A brick highway remnant in Terre Haute

You know I love to find an old brick road. Here’s one I found on the south side of Terre Haute recently. It used to carry State Road 46.

Brick old SR 46

My friend Dawn and I made our annual road trip together not long ago. We set out to follow SR 46 from Terre Haute to Nashville. To research the route, I turned to the small but mighty online cache of early Indiana highway maps at Indiana University. There I learned that SR 46 didn’t come along until 1931, well after Indiana established its highway system. I also learned, to my surprise, that the highway used to extend west all the way to the Illinois line, passing through Terre Haute. Today, SR 46 ends at US 40 on Terre Haute’s east side. On this excerpt from the 1932 map, I’ve highlighted SR 46 in green and marked the approximate location of this brick segment with a red arrowhead:

1932 Indiana state highway map

SR 46 entered Indiana from the west on what is now US 150 and flowed south into West Terre Haute, where it joined US 40 on its way east into Terre Haute. It turned south in town, almost certainly following US 41, which followed 7th St. in those days. It looks to me like SR 46 then followed Hulman St. east, and 25th St. south out of town.

My 25th St. theory was confirmed when I found this brick segment near Terre Haute’s south city limit. It picks up where 25th St. ends, at Margaret Ave. It’s a slight jog east of 25th St. This photo looks northbound toward Margaret Ave.; 25th St. continues to the north past that Marathon station.

Brick old SR 46

Here’s the crazy thing – when I lived in Terre Haute in the early 1990s, I drove right by this brick road every day on my way to work, and I don’t recall whether I ever noticed it.

Brick old SR 46

I’ve traced the original path of SR 46 in green on this current map. The red arrow shows the brick segment’s location. I-70 now interrupts the path of old SR 46. The brick road ends just before the railroad track, which flows under I-70. What was SR 46 resumes at E. 30th Dr., although if any bricks remain, they’re underneath the asphalt with which that road is paved today. I’m guessing that E. 30th Dr. and Sidenbender Rd. were built as part of the I-70 project to resolve the broken path of old 25th St.

Imagery c 2013 Google. Map data c 2013 Google.

This brick road isn’t quite abandoned; it provides access to two small businesses. A Private Property sign is posted just south of the second business’s driveway, so we didn’t walk back to see where the old road ended.

Other left-behind Indiana brick highways: SR 39, US 40, US 136.

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4 responses to “A brick highway remnant in Terre Haute”

  1. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    Very interesting read, you can actually see the brick road section in Google Earth Street View.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes! And look at how narrow it is compared to Sidenbender Rd. that passes it by. And think, that narrow road was once a state highway!

  2. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    yes very narrow just about passable for two cars with care, mind you I’m used to narrow roads living in Cornwall UK as we have lots of country roads with only room for one car with passing places every so often. Although the main roads are very good.I’m not sure if we had brick roads in the UK the nearest thing I can think of are cobbled streets.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s probably 18 feet wide. Two cars can pass okay but a car and a semi would be very tight.

      We experimented with road surfaces in the US from about 1910 to about 1930. Brick was tried because we had plenty of clay to make it out of. But brick roads are extremely labor intensive; concrete and asphalt much less so.

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