The Dixie Highway in southern Indiana: Changes on the original road between Indianapolis and Martinsville

State Road 37 was upgraded to a four-lane expressway between Indianapolis and Bloomington during the 1970s. This left behind a number of segments of the original road, but most of them were easy to reach — you turned off modern SR 37 onto them. This was still the case when I made my 2007 and 2012 road trips along this old road. But when it was decided I-69 would be routed over this segment of SR 37, it was not clear at first whether those segments of the old road would still be reachable.

I needn’t have worried — they all are. As a matter of fact, it’s possible to drive them all without ever needing to get onto I-69. You have to take a few detours along local streets, but you can drive directly from the south end of Indianapolis to the north end of Bloomington. This map details the route.

Unfortunately, construction of I-69 brought destruction to some of what used to be on the route.

In Morgan County, the original alignment of SR 37 passes through Waverly, a small town. A small bit of road was abandoned at the end of that alignment, and a small concrete-arch bridge was left behind on it. I put a star on the map showing where the bridge used to be.

I wrote in detail about this bridge here, but here is a photo of the bridge’s railing.

Abandoned bridge

From the bridge, I made this photo of what was then modern SR 37 just to the east.

SR 37 from Old SR 37

Construction of I-69 meant demolishing a lot of structures that stood too close to where the new highway was going. Given that you can’t have driveways off an Interstate, a lot of buildings that used to connect directly to SR 37 were purchased and demolished as well. It might seem like a small thing, but a Marathon gas station was demolished. It stood on Old SR 37 about 4 miles north of Martinsville. I marked its location with a star on this map. A newer Marathon station was built just west of it.

Imagery ©2023 Airbus, IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. Map data ©2023 Google.

Here’s what the old station looked like. I stopped here a number of times on my trips along this road, as the restrooms were clean.

Country Marathon

Immediately north of Martinsville, the original road headed southwest toward the city, but SR 37 was later built to bypass it to the east. This post describes what it all looked like in 2007. This map shows this whole area in transition during I-69 construction.

Imagery ©2023 Airbus, IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. Map data ©2023 Google.

The road marked N Egbert Rd is the original alignment of SR 37 and the Dixie Highway. For many years, it dead ended just north of the church. Here’s what it looked like, northbound.

Abandoned SR 37

During construction this road was rebuilt north from here to connect to a golf course a couple hundred yards to the north. This connection would not be needed permanently, as when construction finishes the golf course will be accessible via another route. Google Maps Street View captured this image in September of 2022 that shows Egbert Road re-truncated, albeit a little farther north than where it used to end. This photo looks southbound.

©2023 Google.

Immediagely south of Martinsville a segment of the Dixie and Old SR 37 has been removed. This photo is northbound.

Abandoned bridge on 37/DH

The road was removed north of a derelict bridge, which I’ve marked on the map below with a star. Google Maps incorrectly still shows the road as existing.

Imagery ©2023 Airbus, IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. Map data ©2023 Google.

Here’s the bridge. It closed several years ago because it had deteriorated enough as to be unsafe.

Abandoned bridge on 37/DH

But I’ve been driving this road long enough that I photographed it while it was still in service. I made this photo in 2007 standing at the same end of the bridge as in the photo above.

Pony truss bridge

A couple years ago I documented similar changes and losses on the original alignment of the Dixie Highway and SR 37 from here to Bloomington. Read it here.

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7 responses to “The Dixie Highway in southern Indiana: Changes on the original road between Indianapolis and Martinsville”

  1. Peter Miller Avatar
    Peter Miller

    Looking forward to this virtual road trip, especially around Bloomington — setting of and film location for best Indiana-based sports movie “Breaking Away”. The hero of the movie rides behind a moving semi trailer on his bicycle, on a road near Bloomington, apparently. Movie was made in 1978, released in 1979.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Famous movie here in Indiana! That and Hoosiers.

  2. Warren W Jenkins Avatar
    Warren W Jenkins

    Unfortunately, the many upgrades of the National Road/US40 over the past 60 years have also taken its toll between Indian Springs MD., and Cumberland MD. From obliterating the original route, to removal of historic buildings, the roadscape has greatly changed.
    There was also the 1940s project that wiped out most of the original alignment at the summit of Sideling Hill.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It really is a shame with the original alignments of historic roads are removed. I get it, needs change and roads must improve. But it would be nice if older alignments weren’t obliterated.

      In building I-69, they’ve used the DH as a frontage road and have connected the various segments. It’s very nice.

  3. Dave Jenkins Avatar

    I grew up in rural Martin County 13 miles from Bedford. In the late 1940s, my mother took my sister and me to see doctors in Indianapolis..We got on the Greyhound in Bedford and made the trek up that winding, hilly, dangerous old road every few months for several years. I remember it well.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve heard this before: people who used the old road because it’s all there was, remember its dangers more than its charms.

      1. Dave Jenkins Avatar

        Didn’t bother me at the time. I was only in elementary school and all the roads I knew were winding and hilly and would have been dangerous if they had carried much traffic.

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