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Indiana's Mother Road


In 1820, when Indiana had no major roads, John Tipton and Gov. Jennnings rode by horseback up to central Indiana. Their purpose, was to meet with several other commissions to select a new location for the state capital.

By 1822, twin state roads were platted and surveyed. Their purpose was to provide a land route out into the wilderness were the new capital was to be built.

One road would be 125 miles long and start at the Ohio River below Corydon at Mauckport and end in Indianapolis.

The second road being 55 miles long, would start at the Ohio River at Madison and connect with the Mauxferry Road at it 95 mile post (in what is now Camp Atterbury). Later, the meeting place would be moved to Franklin.

In 1824, the Mauxferry Road was completed and in the fall of that year, the states treasury and the other tools of government moved up this road.

The following year, 1825 Indianapolis became the new capital of Indiana and the Madison State Road was completed.

At first, the Mauxferry Road was more important because of the necessary to move the state government. But later, the Madison State Road would offer more. 

If the "Madison State Road" were a woman she would say she has had quite a life, having served the state of Indiana for over 180 years

First, she brought the first materials into the wilderness to build the new state capital. But later, she offered stagecoach service connecting the new city with riverboats and the outside world.

In 1828, it took four days to make the trip to Madison, but in later years, an express coach would require less than 24 hours.

By 1832, all thought the "Madison Lady" was dead, fore the newer Michigan Super Road had been built to replace her.

But that was not to be. A new invention, the railroad, would be her salvation.

By 1838, Indiana's first RR was operating between Madison and Vernon with Stagecoach service to and from Indianapolis.

It would take nine more years to complete the RR to Indianapolis and the Madison State Road was again the chosen route.

By 1847, the railroad reached the capital and killed most travel on both the Michigan and Madison roads.

But the "Grand Dame" would not die.

Indianapolis - In 1920,  workers  were in shock to find a pioneer wooden road under  Madison Ave.

They had rediscovered "Indiana's Mother Road".


Jay Allen