The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 4.


County Had Five Miles of Improved Highway Forty Years Ago; Now Has 635

Back in 1897, or nearly 40 years ago, Porter county, according to records at the county auditor's office, had but 5.15 miles of improved highway.

Today the total has grown to 635 miles under the jurisdiction of County Supervisor of Roads Arthur J. Rader, and 121 miles of road under the direct supervision of the Indiana state highway commission. Some idea of what has been done in the way of road building in the county since the first improved highway was undertaken may be gained from the fact that a total of $3,858,380 in bonds has been used for the construction of township gravel roads and $1,293,800 for county unit gravel roads.

In the case of township roads, a total $3,384,385 in bonds has been paid off, leaving a total outstanding of $473,995. During the year of 1936 a total of $115,180 will be paid.

The amount of county unit bonds liquidated totals $1,061,145, leaving outstanding $232,655. During 1936 a total of $61,880 of county unit bonds will be paid.

The Jones road in Union township was the first gravel road built in 1897. This road was 5.15 miles long and cost $13,000, or an average of $2,520 per mile. With the advent of the World war the cost of building roads began to mount until the figures began to almost double. The Hawkinson road in Portage township, built in 1921, cost $31,441 per mile. The Scofield road, a tarvia composition, built in 1928, cost $30,904 per mile.

The auditor's books show that Waverly Road, in Dunes State park, built by Westchester township, cost at the rate of $125,000 per mile for the sixteen hundredths of a mile constructed. The bond issue for that short stretch was….[printer error].

The longest road ever built in the county was the Keeler in Center township, 24, 93 miles, at a cost of $87,980. The second longest was the Robbins in Portage, 19.45 miles, costing $51,206, and the third longest was the Bowser in Westchester township, 18,146 miles, costing $59,420. The shortest piece of road ever built was the Boone in Pine township, one-fifth of a mile at a cost of $1,200, or at the rate of $6,000 per mile.

The longest county unit road ever promoted in the county was the Hanrahan road, better known as the Campbell street route. This road 5.50 miles, cost $140,000, or $25,455 per mile, due to the large amount of grading required. In 1930, 2.86 miles of the Hanrahan road was improved with concrete under a Center township petition at a cost of 6,500. The remainder of the highway, in Liberty township, was blacktopped.

The Shutske road, built in 1925, cost $41,000, for 4.27 miles or $9,602 per mile. The Kemil road in Pine township, built in 1931, for the 5.31 miles, cost $18,267 per mile.

Records of the first maintenance costs show that in 1900 that $764 was spent, or $10.90 per mile. Five years later with 98.54 miles, the maintenance costs mounted to $2,462.15, or at the rate of $25 per mile.

In 1908 maintenance records for the 180.97 miles, reached a total of $30,664.18, making the average per mile $160.50. Ten years later the mile of improved highway increased to $321.25, and the maintenance costs $73,325.54, or an average of $228.25 per mile. The highest amount expended in any one year was in 1933 when a total of $136,025.52 was spread over 504.62 miles, or an average of $269.65 per mile. The average maintainence cost per mile for the past 25 years up until 1933, was $300.69.

Three years ago the township road law was changed and all unimproved roads were transferred to the jurisdiction of the county highway system. This placed some 253 miles of dirt roads under the supervision of the county road supervisor.

Since 1932 no roads have been built in the county because of a five year moratorium law passed by the legislature. This ban on road building had enabled the county to pay off a large amount of its bond issued floated during the balmy days of road building when a petition for a new road had easy sailing as far as signers were concerned, and their construction soon followed.

Another change in the law was also passed by the legislature. This pertained to the elimination of the tax levy for road maintenance, and substitution in its stead an allocation of gasoline and automobile license fee money for the purpose. This totals from $80,000 to $100,000 during the year in Porter county.

Road supervisors who have served as heads of the highway department are Richard W. Lytle, Joseph Crowe, L. Clyde Bay, James Smiley and Arthur J. Rader, present head.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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