Road Trips

Driving the Dixie Highway in southern Indiana

My dad always called it Dixieway, the main road that headed south out of my hometown. Yet all the street signs called it Michigan Street or US 31. As a boy, I asked Dad why. “Well, Dixieway is an old name for the road, son. It’s called that because it goes all the way to Dixie.”

The Dixie Highway was actually a whole network of roads that connected the Midwest to the South, running from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan to Miami, Florida. One branch passed through South Bend, where I grew up. But as the 1923 map at right shows, the Dixie crisscrossed Indiana, converging in Indianapolis.

I’ve driven (and written about) much of Indiana’s Dixie in about the northern two-thirds of the state. I’ve been itching for a long time to follow it the rest of the way, and I finally scratched most of that itch on a recent Saturday. I picked up my favorite road-trip companion, Dawn, found the Dixie in Martinsville, and followed it all the way to Paoli. It was a perfect autumn road trip.

When Indiana numbered its highways, it assigned the number 37 to the Dixie from Indianapolis to Paoli. But over time, State Road 37 was improved and heavily rerouted over much of this distance. Many old alignments, some of them quite long, remain as lightly traveled country roads.  I’ll write more about it in posts to come, but for now, here’s a taste of what Dawn and I saw.

On the Dixie

In western Indiana, the Dixie is mostly US 136. I drove it this spring – pick up the trail here!

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12 thoughts on “Driving the Dixie Highway in southern Indiana

    • Yes – I thought the leaves would all turn brown and dump, but that’s not happening. The oranges have been positively arresting here.

  1. Gene says:

    There are a few stone markers in Evansville, IN that say “Dixie Bee Highway” They are on Stringtown Road and Reis Ave, and another nearby on Maxwell Ave. I grew up a few blocks from there and my dad told me that the Dixie Bee Highway went from Evansville to Princeton, IN. US 41 follows that path today. If you want more info, contact Willard Library in Evansville.

    • The Dixie Bee is another of the old “auto trails” from the 1910s and 1920s. I ought to follow it someday. I’ve done some of the old alignments of US 41 from Vincennes to Terre Haute, which would have been the old Dixie Bee.

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