July 28, 2015 Leave a comment
The Fort was founded in 1797, to guard against Indian attacks, remember that this was disputed territory after the revolution, and would remain so until after the War of 1812. The fort, and the town, were named after General (Mad Anthony) Wayne, the victor at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, which took place not all that far away. I note that the fort has been reconstructed, and it looks like a good job.
But the Indian agency moved on (to the Logansport area) and because the subsidies paid by the government to the Indians had made them dependent on the government, and the town on them, the town languished.
Like most cities in America, Fort Wayne was built on transportation. In 1843, the Wabash and Erie Canal opened, making agriculture somewhat viable for the first time in Indiana. Before this, it cost more to get a crop to market than the crop was worth. although canals were not really good enough, they were a start. US 24 is roughly on this route today.
Incidentally, The News-Sentinel has a pretty good early history of the city posted, here
In any case, in the 1850s the railroad came to town, and as The Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago railway, completed to Chicago in 1859, Fort Wayne became fully connected with the rest of the country. This was the western continuation of the Pennsylvania (always and to this day called “The Fort Wayne”) formed one end of one of the great trunk lines that built America, and finally and for the foreseeable future made American agriculture the marvel of the world.
I didn’t really see anything about it, but we can probably assume, that like South Bend, a lot of money was made in Fort Wayne during the Civil War. In South Bend, the contract to make ambulances for the army, was the basis of the Studebaker Brothers’ fortune, and I’d guess that this is the era when the Fort Wayne started the engine works and car shops just out of Fort Wayne.
But for most of us, the railroads are interesting but not how we get around, that’s what cars are for. :) The earliest trace I could find on Google earth was something out around Columbia City called Old Trail Road. At a guess, this is fairly close to the Fort Wayne-Fort Dearborn Trail, which was the original road to Chicago.
The next famous one was the Lincoln Highway, which usually is close to US 30’s original routing, as it is here. It started setting up just prior to World War I. Note that the backers included the Pennsylvania Railroad, which foresaw an integrated system using motor vehicles for short distances and trains for long distance. It didn’t quite work out that way. Almost anytime you find a street named Lincolnway, or something similar, you found its route.
A local note, the original Lincoln Highway went from Fort Wayne to Elkhart (roughly US 33) over through South Bend and then back down to Valparaiso (SR 2). Not very long after it was realigned along the Fort Wayne, roughly on the US 30 Alignment. The shaky green line on the map is my best guess as to the original alignment through town, note that as in many towns it split into westbound and eastbound streets. In the 50s, it was rerouted onto what I learned as Bypass 30 when I was a kid, which is basically Coliseum Boulevard (SR 930) with I think an extension on California St. to connect up. When the interstates were finally built, it was again rerouted onto the ring route, as usual.
Just for general interest on the map, I looked up the location of the various train stations as well. Pennsylvania (Baker St) station is still there, as is the New York Central Depot (now a yarn shop), and the elevated platform of the Nickle Plate is still there as well, although the station is long gone.
I should probably note that as long as I’ve been around, US 30 has been a major artery in Indiana, and is fully dual laned (and occasionally more) Wkipedia’s article is pretty good, as well.