History, Preservation, Road trips

Whatever became of Augusta, Indiana?

A couple weeks ago, when I walked you through the old railroad town of New Augusta in northwest Indianapolis, I mentioned nearby Augusta. It came first, in 1832, built on the then-new Michigan Road. When I shared this post on Facebook, someone commented there, “Whatever became of Augusta?”

It’s still there. Welcome to downtown Augusta, Indiana.

Augusta

The photos above and below are from the same spot, first northbound, then southbound. Yes, it looks a lot like aging suburbs, as that’s what it’s become. Augusta flourished through the early 1850s thanks to the Michigan Road, but floundered afterward thanks to the Indianapolis and Lafayette Railroad a mile and a half to the west. But in the early 1900s, automobiles made roads important again. The old Michigan Road became a part of the Dixie Highway in about 1915, and then was added to a new network of state-maintained highways in 1917. It was first State Road 6, and then State Road 29, and finally US 421.

Augusta

In the 1990s, the state routed US 421 around the city on an Interstate beltway and turned Michigan Road over to the city. By this time, it had become a critical artery in northwest Indianapolis, but was just two lanes wide from Augusta north. I moved to Indianapolis at about this time and remember mile-long backups through Augusta. In the late 1990s, the city widened Michigan Road to four lanes all the way north, and traffic flowed more easily.

But that widening further damaged whatever character was left in Augusta. Fortunately, traces of Augusta remain, if you look quickly as you zoom through. These two buildings are the most prominent remnants.

Augusta

The building on the right is the Boardman House, built in 1832 by the town’s founders. This house has been for sale for a few years now.

Boardman House de-ivied

This little house stands across the street. To me, it shows all the signs of being a log cabin beneath that modern siding. The length and width of the house’s front portion, the central door with windows on either side, and the roof’s height and pitch are all strong signs. The rear portion with its long, sloping roof is a typical style of addition to a log cabin. Anybody who built a log cabin expanded and modernized it as money to do so was available.

Log cabin?

Another subtle sign of Augusta is that the cross streets are perpendicular to Michigan Road, which cuts through Indianapolis at an angle. Most other Indianapolis streets that cross the Michigan Road do so at angles.

Augusta street

Even though I live only a few miles away, I’ve never strayed off Michigan Road deeper into Augusta. I ought to someday; there’s a one-lane concrete-arch bridge over Crooked Creek on 76th Street that I’d like to see. And who knows what old houses lurk on these old streets.


I took these photos in 2008 and 2010 as part of my Michigan Road survey. Read all about it here.

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2 thoughts on “Whatever became of Augusta, Indiana?

    • There were several. I can think of Clermont, Meridian Hills, Rocky Ripple, Acton, Wanamaker, and Wynnedale. Wynnedale is right near where I live and has become an upper-middle-class enclave. There were probably more little places that got swallowed that I’ve never heard of. Some of these places are considered “included towns” and get to retain limited local government. And then there are the “excluded towns” of Speedway, Lawrence, and Beech Grove — entirely surrounded by Indianapolis but not part of the city, having their own complete governments.

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