleasant Run Church housed three denominations- Methodist, Christian Newlight, and German Baptist Brethren. Each held services once a month, while the fourth Sunday was devoted to a shared Sunday school. In 1966, the cemetery association obtained the church, which was sold to a private party in 19759. The church burned down some time prior to 1995.
When planning commenced for the construction of I-69 in the early 1960s, officials proposed three interchanges to serve Delaware County- State Road 28 to the north, State Road 67 to the south, and State Road 128 in the middle. Unfortunately, State Road 128, which travels about eleven miles through the town of Frankton in Madison County, ended five miles west of the proposed interstate, which sat six miles west of Muncie. Officials decided to use Jackson Street Pike to connect everything together10.
Citing a lack of distributor roads to provide access to the old turnpike, local officials offered an alternate proposal that involved connecting River Road to the interstate via an extension to be built half a mile south of Division Road in rural Mt. Pleasant Township11. State officials refused due to the proposal’s high cost, so I-69 was completed through Delaware County in 1964 as initially planned with an interchange at Jackson Street Pike12.
Though the road was improved west from the interstate to where it becomes State Road 128 on its way to Frankton, Jackson Street Pike made for a uniquely poor access road to Muncie: It was curvy, wound its way around a cemetery, jogged, crossed the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks three times, and passed through the middle of Cammack.
It was such an inadequate connector that the exit sign didn’t even mention Muncie, a city of 75,000 in those days. At the time, state and federal authorities dictated that an interstate highway must connect to an advertised community by way of a state highway. Jackson Street Pike was not one13, but State Road 128 heading the other way to Frankton was. Thus Frankton, a town of nearly 1,800 people both then and now, received sole billing for many years.
After Jackson Street Pike passes over the interstate, it intersects with Lee Pit Road before it crosses Killbuck Creek. At one point, a flowing artesian well stood at the northwest corner. It still does today, but it’s well hidden: When Jackson Street Pike was re-graded, construction workers buried the well under the ramp they built to access Lee Pit Road. Thankfully, the well was piped through the hill and continues to flow into Killbuck Creek. Though its casing is underground, the well’s rusty outflow is visible when the conditions are right.
Jackson Street Pike becomes East County Road 800-North when it enters Madison County at the next crossroads. It’s a typical, two-lane county road for two miles when it reaches the community of Vermillion. Although the place was never platted as a town, the settlement obtained its name from Uriah Columbus Vermillion, on whose land it sat. Today, Vermillion consists of thirteen homes (one of which is an old schoolhouse) and two churches. The Vermillion Christian Church stands where Jackson Street Pike intersects with Moonsville Pike, a mile and a half west of the Madison County line. It was established in 1913 after prospective congregants held a revival at the Vermillion School. Realizing the need for a new building to house future services, Perry Thurston donated a plot of land for the church, which was dedicated in 191414.
The old Vermillion schoolhouse, where the church was established, was built in 1899. In 1933, the schoolhouse took in eleven students from the District 3: Tennessee schoolhouse that burned. It closed five years later when a consolidated school, known as Cunningham, took in all the students in eastern Monroe Township.
The Vermillion Friends Church was founded in 1900 and stands across the road from the old schoolhouse. The building was expanded in 1996 when its congregation added a fellowship hall on the building’s west side. After leaving Vermillion, Jackson Street Pike travels two and a half more miles before it arrives at Indiana State Road 9 where it picks up the designation of Indiana State Road 128. Known locally as Adams Road, the highway travels about eleven miles through Frankton before it ends at State Roads 13 and 37 south of Elwood. That existing infrastructure is what compelled the state to insist that I-69’s third Delaware County interchange be built at Jackson Street Pike.
As the 1970s dawned, local officials eventually turned towards McGalliard Road to rectify Jackson Street Pike’s inadequacies. Today, McGalliard Road is Muncie’s primary commercial artery. Before that, it was a humble, two-lane, gravel farm lane that spanned a mile and a half between Broadway Avenue and Wheeling Pike. In the late 1950s, the road was extended west to Oakwood Avenue when Muncie’s Northwest Plaza shopping center was built, then even further towards Tillotson Avenue.
Between 1974 and the early 1990s, a series of state and local projects extended the road to the interstate. Those efforts culminated in what State Road 332 is today, equal parts rural four-lane divided highway and suburban four-lane highway that connects Muncie with I-69. The McGalliard extension reached the interstate in 1981, swinging south to avoid Jones Cemetery and joining up with Jackson Pike just east of there.
The portion of Jackson bypassed around the cemetery was then rerouted to meet 332 at a right angle, a change that orphaned the 300-foot segment of road pictured above. If you look closely at the image below, you can see the traffic lights at the northbound on/off ramps, which line up with the track of the old road. I’m glad I took the rest of old Jackson Street Pike to Alexandria on Saturday since 332 lacks much of its rural character. Of course, that’s sort of the point!
Although it looked like I could drive my car down the abandoned segment of Jackson Street Pike, there was clearly no way I’d be able to turn it around. A third of a mile is a pretty dicey distance to back the car up over unknown terrain! Thankfully the state of the old road presented the perfect opportunity to use my drone, a DJI Mavic Mini, to explore its path for me.
The path of the road is stark from the air. Here’s a westbound tour of about half of it from three or four feet above the pavement. Forty years of abandonment have taken a toll on the old turnpike, but power lines tell no tales when it comes to old alignments.
I drove the modern route the next time I made the trip. To my astonishment, taking McGalliard and 332 only trimmed three minutes from my twenty-minute trip, and I’ve never been in such a rush that three minutes makes or breaks a drive through the countryside for me. The area surrounding I-69’s Exit 241 has grown extraordinarily slowly. Thankfully, that’s left a lot of Jackson Street Pike’s old infrastructure in place for people to experience more than forty years after it became obsolete.
1 Notice Of The Filing Of A Petition For The Improvement Of A Highway In Center Township, Delaware County, State Of Indiana. (1908, August 20). The Muncie Press. p. 3.
2 Owens, E. (1957, March 16). The Old Toll House. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 4.
3 Walker, D. (1997, January 6). Cammack clings to traditions. The Muncie Star Press. p. 19.
4 Hillman, R. (1992, August 31). Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star Press. p. 4.
5 Satterfield, E. (1981, October 4). Reed Station Church Alive, Well at 95. The Muncie Star. p. 9.
6 Harris, B. (1987, May 23). Book traces history of Jones Cemetery. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 3.
7 Anderson Woman Sues for $350,000 Estate. The Richmond Palladium-Item. p. 12.
8 Shideler, T., & Williams, E. (2022, December 14). personal communication.
9 (See footnote 5).
10 Brantley, B. (1961, April 15). Site Near Muncie Urged for Young Offender Unit. The Muncie Star. pp. 1-2.
11 Brantley, B. (1962, April 18). Proposal to Relocate I-69 Interchange Refused by State Highway Department. The Muncie Star. p. 1.
12 Gardner, J. (1964, October 8). Gov. Welsh and Other Officials Dedicate 19.3 Miles of I-69.
13 Parkinson, L. (1967, October 2). Editor’s Corner. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 4.
14 Vermillion Christian Church observes 75th anniversary (1988, November 9). The Alexandria Times-Tribune. p. 8.
7 thoughts on “Jackson Street Pike: Muncie’s one-time connection to I-69 and parts unknown”
Very interesting article! I grew up just off west Jackson Street, on Manning Ave. In the 50s and early 60s. I use to ride my bike to Cammack. It seemed so far away back then.
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I love this. This is exactly the kind of thing I like to know about: the origin of a road, with good info about all of the alignment changes over time and the things that are on the road. More please!
Thank you!!! I’ll try!
The old route from I-69 to Muncie (I had no idea it was called Jackson Pike then) was the reason your dad and I always took SR 3, which was a straight shot south from Fort Wayne. After taking the Jackson Pike exit the day our parents drove us to Muncie for our freshman year, I never took that route again until 332 opened. In fact, I had assumed (wrongly I now know) that the 332 interchange was brand new and not the original location but with a new road. Great stuff!
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Thanks! Merry haymakers a lot of sense. It was a slog!
Driving a ‘91 accord coupe with no speedometer in 2009, I also tended to take highway 3 to Fort Wayne.
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Merry haymakers to you too! 🙂
Hahahah. I’m not sure what happened there! Autocorrect, I can only hope!