Road Trips

Old US 31 in Mexico, Indiana

On September 15, 2007, one of my oldest friends and I went in search of the original alignments of US 31 in Indiana from the Michigan state line to Indianapolis. I wrote about this trip on my old Roads site back then, but am now bringing those articles over to this blog.

I had always been curious about this sign along US 31.

Sign to Mexico, Indiana

Today my curiosity would finally be satisfied. After only about two miles on the big slab we came upon Mexico Road, which is old US 31. It seemed odd that we had to make a solid left turn to get onto Mexico Road, as this map shows. I expected the road to flow more naturally out of current US 31. I saw no evidence either on the ground or on this map of the road being realigned. My 1916 and 1924 Automobile Blue Books both describe the road as having no turns between Rochester and here.

In 2016, the Miami County highway engineer found this page as it then existed on my old Roads site and wrote to me to share lots of good resources about old US 31 in Miami County. He first pointed me to a 1936 map of roads in that county. It shows Old US 31 flowing straight here.

Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library

Here’s what the turnoff from current US 31 to old US 31 looks like on the ground today.

Old US 31

Shortly we entered Mexico, established in 1834. Here’s a map. The Mexico sign is on the southeast corner of US 31 and 400 N, by the way.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

There wasn’t much to see in Mexico. Everything centers around Mexico Road and 400 N. Here’s the northwest corner of that intersection. (As I update this trip report in 2021, I have learned that this set of buildings has been razed, and this corner is now vacant.)

Mexico, IN

Down Old US 31 a bit, the Mexico Fire Department was selling an old pumper. The sign said it’s a 1978, but it looks a lot more like a 1973 to me. They only wanted 5 large for it.

Mexico, IN

Brian and I were looking at the 1916 and 1924 Automobile Blue Books I brought along, and both of them told drivers to turn left at a bank (which we couldn’t find, but we guess was at 400 N), over the Eel River bridge, and then right at the first road. This is almost certainly 190 W, the road just east of the river that intersects with Mexico Road in the lower right corner of the map above. The ABBs say this road goes all the way to Peru and did not mention this intersection, so in those days perhaps Mexico Road didn’t come this far south. Brian speculated that State Road 1 may have followed this route, but I don’t have enough information to confirm it.

When the Miami County Highway Engineer contacted me in 2016, he confirmed the suspicions Brian and I shared. He sent me a link to this 1916 mail route map, which shows the area’s roads very well. It looks a lot to me like what became US 31 (and before that Original State Road 1) hugged the Eel River on what is now Water Street, crossed that river on a bridge, and then exited on what is now 190 W. What is currently Old US 31 in Mexico must be the result of a realignment of the highway through town.

Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library

Brian and I drove 190 W rather than Old US 31. Here’s what it looked like.

Original State Road 1

The Miami County Highway Engineer also told me that the alignment through Mexico was changed in the 1920s. He also told me that this project realigned the road around what is now a DNR office southeast of Mexico. He created this image from an aerial map to show the original alignment’s location.

I’ve searched this area on Google Maps Street View, and there’s little evidence on the ground that this alignment ever existed. If I ever go back, I’ll stop here and explore on foot to see if I can find evidence of it.

Next: Peru, Indiana, on Old US 31.

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Sign to Mexico, Indiana

This way to Mexico
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2007

I didn’t make a trip to Texas to make this photograph. Rather, I drove to northern Indiana.

I don’t know how the town of Mexico, Indiana, got its name. All I know is that it was right on US 31 for a lot of years, until Indiana decided to move it and widen it to four divided lanes in the late 60s or early 70s. The new highway bypassed tiny Mexico, and I’m sure through traffic dried up instantly.

You’ll find this sign along current US 31 at a crossroads with Mexico’s Main Street. If you follow this sign, you’ll find that there’s not much to Mexico.

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Photography

single frame: This way to Mexico

A giant sign pointing to a tiny town in northern Indiana.

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