Ten years ago I explored the Dandy Trail, an 88-mile automobile pleasure loop that encircled Indianapolis in the 1920s. I’ve been interested in it since I moved to Indianapolis in 1994; I lived near a short road signed Dandy Trail and was curious how it got such an unusual name. Long story short, I discovered the onetime auto trail, organized by the Hoosier Motor Club to encourage motoring for pleasure.
When I investigated the road, I discovered that the Indiana State Library had a map in its collection. I went to the ISL and photographed the map, which I shared here.
For more than a decade now I’ve had a saved search on eBay for “Dandy Trail.” It emails me every time someone lists something for sale with those two words in the title. It has emailed me exactly twice in all these years. The first time was in 2012, when someone listed a set of seven 4×6 inch glass plate negatives from the road. I had the negatives scanned, and I shared them all in this article.
It turns out the negatives were from a 1936 story in The Indianapolis Star looking at what happened to the by-then-defunct trail. I’ll share more about that in an upcoming article.
The second time that search emailed me was just recently. Someone had a Dandy Trail map for sale! I bought it immediately.
The map at the Indiana State Library is from 1921; the date is printed on the map. My map lacks a date imprint. Someone penciled in “1925” on the map, so I’ll date the map to then unless I find stronger evidence to the contrary. It features a few detail changes from the map at the ISL. I shared the map’s cover above. Here’s the map fully open.
Here’s the inside cover:
Here’s the back cover. Notice the ultra-low Indianapolis speed limits! The 1921 map featured a sign-up form to join the Hoosier Motor Club here instead.
You can still drive the entire Dandy Trail today, except for a portion that is submerged within Eagle Creek Reservoir, a flood-control project. I laid out all the roads on Google Maps here:
I made some videos of driving the Dandy Trail in 2012; view some of them in this article.
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