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