Old US 36

A brief origin story of US 36 in Indiana

A brief origin story of US 36 in Indiana

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Old US 36

What is now US 36 west from Indianapolis to Rockville was originally an 1830s wagon trail called the Rockville State Road. This was one of many state-funded roads connecting important places around Indiana. You’ll still find a remnant of this old name for this road in Indianapolis — the road is signed as Rockville Road there.

In the early automobile era, this road became part of the Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway auto trail, stretching beyond Rockville through Montezuma to the Illinois state line. In 1921 or 1922, the fledgling Indiana State Highway Commission took over maintenance and called it State Road 31.

US 36 was one of the original US highways in 1926. Its eastern end was in Indianapolis then, where the old Rockville Road began. It followed what had been SR 31 until then.

A particular section of the road in Putnam County about halfway to Rockville, just east of Bainbridge, was winding and, eastbound, made a blind approach to a wooden covered bridge over Big Walnut Creek. The Indiana State Highway Commission spent the late 1920s through the 1930s improving its highways to avoid situations just like that. By 1933, this winding section was bypassed with a straight, level road just to the north.

I made this photo in 2007 on that winding alignment. This photo is westbound, east of the covered bridge.

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.

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