Aerial imagery for roadsleuths

Following the original alignment of Indiana State Road 67 past Anderson and Mounds State Park, the road ends abruptly.

Old SR 67 interrupted

The runway of the Anderson Municipal Airport cuts across SR 67’s original path, which made it necessary to close the road. But when did that happen?

In most cases, you can find historic aerial imagery to fill in the blanks. You can find aerial images that are up to 90 years old! In Indiana, we have the Indiana Historical Aerial Photo Index (IHAPI), which has aerial images as old as 1939. Speaking of which, here’s what the airport runway area looked like in 1939. SR 67 runs diagonally through the center of the image.

IHAPI also offers images from 1950, 1956, 1961, and 1969 for this area. The runway first appears in the 1961 image, but it’s no long enough to interfere with the road.

A stroke of luck: the 1969 image shows this runway being extended, and the road being rerouted around its end!

I turned to Google Earth to pick up the trail. The first usable imagery it has for this area is from 1992. Fortunately, it looks like nothing has changed since the 1969 runway extension was completed. Because of the good resolution, you can clearly see the remnants of the original SR 67 alignment.

By 2010, the runway was reconfigured slightly, and the road had to be slightly realigned to accommodate it.

In this 2012 image, you can see that the road around the end of the runway was closed off.

In this 2019 image, you can see how some of the 1969 realignment of the road was removed.

There it is, the story of Old State Road 67 at the Anderson Municipal Airport.

Fortunately, the resolution of later images is so good that you can zoom way in to see detail. Here’s the strip of SR 67’s original alignment as it leads up to the runway.

Looking through the fence where Old SR 67 is closed off headed northeast toward the runway, you can see some remnant of the old road.

Old SR 67 interrupted

I drove around to where this road comes out of the airport at the other end and photographed it southbound. On both sides of the airport today, this road serves only to provide access to a few houses.

Old SR 67 SB

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9 responses to “Aerial imagery for roadsleuths”

  1. Ted Shideler Avatar

    This is awesome. Great writeup.

    I always forget about IHAPI. I need to check it out again because, unless I’m using it incorrectly, its Delaware County offerings are pretty slim.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      1941, 1950, 1956, 1961, 1969. Not bad, really.

      1. Ted Shideler Avatar

        I don’t know how I’ve missed those!

  2. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    The 1939 photographs are part of the pioneering survey of the United States conducted by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. The purpose was to survey farmlands but the work extended to almost the entire nation.

    I recall downloading these 1938-1939 files and georeferencing them by hand with ArcMap software. I used road intersections, public monuments, and other geographic features that (we hope!) had not moved since the late-1930s. You would be surprised how many features have changed. For example, is a railroad track really in the same location today? Has a road been widened? Has a breakwater in a lake been extended? It is a fascinating topic.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I didn’t know that about the 1939 images! That explains why I can’t find older ones!

      The GIS software in many counties has done a lot of the work for us of mapping current roads to those old images. Not every county does it, but several I care about in Indiana do.

      1. Kodachromeguy Avatar

        The earliest long-distance mapping flights that I know about were in the early 1920s along the New Jersey and Long Island coast. The Fairchild Aerial Camera Company flew these with biplanes. By the mid-1930s, the quality of film, cameras, and aircraft mounts had improved greatly:

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Oh how cool is that! Thanks for the link to your paper.

          The 1930s imagery I can find online doesn’t offer great resolution so I can imagine how primitive older imagery must have been.

  3. Jonathan B. Richards II Avatar
    Jonathan B. Richards II

    Hello, Jim Grey and Happy Fathers’ Day tomorrow. This blog using aerial photographs to show previous road beds , etc. is typical of your always thorough and ingenious internet journalism. Thank you as always and have a great summer, Jonathan (Jack) Richards in Chesterfield, Missouri.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! I appreciate your kind words.

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