History of the Yellow Trail

Many of the readers have visited the Yellow Trail Museum in Hope, but not many of them are aware of the story behind The Yellow Trail. To begin the story we must take a walk past the building that now houses M. Hart Express (on the south side of the Hope Town Square). If someone looks in the center of that building near the top, they can find a cornerstone that reads "E. Spaugh, 1915."  It was here that a young man by the name of Elda Spaugh began a new garage and filling station to service all the automobiles in the town of Hope in the year 1915. Spaugh built the fine brick building beside his home with the intention of becoming a wealthy businessman in town. He even moved the Buell family to town so that Mr. Buell could become his welder/blacksmith. Part of that family was a daughter, Gladys, who would later be known to most of us as Gladys Embry.

However, in 1915 many of the residents still used horses and buggies for transportation. Spaugh soon realized that he was not going to be able to support his family with so few cars needing his service. With that idea in mind, he created a unique advertising scheme. Spaugh and Buell traveled to all the towns around Hope like Greensburg, Columbus, Seymour, Franklin, Edinburgh, Shelbyville, etc. On their return trip, the men painted yellow bands around fence posts and poles along the roadside. When all routes had been painted, Spaugh sent out business cards to advertise his filling station. The card read, ”Visit Spaugh’s Garage, the Home of the Yellow Trail." On the reverse side was a map of all the routes that had been painted leading to Hope from the surronding towns.

People began to follow that trail. And where did they end up? Right here in our town of Hope, and probably most of the automobiles that followed that route needed gas, oil, or minor repairs since the roads at that time were not very good. And who was ready to give them what they needed? Elda Spaugh. His gimmick brought in enough business to keep him going until there were sufficient cars in town to support his garage.

Spaugh’s Garage remained in business for many years. Martha (Stafford) Clouse and Charlotte Stafford were sisters, whose family moved into Hope to take over the ownership of the grain elevator. While traveling they had stopped in Edinburgh to ask for directions to Hope and were told to follow the Yellow Trail. The two children watched for the yellow bands all along the route that brought them to Hope.

A part of the yellow trail was repainted in 1980 by members of the Hauser Historians in time for Hope’s sesquicentennial. More recent members of the club repainted a small portion of the trail a few years ago when The Yellow Trail Museum Board purchased the building which houses the museum. As you travel along State Road 9 in Hope or east on Road 800 North, you too might be able to find a part of the Yellow Trail that once brought people to Spaugh’s Garage in Hope, Indiana.

By: Barb Johnson