Virginia Department of Historical Resources I

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Part 2
cbg In this post, let’s take a look at the information put out by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR). Patrons can get access to the VDHR website by clicking on the Virginia Historical Highway Markers link on our database page. Learn more about those silver and black signs you see on the side of the road after the jump!


Local history buffs are lucky, as our state was actually the first to create a program to designate and erect markers that commemorate people, particular places, certain historic buildings, and events. The process began in 1927, and as of now there are roughly 2,200 markers throughout the state, according to the VDHR. This is a great resource for tourists exploring the area or students doing projects on local history. The Historical Highway Markers link on our webpage will take you directly to all of your search options. There are three ways to search for these historical highway markers (all endorsed by VDHR):

1. DHR Online Marker Database

The Department of Historic Resources provides numerous ways to conduct a search of historical highway markers: by keyword, zip code, county/city, route #, category (provided in a drop down menu), and marker number. There are eighteen markers in Montgomery County and three in Floyd. Search a region to test out the way results are shown. All of the markers in a designated area are displayed on a Google map, and you can click on an individual marker to determine its subject. The “More Info” link provides a transcription of the marker’s text and often, a photo.

Pros: You can click a link to get exact driving directions to each marker. It’s easy to find geographic areas that have several markers close together. Marker information comes straight from the VDHR.

Cons: The results are incomplete- you may not be seeing the true number of markers that exist.

2. Marker

This site was developed by an individual named Richard Harrison who wanted to make information about Virginia highway markers more accessible. Search options are simpler here; you can search either by topic or location (county). There also seems to be a zoomed-in photo for each site.

Pros: Markers are listed chronologically. Great physical descriptions of where each marker is located. Spider search allows you to investigate other markers based on related terms. This is a more complete index of all highway markers- as of November 12, 2012 there were 2,619 highway markers cataloged.

Cons: There is not an easy way to see how markers are geographically related on a map, and driving directions are not as easily attainable. There are no advanced search options.

3. Historical Marker Database

This site is rather different from the first two. For one thing, it encompasses historical markers throughout the United States and even other countries. Secondly, it is a wiki style page, so anyone can add pictures or information (much like Wikipedia). Of course, this has benefits and limitations. Click on the orange “More Search Options” link on the right to begin a search. If we start searching by county, we can already see that the results may not be entirely accurate. There are 48 entries for Montgomery County and no entries for Floyd. These discrepancies are likely due to both the user-run nature of the site as well as more relaxed guidelines on what constitutes a highway marker.

Pros: Lots of pictures and interesting information from users. Additional markers are included beyond the strictest definition of highway markers. Other states and even other countries are included.

Cons: Information is not necessarily authoritative or complete.

If your interest in Virginia’s highway markers is piqued, check out this page for more information on how they are chosen, designated, and sponsored.
Part 2

Category: Library

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