Let’s return to my 2007 road trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington. Normally I’m just copying text and photos from my old road-trip site, but this time I have some new things to say.
After experiencing the exciting abandoned segment of Old State Road 37 north of Waverly, I got back into my car and drove the length of this segment as it crossed into Morgan County. It was paved and in good shape. I had it all to myself as it swayed gently through the countryside. I passed through the tiny town of Waverly on the way, but it didn’t interrupt the pleasure of this drive.
At the other end of this segment, the road curved to intersect with current SR 37, as the map shows. But a ridge is visible that extends from the old road. Spoiler alert: it’s abandoned road, and there’s an old bridge in there.
In 2020, SR 37 is becoming Interstate 69 between Indianapolis and Bloomington. It means widening the road, building exits, and closing all roads that currently intersect.
The section between Bloomington and about Martinsville is done. Work is just now beginning on the final section, from Martinsville to Indianapolis. When I made a trip to Bloomington in early March 2020, trees were being cleared the whole way.
About halfway to Martinsville, near the town of Waverly, I spotted it: an abandoned bridge, about 100 feet away. Trees had been reduced to stumps all around it, exposing it.
I know that bridge. I discovered it when I toured State Road 37’s old alignments in 2007. This bridge was on an abandoned part of the old alignment that ran through Waverly.
Here’s where the abandoned part of the old alignment begins, as it looked in 2007.
I drove in.
I was surprised to find the bridge in there! It was heavily overgrown.
I didn’t have anything to go on but the railing to date this bridge. That railing is typical of Indiana highway bridges from the 1920s and 1930s.
Because modern SR 37 was close by, the predominant sound was of traffic. This old bridge was probably briefly visible to those who whizzed by, if they knew to look for it. I’ll bet hardly anybody knew it was there.
The abandoned alignment ended shortly past the bridge. Notice the dirt path off its end, and the paved entrance/exit to SR 37 on the left. This led to someone’s house.
I’m betting it was whoever lived in that house who called the cops on me.
I had just finished making these photographs and was about to get back into my car when I saw the “Private Property, Keep Out” sign. Now, I heed “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs when I go exploring. I don’t want any trouble, and I empathize with property owners not wanting strangers traipsing around on their land. But this sign faced the road. You wouldn’t see it unless you stopped next to it and looked right at it, as I did.
I hoped that it meant only that the land behind it was private property. But when the police car arrived and hovered anxiously, I realized that this was not the case. The property owner probably called the cops on me. I turned around and hightailed it out of there. Fortunately, the officer let me be chased off.
I don’t know, but I imagine, that this relic of a highway era gone by will be demolished so that I-69 can be built.
Next: a short segment of the original alignment in Morgan County just north of Martinsville.
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