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The Dandy Trail -- 88 Miles Around Indianapolis


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#1 mobilene

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 07:39 AM

I want to draw your attention to my most recent blog post, about the Dandy Trail, which was a 1910s-1920s pleasure-drive loop around Marion County, Indiana. It was at the time a country drive, but is now entirely city, having long been absorbed by a growing Indianapolis.

http://blog.jimgrey....he-dandy-trail/

The trail was organized and signed by the Hoosier Motor Club, which created a map of the route. A 1921 copy of that map is in the collection of the Indiana State Library, and not long ago I went downtown to view and photograph it, and then to map its route onto modern roads. (An image is on the blog.) Except for a long segment of the road that was destroyed when Eagle Creek Reservoir was built in the 1960s, and a few minor reroutings, you can still drive the entire Dandy Trail today.

Not long ago, incredibly, I found on eBay a set of seven glass-plate negatives of photos from along the trail. Only two of the photos include anything that might be used to locate them, both via road signs being part of the photo. One sign is marked Sargent Road, which is on Indy's Northeastside. The other sign says "Dandy Trail" on one blade; the other blade is hard to make out, but it looks to be a numbered road, like "60th St" or something. It's too little information to go on to place it accurately.

I had the images digitized; here they are on Flickr.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/sets/72157629790704676/

Just going about my normal business I've been on almost all the roads that made up the Dandy Trail -- at least those north of the National Road, as I have almost zero need ever to drive south of it.

-Jim

#2 Chris Rowland

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 08:15 AM

Jim, this is great information! I always wondered why the road was called Dandy Trail, and had no idea that it went beyond the northwest side of town. As for the street sign crossing the numbered street, it looks to me like it says "46th Street" which would place it on the northwest side of town (you can just make out the little triangle that forms the top of the number '4' to the left of the 6). Two additional reasons for that: looks like a "T" intersection, and that the road is actually called "Dandy Trail." I am thinking that over the rest of town, such as the one of Sargent Road, the streets were not renamed for the trail, except the area of town where it still retains the name.

I am wondering whether the Sargent Road sign is at the intersection with Fall Creek Road, although the sign for Sargent Road would then be at 90 degrees from where it should be, since Sargent is the one that T's at that location. The only other T along Sargent would be 75th Street or at Lantern Road, but I would expect the fishery to be on Fall Creek. The field behind it also reminds me somewhat of the field south of Fall Creek at that intersection.

Thanks for posting this!

Chris

#3 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 11:17 AM

Jim,

That is a first class find!! And a great blog. Looks like you have a large "fan" club!

It appears that the slides were done when the trail was in decline. For example, the man and woman appear to be holding up a fallen sign post. What a great series of shots!

Thanks for sharing!

Dave

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#4 mobilene

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 10:27 PM

Chris - I believe you're right, that one sign does say 46th St. 46th and Dandy was significantly reconfigured at some point. Earlier, 46th extended a bit further west, right up to where the reservoir begins today -- so behind where this sign was, is now water!

Dave - The faded signs suggest the trail had been active for some time when the photos were taken. Hard telling, really.

#5 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:19 PM

Jim,

Did you know, the trail was named for a dog....Dandy. He was a Pomeranian. How is that for trivia?!

Dave

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#6 mobilene

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 06:54 PM

I did! The dog belonged to a Hoosier Motor Club exec. But how did you find out? -Jim

#7 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 08:15 PM

Jim,

I have my ways! :happy2: I guess that is a drawing of Dandy on the bridge abutment.

Seriously, I just did a search in Google Books (free e-books) and found references in magazines from 1920.

I think your find is terrific. Frankly it could hardly be better. Obviously the photos were purposely taken of the Dandy Trail, and at a time when it had been around for a while and was no longer it its prime.

Now you “own” the Dandy Trail. I didn't go beyond the first couple of citations, so there may be other good stuff. At the very least the story is worth an article or two.

When I'm in the “archives” I'll keep my eye out for “The Dandy!”

Dave

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#8 mobilene

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:08 AM

Well now! Thanks for the tip. I should stop assuming that a general Google search returns items from Books, as it apparently doesn't.

So what I've learned from a quick search is that the Dandy Trail opened May 25, 1920. These photos then are from the 1920s. The woman who scanned these negs for me does historic photo research for a living and said that the glass-plate era had ended by 1920, but apparently someone in Indianapolis didn't get the memo, as these photos then have to be from the 1920s.

#9 mobilene

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:47 AM

PS. I'm thinking about donating these negatives to the Indiana Historical Society or the Indiana State Library or someone who can take proper care of them. I'm happy to have only the digital scans.

#10 mobilene

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 07:25 AM

The 1921 Dandy Trail map says to just go out any major road until you reach the Dandy Trail, so that's exactly what I did yesterday. I live closest to the old Michigan Road, so I went out it until I reached Westlane Road, which was the Dandy Trail. I drove it halfway around the city, to where it intersected the Michigan Road again on the south side of town. I'll complete the loop another day.

I knew that stopping for photographs would be difficult, as what's not a busy city street on the trail is a narrow two-lane that may look like a country road but gets city-level traffic. So I got out this suction-cup camera mount dojobby I have and attached my camera to my windshield so I could shoot video. I did that everywhere I thought the view was interesting. The first place I shot begins as I turn off Michigan Road onto Dandy Trail, er, Westlane Road. This is very much in my neighborhood; I use both of these roads all the time. This is one of the ways I can travel to work. Westlane Rd. is lined with apartment complexes here, which is hard to tell in the video. These have become lower-income complexes in the years I've lived here, and it has become very common to see people who live in these apartments but who do not have cars walking along this road to get to a bus stop. At one time, this stretch of Westlane Road was State Road 434 (http://highwayexplor...=1434&section=1).

Anyway, the video.



#11 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 11:30 AM

Jim,

Well I'll be darned, Indiana looks like Washington without the volcanoes!

I noted that a white car (Cadillac?) pulled out early in the video and almost ended the expedition. That would have gone viral! Better luck next time :) :lol: :wavetowel2:

I am pleased we can now post videos, and you followed the magic 2 minutes or less rule.....keep em wanting more. Based on the scenes from the first half of the Dandy, I am anxiously awaiting the second half.

Dave

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#12 mobilene

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 12:10 PM

Thanks Dave! Yes, more than 2 minutes of the road unwinding before you can get pretty dull, even for a roadfan. I shot probably a half hour of video yesterday, but will be doling it out in much smaller pieces. Yes, that Cadillac did pull out in front of me... the wide-angle lens I was using made him look farther away than he actually was -- in reality, I had to slow down to avoid hitting him. But if I *had* hit him, I would have had plenty of evidence for the police!

#13 mobilene

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 06:28 PM

Another clip. As I drove, I came to see the wisdom of the roads chosen. It made quite the scenic drive then and, in many cases, even now. This is Spring Mill Hill, on Spring Mill Road. This is also the first place I encountered where modern roads don't exactly match the Trail. In 1921, Spring Mill Road didn't end at Kessler Blvd. as shown. Rather, just before it reached where Kessler would come to be, it veered left and crossed a river over a bridge that no longer exists, and then veered right and flowed right into what is now Illinois St. Today, you have to stop at Kessler, turn left, cross the bridge there, and then at the end of the bridge if you want to go onto Illinois St. you have to turn right.



#14 mobilene

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 07:54 PM

One more. This is Westfield Blvd. as it heads to Broad Ripple. Broad Ripple used to be a little town, but is now part of Indianapolis and is essentially a neighborhood. It also was signed as State Road 1 when Indiana put its first numbered highway system together in 1918, and became US 31 with the advent of the route system. It hasn't been US 31 in a very long time.

On the left is the Central Canal, part of a set of canals that, along with other infrastructure projects, bankrupted Indiana in the 1830s. Where I turn left and then right, Westfield Blvd. used to go straight through without that jog, through about the early 1980s. Also, beyond the jog Westfield Blvd. was two lanes (one each direction) until the early 1990s, when the parking situation there was created.

Dave, this video goes a tad over 2 minutes, but I hope you won't doze off.



#15 DennyG

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:41 PM

I failed to keep up with this thread in real-time but have now caught up by watching a triple feature. The Dandy Trail really does look inviting. Especially the part shown in the second reel. Regarding reel #3, I didn't realize there was that much of the Central Canal still around. I was only aware of what I thought was small piece at the White River Park at US-40. On a map it looks like quite a bit remains.

As a bonus, the background music provided a test for the SoundHound app on my phone. Jerry Garcia, The Real Tuesday Weld, & Artie Shaw?

#16 mobilene

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 09:53 AM

Denny, your SoundHound app is right. Except that the Jerry Garcia clip also features David Grisman with equal billing.

Encouraged, here are more "reels."

The Dandy Trail's path on the north side of town where it crosses the White River along 86th/82nd St. has changed significantly over the years. The bridge that carried the trail was actually a bit south of this one, which was built in 1941. Historic aerial imagery of this area show quite a different alignment of 82nd St. here, too, and it was a two-lane road out here until the 1980s. Today, it's sprawlburbia.



PS. This was State Road 100 at one time. It was going to be a loop all around the city on existing major surface streets, but I-465 supplanted it before it was finished.

#17 mobilene

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 09:54 AM

I was very pleasantly surprised by how much of what was the Dandy Trail is still a pleasant drive today. The woman who laid out this route did a nice job finding the winding roads, and many of them are probably little changed from the 1920s save asphalt pavement and more houses built alongside. This is East 86th St. as it approaches Sargent Rd., and then Sargent Rd. south to 82nd St. This is in the far northeast corner of the Dandy Trail.



#18 mobilene

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 09:54 AM

So much of the trail on the Northeastside winds through hilly countryside like this. Where I veer right, I'm following Fall Creek Road's original alignment. The current alignment continues straight. I-465's construction interrupted Fall Creek Road's original alignment, making the new alighment necessary. Old Fall Creek Road lies abandoned on the other side of I-465.




#19 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:58 PM

Jim,

I didn't doze off at all, but the psychedelic flashes of sun on the windshield mesmerized me, especially in reel 2. I found the ride fun, but I turned off the sound near the beginning of reel 2, so I missed Denny's discoveries.

A bit off target, but I noted the “village” at the very end of reel 3. I rather like those little suburban enclaves that were originally outside the city, and linked to it by streetcar. They often have charming small businesses, perhaps a movie theater, and if they have an alley behind the storefronts, some historical old signs, like “Dinners 35 cents.”

Thanks for the videos and keeping them short.

Dave

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#20 mobilene

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 01:07 PM

Yes, you've noticed Broad Ripple. It was indeed a little fairly self-contained village connected to Indianapolis by streetcar and the Westfield Road. Today, it is a destination of restaurants, nightclubs, and a few artsy shops. It is so well developed today that I would be surprised to find a single ghost sign in an alley, but I haven't explored every one. A few years ago, a building at the end of the "strip" was remodeled from one purpose to another, and while the previous facade was stripped off you could see very clearly that the building had been an A&P. Sure wish I'd made time to photograph that.




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