In 1915, organizers of the Dixie Highway Association felt a connecting thoroughfare between the Midwest and the South was badly needed. Not only would a new highway promote better relations between north and south, it would also be as great for national defense. They decided to act, and 10 years later the highway was completed.
Today’s travelers begin their journey at the Indiana/Michigan state line where Old US 31 (SR 933) enters Indiana. Along the route you pass Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, and then cross the St. Joseph River.
In South Bend, follow Main Street south. While you are downtown, be sure to visit the Studebaker National Museum at 210 South Chapin Street. Turn right (west) on W. Washington Street and then turn left (south) on S. Chapin Street. The museum is at the corner of Chapin and Thomas Streets, right (west) on Thomas for the parking lot and entrance.
After visiting the Museum, go south on Chapin Street. Turn left (east) on W. Western, and then right (south) on S. Lafayette Street. After the railroad overpass, the former Studebaker factory buildings were on the west side of the street. Turn left (east) on W. Sample Street, and go one block. Turn right (south) back on to Main Street. Follow Main Street south to Chippewa Avenue where it merges back on to Michigan Street on the south side of town.
Continue your travel on US 31 through the communities of Lakeville and LaPaz. South of US 6, turn right (west) onto Business Route 31 to Plymouth. Just past the Plymouth Speedway, turn right (south) on US. 31 for about ½ mile to the exit sign for Argos turn left (east) on Old US 31. Go past the landfill and Dean Foods Dairy Co. The route turns into Main Street in Argos. In Argos, take Old 31 south to Rochester. In front of the Fulton County Courthouse is a monument documenting the Potawatomi “Trail of Death,” when nearly 850 Potawatomi Indians were marched through Rochester enroute to Kansas in 1838.
Burlington, laid out in 1828, was where the Lafayette & Muncie Road crossed the Michigan Road. It was an important stage stop, mill village, and trading center for settlers and Indians from the Great Miami Reserve. There is a Hoosier Historic Homestead, two miles south of Burlington, just south of CR 750S, and just north of Wildcat Creek.
Route 29 continues through Middlefork, Michigantown to just south of Boyleston where it turns into US 421 through Kirklin, Waugh, Rosston, Eagle Village, past Zionsville into Indianapolis. Route 421 turns into Michigan Road. At 4702 N. Michigan Road, there is the old Toll House marker, which reads: “Operated by Augusta Gravel Road Co., circa 1866-1892. First major state road, built in the 1830’s, from the Ohio River to Lake Michigan.” Michigan Road then becomes Martin Luther King Boulevard at 38th St.
Continue south on Martin Luther King Boulevard, turn left (east) on to 21st Street, and turn right (south) on to Meridian Street. At the northwest corner of Meridian and 12th Street was the Lexington Motor Sales Company showroom. Proceed south on Meridian past the War Memorial Plaza between North Street and Vermont Street and around Monument Circle.
Go south on Meridian St. One-half block south of South Street, turn right (west) on Henry Street and then immediately left (south) on Meridian for two blocks to the right-hand jog, turn left (south) at stop sign to get back on Meridian. Note Shapiro’s deli on your right after crossing McCarty Street. If you’re looking for some great food, this establishment is well-known on Indianapolis’ south side. Continue south on Meridian Street and then turn right (south west) on to Bluff Road (at a fork in road before the railroad bridge.) Follow Bluff Road past the St. Joseph & Holy Cross Cemetery and turn left (south) where West Street turns into Bluff Road South. Stay on Bluff Road through Glenns Valley to SR 37.
Turn left (south) onto SR 37, and go to the light at County Line Road. Turn left (east) and then immediately right (south) on to Bluff Road. This original road section will take you back to SR 37. Turn left (south) and follow SR 37 south of CR 800 North about ¾ mile. Turn right (west) at Stones Crossing, and turn left (south) on to Old SR 37. Continue on Old SR 37 across CR 144 through Waverly. Along this route is an old sign noting the Whetzel Trace, a trail from White River, the first east-west road in central Indiana. Past the Whetzel cemetery, stay on Old SR 37 leading back to S.R.37. Turn right (south) and continue past the Martinsville Golf Club on your right. Just past the golf club, turn right (west) on to Morgan Street which turns into Kristi Road for a short distance and then angles right to Morgan Street. Proceed past Forkey’s Restaurant to downtown Martinsville.
Go south on S.R. 37 toward Bloomington. There are two original road segments marked Old SR 37 on the east side of SR 37. After going approximately 3 miles on SR 37, watch for the second left turn after Little Indian Creek, then turn left (south east) on to Old SR 37. This original route offers a respite and gives you a good idea what travel was like before four-lane traffic. Travel Old SR 37 for several miles through Hindustan, Dolan, and Marlin Hills. The route crosses Walnut Street north of Bloomington. The old route continues straight where it then turns south and goes past Cascades Park on the right and a creek bed on the left. Just after it goes under SR 46, the old route ends at College Avenue. Turn right (south) on to College Avenue.
Stay on College Avenue through downtown and turn right (west) on 2nd Street for two blocks. Turn left (south) on Rogers Street for about four miles to just past Clear Creek Cemetery where Rogers Street ends at Walnut Street. Turn right (south west) onto Walnut Street. Continue across SR 37 and then the route becomes Old SR 37.
Proceed on this route past Starlight Drive-in through Harrodsburg. This stretch of road is shady with some light industry. A couple of miles south of Harrodsburg the road intersects with SR 37. Turn right (south) on SR 37, and go about 5 miles to the Oolitic intersection. Oolitic is the home of Indiana limestone. Turn left (east) onto Patton Hill Road or Main Street for three blocks, and then turn right (south) on to Hoosier Avenue. Hoosier Avenue turns into Oolitic Road and then Lincoln Avenue as you enter Bedford.
Continue through downtown Bedford to 15th Street. Turn right (west) on 15th Street for one block to M Street and turn left (south) on M Street which turns into Mitchell Road BR 50. On the south side of town at the interchange merge on to SR 37 and cross the East Fork of the White River.
Stay on S.R. 37 past Mitchell, through Orleans to Paoli. Mitchell is known for its Historic Opera House and as the birthplace of astronaut Gus Grissom. Orleans is
the “Dogwood Capital of Indiana.”
In Paoli, go ¾ of the way around the courthouse and take US 150 east toward New Albany. This section of US 150 retraces the Buffalo Trace, a prehistoric bison route from the Falls of the Ohio to the territories west of Vincennes. It is interesting to contemplate the bison, American Indians, and early settlers traversing this route on their journey west.
Today, the route passes through Chambersburg, Rego, Hardinsburg, Fredericksburg, Palmyra, and Greenville. A little over two miles south of Galena, turn left (east) onto Paoli Pike. Stay on Paoli Pike through Floyd’s Knob. When Paoli Pike goes under I 265 proceed on State Street into New Albany to the courthouse at corner of State and Spring Streets. Go one block south and turn left (east) onto Market Street. Continue east on Market Street to Vincennes Street. Turn right (south) on Vincennes Street to the dead-end. This is where the Dixie Highway bridge once crossed the Ohio River. The toll in 1916 was 25 cents per auto and 5 cents per person.
This ends your tour in Indiana. Happy travels.
Approximate mileage for the total trip is 290 miles, Comprised of 140 miles for the north leg from South Bend to Indianapolis and 150 miles for the south leg from Indianapolis to New Albany.
Back to: Backroads – A trip back in time traveling Indiana’s highways and byways.