Tag Archives: Dixie Highway in Indiana

Experiencing the Original Dixie Highway in Indiana

September 15, 1915, marked the celebration of Dixie Highway Day in Martinsville, IN. Governor Samuel M. Ralston, Carl G. Fisher, and W. S. Gilbreath, field secretary of the Dixie Highway Association, attended. The celebration, as the name implied, marked the completion of the Dixie Highway through Morgan County.

The three Hoosiers were met on the outskirts of town by directors of the Chamber of Commerce, Company K of the Indiana National Guard, the Martinsville Band, and a host of school children. The parade extended through the business district and on to the two-and-one-half-mile stretch of brick highway, where Governor Ralston laid the first brick.

Dixie Highway Day 1915
Governor Ralston, laying first
brick on the Dixie Highway

At the time, Morgan County had an abundance of knobstone shale within its borders, famous all over the country as paving and building brick material. Martinsville and Brooklyn had three brick plants producing a daily capacity of more than 100,000 bricks.

Governor Ralston complemented the Morgan County citizens for their foresight in his luncheon remarks, “Martinsville is noted for the curative properties of the water. Her sanitariums are widely famed and those institutions will be a standing invitation for the traveling public through the means of the Dixie Highway to avail themselves of your local advantages. Those who plan for greater conveniences for the people of their day and join in storing up blessings for future generations are in the highest and best sense of word public servants. I congratulate you upon the fine spirit of this occasion and the willingness I see here on all sides manifested to do your part in the inauguration and consummation of this public work.”

Knobstone Brick
Knobstone Brick
on the Dixie Highway

Scarborough’s 1916 Official Tour Book recommended this alternate trip from Bloomington to Martinsville. “Until this section of the Dixie Highway is improved, tourists should travel from Bloomington through Ellettsville to Gosport and then on through Paragon to Martinsville, thus avoiding the rough roads and bad hills of the more direct route through Morgan County.” That is why the original alignment goes northwest out of Martinsville across the White River.

To travel on this original alignment of the 1915 Dixie Highway from the Morgan County Court House at the corner of Morgan and Main streets, go north one block and turn left (west) on to West Pike Street. Go seven blocks to North Park Avenue and turn right (north) and then take the immediate left turn onto Bob Gay Parkway. Just past the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department building on the left, the original brick section of the Dixie, proceeds for about 0.7 of a mile toward the White River Bridge.

Original Dixie Highway
Original Dixie Highway
in Martinsville, IN

I invite you go to Martinsville to experience this 100-year-old brick section of the Dixie Highway in Indiana.

For more information on Indiana rides & drives follow this link.

Check out the book Dixie Highway in Indiana

Check out the Dixie Highway in Indiana

Have you read the Images of America: Dixie Highway in Indiana. This book provided many memories about my links to the Dixie Highway in Indiana. Authors Russell S. Rein and Jan Shupert-Arick provide a fascinating historical photo tour of this once major highway.

Dixie Highway in Indiana
The Dixinana Cafe and Service Station
south of La Paz on the Dixie Highway

For me, these links begin with being born about a mile from where the Dixie passes by Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. I used to catch the bus home from high school across the street from the cemetery’s main gate at 34th and Boulevard. Also during high school, I caught butterflies and collected leaves in the cemetery. These days in the fall, my wife and I enjoy visiting the auto pioneer graves of James A. Allison, Carl G. Fisher, Howard C. Marmon, Harry C. Stutz, and the Duesenberg brothers.

The route was the brain child of Carl G. Fisher who proposed a highway linking Chicago to Miami Beach. In September 1915, the first brick was laid in Martinsville, Indiana, on the first official section of the Dixie Highway. Although Fisher’s goal was to encourage the growth of Miami Beach as a resort location, he also helped the economies of those Indiana communities along the Dixie Highway.

My first memories of traveling the Dixie are as a youth on trips from Indianapolis to South Bend. I remember going through the narrow stretch of sycamore trees in Carroll County that is now marked by the Sycamore Row marker. What an experience with the semis passing in the opposite direction.

Seeing the Crosley station wagon atop Roger’s Steak House in LaPaz reminded us that we were nearing South Bend. Other South Bend landmarks included Bonnie Doon’s Drive-IN restaurant, the Drake Motel, and the Studebaker factory just south of downtown.

On the way back home to Indianapolis, passing the Toll House at 4702 N. Michigan Road meant we were a few minutes from home.

All of these landmarks from my youth are documented, plus many more. Images of America: Dixie Highway in Indiana provides a compelling look at the route’s history. It’s one that you might enjoy contemplating a drive along the Dixie Highway in Indiana.

Peruse Images of America: Dixie Highway in Indiana at Amazon.com.

To find more about Indiana car culture follow this link.