Road From Indy to Chicago - 1909

This article about the formation of a corporation to build a toll road between Indianapolis and Chicago was published in the May 28, 1909 Indianapolis News.
The article starts by noting that Charles S. Hernly of Newcastle, Indiana and the former Indiana Republican State Chairman, had been selected as one of the leaders of the effort. Plans at the time called for the company to be organized with $250,000 in capital stock to get started. Carl Fisher, who had only recently founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which was still under construction, and Ben Briscoe of Tarrytown, New York and president of the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company with significant operations in Indianapolis, were two other principals mentioned.
Hernly is quoted, saying, "We propose to build a great highway for automobilists between the two cities. It will be a finely graded road, built as railroads on a private right-of-way, and it will be oiled and kept in as fine condition as any city speedway. It will be open to automobile owners and the toll will be one cent a mile."
The group had not decided on the exact route by the date of publication, but were considering three:

  • One by Lebanon and Frankfort
  • Another by Crawfordsville and Lafayette
  • And a third by Noblesville, Tipton and Logansport

Their plans called for construction to take place in the rapidly approaching summer and continue in the autumn. Cost estimates for the entire project came to between $1.5M and $2M. The highway was projected to cover 200 miles. The one-way toll for the entire distance would come to $2.00 and $4.00 for a round trip. Management expected healthy traffic and a big return on their investment. The article posits that the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the "big boulevard system" in Chicago would create powerful attractions for motorists on either end of the connection.
Interestingly, the article reports that thought leaders of the day believed the highway would support tremendous speeds, insinutating drivers would be unregulated and naturally expected to go as fast as they dared. The plan was to maintain the roadway to support fast, easy travel. Also, the plan called for a wide road to optimize passing of "slow pokes."
Plans called for the letters of incorporation to be filed within a week. The expected stock price was $100. Auto industry executives were expected to invest.

FisherRoadNews052809.pdf2.3 MB