Clinching the Dixie

Dixie Highway MarkerAlthough the impetus for this trip is a Greater Cincinnati Miata Club visit to Indianapolis, the more exciting thing for me personally is completing a drive of the full Dixie Highway. On Saturday and Sunday, members of the Cincinnati club will hook up with members of the Indianapolis club for a couple meals, a couple driving tours, and a couple museum visits. On Monday, I’ll depart Indianapolis to follow the Dixie Highway to Chicago.

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to provide a place for comments.

Trip Peek #30
Trip #71
Thanksgiving 2008

pvd10This picture is from my 2008 Thanksgiving trip. It was my fourth and last (so far) Thanksgiving Escape Run. I believe it was the first trip on which I got serious about traveling the Dixie Highway and I followed it all the way from the Ohio River to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The estate was decorated for Christmas and that’s what is in the picture.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Alternate Dixie

pic05cI took advantage of a not-snowing above-freezing day (It’s all relative.) to take a day trip on part of the Dixie Highway to Berea, Kentucky. Rain washed away any thoughts of making it a multi-day outing but the drive down was very pleasant and the stay in Berea both pleasant and worthwhile.

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to hold any and all comments

Book Review
Dixie Highway
Tammy Ingram

dhti_cvrWhen I first heard about a forthcoming book titled Dixie Highway. I got kind of excited. I looked forward to having all my questions about the historic highway answered and all the blank spots filled in. Then, as details about the book started to emerge, I began to think it would not tell me anything about the Dixie Highway outside of Dixie; maybe nothing outside of Georgia. Reality, of course, is somewhere in between.

In the early pages of Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900-1930, Ingram tells of the Good Roads Movement that preceded organizations such as the Dixie Highway Association then talks about the formation of the DHA. Here, even though supportive examples might come from Georgia, Ingram is talking about the entire US or at least the strip of states north of Florida that the Dixie Highway would serve. She paints an appropriately muddy picture of the problems facing farmers and small businesses who needed to transport goods or deliver services. The picture she paints of the various factions involved in solving — or not — those problems is muddy in a different sort of way.

Ingram reminds us that roads, particularly long roads, were not always seen as a good thing. Railroads didn’t want the competition and neither farmers nor working class city folk wanted to pay for roads to be used by the rich and their expensive motorized playthings. , And no one wanted to give up control which, at the start of the twentieth century, was almost all county based and very local. A lot of the story of the Dixie Highway, and every other road of the time, has to do with getting control to units large enough to see that what roads there were did not end at the county or state line.

One way the Dixie Highway Association addressed this was to get state governors involved from the beginning. Ingram identifies and describes the players and chronicles the steps taken as the DHA went from nothing to something in fairly short order.

When the book moves from getting things organized to getting things built, the focus tightens on Georgia. This makes sense from a number of angles. It had more miles of Dixie Highway than any other state and many of the problems encountered in Georgia were the very same problems encountered in every other state. But Georgia had other issues, too, including racial attitudes and political traditions. Ingram discusses these to show the affect they had on building the Dixie Highway and the affect the Dixie Highway had on the south.

Tammy Ingram is a college professor. Her writing is factual and precise in a way that makes the reader feel that it is the well researched truth. It is not without style. While it is somewhat dry, it is not the mechanized recital of facts and statistics that academics sometimes produce and which can induce drowsiness better than any drug. I enjoyed reading Dixie Highway and I learned quite a lot from it.

I couldn’t help noticing that Ingram calls the Dixie Highway and similar roads “marked trails”. It certainly doesn’t affect the value of the book in the slightest and it probably won’t even register with most readers. I’m used to seeing the pre-1926 routes referred to as “named trails” or “named auto trails” to distinguish them from the numbered highways that followed. As I said, most readers probably won’t notice and it really isn’t a problem for those of us who do although I did initially find myself pausing for a second or two whenever I encountered it. I got better.

Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900-1930, Tammy Ingram, The University of North Carolina Press, March 3, 2014, hardcover, 9.2 x 6.2 inches, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1469612980

Christmas Escape 2014

pic01dDespite a sincere and publicly proclaimed desire to get to Key West last year, it didn’t happen. I can’t guarantee it will this year either but at least I’m headed that direction. I attended the Lighting of the Serpent on the evening before leaving and have plans to drive some Dixie Highway both coming and going. I’ll probably also visit some friends and/or relatives somewhere along the way.

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to hold any and all comments.

History by the Pint

cbc01Ohio has a new brewery. It wasn’t desperately needed, I suppose, but this one is seriously different. There were already more than 100 breweries operating in Ohio and over 3000 in the country. A dozen other states also have more than 100 each. New mini, micro, and nano breweries are popping up everywhere everyday and, while I’m personally very happy to hear of each and every new launch, it’s a fact that the opening of a brewery is not as exciting and rare as it was just a few years ago. In an effort to distinguish themselves, some breweries are targeting the extremities of things that can be measured to claim titles like “the hoppiest” or “highest alcohol content”. How about “most labor intensive”?

Carillon Brewing Company did not set out to be high on the labor used scale. It set out to be high on the historically accurate scale and provide a piece of living history befitting the 65 acre open air museum it is part of at Carillon Historical Park. It just turns out that, when you accurately recreate an 1850 brewery and use it to make beer the same way it was made more than a century and a half ago, things are going to be a bit more “hands on” than is normal today.

cbc02cbc03cbc04Though many are in really old buildings, the working bits of most breweries we see today look pretty modern. There are usually dials and gauges and maybe some electronics. One or more — sometimes many more — big — sometimes really big — stainless steel tanks are what actually identify a brewery to most of us. There are no steel tanks here and no fancy gauges. Definitely no electronically controlled automation.

cbc07cbc06cbc05Here the beer is brewed in copper kettles and fermented in wooden barrels. Heat comes from wood fires and transferring the liquid between brewing steps is accomplished by hand dipping and gravity. One of the few concessions to modern times is the use of city water to save workers the chore of toting bucket after bucket from the nearby Great Miami River.

cbc08cbc09The doors were opened in August with a full food menu and OPB (Other People’s Beer). In October, house brewed root beer and ginger ale were added. Last Thursday, December 11, two of Carillon Brewing’s own ales were introduced. The Porter (from an 1862 recipe) is pictured. I was served both it and the already downed Coriander Ale (1831 recipe) by Frank, the guy in the second picture. Note the period dress. Another modern concession is the use of refrigeration so that us twenty-first century wussies don’t have to drink warm beer. It is anticipated that some varieties will be served at room temperature to provide a true 1850 experience. Only ales will be brewed here. Even though lagering existed long before 1850, most breweries produced only ales until the mid 1860s

cbc10My new word of the day is “brewster”, a female brewer. Carillon Brewing’s Tanya Brock is that and more. Not only is she responsible for turning out something as tasty as those new stainless steel filled microbreweries, she must do it with historically accurate methods and recipes. Oh, and she has to research those methods and recipes, too. This is one unique operation. With justified pride, Brock says, “No one else in the United States is doing a fully-licensed production brewery in a historic museum.”

cbc11cbc12cbc13The brewery is indeed part of a museum and vice versa. Signs, including several on barrel heads, explain brewing and its history in the area. One barrel head contains an annotated drawing of the brewing operation that stands behind it. Employees and volunteers are knowledgeable and happy to answer questions. Brewing currently takes place Wednesday through Saturday though watching it is sometimes akin to watching water come to a boil. Actually, between the flurries of activity moving the brew between steps, it is exactly like watching water come to an almost boil. Still, it’s mighty interesting. Nowhere else can you drink a beer truly made “the old fashioned way” while watching another batch being prepared for a future visit. You’ll leave not only refreshed and educated on nineteenth century brewing methods but, with just a little counting, knowing how may states were in the union in 1850.

EDITED 15-Dec-2014: Within a day of publishing this article, it struck me that the opening paragraph did not at all establish the right tone. In a move that I certainly won’t make a habit of, it has been rewritten. The original follows:

Ho hum. Ohio has another brewery. No, ho hum isn’t really what I want to say. I’m very happy to hear of each and every new launch but it’s a fact that the opening of a brewery is not as exciting and rare as it was just a few years ago. It’s not just Ohio, of course. There are now more than 3000 breweries in the country and new mini, micro, and nano breweries are popping up everywhere everyday. Ohio is just one of thirteen states with more than 100 breweries in operation. In an effort to distinguish themselves, some breweries are targeting the extremities of things that can be measured to claim titles like “the hoppiest” or “highest alcohol content”. How about “most labor intensive”?

Route 66 Festival 2014

pic01bI am now on my way to the 2014 International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Arizona. My first day ended in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is not exactly on the imaginary straight line connecting Cincinnati and Kingman. In fact, it is at least 300 miles from any such line and I’m going to get a lot farther away from it before I’m done. I’m starting out in Tennessee because I’ll be visiting my son in San Diego before the festival and I’m following the Old Spanish Trail, which starts in Saint Augustine, to San Diego. Between Chattanooga and Saint Augustine, I’ll be on the Dixie Highway which isn’t any farther off of a Cincinnati to Saint Augustine line than those fancy modern interstates. I’ll probably get on the route in the title a little before the festival and I’ll certainly drive parts of it as I head home afterwards but, if Route 66 is the only reason you’re here, you’ve got a couple of weeks to wait.

The trip journal is here. This blog entry is to make blog-only followers aware of the trip and to provide a place for comments which are very welcome and appreciated.

Trip Peek #18
Trip #110
FOLK at NaFF

FOLK movie premierThis picture is from my 2013 FOLK at NaFF road trip for the premier of a movie (FOLK) at the Nashville Film Festival (NaFF). One of the musicians featured in the film was long time favorite Dirk Hamilton. I spent the first day of the trip driving, partly on the Dixie Highway, to Nashville and listening to some of the music on Nashville’s Broadway. On the second day, I visited nearby Dickson, on the Broadway of America, before returning to watch the film in the early evening. I next drove a new-to-me section of Dixie Highway to Indianapolis where I spent a night and a day before heading home.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Trip Peek #16
Trip #99
North from the Crossroads

Mackinac BridgeThis picture is from the my 2011 North from the Crossroads road trip. This was a long anticipated spontaneous trip. I started to say “long planned” but that would not quite be true. It was almost entirely on the Dixie Highway which I essentially already had plotted but I certainly did not have much of a plan in place when I left home and had not considered heading north from anywhere until about a day before I did it. What I did have in place was a plan for an entirely different trip. I had a trip to the east coast all laid out when it became apparent that hurricane Irene was targeting some of the same places I was and at just about the same time, too. So I scrapped the idea of driving east and headed north instead. Taking a trip was not spontaneous but taking this trip was.

As it worked out, I covered the Dixie Highway Eastern Mainline from its intersection with the National Road in Vandalia, Ohio, to its northern terminus in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan. I even slipped across the border into Canada for a few hours. Returning south, I followed the Dixie Highway Northern Connector between Mackinaw City, Michigan, and Indianapolis, Indiana. The picture is of the Mackinac Bridge heading into Michigan’s upper peninsula. I also visited Mackinac Island for the first time.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.