Driving the Dixie Highway from Indianapolis to Paoli in 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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Comments

12 responses to “Driving the Dixie Highway from Indianapolis to Paoli in Indiana”

  1. traveller858 Avatar

    Sounds like a great Saturday.

    1. Jim Avatar

      We had a great time. I wished for a little more sun, but temps got to near 70. And we had the old road mostly to ourselves!

  2. Ted Kappes Avatar

    Looks like an especially beautiful drive this time of year. I am surprised by how good the fall color has been after such a hot dry summer.

    1. Jim Avatar

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

  3. ryoko861 Avatar

    Very pretty! This is a great time of year to enjoy drives like this!

    1. Jim Avatar

      We went juuuuust before peak, which is nowish. There’s less green, more orange and yellow now. But it’s hard to know when peak will happen!

      1. ryoko861 Avatar

        No one knows, just enjoy what is out now.

        1. Jim Avatar

          That, my friend, is the key to all of life!

  4. kodakkerouacs Avatar

    Cool! I’ll be up that way in November. I should take a drive…

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yes. Yes you should!

      Good driving directions here: http://www.us-highways.com/dixiehwy.htm

  5. Gene Avatar
    Gene

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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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