In 1921, one in ten Americans owned a car; that number had nearly doubled by 1929. The family car became an
American institution. The automobile and the expanding roadway system opened new territory for the
American tourist, and roadside markers provided the traveler with regional history.
An increased appreciation for the early years of the nation began around the turn of the twentieth
century and was fully under way by the time of the 1932 bicentennial of George Washington's birth.
The Maryland General Assembly provided for a George Washington Bi-Centennial Commission to coordinate
commemorative activities with the national Commission. Markers were placed by the Daughters of
the American Revolution and various county committees to mark the roads Washington had traveled.
The earliest Maryland roadside markers were erected in 1930 and
1931 by the Historical Society of Harford County under the leadership of J. Alexis Shriver. The
cast iron markers, which featured the Great Seal of Maryland atop a silver shield with an
inscription of raised black letters, set the Maryland roadside marker design standard that
continues to this day. Charles County followed with a series of markers in 1932. In 1933
the Maryland State Roads Commission launched a statewide marker program with assistance from
the Maryland Historical Society, a private non-profit organization. In 1958 the Maryland
Historical Society assumed management of the program, still with the cooperation of the State
Roads Commission. The program was transferred to the Maryland Historical Trust in 1985,
with assistance and funding provided by the successor to the State Roads Commission, the State
Highway Administration. The marker program was revised in 2001 with new standards, criteria
and placement guidelines.
Roadside markers flourished with the growth of automobile transportation. Over the program's
history, approximately 800 State markers have been erected on Maryland roadways. Markers
recall an era when the pace was slower. Through the years, despite increasing traffic and
highway speeds, the markers have retained their popularity. The older ones are often of
historical interest in their own right.
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About the Historical Markers Web Site
administered by the Maryland State Highway Administration, supported data development for this project.