Dixie Highway-Hastings, Espanola and Bunnell Road

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Dixie Highway-Hastings, Espanola and Bunnell Road

The Dixie Highway was a United States automobile highway, first planned in 1914 to connect the US Midwest with the Southern United States. It was part of the National Auto Trail system, and grew out of an earlier Miami to Montreal highway. The final result is better understood as a small network of interconnected paved roads, rather than a single highway. It was constructed and expanded from 1915 to 1927.

The Dixie Highway was inspired by the example of the slightly earlier Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States. The prime booster of both projects was promoter and businessman Carl G. Fisher. It was overseen by the Dixie Highway Association, and funded by a group of individuals, businesses, local governments, and states. In the early years the U.S. federal government played little role, but from the early 1920s on it provided increasing funding, until 1927 when the Dixie Highway Association was disbanded and the highway was taken over as part of the U.S. Route system, with some portions becoming state roads.

The route of the Dixie Highway was marked by a red stripe with the letters "DH" on it, usually with a white stripe above and below. This was commonly painted on utility poles along the route.


The Dixie Highway, an idea of Carl G. Fisher of the Lincoln Highway Association, was organized in early December 1914 in Chattanooga. On April 3, 1915, governors of the interested states met at Chattanooga, and each selected two commissioners to lay out the route from Chicago, Illinois to Miami, Florida. On May 22, 1915, the commission decided on a split route in order to serve more communities. The route left Chicago to the south via Danville, Illinois and turned east to Indianapolis, where it split. The west branch headed south through Tennessee via Louisville and Nashville to Chattanooga, Tennessee, while the east route went east from Indianapolis to Dayton, Ohio before turning south via Cincinnati; Lexington, Kentucky; and Knoxville, Tennessee; to Chattanooga. Two alternate routes were included between Chattanooga and Atlanta, Georgia, and again between Atlanta and Macon, Georgia. Finally, between Macon and Jacksonville, Florida, the west route went south to Tallahassee, Florida before turning east, while the east route had yet to be defined in detail. From Jacksonville, the route followed the east coast south to Miami along the John Anderson Highway. The commission voted to invite Michigan and to extend a branch of the east route from Dayton north to Detroit via Toledo, as well as to study a loop around Lake Michigan and a western route between Tallahassee and Miami.

Within a week, Michigan agreed to construct a loop around the Lower Peninsula, passing via South Bend, Mackinaw City, Detroit, and Toledo. Detroit became the northern end of the eastern division, with the old route to Indianapolis becoming a connecting link. In early April 1916, the commission approved the route between Macon and Jacksonville via Savannah, Georgia, and designated the more direct route via Waycross, Georgia as the central division. At the urging of locals, the eastern division was realigned to a more direct path northwest from Milledgeville, Georgia to Atlanta over the "Old Capitol Route", bypassing Macon, and the old eastern division via McDonough, Jackson, and Macon was removed from the system in early July 1916. By early 1917, the western division had been modified in Florida to go southeast from Tallahassee via Kissimmee and Bartow to the eastern division at Jupiter; the old Tallahassee–Jacksonville route became another connection. The Carolina division, connecting to the eastern division at Knoxville, Tennessee and Waynesboro, Georgia, was approved in mid-May 1918. By mid-1919, a short piece on Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan became part of the eastern division of the highway, which was extended north from Detroit to Mackinaw City and across the Straits of Mackinac


The Western division connected Chicago, Illinois and Miami, Florida via Danville in Illinois; Indianapolis and Bedford in Indiana; Louisville, Elizabethtown, and Bowling Green in Kentucky; Nashville and Chattanooga in Tennessee; Atlanta, Macon, and Albany in Georgia; and Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, Arcadia, and Naples in Florida.

Except for realignments made since the 1920s, the western division is now Illinois Route 1 and U.S. Route 136 to Indianapolis, Indiana State Road 37 and U.S. Route 150 to Louisville, U.S. Route 31W, U.S. Route 68, and U.S. Route 431 to Nashville, and U.S. Route 41, U.S. Route 231, U.S. Route 41A, and U.S. Route 41 to Chattanooga. At Chattanooga, the two divisions intersected; the western took a longer route along U.S. Route 27 and U.S. Route 411 through Rome and then returned to U.S. Route 41, through Atlanta — where the eastern division split — to Macon. The highway traveled the present Georgia State Route 49, U.S. Route 19, and U.S. Route 319 to Tallahassee, U.S. Route 27 and U.S. Route 441 to Orlando, and U.S. Route 17 and U.S. Route 41 (over the Tamiami Trail) to Miami.

The Eastern division connected Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan with Miami, Florida, running via Saginaw and Detroit in Michigan; Toledo, Dayton, and Cincinnati in Ohio; Lexington in Kentucky; Knoxville and Chattanooga in Tennessee; Atlanta and Savannah in Georgia; and Jacksonville and West Palm Beach in Florida.

In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the highway followed former U.S. Route 2, now replaced by Interstate 75. It crossed the Straits of Mackinac and then used U.S. Route 23 and old U.S. Route 10 to Detroit. Currently it still exists in Michigan as the name of a secondary road from Saginaw southeast to the county line (as an alternate route to Flint), from southeast Flint to northwest Pontiac, and from Flat Rock southwest to Monroe ending at the state line. A short section of the Dixie Highway in northwest lower Michigan running north from Eastport in Antrim County to the village of Norwood in Charlevoix County is named Old Dixie Highway--U.S. Route 31 parallels this road to the east. In Ohio, it is old U.S. Route 25 (now designated as OH Route 25) to Cincinnati, current U.S. Route 25 and U.S. Route 25W to Knoxville, and U.S. Route 70 and U.S. Route 27 to Chattanooga. The eastern division took a more direct route than the western between Chattanooga and Atlanta, following U.S. Route 41 all the way, but it followed a more circuitous path south of Atlanta. Traffic left Atlanta to the east on U.S. Route 278, following U.S. Route 441, Georgia State Route 24, a short section of U.S. Route 301, and Georgia State Route 21 to Savannah. There, the route turned south along the coast via U.S. Route 17 to Jacksonville and U.S. Route 1 to Miami.

The Central division was a short cutoff between the western division at Macon, Georgia and the eastern at Jacksonville, Florida, forming a shorter route to Miami than either route on its own. This followed U.S. Route 41, U.S. Route 341, U.S. Route 129, Georgia State Route 32, and U.S. Route 1.

The Carolina division cut the distance between Knoxville and Waynesboro, both on the eastern division. This is now U.S. Route 25W and U.S. Route 25, and passes through Asheville, Greenville, and Augusta on its way to the eastern division towards Savannah.

The Dixie Highway after the U.S. Highway system

The eastern route Dixie Highway mostly became U.S. Highway 25. In the late 20th century, the route was largely paralleled and in some sections replaced by Interstate 75, which starts in Miami, Florida, and ends in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. A large portion of the former US 25 in western Ohio ultimately ended up in 1963 (after Interstate 75's completion in that area) as County Highway 25-A. A four-lane portion runs through Bowling Green between Cygnet and Toledo as Ohio State Route 25. In Michigan, M-25 from Port Huron to Bay City incorporates the segment of old US 25 that Interstates 75 and 94 did not supplant as a through route. The eastern portion from Jacksonville, Florida south was largely replaced with U.S. Route 1.

The portion of the western route from Nashville, Tennessee north to Louisville, Kentucky is now U.S. Highway 31W. In most of the cities it traverses in Kentucky, it is still referred to as "Dixie Highway" or "Dixie Avenue". The western route generally follows the present-day route of U.S. Highway 31 from Louisville to Indianapolis. From Nashville to Indianapolis, the route parallels Interstate 65. Portions of this stretch were originally parts of the Louisville and Nashville Turnpike, which began construction in the 1830s.

The name "Dixie Highway" persists in various locations along its route where the main flow of long-distance traffic has been rerouted to more modern highways and the old Dixie Highway remains as a local road. In some South Florida cities, Dixie Highway (or sometimes Old Dixie Highway) parallels "Federal Highway" (U.S. Route 1), sometimes just a block away. In Tennessee, the name lives on in Dixie Lee Junction (where Dixie Highway and Lee Highway intersected). In Western North Carolina, seven bronze plaques on granite pillars placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the late 1920s mark the route of the Dixie Highway (and honor General Robert E. Lee); these markers can be found in the towns of Hot Springs, Marshall, Asheville, Fletcher and Hendersonville, and on the NC/SC and NC/TN state lines. Today this is the route of US 25. An eighth monument of identical type can be found on US 25 in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. The name Dixie Highway is also still commonly used in portions of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, such as in the Waterford MI area, where it is very much a major thoroughfare.

In some cities and towns, Dixie Highway is the north–south axis of the street numbering system. The extension of development westward means that the northwest and southwest quadrants of the grid defined in this manner are generally much larger than the northeast and southeast ones which are constrained by the Atlantic Ocean. Also, the route of Dixie Highway generally parallels the coast, often running diagonally instead of straight north and south, causing irregularities in the numbering system.

The Dixie Highway-Hastings, Espanola and Bunnell Road (also known as County Road 13 or the Old Brick Road) is a historic section of Old Dixie Highway in Florida. It is located roughly between Espanola (in Flagler County) and CR 204 southeast of Hastings near Flagler Estates (in St. Johns County). This is one of the few extant portions of the original brick Dixie Highway left in Florida. On April 20, 2005, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.


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