Abandoned Dixie Highway at Oolitic, Indiana

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

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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21 responses to “Abandoned Dixie Highway at Oolitic, Indiana”

  1. traveller858 Avatar

    Love this series and now I know a little more about limestone!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks! Glad you found it interesting.

  2. ryoko861 Avatar

    Lots of limestone here. Two major companies, Keystone Cement and Essroc right in town. Essroc took over the Nazareth Cement company years ago, but this was the area to get it. Companies from Jersey come all this way to get cement.
    Those people never even spoke to you? How rude!
    It’s always so sad to see gates like that at the end of a road. It’s so final.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yeah, well, if you’re about to trespass maybe you don’t want to make connections with others standing around! I agree, the gates are sad.

  3. Scott Palmer Avatar

    Another great blog. You always make me want to jump into the car and go exploring. I’ve driven past that area but never knew what was there. Now I do. Maybe next time I’m down there, I’ll take a detour.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Do it! It’s a nice Saturday drive. Seriously, Google Maps labels the entire old Dixie Highway route as Old State Road 37 so it’s easy to follow.

    2. Jim Avatar

      Or, geez, Scott, one of these days you ought to just go on a road trip with me.

  4. davidvanilla Avatar

    Not only old alignments, but those quarries are tremendous holes in the ground! Very interesting part of our state.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I would have loved to drive in and see!

  5. traveller858 Avatar

    Hi! I hope this is a pleasant surprise. I have nominated you to the Reader Appreciation Award!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m flattered you like what I do here, but I’ve never heard of this award — can you fill me in?

  6. Hope @ Fairhope Supply Co. Avatar

    This looks so fun! I haven’t been to this part of the country much, and even when I did, it was straight interstate highway with no interesting twists or turns. I just recently photographed a couple of old dirt roads for my blog.

    Like your blog very much!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Indiana’s Interstates are famously boring – straight, flat, ugh. You get no sense of the state on them. For that, you’ve got to get on the old two-lane highways!

  7. Ted Kappes Avatar

    I enjoy these posts a lot. I wonder how strict they are in trying to keep people out of these quarries? I used to live around some gravel quarries that said that people weren’t supposed to enter, however a lot of people did anyway and I never heard of anyone getting in trouble.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m sure that if Dawn and I went in, there would have been nobody around to stop us. But I just generally obey the barriers these days. There have been exceptions, such as walking about a third of the way out on the walkway of the abandoned bridge in Bridgeport, Ohio last year, which meant walking past a No Trespassing sign.

  8. Bernie Kasper Avatar

    Great read and pics Jim…but you got to live a little and jump the fence, they can’t kill you..I guess lol !!!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yeah, yeah, well, that one run-in with the police spooked me good!

  9. John Knight Avatar
    John Knight

    Jim, I’m still waiting for you to take on the Lincoln Highway, which, not coincidentally, runs through Warsaw. I have a guest room, you know.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Heh! Of course, my first pass along the LH would involve the 1913 alignment, which goes through my hometown of South Bend and avoids Warsaw entirely! But the LH is truly on my list.

  10. Frank Canada Avatar
    Frank Canada

    Where is this from Bedford?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      East. Google Maps can give you the best route.

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