Author: Arthur Striker

assistant historian at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Historical Highway Marker Program

Established in 1926, Virginia’s Historical Highway Marker Program is one of the oldest in the nation. Originally intended to commemorate such traditional subjects as military events, colonial home sites, and prominent Virginians from early American society, topics today range from authors and musicians to architecture, transportation, and industry, and include significant people, places, and events from all segments of Virginia history and society. Early in the twenty-first century, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which administers the highway marker program, led a special effort to fund and create new markers honoring African Americans, Virginia Indians, and women, as well as significant places and events related to their accomplishments, in order to represent the scope of Virginia history more completely. There are more than 2,000 markers installed throughout the state, with twenty to forty new markers added every year. New markers are established through a process whereby an applicant (an individual or a group) submits a marker proposal to the Department of Historic Resources. An editorial committee researches and reviews the written proposal and the draft marker text for accuracy and appropriate significance, then DHR staff formally present the marker proposal to the Board of Historic Resources, which must approve all new state historical markers. Once a marker is approved, an order for its manufacture is sent to a foundry for casting. The marker is then shipped, in most cases, to the appropriate local office of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for installation. Thereafter, except for markers in a few municipalities, the marker is maintained by VDOT, an important partner in the historical highway marker program.