Dixie Highway Marks 100 Years
A young fur trader’s work nearly 200 years ago to set up a series of trading posts from Chicago to Vincennes, Ind., laid the groundwork for what we know today as the Dixie Highway, which turned 100 in 2015.
Described as the World’s Greatest Rolling Car Show, Drivin’ the Dixie, annually held in June, helps you experience and learn about the towns and activities along the Dixie Highway, starting in Blue Island and ending in Momence. Participants travel from town to town, getting their passport stamped at the various points of interest. Each stamp earns them a raffle ticket for prizes awarded after the event.
DrivingTheDixie.com is your source for details about the event or call Elaine Egdorf 708-798-9535.
The Dixie Highway’s humble beginnings came in the 1820s. James Wright, a historian and author, details the history of the highway and its importance in his book, “The Dixie Highway in Illinois.” Trapper Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard established trade posts from Chicago to Vincennes. The path connecting them became known as Hubbard’s Trail, and later as the Chicago-Vincennes Road. The Illinois General Assembly in 1935 designated it as Illinois Route 1.
At a time when the main source of transportation was horse and buggy, the future Dixie Highway became increasingly important as motor vehicles arrived on the scene. According to Wright, that gave rise to the Good Roads Movement, which sought paved surfaces for roads beyond the boundaries of cities to benefit commerce and agriculture, as well as tourism.
One of the routes that arose through this movement was the Dixie Highway, which connected the Midwest with the Southeastern United States, according to Wright. By 1925, the official map of the Dixie Highway displayed 5,786 miles of improved roadway.
Indiana native Carl Fisher, who had been involved in the Lincoln Highway project, also took an interest in the Dixie Highway. Some refer to him today as the father of the Dixie Highway, which finally was birthed in 1914. The meeting of the Dixie and Lincoln Highway, the Crossroads of the Nation, happens in Chicago Heights.
Points of Interest Along the Dixie Highway
- Blue Island
Shops and Restaurants on Old Western Avenue Include:
- Chicago Heights
- Bloom Township High School
- Crossroads of the Nation (Intersection of Dixie Highway & Lincoln Highway)
- Vincennes Trail Marker
- Historic Train Depot
- Beecher Historical Society