Depending on the location, old road remnants are around more than we might think. I found this one just south of Warsaw in Kosciusko County. Today’s State Road 15 comes into Warsaw from the south and, at one point, takes a jog to the east before straightening back out. Where it takes a jog County Road 150 West connects with it. Older maps indicate the county road was actually an old alignment of the state highway. When the new road takes a jog or curves, sometimes that is an indication there is an old alignment nearby, but not always. State Road 15 has been in place since the early 1930s. Even before it was named a state road, though, there was a road in the same place connecting Warsaw with Claypool, Silver Lake and other towns to the south. Prior to it being named a state highway, it was known as the Dixie Highway. And going back even further, the road likely had other names, though I am not sure what those would have been. I just know today’s State Road 15 in that area has a long history.
County Road 150 West near Warsaw.
Sometimes history is more obvious, but sometimes it isn’t so obvious. I’ve been in West Goshen Cemetery a few times but it took me a while to arrive at the conclusion there is a remnant of the old Plymouth-Goshen Trail in the cemetery. It’s now used as a driveway for the cemetery and is on the east end of the cemetery and runs north-south. If you follow the road to the north on your way out of the cemetery it is fairly close to what is now Dewey Avenue, the angling road. I noticed on an 1861 Elkhart County map a road including what is now Dewey Avenue (which also used to be part of the Plymouth-Goshen Trail) but then running south all the way to what is now State Road 119. It was to the west of what is now Indiana Avenue. Keep in mind the original part of West Goshen Cemetery is in the southeast corner. Recently I came across a pamphlet for West Goshen Cemetery provided by the Goshen Historical Society. In the pamphlet, it references a “dividing road” and, based on that description, the driveway is a good fit. The driveway also runs parallel to a ridge. There is a good sized drop off and it was quite typical in the early years of the county for roads to take the higher ground. The Plymouth-Goshen Trail was surveyed and then built in the 1830s, so this is part of very old local history. I am not sure what the pillar or post is that you can see in the photo. Maybe a reader knows?
Remnant of Plymouth-Goshen Trail in West Goshen Cemetery.
My last post was about Sparklin Cemetery in Elkhart Township. This one is about Hire Cemetery, another very old cemetery in Elkhart County, but this time in Benton Township. It is on the north side of County Road 148, about a half-mile east of US 33. The oldest known grave marker is that of John Hire, a small child who died at the age of 2 in September 1833. I do know the Hire name still has a presence in this area of the county. I would assume they are related to the Hires who settled the land in the 1830s. There was also once a church at the site of Hire Cemetery. It was known as Colclazer Chapel. But when the Richville Methodist Church was built in the 1870s a couple of miles away, it was decided the church building at the cemetery was no longer needed, so it was discontinued. The older rural cemeteries often have an interesting history and Hire Cemetery is no exception. We can learn a lot about the history of a given area by going through a cemetery. I should also note the cemetery will, if it hasn’t already, be getting one of the blue heritage signs issued by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Hire Cemetery in Benton Township, Elkhart County.
The very old cemeteries in Elkhart County are an integral part of the county’s history. In Elkhart Township is the Sparklin Cemetery. It is on the west side of State Road 15 (which at one time was the Logansport-White Pigeon State Road) just south of Waterford Mills. If you are driving by in a car, you could easily miss it. I spotted it, but I was looking for it at the time too. The cemetery was founded on the Azel Sparklin property and it is said the first burial was Azel’s wife, Elizabeth, who died at the young age of 32 in 1829. There are several very old tombstones in this cemetery, some of which are no longer readable. It is also said some of the stones were removed and others destroyed, thus it is not really known for sure how many people are actually buried in Sparklin Cemetery. Off in the background is the Elkhart River. There are some who believe this is the second oldest cemetery in Elkhart County. I would tend to agree it is possible. It is not a very large cemetery, but it has a lot of historical significance. Azel Sparklin was one of the county’s earliest settlers.
Sparklin Cemetery near Waterford Mills in Elkhart County.
I like to look at old maps and sometimes when I do, I notice things that may not be so common. For example, I noticed “Reed’s Station” on a 1914 Kosciusko County Atlas. It was shown in Wayne Township, south of Warsaw along what was then the Big Four Railroad (since then it has been renamed New York Central and later Norfolk Southern, what it is now). More specifically, the location would have been east of what is now State Road 15 along what is now County Road 350 South. It is my understanding from what I have learned about the history of railroads, sometimes a “station” did not actually mean a train stop. It could have been just a track siding or maybe there was a small structure or building of some type. And there may not necessarily have been a railroad worker stationed there. Also, Reed’s Station may have been named after a railroad employee or a train engineer. I’m not really sure what kind of railroad operation there may have been at Reed’s Station. As you can see from the photo, there is really no indication any building once existed there such as a foundation or something similar.
Location of Reed’s Station near Warsaw.
Quite a few years ago I was told following the path of the former Winona Interurban Railway between Warsaw and Mentone in Kosciusko County essentially consists of following the path of the electric power poles. Sure enough this photo is proof of that. It was taken from along Shilling Road between Palestine and Mentone. It is located close to the photo I posted just last week. Old maps show the interurban followed an angled route between Warsaw and Mentone. I would guess about a 30 degree angle if you look at the maps, but then again I was never really very good in geometry. There are other remnants of the old electric railway such as what I posted last week. To the best of my knowledge there is also a remnant still in place over Trimble Creek closer to Warsaw. One can imagine the interurban would have been welcomed by those in rural areas who could now get to the county seat in Warsaw quicker to take care of any business or shopping they may have to do. The interurban took us out of the horse and buggy days into more modern transportation.
Route of the Winona Interurban between Warsaw and Mentone.
This week I shift to another interurban railway, this time the Winona Interurban Railway. It stretched from Goshen to Peru before passenger service ceased in 1934 and freight service then continued until 1952. On its route from Warsaw to Mentone in Kosciusko County, the route was angled. When I was in the Palestine area a couple of years ago, I decided to drive on Shilling Road toward Mentone in Harrison Township. I wondered if there would be any interurban remnants. Sure enough, I looked off to my north and saw what is shown in the photo. The interurban line ran over a ditch and there must have been a small bridge of some type. I believe the ditch is still there, though it can’t be seen in the photo. More precisely, this is just east of County Road 900 West on Shilling Road. It looks to be a footing for the old bridge, which obviously is no longer there. Another remnant survives of the old Winona Interurban Railway in Kosciusko County.
Winona Interurban remnant near Mentone.
Last week my post was about a former electrical substation on the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction Company line. Near this building on McKinley Avenue in Fort Wayne is a former yard and shop building for the same interurban line. Apparently the interurban cars were serviced and stored at this site. Some interurban cars were likely rebuilt too. This interurban line has an interesting history, as do interurban and street railway lines within Fort Wayne. That history dates back a long time, back to when horses pulled the street cars instead of them being powered by electricity. The Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction Company serviced not only Fort Wayne but points to the west and south, such as Huntington County and more. There are remnants of the line still visible today outside of Fort Wayne. The building shown in the photo is now used by a business, or at least it was when I took the photo. It has been added on to since used by the interurban line.
Former interurban yard and shop building in Fort Wayne.
I’ve probably mentioned this before, but one of the most interesting things I read about and study with history is electric interurban lines. Although many of them did not last very long, they were still an important part of transportation history. They connected people even in rural areas with goods and services in towns and cities. And they were surely an improvement over roads that were often impassable. Indiana was a major interurban state and had an extensive network of lines. One of those was the Fort Wayne and Wabash Valley Traction Company. As the name says, it served Fort Wayne and also other areas. Shown is a former electrical substation on the line. It is located at McKinley Avenue and Covington Road in Fort Wayne. Interurban lines had main power stations and also substation buildings along the line for distribution of electricity. A few of the substations still stand, but not many. To the best of my knowledge, this particular building is still used as an electric substation. This interurban line served Huntington among other towns and cities.
Former substation for an interurban line in Fort Wayne.
Another stop on the Goshen Historical Society walking tour last summer featured this Queen Anne style house on Fifth Street close to the downtown area. It was built in 1885 by J.M. Dale, a wealthy dry goods dealer. Obviously the size of the house would indicate Dale was a man of wealth. Note the many dormers and the octagonal tower along with the slate and copper roof. It stands out as a historical house, one of many still standing in Goshen. There was some craftsmanship involved in the construction of this home. A kind more common then, but not so common now. It is also believed this was the first home wired for electricity in Goshen. If that is true, one can imagine the excitement of those living there at the time. A descendant of Dale, Dorothy Dale Zook, owned the home until recently. It is now owned and was being restored at the time of the tour by the Elkhart Court Clubhouse. It’s good to see someone has found a new use for a historic home instead of it being torn down.
Historic house on Fifth Street in Goshen.