Traders Point Gas Stations and businesses
Traders Point, Indiana Gas Stations
The introduction of the automobile was quickly followed by auto repair people. Traders Point residents Homer Resler and George Cecil Wilkins opened the Resler Wilkins Garage in 1917 on the Westside of U. S. 52 (Lafayette Road). Traders Point attracted a diverse clientele of locals and travelers. Lafayette Road was the first toll road through the township, platted in 1832, and the primary artery between Indianapolis and Lafayette.
Resler and Wilkins owned the first filling station just a day’s horse ride outside of Indianapolis. And since maintenance of the horseless carriage was a job left to specialists, they were successful. More than a few people marveled at Homer Resler’s mechanical talents. An avid motorcyclist, early in his career, Homer lost one of his arms when he crashed into a tree on Lafayette Road near McCurdy Creek. Customers marveled at his ability to make tedious repairs and more than a few never noticed he only one arm.
The hilly terrain surrounding Traders Point attracted an elite bunch. Dozens of hunting cabins and lodges of some of the most prominent Indianapolis businessmen were just minutes from Traders Point. It was the ideal distance from the city home for an afternoon ride or a weekend getaway It is likely their customers included Eli & J.K. Lilly, William H. Block, Herman Krannert, William Fortune, and Bowman Elder. But their mainstay was the motorists just passing through to places like Royalton, Lebanon, Lafayette and even Chicago. Within 10 years of opening the first garage they divided their property and each opened a gas station with garage.
(Insert Resler garage 1941 photo)
Typical motorists on a country drive to Traders Point were encouraged to take 56th Street to its western end at Eagle Creek where the road dipped down into the valley and became Dandy Trail. This aptly-named scenic route along the west side of Eagle Creek was a winding two-lane road, often dusty, that meandered through a hilly forest of mature first generation hardwood, and provided a canopy of shade. (Insert map showing Dandy Trail) The Resler Wilkins garage was conveniently located at the far north end of Dandy Trail where it formed a tee into Lafayette Road. Once in Traders Point the motorist might stop by Burden’s Lunch while waiting for any maintenance repair work to be completed.
When not occupied by customers, they would remodel Model A’s and T’s into pick up trucks.
Wilkins became known as offering the best (and possibly only) wrecker service between Indianapolis and Lafayette.
The good fortunes enjoyed by a few local entrepreneurs were surpassed only by the waters of Eagle Creek.
Unable to stay within its banks, the Eagle Creek flood of 1957 was the death knell to Traders Point. In 1965 the Flood Control Board notified all building owners in Traders Point that their properties were being condemned and by 1967 most had been removed.
From the early 1930’s to 1964 there were a number of businesses on the westside of Lafayette Road in Traders Point near Eagle Creek. The only surviving business is the Co-op operated by Bill Kappel where my wife buys birdseed. These photos are of three neighbors; The Wilkins Garage and Gulf Service Station, the Resler Garage and Service Station, and a lunch counter situated near them named Burden’s Lunch. For some reason known clear only to members of the Indianapolis Flood Control Board, all businesses except the Co-op were forced to close in the 1960s when the homes on the eastside of Lafayette Road were destroyed. A new business operated by the city to collect hazardous waste is just south of the Resler Garage and sits atop the former Dandy Trail.