ANDERSON, Ind. — If you live in Madison County, Prosperity is always just up the road.
There was once a village called Prosperity in Madison County. If you can find a large enough map, you will still find a town called Prosperity at the junction of State Road 9 and Madison County Road 500 North, which is also called Prosperity Road. That small dot on the map tells a story of a different time.
In pioneer America, travel was difficult. Early 19th century Indiana was still covered by forests in many places. Some of the areas that were not forests were swampland. There were some roads, but they had their own dangers.
All sorts of people headed for the frontier, many of whom were criminals. An officer of the law was either far away or nonexistent. The roads were often rough, hard on humans, wagons and animals. If it was available, the safest and quickest way to travel was by water. It was also the best way to transport goods to market.
After the 1825 success of the Erie Canal, which connected central New York to the Great Lakes, many states developed plans to create canal systems. In Indiana the plan called for a canal system that used the Wabash River (in the north) to connect to the Ohio River. Beginning at Peru, there was to be a joining Central Canal, which would jog east through the state, come through Indianapolis and connect through to Evansville and the Ohio River.
In 1836, Gov. Noble signed a massive internal improvements bill, with $3.5 million allotted toward the building of the Central Canal. The plan was to begin at Peru, use the Mississinewa River and connect to the White River. One of the waterways used to make the connection was to be Pipe Creek. The canal was to come through Madison County. Canal fever swept the area. Two of the results were the towns of Prosperity and Pittsborough.