Road Trips

US 31 from Peru to Kokomo, Indiana

On September 15, 2007, one of my oldest friends and I went in search of the original alignments of US 31 in Indiana from the Michigan state line to Indianapolis. I wrote about this trip on my old Roads site back then, but am now bringing those articles over to this blog.

Between Peru and Indianapolis, US 31 follows its original route except to bypass Kokomo, Westfield, and Carmel. So we would be seeing a lot of the big slab for the rest of our trip.

We reviewed the 1916 Automobile Blue Book, a road guide with turn-by-turn directions between various cities and towns. and saw that it directed drivers through the towns of Bunker Hill and Miami. Those towns lie a mile or so east of US 31. The ABB directed drivers down what it considered the best route, which did not always coincide with the marked trails or signed highways.

As we drove, from time to time we saw a frontage road on the east side of US 31. This was almost always Old US 31 — the four-lane highway was built alongside the old road. These were always short segments that provided access to properties along the highway. We sometimes drove for miles without seeing one of these fragments. I forget where we photographed this one, but it is typical of them all.

Old US 31 alignment

Along the way, we passed Grissom Air Reserve Base. For at least 40 years now, they’ve kept a collection of historic military aircraft and some of it is visible from US 31 as you drive past. They’re part of the Grissom Air Reserve Base air museum. I’ve driven by here hundreds of times, almost always on the weekends when I assumed the museum was closed. Brian, who has a pilot’s license and enjoys all things airborne, told me that the museum is open weekends. So we stopped. Here’s a view of the museum from the air.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

Even though museum admission was inexpensive, our time was short, so we took photos from the fence. I can easily identify cars, but not planes, so I offer these photos from the museum without comment.

At Grissom Air Reserve Base
At Grissom Air Reserve Base
At Grissom Air Reserve Base
At Grissom Air Reserve Base
At Grissom Air Reserve Base

About nine miles south of Grissom is where US 31 and Old US 31 split. I’ll share photos from US 31’s original alignment through Kokomo next time.

The famous Kokomo split - US 31 in Indiana

Note: This is how the road looked in 2007. A new alignment of US 31 was built to the east of here, making this Old US 31 and Old Old US 31. Current US 31 merges with this alignment just a little bit north of where I stood to take this southbound photograph. The overhead sign is gone.

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13 thoughts on “US 31 from Peru to Kokomo, Indiana

  1. That olive drab plane looks like a B-17 Fling Fortress from WWII. If so, it probably has one or more Studebaker-built engines.

  2. Dan Cluley says:

    In one of those weird little coincidences, a friend of mine was at that museum last weekend. I’d never heard of it until yesterday.

    I agree with JPC that the 2nd shot is a B-17, and I think the top one is a B-47 from the ’50s.

  3. John Jones says:

    Wonder what year the original alignment through Kokomo was bypassed. Now they have bypassed the bypass

  4. Darrell Sherrod says:

    Grissom displays (from the top): B47B “Stratojet”; B17G “Flying Fortress”; F11A “Tiger”; F4C “Phantom II”; A10A “Thunderbolt II”, or more informally “Warthog”

  5. Darrell Sherrod says:

    (Comment also posted to Facebook)

    I started driving in 1971, so my memories of US31 north of Kokomo prior to that are strictly as a passenger, and consequently somewhat flawed. Northbound, the original 31 by-pass 4-lane ended just a few hundred feet southwest of where you were standing for your last photo, and as I recall it was 2-lane all the way at least to Peru until probably the early-to-mid 1970s. I don’t recall ever being north of Peru on 31, even as a passenger, until I took a vacation trip to Michigan in 1984 (although in retrospect, that possibility seems unlikely to me…maybe I just don’t remember)

  6. Darrell Sherrod says:

    Ooops….correction: “…the original 31 by-pass 4-lane ended just a few hundred feet southEAST of where you were standing…”

    • There’s the original route through Kokomo (Old Old US 31), the first bypass (Old US 31) and the new road (US 31) — that’s all I know about!

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