In the 1920's, automobile use was
booming. Models were starting to hit the market that were
affordable for the burgeoning middle class. The Good Roads
movement, started in response to bicyclist needs, shiftted to
promoting longer, transcontinental roads. The Dixie Highway was
heavily boosted by Carl Graham Fisher, who was also a big backer
of the Lincoln Highway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It
was over 5,706 miles long and stretched as far north as Ontario,
Canada and reached as far south as Florida City, Florida, south
The first thoughts of a highway to connect the midwest and the south occured in 1914. At first, the name "Cotton Belt Route" was floated, with a thought to connect Chicago to Jacksonville, Florida, via Atlanta. The organizational meeting for the Dixie Highway Association occured on April 3, 1915 in Chattanooga, TN. The name was chosen to honor "Fifty Years of Peace" between North and South. Major personages involved besides Mr. Fisher were: W.S. Gilbreath, Hoosier Auto Club of Indianapolis; Gov. J.M. Slanton, GA; C.E. James, Chattanooga resort owner; and Gov. Ralston, KY. In May 1915, the decison was made to have two mainlines, competition had been so keen between candidate cities so as to insure parallel routes and plan for a secon norhern end in Michigan. By June, cities were celebrating the new highway. In 1916, Michigan joined the Dixie Highway Association and east leg was extended north to Canada. The roads comprising the east and west mainlines were complete by 1927, and the Dixie Highway Association disbanded.
When the U.S. Highway System was laid out in 1925 and 1926, an effort was made to keep some of the established routes on a single number. The Lincoln Highway largely became US 30. The National Pike became US 40. The Dixie Highway did not lend itself to such numbering, with two mainlines and a number of connecting routes. Some of the Dixie Highway was remitted to that states that built it, other parts were included in the new nationwide numbering system. Old auto-trail signs for the Dixie Highway were replaced as the states adopted uniform sign standards.
The Dixie Highway today exists primarily on street signs. Local roads bear witness of a grand past as major interstate corridors.
Today, you could make a good case for calling I-75 the Modern Dixie Highway, it follows the east DH leg from Canada / Upper Michigan to Knoxville, then bears southwesterly along the DH Tennessee Connector to Chattanooga and follows along the DH west leg from there south to Miami, reforging a link broken when the US numbered highway system was forged.
This website is an attempt to give connections to those various city streets, as an aid the modern auto-tourist and to answer the curious among us who looked up at a faded street sign and wondered... where did this Dixie Highway go?
Connectors: Joined the West and East mainlines
Loops: Alternate routes along the mainlines
Marc Fannin, John Boteler, Adrian Leskiw, Chris Bessert, Luke McNeeley, Russ Hansen, Don Powell
U.S. Highways: From US 1 to (US 830)
E-mail me with Comments, Corrections, and Suggestions
Page first posted by Robert V. Droz on
November 29, 2001
Page last updated August 24, 2005
Post 'completion' message:
Making this site was similiar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle with half of the pieces missing and a faded picture of the original box. Undoubtedly many segments were missed along the way, or I described a segment that is now undrivable. Please let me know if you find one.