Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Making a beeline down the Dixie Highway

10

If you’re not too persnickety, the easiest way to drive the Dixie Highway’s western mainline in Indiana is just to follow US 136. You will miss a few old alignments in so doing, but your cruising will be eased by needing only to follow the marked highway. If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I’m persnickety. Naturally, I followed all of the old alignments. The longest old alignment stretches about 8½ miles from Covington to just past Veedersburg at US 41.

Imagery © 2012 TerraMetrics, map data © 2012 Google

The road is narrow with no shoulders, which suggests that the road saw few improvements while it was still the state highway. When Indiana chose to seriously invest in its road here, it chose to build a new alignment to the north.

Dixie Bee Road

Most of this road is signed Dixie Bee Road. A competing auto trail known as the Dixie Bee Line connected Chicago and Nashville, Tennessee, via Danville, Illinois and Terre Haute, Indiana. My 1920s Indiana road maps show the Dixie Bee Line following a different path from this road, but given that some auto trails’ routes changed frequently, it is still possible that this was once the Dixie Bee Line as well as the Dixie Highway. After all, this segment ends at US 41, which leads directly to Terre Haute.

When Dixie Bee Road reaches Veedersburg, its name changes to State Street. It cuts across Veedersburg’s south side and then crosses Coal Creek on on this great pony-truss bridge.

Steel bridge

Except for rust and a bent railing where a vehicle nudged it, the bridge looks to be quite solid. Whenever you see equilateral triangles in a truss bridge, you know you’re looking at a Warren truss.

Pony truss bridge

These trusses are massive, stretching about eight feet above the deck.

Pony truss bridge

About a mile east of the bridge, the Dixie Highway meets US 41. US 136 rejoins the historic alignment from here west.

I once came upon a suspension bridge on an old
highway
 alignment in Illinois. Check it out!

10 thoughts on “Making a beeline down the Dixie Highway

  1. gaycarboys

    I love the pics you put with your stories. To think this was once a major road. In Australia we don’t have an interstate system as such but there the new roads with bypasses give similar scenic routes.
    What a wonderful drive it would be to drive cross country never using the interstates. Thanks for the great images.

    1. Jim Post author

      So glad you enjoy them. The meaning of “major” has changed over the years. This road is probably as wide as it ever was. Today, it’s very clearly a country road.

      You can absolutely drive all over the USA and never touch an Interstate. It can be a little challenging in some places, but it can be done.

  2. Ted Kappes

    It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that pony-truss bridges were common around here, however now I can’t think of one that is still around. I think it was mostly the super-wide farm equipment that did them in.

    1. Jim Post author

      Wide farm equipment does play a role, especially on the one-lane bridges. Another aspect of it is that counties sometimes let their infrastructure decay to the point where it’s cheaper to replace than repair. Another thing that plays once in a while is that under certain circumstances considerable federal funds are available for replacement, while maintenance is entirely on the county’s dime.

    1. Jim Post author

      Ha! I’m not even sure where it all goes! There are all sorts of old obscure “auto trails” lurking about. The Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway. The Ben Hur Route. The Jackson Highway. I could go on.

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