I’m pretty sure my interest in the Dixie Highway began with wondering why there were so many Dixie Highway exits from I-75 in Southeastern Michigan.
My interest in highways and roads started earlier when I was a teen living in Connecticut. Roads and highways throughout New England have colorful histories. Official sites only hint at the local legend and lore. Rich tapestries woven of family histories, geological realities, pre-Revolution decisions, and “because” shaped the paths that became the highways of New England.
Yet that’s not where I started.
Interstate 84 runs through Connecticut connecting Pennsylvania and New York with Massachusetts. It’s a remarkably dull road, no doubt a tribute to its efficiency.
After my family moved to Connecticut in the late 1980s, we traversed that ribbon of concrete many times. I paid keen attention to one sign along the way, a sign that made no sense yet fascinated me to no end.
“I-84 Ends, I-86 to Boston”
It was still I-84 and remains so to this day. Somewhere I have pictures of the I-86 signage in Connecticut, which I think persisted until the 1990s. There’s a whole history behind this – the highway near my house that wasn’t. It kicked off my interest in roads and highways.
Toss in family dynamics – paternal side are Yankees (though didn’t arrive in the US until the 1920-1930s; settling in Michigan, Wisconsin & Minnesota) and maternal side are Dixie (I won’t call them Rebels or Confederates as there’s no documentation my family fought in the Civil War). Come 2000 and I & mine live within a mile of Woodward Avenue.
My interest in the Dixie Highway becomes more clear.