Sometimes you just can’t stop “progress.” As the sprawl of Indianapolis spreads further past the boundaries of Marion County, small, independent communities are being gobbled up, their identities lost. Today, t appears that this phenomenon is happening to a west side crossroads known as Six Points.
The area known as Six Points can trace its history back to 1851, during the construction of the Terre Haute and Indianapolis Railroad. The railroad crossed the old National Road near the Marion and Hendricks County lines at the intersection of another north and south road, creating a six-pointed intersection. This setup had the potential to create havoc with horses of both the natural and the iron variety. By 1925, the automobile had become commonplace, and the once nearly deserted National Road became part of the new United States Highway System. As traffic increased, the six-pointed intersection proved to be a treacherous liability.
To handle all of the new traffic, the State of Indiana began widening U.S. 40 between 1936 and 1943. The Six Points area was completely bypassed by a new four lane highway that included an overpass over the railroad. Businesses took advantage of the advantageous location between Indianapolis and Plainfield. Several motels popped up, complete with flickering neon signs. In 1954, the iconic Oasis Diner was shipped in from New Jersey by rail. Despite being completely bypassed once again in 1969 by Interstate 70, the traveler’s oasis remained relatively intact throughout the 1990s.
These days, it’s getting much more difficult to discern where Indianapolis ends and Plainfield begins when driving along West Washington Street. It appears that Six Points will soon only be a memory. A gorgeous ribbon neon sign advertising the 40 Motel was recently demolished, and it appears the entire property will soon be redeveloped. On the other side of the road, an abandoned Mobile gas station crumbles as the Plainfield Fire Department has recently burned some of the few remaining homes for training purposes.
The silver “Oasis” rail car diner was condemned in 2009, and likely would have met a similar fate had Indiana Landmarks not stepped in to move the structure further west. The spot where there was once a unique rest stop for weary travelers will likely be covered with a growing collection of warehouses and car dealers.
What roadside landmarks do you miss driving by?
Indianapolis Star, June 11 2014
Driving the National Road in Indiana, Mary Beth Temple, 2006