Exploring Old US 31 in Indiana

Driving between South Bend and Indianapolis on US 31 bores me silly, except in Carmel/Westfield and Kokomo, where traffic crawling among endless stoplights always provides an exercise in patience. Today, I avoid US 31 as much as I can.

US 31’s history, however, has interested me for years because I grew up four blocks from it in South Bend. I heard stories as a child of a two-lane US 31 through town and south as a country highway through Plymouth, Rochester, and Peru.

A childhood friend shared my interest of US 31’s original alignment, so last September we plotted a course and made our way along as much of it as still exists.

We saw this grand old bridge in South Bend.

We saw long stretches of quiet country road.

Old US 31 south of Rochester

We saw cities with proud business districts and towns whose best days had passed by.

Downtown Mexico Indiana on Old US 31

And we finished with the grand homes along N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis.

We also saw a classic car show in Peru; followed a road in Rochester that was part of Indiana’s first highway system; and found out what the bypassed towns of Kokomo, Westfield, and Carmel actually look like. If you’re curious, ride along with us on our trip.


4 responses to “Exploring Old US 31 in Indiana”

  1. Richard Donaldson Avatar
    Richard Donaldson

    I was born in Indianapolis, but later , at the age of
    5 , moved to Mobile , Al. Since we had a lot of
    relatives still living in Indianapolis, we would
    take a yearly trip to visit. Starting around 1946.
    We would take hwy 31 out of Mobile to Birmingham , on to Nashville Tenn. , to Louisville Ky. and into Indianapolis. We made the trip so
    often that we had landmarks that we would look
    for and knew the road quite well. This was before
    the interstate hwy system. The roads for the most
    part were uncrowded, and the scenery was very
    pleasant. Our trips stopped in the early 60’s, but
    I have very fond memories of those times, and
    Highway 31.

  2. Jim Avatar

    Richard, thanks for sharing! I once put my family on a plane to Birmingham and drove down (in peace and quiet) to pick them up at the airport. I forget my exact route but I recall that very little of it involved US 31! I-65 has superseded (and sometimes was built upon) US 31 from Indy to probably Nashville.

  3. Kendra Avatar

    I live in Mexico.

  4. Jim Avatar

    Kendra, the big red Mexico sign on US 31 is cool.

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