In 2012, I drove a section of the Dixie Highway from the Illinois state line to Indianapolis along the corridor that is now US 136. I’m bringing that trip report here from my old Roads site.
Immediately after entering Hendricks County, the Dixie Highway diverges from US 136 down a long old alignment. It’s hard to see on this map, but a railroad track parallels current US 136, meaning that the old alignment crossed it twice, each time at an awkward angle. It’s not hard to figure out that the road was realigned for safety’s sake.
That realignment must have happened a very long time ago, because the old alignment is very narrow and rough. A few years ago, the eastern railroad crossing was closed, dead-ending the alignment. Here’s a photo of the road heading toward that dead end.
Being a city boy, I tend not to notice old barns. But they’re such a part of the Hoosier experience that I’m trying to photograph them when I see them. One stood in this intersection, so I snapped its profile.
Google Maps Street View from 2007 from along US 136 shows the grade crossing still intact, but the road dead ended, and pavement removed connecting it to US 136. By 2012, when I made this trip, the grade crossing had been removed.
If you look at this road closely on Google Maps, you’ll see it’s labeled “Old State Road 34.” That’s because all of US 136 in Indiana was SR 34 until 1951, when US 136 was extended into Indiana.
Since I made this road trip, the dead end of Old SR 34 was removed when the road was extended along the railroad tracks to the next county road.
Lizton is the next tiny town along the way, but I didn’t stop. I did stop briefly in Pittsboro, though. What this map doesn’t show is all the cul-de-sac neighborhoods that surround Pittsboro, which is close enough to Indianapolis that in the past ten years or so it has succumbed and become a suburb.
That’s not to say that Pittsboro’s main drag looks much different than it ever did.
Many of Pittsboro’s buildings show signs of care. This one looks good and square, although I do wish that the second-story windows were still the originals.
This building has succumbed to replacement-window syndrome, too, though the plate windows under the awning look original.
A brief old alignment lurks just east of Pittsboro. It is in two sections thanks to the removal of a bridge.
The scene along this stretch of old highway is almost idyllic.
Shortly the Dixie Highway reaches Brownsburg, a very popular Indianapolis suburb and the beginning of the Indianapolis metropolitan area. From here, US 136 is pretty constantly busy.
I did manage to stop for one shot in downtown Brownsburg, where State Road 267 intersects. I’m sure I’ll rankle the preservationists in my audience when I say that buildings like these were sort of the strip malls of their day – utilitarian facilities for a town’s commerce. To mollify the preservationists, I’ll say that these buildings were designed to last where strip malls aren’t, and are ripe for adaptive reuse in ways strip malls never will be.
Since I made this trip, SR 267 was truncated to end at I-74, on the north side of Brownsburg.
If you go back and look at the photos I took in Hillsboro, Waynetown, and Pittsboro, you might be hard pressed to know one from the other as their buildings are more similar than they are different. But this photo of Brownsburg is a bit of a ringer. The other three corners probably once had buildings just like these, but they’ve been torn down in favor of a bank, a Walgreens, and a CVS. Ah, progress. I think I’d rather have the old buildings, as plain as they probably were.
I ended my Dixie Highway trip here. The closer one gets to Indianapolis on any old road, the harder it is to stop for photographs thanks to heavy traffic. One day I need to just do an Indianapolis-area tour of old roads on my bicycle, which is much more maneuverable.
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