Road Trips

Brick alignment of the Dixie Highway near New Ross, Indiana

The Dixie Highway originally cheerfully passed through New Ross about 12 miles southeast of Crawfordsville, but just southeast of town the road crossed a railroad track after a sharp curve. Indiana’s highway engineers devised a new route that crossed the tracks more safely, bypassing New Ross in the process.

Imagery © 2012 DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Indiana Map Framework Data, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

There’s not much to New Ross, but plenty of people were out and about there when I visited. Here’s its most prominent structure, on Main Street, which runs perpendicular to the Dixie Highway.

New Ross

That US 136 passed New Ross by doesn’t seem to have bothered it. There are plenty of signs of life here, most notably the delightful 1878 Browns Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church, which has been well kept.

New Ross

Beyond the stop sign the old Dixie Highway leads to a few homes before dead ending at a creek. On the other side of the creek, the road enters Boone County.

New Ross

The Dixie Highway spends very little time in Boone County, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in the greatest old alignment west of Indianapolis. It’s paved in brick! Have I ever mentioned how happy it makes me when I find an old bridge or old pavement that used to serve on an important highway? Oh my, but it does. Here’s a westbound shot as the road emerges from the creek.

Brick New Ross Road

At some point, the bridge that carried the Dixie’s older alignment was demolished. The brick road begins east of where the bridge was. This entire alignment through New Ross was surely once paved in brick, but this remnant is all that’s left. It provides access to one property. The resulting ultra low traffic is certainly why this segment has never been covered in asphalt.

Imagery © 2012 DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Indiana Map Framework Data, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

When you zoom the map in a little closer, another bridge becomes visible. I was hoping to see it, but couldn’t find a way that didn’t involve trespassing. Fortunately, someone on photographed it; see it here. I used to think this was a road bridge on an even older alignment of the road, but now I think it was an Interurban bridge, and the old tracks have been removed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the old bridge is still used by the landowner.

Imagery © 2012 GeoEye, Indiana Map Framework Data. Map data © 2012 Google.

The brick road curves to cross the tracks squarely. There’s a little asphalt on either side of the tracks, I presume to smooth the crossing for drivers.

Brick New Ross Road

Concrete curbs are visible on the curve.

Brick New Ross Road

Here’s the brick road as it heads due south toward modern US 136, which is at the Stop sign.

Brick New Ross Road

I’ve also found plenty of old brick highway on the National Road in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

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16 thoughts on “Brick alignment of the Dixie Highway near New Ross, Indiana

  1. It is interesting to look at places that were once a center of activity and are now a back-water. It amazes me that such long stretches of major roads were once brick. My uncle told me that the old Coast to Coast Highway(Route 36) where it passes through here was once brick. He even remembered seeing the bricks being laid as a young man. I also think it is interesting how many changes we have gone through road-wise in just the course of one lifetime.

    • Very often the old brick road is still there, buried under layers of asphalt. Can you imagine how slowly a brick road must have been built?

      • It sure must have helped lower the unemployment rate. I remember once seeing a beautiful brick pavement be uncovered on Main Street in Paris Illinois. I thought maybe they were planning to restore it to traffic. Instead they covered it again in Asphalt.

        • Brick streets are slipperier when wet and are harder to plow, so it’s not surprising that they covered them again. This reasphalting scenario is common – a buddy in Terre Haute said that they scraped the asphalt off his street a couple years ago to reveal brick, and then reasphalted it.

  2. Find the homeowner and ask him if you could see the bridge. Tell him what you’re doing. I’m sure he won’t mind. He might even have some more info for you on it!

    • Sometimes you get lucky and encounter the property owner. In this case, the copious No Trespassing signs deterred me from knocking on his door.

      • Back when I was more adventurous I learned that often the people who put up the most signs often were very friendly when I actually met them. I started to figure that maybe they put up all the signs because they had a hard time saying no in person.

      • But if you just go up to his door and ask him instead of just traipsing onto his property with your camera he may have a change of heart. I do understand your apprehension though.

    • Heh, it certainly would help!  It occurs to me now that I might be able to see some of the bridge from US 136 at the railroad bridge.

    • Me neither. I’ve been doing this roadgeek thing for six years now and this is the first time I’ve ever seen or heard of anything like this.

  3. Clyde R Cottrell Jr says:

    I am fairly certain that the old bridge that you couldn’t reach was on the route of the Interurban line that went to Crawfordsville. There’s a nearly identical bridge just east of Jamestown.

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