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mobilene

The Dixie In Southern Indiana

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On Saturday a frequent road-trip companion and I followed the old Dixie Highway from Martinsville to Paoli in Indiana. The Dixie became State Road 37, and then much of the original alignment was left behind in later reroutings. We followed it all. Here are some random photos from the day. Watch my blog (blog.jimgrey.net) over the coming weeks as I'll write about all of this in time. -Jim

 

 

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Pony trusses by mobilene, on Flickr

 

 

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Concrete road by mobilene, on Flickr

 

 

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On the Dixie by mobilene, on Flickr

 

 

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Considering a brain by mobilene, on Flickr

 

 

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On the Dixie by mobilene, on Flickr

 

 

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Abandoned by mobilene, on Flickr

 

 

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Orange County Courthouse by mobilene, on Flickr

 

 

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Garage in Paoli by mobilene, on Flickr

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Very nice pictures. I'll definitely be looking forward to your reports. The bit between Indianapolis and Louisville is one of many Dixie Highway sections I've yet to travel.

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Jim,

 

Indiana seems to be unusually blessed with remnants of the old roads. And I would not be surprised if one of these days the state department of transportation or the state tourist board appoints you their historical roads chief adviser......and I'm not kidding.

 

Regarding your photos, the road that has the uneven crack down the center seems to be an example of the practice we noted here a few years ago associated with concrete laid around 1920 on the National Parks Highway and Yellowstone Trail in eastern Washington. There was no center expansion joint, thus the cracking. I would be interested to know when that section was poured.

 

If my recollection is correct, the 1916 (or thereabouts) Scarborough's has a separate section devoted to turn by turns on the old Dixie. If it would add to your investigations, and you don't have it, I will copy the relevant Indiana pages....let me know.

 

Thanks for the photos. I'll take a look at your blog.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Dave,

 

I noticed the one-piece construction of that concrete slab and wondered about when it was poured, too. I'd love to see your Scarborough stuff but I know it's kind of a hassle to produce. Let me research this in my ABBs and see if I can pinpoint it there.

 

Wow, to be the state historic roads grand high poobah!

 

-Jim

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PS. The first blog post about the Dixie is queued up for 10/22. Others will appear from time to time thereafter. Might be easier if I post here when one appears, as I've been writing about things other than roads, too.

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Dave,

 

My ABBs are woefully inconclusive on this stretch of road. My 1912 and 1916 ABBs don't even take the driver down the Dixie between Martinsville and Bloomington, preferring a route through Gosport and Ellettsville instead. That's a longer route; I have to wonder what this says about the condition of the more direct route that became the Dixie. My 1924 ABB directs drivers between Martinsville and Bloomington only as part of a longer route between Indy and Evansville; all it says about the road surface is that it's "pavement, gravel, and stone."

 

Does your Scarborough guide give any guidance as to the road surface?

 

My knowledge of early concrete roads in Indiana is growing. Here's a slab of seamless National Road concrete that I've dated to about 1923:

 

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Itty-bitty old US 40/NR alignment by mobilene, on Flickr

 

So I'm going to say that this Dixie Highway concrete is contemporaneous.

 

Old SR 37 by mobilene, on Flickr

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Jim,

 

First forgive the delay. I use the new content check and I assumed that your last post was the one prior, and I missed it

 

As to road surface. The 1916 TIB identifies the road between Indianapolis and Martinsville as Gravel, the road between Martinsville and Bloomington as Good (what does that mean?) and the road between Bloomington and Paoli as Gravel and Stone.

 

The 1917 Scarboroughs doesn't recommend the Dixie between Martinsville and Bloomington as it is not improved (note conflict with 1916 TIB above), and recommends going via Gosport instead. However they say the entire section will probably be paved by the fall of 1917. They also note “pavement” from Martinsville to the Morgan County Line.

 

Bloomington to Bedford is said to be a Stone road, and from Bedford to Paoli is Macadam.

 

There are some garage photos with addresses and sometimes those are repurposed and survive....so I'm going to look at Google street view now.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

 

 

Bingo Bingo!! The Martinsville Garage building pictured in the 1917 Scarboroughs at 77 West Morgan St is still there as big as life!! I'll post a picture later, but take a look in Google. It hasn't changed a bit!!

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Dave, thanks for checking. Looks like only INDOT's records, to the extent they kept them, will know when this concrete was poured. Interesting that Scarborough recommended a route through Gosport, too.

 

PS, I found this photo I took of the NR not far from the seamless alignment I posted above. This is a wider road, with a central seam and periodic lateral seams. Speaks, I think, to how roads were improved in sections over time and how standards improved.

 

 

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Former NR/US 40 alignment by mobilene, on Flickr

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Jim,

 

I didn't see your building among the ads in the Scarborough. It is conceivable that it might show up in an ABB, but most of those are packed away right now.

 

Doesn't the fact that the 1917 Scarborough's notes that the road south from Martinsville to the county line is paved, suggest that your center cracked image is of pavement that might predate 1917? Since the whole section was projected to be paved in 1917, and the section south of Martinsville was already paved in 1917, it suggests (to me) that the cracked concrete was laid in 1916.

 

That date is consistent with concrete poured on the Sunset Highway (national Parks Highway) in 1919, without the center expansion joint, and now displaying center cracks.

 

Also, the 1917 ABB suggests taking an alternate route in that year because of the construction going on between Martinsville and Bloomington.

 

At the least it would seem you could assert with authority that the section south of Martinsville (to the county line) was laid in 1917 or before.

 

Here is the Martinsville Garage in 1917. It is now a transmission shop. It would be a kick to walk inside.

 

MartinsvilleGarage.jpg

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Cool! I looked it up in Street View just now. I wouldn't have guessed it was a garage back in the day.

 

If this concrete dates to 1916, my mind would officially boggle! That would have to be about the earliest concrete poured on an Indiana highway.

 

But I remembered this morning the cache of state highway maps online at Indiana University.

 

The Indiana Dept. of Highways wasn't born until 1917. Here's a 1917 map of the fledgling state highway system:

 

http://bl-libg-doghill.ads.iu.edu/gm-web/imdb/inhwy1917.jpg

 

Notice that State Road 22 (which was this road's number on the original numbering system) doesn't appear on it; the system had but five highways then. By 1923, the system had expanded to include this portion of the DH. In this 1923 Dept. of Highways map, it is marked as stone/gravel.

 

http://bl-libg-doghill.ads.iu.edu/gm-web/imdb/inhwy1923.pdf

 

The 1924 map shows stone/gravel too. The 1927 map (1925 and 1926 are not available, unfortunately -- key years to be missing) shows it as paved.

 

http://bl-libg-doghill.ads.iu.edu/gm-web/imdb/inhwy1927.pdf

 

So one thing's for sure, this concrete is no newer than the mid 1920s.

 

This map cache is fascinating, by the way. You can watch the Indiana highway system grow up on it from inception through 1932.

 

http://www.libraries.iub.edu/index.php?pageId=1002214

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Jim,

 

Perhaps we are discussing two different road segments.

 

The photo I'm looking at is the one with the prominent crack down the center captioned here as “concrete road” and on Flickr as south of Martinsville. That section of road is identified in the guide books in 1916-17 as “Good,” or “Paved” at least to the county line. Your 1923 map identifies it as “Brick, Concrete, or Bituminous.” I say “concrete” and laid before 1923.

 

If it was concrete in 1923, and “Paved” in 1917, it was very likely paved in or before 1917 with concrete....it seems to me. So where is my logic failing?

 

As for the Martinsville Garage....isn't that a hoot! It is still a garage. On Google Earth street view, you can see a school bus in the shop for transmission repair. It is no longer the Buick dealership but it is darn close to it's original purpose. I know I would drop in with the picture if I were in Martinsville.

 

Thanks for the opportunity to participate in your road adventure! I'll keep my eye out for other info on the subject.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road.

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Dave,

 

I hope I didn't muddy the waters. But as I read the 1923 map, the road was gravel or stone, except for a short paved section leading away from Martinsville. Am I misreading it?

 

In 1917, the road wasn't yet part of the Indiana highway system, so if it was concreted before then the counties had to do it. That strikes me as unlikely, though obviously not impossible.

 

-Jim

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Jim,

 

Even my best speculation is subject to error!

 

Apparently the road out of Martinsville was paved in 1916 ( I wasn't far off there), as reported in the December 1915 Town and Country magazine....but it was brick! There were two brick plants in Martinsville and the community celebrated the Dixie Highway going their way by paving, with brick, two and a half miles out of town.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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Dave,

 

That explains the black road in and out of Martinsville on the 1923 map! Great sleuthing! Thanks for doing it.

 

-Jim

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If you'd like to see some of that old Martinsville brick, click here: http://goo.gl/maps/lbQ88

 

This is actually on an old alignment of what became State Road 39 on the west side of town, but it just has to be from the same time as the brick laid on the Dixie.

 

-Jim

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