Dandy Trail

Before there was an interstate 465, before SR 100, or even SR 534, there was a drivable loop road around the city of Indianapolis. Unlike I-465, and its 53 mile loop, this loop entailed 88 mile connection of already present roads, venturing closer to the county line than SR 100 or I-465. This loop was created by the Hoosier Motor Club (HMC), a part of the American Automobile Association (AAA). It was named after a prize Pomeranian belonging to M. E. Noblet, the then secretary-manager of the HMC. This would be the Dandy Trail.

The Dandy Trail was mapped and marked in the spring of 1920. The first tour of part of the route would be a drive of the northern section on 9 May 1920. The southern part would be traversed on 16 May 1920. (Source: Indianapolis News, 1 May 1920, pp 17) It should be noted here that the Dandy Trail was an Auto Trail, a named path put together by an organization, as opposed to a state road of any kind. As such, all signs and markings would be the responsibility of the Hoosier Motor Club, not any government agency. In the source article, there is a picture of the junction of the Dandy Trail and the Jackson Highway, which at the time used the Lafayette Road from Indianapolis to Lebanon. Another note here is that the Dandy Trail was marked along Lafayette Road from Traders Point (located at the crossing of Big Eagle Creek and Lafayette Road, at roughly what would be the equivalent of 75th Street) and 71st Street, the road to New Augusta.

Indianapolis News, 1 May 1920.

Starting in the northwestern part of Marion County, working clockwise around, the marked Dandy Trail would, at the time, connect Traders Point, New Augusta, Meridian Hills, Broad Ripple, Allisonville, Castleton, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Lawrence, Lanesville, Five Points, Southport, Glenn’s Valley, Antrim, Drexel Gardens, and Speedway. But, it has to be said that there was not a real straight connection between these points.

The routing is listed following. It should be noted that while the roads that are still in place can be followed, not all of the roads are in the same place. I will be posting some maps from MapIndy to show these changes.

Starting at Traders Point, the marked road would travel south along Lafayette Road, turning east on what is now 71st Street. It would stay on 71st Street and Westlane Road to Spring Mill Road. South on Spring Mill, crossing Kessler to become Illinois Street (before Kessler Boulevard was built, Illinois Street going north crossed the river and became immediately what is now Spring Mill Road). South on Illinois, the road turned east (more northeast, actually) onto Westfield Boulevard. It followed Westfield through Broad Ripple (where Westfield Blvd. became SR 1). The route then turned east on 80th Street, which turned into Union Chapel Road. Union Chapel, at the time, connected to 86th Street next to White River, on which Dandy Trail turned east. 86th turns into 82nd near that point, which is followed to Hague Road.

MayIndy 1941 image of the Dandy Trail along 80th Streets and Union Chapel Road with a dim current transportation overlay showing the location of current Keystone Avenue and other disruptions in the original route.

Turning north on Hague Road, the Dandy Trail then uses 86th Street again, heading east to Sargent Road. The route then followed this curvy road south to the Fall Creek Road. This is one place where Dandy Trail connected to Fort Benjamin Harrison. It skirted the northern edge of the fort while connecting to 56th Street. The trail then turned east on 56th Street, which it followed to the gated community of Brendonwood. While this area is not accessible today, Dandy Trail actually followed the arch that is Lawrence Avenue through Brendonwood. Upon returning to 56th Street, it followed that road onto Fort Benjamin Harrison before turning south on Shadeland Avenue.

MapIndy 1941 image showing the original path of Franklin Road from south of 16th Street to north of 21st Street.

South on Shadeland Avenue, the route turns east on 46th Street, which is followed to Franklin Road. South on Franklin Road (some of which no longer exists since the building of I-70) to Washington Street, east on Washington, then south on Post Road. Post Road south to Troy Avenue, west to Five Points Road, south to Hanna Avenue, west to Arlington Avenue, then south to Shelbyville Road. Shelbyville Road, after going northwest and west, turns into Thompson Road (historically, it was Shelbyville Road to what is now Carson Avenue). Just past Carson, the Dandy Trail turns south on McFarland Road, west on Southport, south on Meridian, west on Stop 11 (note – NOT what is now Meridian School). The historic Stop 11 Road (originally Frye Road) followed, as did the Dandy Trail, what is now Rahke Road between the two sections of Stop 11. This routing of Stop 11/Frye Road had been in place since at least 1855, according to maps. Again, the Dandy Trail followed Stop 11 west, Bluff Road southwest, Wicker Road west, Lake Road north, and Southport Road west to Mann Road. Southport Road had been, and still is, the southern most bridge over the White River in Marion County.

The Dandy Trail then turned north on Mann Road, west on Mooresville, north on Lynhurst, turning east on Vermont. Vermont Street used to have a bridge across Eagle Creek, which has since been removed. Grande Avenue was part of the old trail, but can be reached by turning north on Gasoline Alley. The Dandy Trail then followed Cossell Road and Winton Avenue to 16th Street, which at the time was both the Dixie Highway and the Crawfordsville Road. The Dandy Trail shared the road with the Dixie Highway from 16th and Winton, across 16th Street, Cunningham Road, and the old Crawfordsville Road (which ran south of the current Crawfordsville Road and the old Peoria & Eastern railroad tracks).

MapIndy 1941 image with the original path of the Dandy Trail marked, from Crawfordsville Road north to 38th Street. The current Dandy Trail curves around the original route from north of current 34th Street south to Crawfordsville Road, where it connects to Country Club Road.

From the next turn of the old road, to the chosen beginning point at Traders Point, the old route is very much missing in parts. Salt Lake Road, which is east of the road now called Dandy Trail, was followed north, where it crossed Eagle Creek, then turned east on 34th Street. It should be noted that this connection is long gone, so it is best to follow the route NOW called Dandy Trail, although it really has nothing to due with the old route in this section. The original Dandy Trail was moved, from 34th Street north, to the new route in many places, while some of the old road is used between 34th Street and Sailors Lane north of 46th Street. At what is now Sailors Lane, the road turned west and skirted Eagle Creek on the east bank until it reached 56th Street. At 56th Street, the route crossed Eagle Creek, then continued north to Lafayette Road.

Route of the Dandy Trail around 56th Street through what is now Eagle Creek Reservoir. The base photo is from 1941, courtesy of MapIndy.

Now, a shrewd map reader will notice that the described crossing of Eagle Creek is a bit on the wet side, now being in the middle of the Eagle Creek Reservoir. This is true from basically Sailors Lane north to near Hill Creek on the west side of the reservoir in Eagle Creek Park, where the old road becomes a walking trail before ending at a west running branch of the reservoir south of Wilson Road. The street name, Dandy Trail, still exists east of the intersection of Traders Lane and Wilson Road. It is now inside park property. But the road connected directly to the Lafayette Road across Eagle Creek from the intersection of Dandy Trail and Wilson Road. The travelers would then find themselves back in Traders Point…or at least the old town of Traders Point.

Route of the Dandy Trail from Lafayette Road/Wilson Road south through what is now Eagle Creek Park. The blue section is now Eagle Creek Reservoir. The base photo is from 1941, courtesy of MapIndy.

Other than the west leg from 46th north to Lafayette Road which probably still exists under the waters or the reservoir, the other sections that can’t be exactly driven are as follows (again clockwise from Traders Point): from Spring Mill Road to Illinois Street, which requires using Kessler Boulevard to cross White River; the Westfield Boulevard section from College Avenue to Winthrop Avenue in Broad Ripple gets a little dicey, although it may still be intact; Union Chapel Road from 80th Street to 86th Street (cut at Keystone Avenue and before reaching 86th Street); the section along 86th and 82nd Streets to Allisonville (covered as part of “82nd and 86th Street Before SR 534 (SR 100)” on 20 September 2019); Fall Creek Road from Shadeland Avenue to west of I-465 (here the old road is Fall Creek Road North from Shadeland to Boy Scout Road); the section mentioned above in Brendonwood; the original area of Shadeland Avenue at 56th Street (current under I-465); Franklin Road from north of 21st Street to south of 16th Street (shown in a map above); Troy Avenue at Franklin Road (detoured since I-74 was built to go right through that intersection); Hanna Avenue between Churchman Bypass and Arlington Avenue (again moved for I-465); the above mentioned Vermont Avenue bridge over Eagle Creek; old Crawfordsville Road from Cunningham Road to near Girls School Road; the section from Crawfordsville Road north to north of 34th Street; sections at 38th and 46th Streets (changed for traffic efficiency, since both these roads ended at the original Dandy Trail); and everything north of Sailors Lane.

The Dandy Trail was covered quite well by Jim Grey, another blogger and co-admin of the Indiana Transportation History Facebook group. His original post is called “It’s 1921, and you’re taking a pleasure drive on the Dandy Trail.” Other posts by Jim are available using this search of his blog site. He has a link to both an original map of the route and a Google map that he created. I recommend checking those out.


6 thoughts on “Dandy Trail

  1. Awesome article. The Dandy was certainly a circuitous route, even in its day. Definitely a pleasure drive, not a way to really get anywhere.

    Did you notice in the Indianapolis News photo at the top that the pole has both a Dandy Trail and a Jackson Highway sign on it?


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