Road Trips

1925 pony truss bridge on Old Indiana State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway

Let’s return to my 2007 trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Windows Live Local map, 2007

Not a quarter mile south of the end of the Martinsville segment, the next segment of SR 37’s old alignment appeared.

This segment began quietly among a field of yellow-flowered weeds. The road seemed unusually narrow. I wondered if it widened when it met the original SR 37 roadway.

Beyond the curve, the road didn’t widen. The road lacked the two-foot “extensions” on either side I had seen since Johnson County.

Old SR 37

Shortly I came upon this wonderful old bridge. This three-span pony truss bridge was built in 1925.

Pony truss bridge

I love this bridge, and have returned to it several times since 2007. Here’s a photo I made of it in 2012.

Pony trusses

The posted 3-ton limit was a big clue that this old bridge was not as strong as it once was.

Pony trusses

Sadly, in 2015 this bridge failed an inspection and was closed. Here’s a photo from the last time I visited it, in 2017. I wrote about that visit here.

Abandoned bridge on Old SR 37

The I-69 plans use a lot of the old SR 37 alignments as frontage roads, but the plans don’t make clear what will happen here. I’m not optimistic about this bridge’s chances for survival.

Let’s return to 2007 now. It seems like this segment, which is about a mile long, just provides access to a couple neighborhoods to the east. The narrow pavement along this segment was smooth and even but unstriped. Soon I reached the end. Most segments of old alignments that end this way clearly complete a line with the current road or pick up on the other side of the road, at least in my experience, but that was not true with either end of this segment.

Old SR 37

Next: A stretch of early-1920s concrete pavement in Morgan County.

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Road Trips

Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway in Martinsville, Indiana

Let’s return to my 2007 trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Windows Live Local map, 2007

My old maps show that State Road 37 used to go through Martinsville. My maps lack enough detail to show the exact route, so I made some guesses.

But I do know where the original alignment breaks off from the old on its way south into Martinsville. The map shows it. Notice on the satellite image that a ridge appears to flow back from Morgan St. all the way to current SR 37 at Teeters Road, which has all the earmarks of an old alignment. Morgan St. goes straight into downtown Martinsville.

Here’s the turnoff from State Road 37 onto Morgan Road, where it then curves to follow the original State Road 37 path.

To Old SR 37

Where Morgan St. finished curving, I looked to the north and was faced with a church’s parking lot. I drove in and found this short segment of road that looked an awful lot like what I had been seeing as Old SR 37 everywhere else up to now. The utility poles running along the road were another clue.

Abandoned Old SR 37

Morgan St. is wide for a segment of Old SR 37. Surprisingly, it lacked striping. This shot is northbound from just south of the church.

Old SR 37
Windows Live Local map, 2007

Morgan St. does not naturally flow back into State Road 37; actually, it ends at State Road 39 on Martinsville’s western edge. But the Martinsville street map showed that if I turned left at Main Street and then veered right at Morton Avenue, I would merge right into current State Road 37 on Martinsville’s southwest side. The map even had this route highlighted, suggesting that it is a major route. I decided it was the likely route for SR 37 and so I drove it.

This photo shows where Morgan St. intersects Main St. at the town square. I drove in from the photograph’s left on Morgan St, turned left at the intersection, and drove out of the photo on the right down Main St.

Old SR 37 in Martinsville
Windows Live Local map, 2007

Where Morton St. merged into State Road 37 wasn’t too remarkable. Because there was a fair amount of traffic, I decided to play it safe. I pulled onto the shoulder and snapped a photo of this merge through my windshield.

Merging with SR 37

Next: A three-span pony truss bridge on an old alignment in southern Morgan County.

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Road Trips

Short original segment of State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway north of Martinsville, Indiana

Let’s return to my 2007 road trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Windows Live Local map, 2007

After the police chased me off the abandoned bridge, I shook off a shaky feeling and got back on the road. The next segment of the original State Road 37 alignment came about two miles later. It’s still in Morgan County, southwest of a dot on the map called Adams, just south of Egbert Road. Here’s the map of its northern end.

Notice that there’s no sign of where Old SR 37 went to the north of where the access road meets it. I found no sign when I stood in that curve, either. This photo shows the access road. The curve to Old SR 37 begins at the Marathon station.

To Old SR 37

I revisited this old alignment in 2017 and made this photo of the Marathon station. The project in 2020 to convert SR 37 to I-69 claimed this mom-and-pop business; the building is gone.

Country Marathon
Windows Live Local map, 2007

I wonder how many other businesses I-69 is causing to close permanently. I support the I-69 project overall. It stretches all the way to Evansville, finally giving that city a direct Interstate link to Indianapolis. I-69 already links Indiana to the Canadian border north of Detroit. When it is complete it will link Indiana to the Mexican border in Texas.

But back to 2007 and this road trip. There wasn’t much to this segment, which lasted 1.2 miles. It ended in a curve that met current SR 37. The original road continued beyond the curve. Here’s what it looked like at the curve.

Old SR 37

Unlike at the abandoned portion where the police chased me away, this time the old road was clearly and cleverly marked as private property. I stayed out.

Do you think they wanted me to stay out?

Next: The original alignment of State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway through Martinsville.

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Road Trips

Abandoned bridge on Old State Road 37 in Morgan County, Indiana

Let’s return to my 2007 road trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington. Normally I’m just copying text and photos from my old road-trip site, but this time I have some new things to say.

After experiencing the exciting abandoned segment of Old State Road 37 north of Waverly, I got back into my car and drove the length of this segment as it crossed into Morgan County. It was paved and in good shape. I had it all to myself as it swayed gently through the countryside. I passed through the tiny town of Waverly on the way, but it didn’t interrupt the pleasure of this drive.

Old SR 37
Windows Live Local map, 2007

At the other end of this segment, the road curved to intersect with current SR 37, as the map shows. But a ridge is visible that extends from the old road. Spoiler alert: it’s abandoned road, and there’s an old bridge in there.

In 2020, SR 37 is becoming Interstate 69 between Indianapolis and Bloomington. It means widening the road, building exits, and closing all roads that currently intersect.

The section between Bloomington and about Martinsville is done. Work is just now beginning on the final section, from Martinsville to Indianapolis. When I made a trip to Bloomington in early March 2020, trees were being cleared the whole way.

About halfway to Martinsville, near the town of Waverly, I spotted it: an abandoned bridge, about 100 feet away. Trees had been reduced to stumps all around it, exposing it.

I know that bridge. I discovered it when I toured State Road 37’s old alignments in 2007. This bridge was on an abandoned part of the old alignment that ran through Waverly.

Here’s where the abandoned part of the old alignment begins, as it looked in 2007.

Old SR 37

I drove in.

Abandoned Old SR 37

I was surprised to find the bridge in there! It was heavily overgrown.

Abandoned bridge

I didn’t have anything to go on but the railing to date this bridge. That railing is typical of Indiana highway bridges from the 1920s and 1930s.

Abandoned bridge

Because modern SR 37 was close by, the predominant sound was of traffic. This old bridge was probably briefly visible to those who whizzed by, if they knew to look for it. I’ll bet hardly anybody knew it was there.

SR 37 from Old SR 37

The abandoned alignment ended shortly past the bridge. Notice the dirt path off its end, and the paved entrance/exit to SR 37 on the left. This led to someone’s house.

Abandoned Old SR 37

I’m betting it was whoever lived in that house who called the cops on me.

I had just finished making these photographs and was about to get back into my car when I saw the “Private Property, Keep Out” sign. Now, I heed “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs when I go exploring. I don’t want any trouble, and I empathize with property owners not wanting strangers traipsing around on their land. But this sign faced the road. You wouldn’t see it unless you stopped next to it and looked right at it, as I did.

I hoped that it meant only that the land behind it was private property. But when the police car arrived and hovered anxiously, I realized that this was not the case. The property owner probably called the cops on me. I turned around and hightailed it out of there. Fortunately, the officer let me be chased off.

I don’t know, but I imagine, that this relic of a highway era gone by will be demolished so that I-69 can be built.

Next: a short segment of the original alignment in Morgan County just north of Martinsville.

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Road Trips

The most exciting abandoned road I’ve ever found

Let’s return to my 2007 road trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Windows Live Local map, 2007

A few hundred yards after reaching the dead end of the previous segment of Old State Road 37, I picked up another segment at 700N.

Tracing north from where 700N intersects Old SR 37, past where the road goes through a trailer park, a ridge exists where the road used to go. Notice how it would have curved to flow into the 800N segment.

Looking at that ridge on the map as I researched this trip, I hoped for a juicy abandoned section of this road. I was not disappointed.

Here’s where 700N curves to become Old SR 37 southbound. Notice the path that continues northbound.

Old SR 37

The trailer park was just north of here on Old SR 37, but to access it you have to follow the curve and then drive through the parking lot (where my little red car is parked) to get back on Old SR 37. The trailer park is less than a quarter mile up the road.

Old SR 37

As I drove into the unusually tidy trailer park, a mound of dirt blocked my way. A branch stretched low across the road.

A mound of dirt

I started to get excited — how long would this abandoned stretch be? At first, it looked like the road ended a couple hundred feet ahead.

Abandoned Old SR 37

But as I walked near, I saw that this was where a bridge had once been, and that the road continued on the other side. Fortunately, the creek bank and the creek itself were shallow, and people had placed all sorts of objects in and over the creek to aid roadfans like me in their adventures, so I picked my way across.

Bridge out - Abandoned Old SR 37

As I came up the bank, I saw the concrete road pad with three layers of asphalt on it, a couch dragged out into the middle of the road, and then the road stretching out for a long way before me. Woohoo! I climbed up the bank.

Abandoned SR 37

The abandoned couch was a sad, sad affair. It looked deliberately placed, perfectly perpendicular to the road’s edge.

Abandoned SR 37

The northbound sight from there was glorious overgrown abandoned road as far as the eye could see. What I thought was a ridge on the map was really old road obscured by trees. I am always astonished that without human intervention, roads eventually look like this:

Abandoned SR 37

I couldn’t tell exactly how far I walked along this segment from where I left my car — I guessed about a half mile — making it the longest abandoned road segment I’ve ever seen. Notice how large the trees are beyond where the old road was cut off. This stretch hasn’t been a road in many, many years, at least since 1970, since my 1970 map shows the road along its current alignment.

Abandoned SR 37

The closer I got to the end, the more I could hear cars. At the end, I turned east and saw cars speeding by through the brush and trees. I was probably 30 feet from current SR 37.

State Road 37 from abandoned SR 37

That walk absolutely exhilarated me! It wasn’t until I was halfway back that it occurred to me that people from the trailer park probably used this secluded spot for illicit activities, and that it might not actually be safe to be in there.

Next: more of this old alignment, and the time the police came and chased me away.

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Road Trips

Segments of the original State Road 37 alignment in northern Johnson County, Indiana

Let’s return to my 2007 trip along Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway between Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Windows Live Local map, 2007

Just before the Marion-Johnson county line, the road swings west, away from State Road 37’s original alignment, and the old road reappears.

I turned in on County Line Road and headed north up the short segment of Bluff Road. It’s the last little bit of the original alignment in Indianapolis.

The road narrows, the pavement ends, and somebody’s gravel driveway begins. I imagine that their driveway once emptied directly onto the old two-lane SR 37.

Old SR 37

Looking southbound toward County Line Road from this spot, it’s clear that the grass has overgrown the edges on this short segment.

Old SR 37
Windows Live Local map, 2007

South of County Line Road, the road is marginally wider as the grass has been kept at bay. Also, the road was striped double yellow down the middle like a highway.

Johnson County clearly considers this a road worthy of maintenance. Marion County (Indianapolis) does only the minimum for its part of this segment.

The end of this alignment came 1.6 miles later. Bluff Road curved and met current SR 37, but a little tail remained.

Old SR 37

A new housing subdivision was being built here, and old SR 37 was used for its entrance. Before that, the old road simply ended here. Almost dead center in this photograph, you can see a car on current SR 37.

Old SR 37
Windows Live Local map, 2007

The next little segment of the old alignment lay a couple miles to the south of County Line Road. On the east side of SR 37, the crossroad is labeled 800N, but on the west side, it’s labeled Old St Rd 37.

Old alignments are almost always rounded off like this to meet the new road more squarely, for safety. But in this case, they did it only to the north end of it.

This photo shows the access road to the segment of old SR 37. It wasn’t clear on the map whether the road emptied out onto State Road 37 or not. The Dead End sign here cleared up that mystery.

To Old SR 37

Where the road curved south and the old highway took over, I turned around looking for any sign of the old highway as it would have stretched northbound. I stood in the middle of the old road, pointing northbound, to take this photo. Except for the utility poles running on the right in alignment with where the old road had been, you can’t tell a highway ever ran through here.

NB Old 37

Turning around from this spot, here’s this old alignment as it heads south.

Old SR 37

This alignment ends a half mile later, the pavement ending cleanly at somebody’s driveway. As you drive on current SR 37, you can see the little guardrail just beyond the trash can. If you didn’t know what lay beyond it, you might not give it a second thought.

Old SR 37

Turning around from here and looking northbound at the tree-lined old highway, the lovely scene made me long for the day this highway was still in use. Maybe it’s just my fantasy, but I imagine the trip to Bloomington being more pleasant not just because of the narrow road, but because drivers might be more likely to slow down, open the windows, and take in the beauty on either side.

Old SR 37

From here to Martinsville, all of the old SR 37 alignment had this two-foot extension on each side. You can see the weeds growing in the crack. I wonder whether this was a tiny shoulder of sorts, or whether this was an attempt to widen the old concrete road. I’m betting the latter.

Old SR 37

Next: the old alignment through Waverly, and the single most exciting abandoned road I’ve ever found.

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