Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

We have before us today a road map of Kosciusko county printed in 1920. It shows paved roads from Leesburg to Warsaw, Mentone to Palestine, and a few other very short stretches throughout the county. At that time there were gravel roads from Warsaw to Silver Lake, Leesburg to Milford, Warsaw to Etna Green, and Warsaw to Sidney. All the rest of the roads were unimproved dirt roads that often got very muddy in the spring of the year.

The year 1920 was a transitional one as far as road building and financing in this area was concerned. The coming of the automobile had made the upkeep of roads so expensive that the problem of financing loomed large for local governmental units. In horse and buggy days the township or incorporated town took care of its own roads. Now the townships began to look to the county and the county to the State for financial help. On April 1, 1920, the State of Indiana took over 47.3 miles of state highways in our county, in one of the first steps in the centralization of our highway system.

There was quite a bit of opposition to the building of concrete roads at this time. One farmer from the Pleasant Grove local community wrote that "there ought to be less talk about a few patches of concrete and more miles of gravel." On December 15, 1920, the county commissioners received bids for the construction of 13 paved county roads, the total cost running over a million dollars. Kosciusko county farmers, not eager to have expensive concrete roads built, filed petitions to have the road question brought up before the county council. The entire program was knocked out by that body a few months later.

In 1920 roads went by names rather than by number. The "Yellowstone Trail," one of the first roads to go into the state system was the east-west highway through Pierceton and Warsaw. The "Hoosier-Dixie" highway ran north and south through Silver Lake, Warsaw and Milford. The "Hills to the Lakes" road came through Sidney, Pierceton and North Webster. There was often rivalry between towns along different routes as to which route was better. Local associations were formed to further the interests of the various towns along these routes.

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. Aug. 29, 1953