For years I’ve wondered about Woodside Drive, a curved street on the far east side of Richmond, Indiana less than a mile west of the Ohio state line. It begins and ends at US 40, which sure makes it look like an old alignment.
Side note: the road at lower left marked “Old National Rd E” is the Dayton Cutoff, which I documented here.
Woodside Drive was never the National Road. The National Road followed a couple different routings from the Ohio line to about this point. Reader Rush Rox left several comments on this post where he did some research into these routings. That spurred me to do a little research of my own. I found an 1856 map of Wayne County here that shows the National Road running straight through, as US 40 does today. Note the Dayton Cutoff at lower right.
Rush Rox supplied the rest of the maps in this post. By 1876, for reasons I haven’t been able to uncover, the National Road’s route was changed here to cross the railroad tracks after a left turn, and follow a road down to the Dayton Cutoff. This might be why that road is signed as Old National Road today.
This 1910 map of postal routes suggests that the National Road now followed a road east of the tracks to reach the Dayton Cutoff. I’m not an expert in postal maps; I always wonder if they omit roads not germane to postal routes.
In 1936, the Indiana Highway Survey Commission published a map that shows the Woodside Drive alignment:
Rush Rox speculates that Woodside Drive was probably built to hug a streetcar or Interurban line. The wide gap between the road and the utility poles on the north side of the road strongly suggest he is right. (Update: commenter TScheidler discovered that it followed the Dayton & Western Traction line that was extended to Richmond in 1903.
I bicycled the length of Woodside Drive on my Ride Across Indiana. Here’s where it begins on its east end.
This road has a width typical of 1920s-1930s Indiana highways.
There’s a small concrete-arch bridge on this road, and it looks very typical of bridges the state built on its highways in these years. It looks a little rough.
Could the rusty strips of steel be old-style guardrails? When you see old infrastructure like this, it suggests that the road ceased to be a state-maintained highway before more modern infrastructure could replace it as part of regular maintenance. As I found and documented in this post, the four-lane US 40 was built in the 1940s here. Woodside Drive probably served as US 40 for less than 20 years.
According to the last recorded inspection, this bridge is “somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is.” The data I’m able to find claims that this bridge was built in 1950, which I doubt severely; it looks much more like 1930s to me based on its design.
Earlier this year, a contract was awarded to replace this bridge. I’m glad I happened by before demolition began.
I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.
To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!