Road Trips

Segments of the original State Road 37 alignment in northern Johnson County, Indiana

Let’s return to my 2007 trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Windows Live Local map, 2007

Just before the Marion-Johnson county line, the road swings west, away from State Road 37’s original alignment, and the old road reappears.

I turned in on County Line Road and headed north up the short segment of Bluff Road. It’s the last little bit of the original alignment in Indianapolis.

The road narrows, the pavement ends, and somebody’s gravel driveway begins. I imagine that their driveway once emptied directly onto the old two-lane SR 37.

Old SR 37

Looking southbound toward County Line Road from this spot, it’s clear that the grass has overgrown the edges on this short segment.

Old SR 37
Windows Live Local map, 2007

South of County Line Road, the road is marginally wider as the grass has been kept at bay. Also, the road was striped double yellow down the middle like a highway.

Johnson County clearly considers this a road worthy of maintenance. Marion County (Indianapolis) does only the minimum for its part of this segment.

The end of this alignment came 1.6 miles later. Bluff Road curved and met current SR 37, but a little tail remained.

Old SR 37

A new housing subdivision was being built here, and old SR 37 was used for its entrance. Before that, the old road simply ended here. Almost dead center in this photograph, you can see a car on current SR 37.

Old SR 37
Windows Live Local map, 2007

The next little segment of the old alignment lay a couple miles to the south of County Line Road. On the east side of SR 37, the crossroad is labeled 800N, but on the west side, it’s labeled Old St Rd 37.

Old alignments are almost always rounded off like this to meet the new road more squarely, for safety. But in this case, they did it only to the north end of it.

This photo shows the access road to the segment of old SR 37. It wasn’t clear on the map whether the road emptied out onto State Road 37 or not. The Dead End sign here cleared up that mystery.

To Old SR 37

Where the road curved south and the old highway took over, I turned around looking for any sign of the old highway as it would have stretched northbound. I stood in the middle of the old road, pointing northbound, to take this photo. Except for the utility poles running on the right in alignment with where the old road had been, you can’t tell a highway ever ran through here.

NB Old 37

Turning around from this spot, here’s this old alignment as it heads south.

Old SR 37

This alignment ends a half mile later, the pavement ending cleanly at somebody’s driveway. As you drive on current SR 37, you can see the little guardrail just beyond the trash can. If you didn’t know what lay beyond it, you might not give it a second thought.

Old SR 37

Turning around from here and looking northbound at the tree-lined old highway, the lovely scene made me long for the day this highway was still in use. Maybe it’s just my fantasy, but I imagine the trip to Bloomington being more pleasant not just because of the narrow road, but because drivers might be more likely to slow down, open the windows, and take in the beauty on either side.

Old SR 37

From here to Martinsville, all of the old SR 37 alignment had this two-foot extension on each side. You can see the weeds growing in the crack. I wonder whether this was a tiny shoulder of sorts, or whether this was an attempt to widen the old concrete road. I’m betting the latter.

Old SR 37

Next: the old alignment through Waverly, and the single most exciting abandoned road I’ve ever found.

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12 thoughts on “Segments of the original State Road 37 alignment in northern Johnson County, Indiana

  1. Ha! For the first time I can say that I have actually been on one of these old alignments you have written about. It’s the first one – the dead end stub of Bluff Road just north of the county line. After learning that Bluff was an alternative route that would avoid construction near I-465, I once tried to hit northbound Bluff at the point shown on your map, but quickly found the dead end. I had no idea that it was an old piece of 37.

  2. Forrest E Johnson says:

    I like seeing the pictures of old SR37 between Indpls and Martinsville. Back in the early ’50s I remember riding down this segment of SR37 as it was the other way to get to Martinsville, the other way was SR67 on the other side of White River. 37 had more curves.

  3. It is my understanding that civilization (as we know it)is expected to end just about then. I hope you get to post about all of the trip before the finish

  4. I was born in Bedford, Indiana in 1937 and grew up in Martin County, the next county west. Both sets of grandparents lived in Bedford. In those days the only way to get to Indianapolis was via State Highway 37. It was narrow, winding, and up and down hills. A dangerous highway. My dad worked at RCA Victor in Bloomington, so he drove 37 from Bedford to Bloomington every day.

    In the late 40s my mother took my sister and I to a specialist in Indianapolis, so we rode the Greyhound up 37 every few months. We also got up very early and went to the state fair every year from sometime in the late 40s until I graduated and left home in 1955. On the way home we would pick up watermelons at a roadside stand and stop at a little park just north of Bloomington called Cascades Park and eat our melons.

    I think that by 1955 at least some of 37 north of Bloomington had been rerouted and straightened, but not yet 4-laned.

    I’m not sure of the exact year, but I think it was in the early 50s that a Greyhound bus traveling late at night hit a bridge abutment north of Bloomington and flipped and burned. I think 36 or 37 people were killed. My father’s sister, a reporter for the Bloomington Herald-Telephone at the time, covered the story. I remember the photos and the headline “Old 37 Bows Out.” I think her name was Harriet Weaver at the time, but it may have been Allen — she was married multiple times. Anyway, I believe her story was featured on the TV program “The Big Story.” Some of your older readers may have more knowledge of this than I do.

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