Let’s return to my 2007 road trip along US 36 and the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway in western Indiana.

The TIB Guide showed a pretty jagged route for the PP-OO west of the Wabash River.

US 36, not surprisingly, followed a much smoother path. If the shape of the road on the TIB Guide map is accurate, it looks like a portion of the little sliver of road near the top of the map below was the old PP-OO route. It’s currently called E 600 S. I can’t tell how the PP-OO got up there after crossing the Wabash.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

The PP-OO sliver runs into a segment that dead ends at both ends, which made my old-alignment radar go, “Ping!” So I drove over there for a look. Its east end looks like this.

Stubbed segment

I hoped I’d see concrete, but no luck. Here’s what the road looks like westbound. A drought in the area has trees unceremoniously shedding leaves in August; hence the brown leaves on the road. This road provides access to two homes, both of which are on the north side of the road. The trees and grass on the north side are trimmed back from the road, while on the south side they grow over.

Stubbed segment

The alignment ends just west of the road that allows access to it. As you can see, the State Road 63 overpass is visible. My guess is that the road was realigned when State Road 63 was moved there and made a four-lane divided highway – its previous alignment is the first road east of this segment. This road provides access to nothing here.

Stubbed segment

The PP-OO and US 36 follow the same route again starting about here, but it lasts only about ¾ mile. A railroad track begins to parallel the road just beyond SR 63, PP-OO stays with the tracks, but shortly US 36 curves to pass over the tracks and the old PP-OO.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

Here’s what the split looks like.

PP-OO in Indiana

This map shows the routes of US 36, the railroad tracks, and PP-OO. US 36 is the southernmost road on the map. The railroad curves off and heads west. PP-OO stays on its trajectory a little longer before heading straight west, and is the northernmost road on the map.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

From here I drove current US 36 into Illinois. I followed US 150/Illinois State Route 1 north to Chrisman and then drove the PP-OO back to the place in the map above where the PP-OO and current US 36 diverge. I’ll explain why I went to Chrisman in my next post.

I was so excited about this PP-OO business that as I finished driving US 36 I failed to get the obligatory photograph of the Indiana-Illinois state line. There was even some roadside historic site about Ernie Pyle that registered in the corner of my eye only as it was almost past. No matter; I was on a mission to drive a segment of a very old coast-to-coast highway!

Just take my word for it that this segment of US 36 is a straight, unremarkable two-lane highway.

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20 responses to “US 36 and the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway in Vermillion County, Indiana”

  1. brandib1977 Avatar

    That Ernie Pyle historic site was on my to do list for last year. Cancelled, obviously, but it sounded interesting!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hopefully it’s still a thing when the pandemic is over!

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Here’s hoping. I read that it is operated by a non-profit now after the state closed it as a historic site. These cannot be easy times for them.

  2. retrocrank Avatar

    A couple of questions:
    Looking at the map, do you think the original alignment of the main road – whether it was called PP-OO or 36 – was in fact CR500/CR550 (in IN), as far as Decatur? What suggests this to me is that all the farm villages are on this route, a mile north of current 36, and the alignments of this road and 36 converge on the east side of Decatur. Which also makes me wonder if the realignment of 36 to a mile south was done relatively late in the pre-Interstate era.
    Second, could the path of what’s now E 600 S have played a role in the evolution of this route – perhaps a more advantageous ferry crossing of the Wabash at Montezuma before a bridge was built?
    Finally, there is a large arc to be seen from Rockville westwards toward the 550/36 split, at most a couple of miles north of current 36. Is this recent (utilities) or boundary line remants of a prior ROW?
    And, if you’ve not read “Here is Your War,” I recommend it as an interesting weekend read.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The PP-OO almost certainly followed E 600 S. I’m not sure where it picked it up though, and whether a ferry was ever involved while the road had that name. I don’t know whether US 36 ever followed that route. Possibly.

      PP-OO and original US 36 did, however, follow E 500 S and then 2300 N to Chrisman. I have never researched this road beyond Chrisman.

      I don’t see an arc going all the way back to Rockville, but I do see RR tracks at the 500/36 split that create an arc to the east.

  3. retrocrank Avatar

    Forgive me if this is a duplicate –
    550/500 continuing due west, a mile north of current 36, passes through the farm villages and reconverges with 36 on the east side of Decatur. Was this perhaps the original alignment of PPOO and possibly 36, and the current alignment is a relatively late pre-Interstate ‘bypass’ re-alignment of what would have been a major E/W artery?
    does E600S have any part in this story? It looks tempting and from GoogleMap I’m wondering if that alignment might have been an easier crossing of the Wabash before the bridge was built.
    Finally, backing out some, there is a large arc to be seen from Rockville westwards to where 550 and 36 split. Currently utilities, or history property boundaries along a RR or early roadway alignment?

  4. TR Avatar

    I wonder if CR 610S was ever an alignment of 36?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh yes. The photos above are of CR 610.

  5. Rush Rox Avatar
    Rush Rox

    Please see the 1924 Rand McNally Auto Trails maps in the David Rumsey collection. Those maps show that PPOO/State Road 31 entered Dana on its northern side. Going westward one can also see that PPOO passed Scottland, Illinois, on the north, then meandered a bit before entering Chrisman, Illinois, directly.

    In Montezuma a ferry had operated west of Patterson St, carrying traffic westward onto what is now CR 600 South, but I’m pretty sure the PPOO would not have used the ferry. Information at the bridgehunter website indicates the original Crawford St bridge was built in 1892. Even if that date isn’t accurate and the first Wabash bridge was built later around the turn of the century, the bridge would still have predated the PPOO.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Great additional info — thank you! When I originally wrote this, I don’t think the David Rumsey collection was online yet. I’m pretty much wholesale bringing over my stuff from my old Roads pages with very little addition.

  6. Route66Fan Avatar

    These are some good articles. Back in September 2020, I mapped out the routing of the PP-OO in my home state of Missouri, on Google Maps,, using volume 5 of the 1918 Official Automobile Blue Book & some old county plat maps from the 1910’s to 1930’s.
    I think I got the map about 98% accurate. I’ve uploaded my map here:

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I followed your map from end to end – fascinating. I can’t believe there are some places the PP-OO used to go where there’s no trace of a road there anymore! Great work.

  7. Route66Fan Avatar

    I’ve just started working on mapping out the Illinois section of the PP-OO. I am starting out on the West side, in Hannibal, MO & am working my way East.
    The map can be found here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=15t8ecz_kxLqcP5zV52M6BQFSVS2bpIf_&usp=sharing

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Outstanding. I hope you’ll keep after this project. Info on the PP-OO is so hard to come by,

  8. Route66Fan Avatar

    Using Volume 5 of the “1918 Official Automobile Blue Book”, It shows the autotrail crossing the old Wabash River bridge West from Montezuma, IN & crossing another bridge over the railroad, before turning South on what is now S. 3rd St. going into Hillsdale, IN. From there, it follows what is now Highland Ave, Old Highway 63 & S. County Rd 360 E. to Highland, IN, which the book referred to as Highland Corners, before turning West on E. County Rd 600 S.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well isn’t that fascinating! The TIB Guide map is small and hard to make out for certain but it doesn’t appear to show that routing. Much of the Hillsdale part of that routing is available on Google Street View btw.

  9. Route66Fan Avatar

    I’ve read somewhere that the routings of autotrails would frequently change due to flooding & being fenced off due to actually using private drives.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m sure that happened. It also happened that the auto-trail organizations would reroute because some town wanted on the route and paid to make it happen!

  10. Harry Hippi Avatar
    Harry Hippi

    Ernie Pyle came from Dana, Indiana, just a mile from where you crossed the state line. My father was born nearby and grew up in the area back in the twenties and thirties. He talked about that highway a few times, it was a bit of a marvel back then. He said highway engineers didn’t yet know about whiteline fever, so the road went arrow straight for miles and miles.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The section in Putnam County wasn’t arrow straight at first! Quite a twisty ride.

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