In October, 2012, I followed the Dixie Highway (a.k.a. State Road 37) from Indianapolis to Paoli. I’m finally sharing my full report from that trip here.

Leaving Bloomington, the Dixie Highway followed Rogers Street southbound to where it met what is now Walnut Street or Old State Road 37. Because of research Richard Simpson did on State Road 37’s original route, I believe the Dixie then turned south on Empire Road, which currently dead ends at current SR 37.

Map data ©2023 Google.

It then follows Old State Road 37 south to just north of Harrodsburg, where it forks right onto Gore Road to pass through that town.

Map data ©2023 Google. Dixie Highway routing by Mike Curtis.

I didn’t know either of these things when I drove this route, so I just stayed on Old SR 37 the whole way. The route winds a bit and crosses current SR 37 again before reaching Needmore and then a dead end.

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

Here’s the southbound road as it crosses Gulletts Creek.

On the Dixie

The road on the right just past the rock wall is Needmore School Road. I wonder if it is an old alignment of this road. It runs through Needmore proper while Old SR 37 skirts it on the east. Here’s where Needmore School Road turns off Old SR 37.

Possible old alignment

This road exits Needmore as Trogdon Lane. Just past it is a curve that was once the Dixie Highway and State Road 37 that now serves a few homes. I’d love to know more about the history of this road here.

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

About a quarter mile south of here, the road ends abruptly at a gate.


Here the Dixie Highway and Old SR 37 pass through Empire Quarry. This part of Indiana is rich in limestone, which was heavily mined here for decades. This quarry provided limestone to construct the Empire State Building and the Pentagon. It’s been in operation since the late 1800s, but at far reduced capacity today as limestone construction fell out of favor starting in the mid 20th century. At some point after current SR 37 was built in about 1971, workers dug across the old road to get at more stone. That was that for this original routing of the Dixie Highway.


This quarry is private property, but people go in all the time anyway to have a look. While I stood here making photos, a handful of people walked up, stepped around the gate, and hoofed it down the old road. I have a policy of not trespassing, so this is as far as I went.

The Dixie Highway and Old SR 37 would have next entered the town of Oolitic, which is prononuced oo-LIT-ick. It’s named for the oolitic limestone found here.

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

I regret now that I didn’t stop to photograph Oolitic while I was there, All sources I know of say that the Dixie Highway and Old SR 37 entered Oolitic from the north on what is now Hoosier Avenue, the main road through town. As it exits town, its name changes to Oolitic Road. The 1935 USGS topographic map supports this routing, which it marks in red. It also shows the road’s original route through the quarry.

Next: The Dixie Highway in Bedford.

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5 responses to “The Dixie Highway in southern Indiana: From Bloomington south to Oolitic”

  1. Oparaugo Michael Avatar
  2. Dave Jenkins Avatar

    I graduated from Williams High School (southwest of Bedford) in 1955. My first job was at RCA Victor in the Bloomington Plant, where my Dad had been working for a number of years. Every weekday morning we drove a gravel road two miles from our home in Martin County to Silverville, then to Bedford via SR 158. From Bedford we drove north on Lincoln Avenue (SR 37) through Oolitic and on up to Bloomington. Traffic was always heavy (for the times) because a lot of people from the Bedford area worked at RCA. I did this for three months, then off to college in Chattanooga. I got to know old 37 pretty intimately.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Wasn’t the Bloomington RCA plant where RCA built its color television sets? I’m a bit of an early-television nerd. :-)

      Silverville to Bloomington is about 30 miles – that’s a heck of a commute.

  3. Dave Jenkins Avatar

    Plus two miles of gravel road. Dad worked at RCA from 1945 to 1961 and drove that route five or six times a week.From 1945 to 1950 he drove a 1937 Chevrolet, the engine of which he rebuilt at least twice. Then he had a 1947 Ford “woodie” station wagon for a year or so, and, in 1951, a new Ford pickup.
    At RCA, dad was what was called a ‘Troubleshooter.” It was his job to diagnose TV sets that weren’t performing as they should and tell other workers what repairs to make. In 1954 he was the first troubleshooter assigned to the first color TV production line in the world.
    RCA also made TV sets for other brands in those days. I remember going in the warehouse and seeing boxes with logos from DuMont, Syllvania, and others.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I had no idea RCA made TVs for other brands! Especially DuMont, as they had a different number of lines, fewer than the 525-line standard that everybody else was using. I wish I could remember what DuMont used.

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