The Life of a Roadside Historical Marker

By Nancy Kurtz, Marker and Monuments Programs

The marker you pass on your journey, embossed with the Great Seal of Maryland, could have been born in the early 1930s, cast in iron and displayed along a narrow roadway in the days when the family car and the road trip were new ideas and local citizens wanted to inform travelers of the people, places and events important in their history.

The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) and Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) jointly manage the state roadside historical marker program.  The State Roads Commission began the program in 1933 in cooperation with the Maryland Historical Society.  The program was transferred to the Maryland Historical Trust in 1985, with new standards, criteria and placement guidelines added in 2001, including the requirement for markers to commemorate topics that carry statewide significance.  MHT reviews and approves new marker applications.  SHA installs and maintains the markers, and now funds all new and replacement markers.

RM-733h THE BANK ROAD old

The Bank Road marker, when it was young

When either agency is notified of a marker problem, SHA staff pick up the marker and start the refurbishing, repair or replacement process.  A tag is installed on the pole to notify the public of its whereabouts.  If you should notice a sudden unexplained disappearance, a marker on the ground or other problem, please contact Nancy Kurtz at 410-697-9561nancy.kurtz@maryland.gov, or send in a problem report found on the MHT marker website:  http://mht.maryland.gov/documents/pdf/research/MarkerReport.pdf.

With over 800 markers installed since the 1930s, maintenance is ongoing. Markers requiring repair or refurbishing are sent off-site for the work, usually in groups of two or more.  Sandblasting and welding repairs can take three to four weeks.  Repainting can take four to six weeks.  Reinstallation is dependent on weather and work schedule, and usually grouped geographically, so can take two to three months after repainting.  The best time estimate for the whole process would be approximately six months, but can vary according to these factors.

One important aspect of reinstalling a marker is safety.  Roadways, traffic volumes and speed have changed through the years and do not always allow reinstallation in the original location.  Where possible, the markers are placed near a side road to allow drivers to pull off the highway.

RM-733 THE BANK ROAD refurbished

The Bank Road marker, refurbished

The early markers are historic in their own right.  Although some show the scars of damage and repair, we strive to keep them on the roadways well into the future.  The history of the marker program, thematic tours, application procedures, photographs and maps are found on the MHT website, including a keyword search for travelers who pass a marker at today’s highway speeds. To learn more, please visit:  http://mht.maryland.gov/historicalmarkers/Search.aspx

 

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The Buzz One Four

by Nancy Kurtz, National Register Coordinator

In the early morning of January 13, 1964, a B-52D bomber, call sign “Buzz One Four,” with a crew of five and carrying two thermonuclear bombs, crashed in a blizzard on Savage Mountain in Garrett County. Two of the crew of five survived. The bombs were found intact in the wreckage.

Al Feldstein Flyover #1 (1)

Fairchild C-123K Provider “Thunder Pig” flies overhead during presentation of Governor’s citation by Edward Chow Jr., Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Photo by Al Feldstein.

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New Roadside Historical Markers Installed

Stuart Grosvenor and members of the  Janet Montgomery Chapter of the DAR  dedicate the new Richard Montgomery  marker in Rockville.  Photo courtsey of Nancy Kurtz, MHT

Stuart Grosvenor and members of the
Janet Montgomery Chapter of the DAR
dedicate the new Richard Montgomery
marker in Rockville.
Photo courtsey of Nancy Kurtz, MHT

The Maryland Historical Trust, the State Highway Administration and local partners have developed and installed seven new markers along Maryland’s roadways.  The markers celebrate people, places and events important in the history of the state, including Ocean City, Maryland’s Atlantic Ocean resort; the Somerset County seat, established in the seventeenth century; a nineteenth century African American community and school in Anne Arundel County; the nation’s first war hero and namesake of Montgomery County; a hexagonal fieldstone school in Harford County; a seventeenth century battle along the Severn River; and a twentieth century African American community baseball park in Somerset County. Continue reading

New Historical Markers along Maryland’s Roads

Old Wallville School Marker Unveiling.
Photo courtesy of David Krankowski

 

The Maryland Historical Trust, State Highway Administration, and local partners have installed six new and two replacement historical markers along Maryland’s roadways, bringing the total number of markers to 822! Continue reading

Four new historical markers have been installed this fall along Maryland’s roadways

The Maryland Historical Trust, State Highway Administration, and local partners recently installed four new roadside historical markers along Maryland’s roadways, bringing the total number of markers to 816!  The new markers celebrate a wide range of stories and places, ranging from the slave trade in Baltimore City to the establishment of the Town of Princess Anne in Somerset County. Continue reading