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Brick Indiana State Road 39 - Circa 1915?

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It's well known that when the Dixie Highway was organized, Martinsville, Indiana, welcomed it heartily. There was a brickmaking industry there, and so the town laid bricks along a couple miles of the Dixie Highway through its town, in 1915.


The brick Dixie is long gone; the best we can hope for is that those bricks lurk beneath layers of asphalt. But I did find a section of brick road that would have been the first alignment of what (later) became State Road 39 on Martinsville's northwest side, near where it crosses the west fork of the White River. Here's the road more or less south/west-bound.


Old brick road by mobilene, on Flickr
Here's a detail photo of a concrete curb. Based on materials I found searching "brick Dixie Highway Martinsville" on Google, I gather that a concrete base was laid featuring these curbs, a layer of sand went in next, and then these bricks.

Old brick road by mobilene, on Flickr
Here's the old brick road as it fades away. If you squint, you can see the modern (and new, in the past couple years) SR 39 bridge back there in the distance. If you look at Google Maps aerial views, it shows this bridge under construction with the old bridge still in place and more of this brick road evident. It appears that the bridge construction removed or buried the bricks closer to the river.

Old brick road by mobilene, on Flickr


I have no real way of knowing right now when these bricks were laid, but it's not unreasonable to guess about 1915 if Martinsville was busy laying bricks on the Dixie at that time.

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Nice find. I've not noticed the use of REALLY short bricks (such as at lower middle of your closeup) on other roads but I'm going to start looking.


Good eye. Those are probably cut so that the bricks fit the roadway width. I wonder why they put them one in from the edge, rather than at the edge.

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It seems somewhat common to have a road be some multiple of brick length wide and to offset every other row by half a brick. That is pretty much the pattern shown in the "fade away" shot and in most of the rows in the close up shot. That one row, however, is weird. Maybe they were using up remnants or maybe it's a special pattern used by some once famous brick layer as a signature. It's basically just another unsolved (and unimportant) old road mystery.

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