Remarkably, 19 miles of the original, narrow, winding Dixie Highway stretches south out of Bloomington on its way to the small town of Oolitic (oo LIT ick). It crosses its successor, State Road 37, twice in the process. That old alignment would have kept going right into Oolitic had somebody not dug a limestone quarry right across it!
If you know your rock, you know that one of the few places in the world to find oolitic limestone is in this part of Indiana. If you don’t know your rock, at least you now know how this town got such a funny name!
Indiana oolitic limestone has famously been used to build the Empire State Building and the Pentagon.
My modest old road-map collection includes Indiana road maps from 1959 and 1970. This alignment was still State Road 37 in 1959. In 1970, the new four-lane alignment had been built to the west. The quarry was obviously dug sometime after the new alignment went into service. On the map segment, I drew a green line to highlight the Dixie Highway and its interrupted path.
The old road makes its way peacefully through the southern Indiana countryside before ending abruptly here, north of the quarry.
Beyond the gate, the road surface changes from asphalt to broken concrete. This concrete almost certainly is the first hard pavement on this road, dating to probably the 1920s. Unlike the solid concrete road segment found south of Martinsville earlier on this trip, this concrete appears to have both center and occasional lateral expansion joints.
As we stood there gazing over this abandoned road, a car pulled up next to us and several people hopped out. Without acknowledging us, they jumped right over the gate as if this were their property. Because my brush with the police a few years ago sensitized me against trespassing, I stayed north of the gate. But don’t think for a minute that I wasn’t tempted to follow them right on in — I hear there’s an abandoned park in there, and I would have loved to see it.
Abandoned roads make me happy. See some others I’ve found here!
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